It didn’t take long for Elijah Moore to sour on the Jets, or vice-versa. One year after New York drafted the wide receiver 34th overall, the team has started 4-2, its best opening since 2015, while largely keeping Moore in the background of a run-heavy offense. And now, days after he failed to get a single target against the Packers, the wideout has requested a trade, according to NFL Media.
The 22-year-old pass catcher was excused from practice Thursday, with Jets coach Robert Saleh citing a family issue. But it turns out Moore’s absence stemmed from ongoing frustration over his on-field role. After logging 43 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, the Ole Miss product has been the team’s No. 5 receiving option in terms of total targets through six weeks, behind even running back Breece Hall and tight end Tyler Conklin.
Moore publicly hinted at his displeasure following the Jets’ 27-10 win over Green Bay, in which he caught zero passes, tweeting: “If I say what I really wanna say, I’ll be the selfish guy. We winning. Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. (Bittersweet) for me, but I’ll be solid. So I’ll just stay quiet. Just know I don’t understand, either.” He tweeted more cryptic messages ahead of practice Thursday — “Love my teammates!” and then, “God, I need direction” — before deleting the second post.
Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and quarterback Zach Wilson all acknowledged Moore’s feelings after Sunday’s game, attributing his smaller role to various circumstances, including more focus on the ground game. In the wake of his trade request, the Jets have no plans to deal the receiver, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. But intentions can change quickly in the NFL, especially in regards to players’ trade availability.
This isn’t the first time a Jets wideout has requested a relocation this year. Moore’s teammate, 2020 second-rounder Denzel Mims, asked for a trade in the preseason and has not been active since. Ironically, he could be in line to make his 2022 debut if New York deactivates Moore as a form of discipline for his behavior this week.
In the event the Jets field inquiries regarding Moore, keep an eye on these teams as potential suitors:
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are a stud starting duo, but they’ve battled injuries all year, up and down the depth chart. A Florida native, Moore could easily bump Russell Gage down to more of a No. 4 role, with Julio Jones also perpetually unavailable as an outlet for Tom Brady on a Bucs offense still trying to find its footing.
Patrick Mahomes will be just fine relying on Travis Kelce as his primary target, but they could still use someone to push JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling into more secondary roles. Moore’s got the athleticism to give Andy Reid another chess piece for his creative red zone offense, too.
Few teams need more help out wide, and Randall Cobb is now set to miss multiple games. Aaron Rodgers simply can’t throw it as often, as deep or as confidently as he’d like with his current setup. Moore would make sense as both a short- and long-term gamble for general manager Brian Gutekunst as well.
Sure, they already invested big in Davante Adams, but what about the No. 2 spot for an offense that’s been very inconsistent during a 1-4 start? Hunter Renfrow can’t stay on the field this year, Mack Hollins is best suited in a reserve role, and other backups like Albert Wilson are short-term stopgaps.
They already took a flyer on Jalen Reagor this year, but they could still use more behind Justin Jefferson in the passing game, with Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn short on explosive plays in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. At 5-1, Minnesota can afford to think big, bolstering its group for a playoff run, and Moore would also make sense as a long-term running mate for “Jets.”