New York Jets receiver Elijah Moore requested a trade last season, but he had to wait until this year to get moved. Gang Green is sending the former second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns, who were in need of additional wide receiver talent.
Let’s grade Wednesday’s trade — a move that could end up as a win for all parties involved.
Grading the Elijah Moore Trade From Jets to Browns
The Browns will sacrifice their second-round pick (No. 42) to acquire Moore, but they’ll also pick up a third-rounder (No. 74) from New York, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
By Chase Stuart of Football Perspective’s draft value data, the difference between the 42nd pick and the 74th selection is roughly equal to the value of the No. 130 pick, pegging Moore as worth a late fourth-rounder. The classic Jimmy Johnson chart is more bullish, valuing Moore as an early third-round choice in this swap.
Cleveland Browns Give Amari Cooper a Tag-Team Partner
The Browns have been active on the free agent market, but nearly all their work has come on the defensive side of the ball. While Cleveland has added Ogbo Okoronkwo, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Juan Thornhill to help their defense, they’d only signed one offensive skill-position player: former Texans tight end Jordan Akins.
The free agent receiver class had largely been picked over by extensions, leaving the likes of Jakobi Meyers, Odell Beckham Jr., DJ Chark, and Allen Lazard as the top available options at the outset of the league year. Instead of paying up for mid-tier talent, the Browns decided to enter the trade market for their newest pass catcher.
Moore hasn’t topped 50 receptions or 550 yards in either of his two NFL campaigns, but he’s been hamstrung by poor quarterback play in New York. A former second-round pick, Moore offers excellent athleticism and inside/outside versatility that clearly intrigued Cleveland’s decision-makers.
Teams often want to build receiver depth charts that feature players with varying body types and skill sets, and Moore will help the Browns accomplish that goal. Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are both over six feet tall and posted average depth of targets of more than 11 yards. Moore, a shiftier player at 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, should be able to create more options for Deshaun Watson in the short-to-intermediate game.
Cleveland will pick up Moore’s team-friendly contract, which has two years and just $3.4 million remaining. Assuming that the analytically-inclined Browns leaned more toward Stuart’s draft value chart, acquiring a 23-year-old wideout with untapped potential for the equivalent of a fourth-round selection is good business.
New York Jets Create Space in Receiver Room
Once the Jets agreed to a one-year deal with former Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman on Wednesday, Moore looked like a goner. Moore asked to be dealt just before last year’s trade deadline, and while New York didn’t honor his request at the time, the club had too many wideouts after adding Hardman.
The Jets had already signed Allen Lazard (likely at Aaron Rodgers’ behest), who will now team with Hardman and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson as New York’s top pass catchers. Corey Davis is still in the mix, too, but the Jets can create $10.5 million in cap savings by releasing him.
New York likely didn’t want to give up on Moore, but general manager Joe Douglas has now set a precedent that he won’t give away distressed assets for free. Had the Jets traded Moore for a sixth- or seventh-round pick, rival teams may have assumed that any New York player that asks for a trade can be had for peanuts.
Moore’s name had been bandied about for inclusion in an eventual trade for Rodgers, but the Jets will instead add an extra second-round selection, meaning the club is now scheduled to make back-to-back picks at Nos. 42 and 43.
The Rodgers trade is reportedly being held up by Green Bay’s asking price. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggested the Packers want a first-round pick plus a conditional selection if Rodgers plays in 2024. If the Jets are balking at that ask, they now have Day 2 ammunition that could entice Green Bay.
Elijah Moore Gets What He Asked For
Moore may regret missing out on the chance to catch passes from Rodgers, assuming the future Hall of Famer eventually gets dealt to the Jets. But Moore will have far more opportunities to boost his stock in Cleveland.
Moore will instantly become the Browns’ slot receiver, and there’s a chance he could surpass Peoples-Jones for No. 2 duties. Historically, Cleveland has deployed a lot of two-tight-end personnel and run the ball at a higher-than-average rate. However, the club’s offensive philosophy could change as Watson enters his first full season as the Browns’ starting quarterback.
Entering the third year of his rookie deal, Moore has two seasons to prove his NFL worth before he’s scheduled to hit free agency. He’ll have a far better path to productivity in Cleveland than he would’ve in New York — now, he just has to deliver.