Shortly after agreeing to terms with Mecole Hardman, the Jets have a trade in place involving one of their holdovers. They are sending Elijah Moore to the Browns, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
A former second-round pick, Moore will head to Cleveland in a deal involving a Day 2 pick swap. The Browns will send their No. 42 overall pick for Moore and the Jets’ No. 74 overall choice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Two years remain on Moore’s contract; he is going into his age-23 season.
As the Jets’ wide receiver room became crowded, the Browns were connected to wideout interest. The team was looking into Jerry Jeudy, but the Broncos have continued to set a high price for teams regarding their top pass catcher. Instead, Cleveland will add Moore to its receiving corps as a slot piece to pair with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
This will be a nice vault up the draft board for the Jets as well. Moving up 32 spots, the Jets now hold the Nos. 42 and 43 overall picks. Although the Packers have been seeking a first-round pick and change for Aaron Rodgers, the Jets now having two mid-second-round choices figures to come up in the Joe Douglas–Brian Gutekunst trade talks involving the superstar quarterback.
Moore voiced frustration about his role last season and asked the Jets to trade him. The 2021 second-rounder, who was sent home after a heated argument with then-OC Mike LaFleur ahead of a midseason hiatus, did not match his rookie-year numbers in 2022. But Zach Wilson‘s presence hindered Jets receivers, hence the all-out Rodgers pursuit. In reaffirming the team’s desire to retain Moore, Douglas issued strong support for the disgruntled wideout in November. Four months later, Moore has a new team.
As a rookie, Moore showed immediate promise coming out of Ole Miss. The 5-foot-10 target caught 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns, reaching these numbers despite Wilson’s inconsistency and despite missing six games. The Browns will bet on Moore’s upside with Deshaun Watson targeting him, and the team will move out of another early draft slot to do so. The Watson trade cost the Browns their first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Cleveland’s first 2023 draft choice will now arrive at No. 74.
Moore, who clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at his pro day two years ago, is due base salaries of just $1.5MM and $1.9MM this season and next. This bet on potential notwithstanding, it does invite some risk for the Browns. Cleveland has now traded out of the first and second rounds of the draft, and the Watson swap also will send the Browns’ 2023 third-rounder (No. 73) to the Texans. Cleveland does have a compensatory third-rounder — No. 98, acquired from the NFL for the Vikings hiring ex-Browns exec Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as GM — but sliding down from No. 42 to No. 74 will make for a long wait on draft night.
The Jets targeted Moore on just 13% of his routes run last season, per ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter, who adds that was a league-low number for players who ran at least 400 routes. Paired with Cooper and Peoples-Jones, Moore should have a clear-cut opportunity in Cleveland. His exit will also free up space in a Jets receiver room that has seen both Hardman and Allen Lazard added since free agency started.
Gang Green’s receiver cadre now includes Hardman, Lazard, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims. While Mims is an obvious candidate not to be part of a Rodgers-led receiver room, it will be interesting to see if the Moore trade allows for Davis to avoid cap-casualty status — the Jets can save $10.5MM by cutting him — or enables the team to pursue Odell Beckham Jr. and/or Randall Cobb. Rodgers is believed to have encouraged the Jets to sign both players, and they have begun doing so. Hardman’s arrival throws a wrench in both OBJ and Cobb coming to the Big Apple, but the Jets still have some space to add another weapon soon.