FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jamison Crowder was a steady and reliable playmaker in his first two seasons with the New York Jets, a bright spot in an otherwise dim stretch for the franchise.
So, when the team approached him during the offseason about taking a pay cut, the wide receiver was caught off guard.
“A little bit surprised,” Crowder acknowledged Tuesday after the first day of mandatory minicamp practice. “It's a business. It is what it is. I'm here now, so I'm just ready to rock out, man.”
Crowder, who led the Jets in receptions each of the last two seasons, agreed Monday to a renegotiated deal. He was due to make $10 million in the final year of the three-year, $28.5 million contract he signed in 2019. And that price tag was a bit too steep for New York, which asked him to accept a reduced salary or possibly be cut.
“I sat down and spoke with my agent about some things,” said Crowder, who has no bitterness toward the organization. “We got things worked out now. So, that’s kind of my mentality now — I really just want to get back out there on the field and start making plays. ... I’m here now, so I'm just ready to rock and roll.”
The 28-year-old Crowder has 137 catches for 1,532 yards and 12 touchdowns in 28 games with New York, and established himself as one of the league’s top slot receivers after spending his first four NFL seasons in Washington.
The Jets had the leverage in this situation, though, especially after they drafted Ole Miss star Elijah Moore in the second round last month. Moore has been impressive during workouts and organized team activities. He is viewed by some as a potential successor to Crowder.
That doesn't bother Crowder at all.
“He’s a heck of a ballplayer,” Crowder said of Moore. “You know, I definitely think that if we can get things right with our offense, everybody can eat and we can have a successful season, especially on the offensive side of the football.”
Crowder sees some similarities in the offense Mike LaFleur is running with the Jets to the system Sean McVay used as Washington's offensive coordinator in the wide receiver's first two NFL seasons.
“I think he’s going to be fantastic in the system,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “I’ll give him the opportunity to showcase what he’s done his entire career, and that’s make plays.”
In Washington, the receiving corps included Crowder, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed. New York has a suddenly crowded wide receivers room with Crowder, Moore, Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Keelan Cole and Braxton Berrios, among others.
“I think I’m a good fit just because some of the routes that are run out of the slots, some of the combinations and concepts, I’ve done it before,” Crowder said. “A lot of the concepts and stuff are very similar to the ones I ran in Washington under McVay, where I had success.”
Crowder was not with the Jets at the facility during the voluntary workouts and organized team activities, so Tuesday marked the first time he was on the practice field with new quarterback Zach Wilson. Crowder spent the past two seasons catching passes from Sam Darnold, who was traded to Carolina — ultimately paving the way for New York to draft Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick.
“I haven’t really had a lot of opportunity to watch him much — just being honest with being absent, away from here,” Crowder said. “But, I mean, today you could definitely kind of see the talent. And I just think he’ll get better with time and he’ll be ready to go when the season’s going.”
WEIGHT AND SEE
Second-year left tackle Mekhi Becton is not practicing while healing from a foot injury. In the meantime, he has taken some measures to try to manage his weight.
The 6-foot-7 offensive lineman is listed at 363 pounds, but said he's “at a good weight right now” — although he wouldn't reveal what that is.
“I'm doing everything right to maintain my weight, I wouldn’t say ‘problem,’ but weight concerns that people have about me,” he said. "I’m doing everything in my power to keep it down.”
Becton has been doing extra conditioning, including biking and running. He also hired a personal chef.
“I’ve been trying to stay more in the fish and veggies lane,” Becton said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to stick to.”
NOTES: Saleh said all 90 players on the roster reported for minicamp. ... Saleh cut out the third day of on-field practices scheduled for Thursday, saying the players and coaches got a lot of good work in together during the offseason. “Just felt like it would be good for organizational meetings and cross some t’s and dot some i’s,” he said. ... Saleh confirmed the Jets “had discussions” about bringing in Nick Mullens as a backup for Wilson, but said the team wanted to give Mike White and James Morgan a chance to show what they can do. Mullens, who spent his first four seasons with San Francisco, signed with Philadelphia on Monday.
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