Multiple online sources confirm that the Jets signed wide receiver Keelan Cole on March 19th. However, his disappearance from our collective consciousness since that time is a bizarre and curious phenomenon.
While the Jets have a receiver room that is heaving at the seams with pass catching options, analysts are still saying the Jets have to give Zach Wilson more help.
Jets fans used to joke that Jeff Smith doesn't really exist after he missed practice throughout the entirety of his rookie training camp. But Smith eventually showed up and played some games and now more people seem to refer to him than Cole when discussing the Jets' pass catchers, albeit that he's usually a punchline designed to mock the paucity of receiving talent many still believe the Jets to have.
These days, though, it's Cole who is the one that doesn't seem to exist.
High profile bloggers field questions about whether the team should target Julio Jones, online assessments of the team's passing game don't even reference Cole's existence and even the team themselves seem to have forgotten they signed him as they recently brought in Tavon Austin for a workout despite the fact there's literally no room for him on the roster if everyone's healthy.
So what's happened? Is Cole the latest victim of cancel culture? Or is everyone forgetting about a player who could be a useful addition to the team with the opportunity to realize his talent and improve upon his previous production?
It is easy to overlook Cole, given how he's been languishing on the cellar-dwelling Jaguars for the past four seasons. However, this wasn't some afterthought camp body - the Jets guaranteed Cole $5 million. That's more than they gave Breshad Perriman to be the number one receiver in 2020.
With established talents in Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder to be joined in the rotation by promising youngsters Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore, shouldn't Cole be considered the top number five receiver in the league right now?
In 2020, Cole took on more of a possession role, playing more in the slot and racked up a career-high 55 catches. However, in the past, he's proven to be a useful big play threat on the outside. He was 2nd in the league in yards per reception in 2017 and he's posted four 100-yard games (and one more with 99 yards).
55 receptions was good for 46th in the league, so more than half of the league will only have had one receiver that reached that mark. Crowder is actually the only Jets wideout to achieve that since 2017.
The Jets apparently plan to keep Crowder but if they get through training camp and everyone's still healthy, that might change. Otherwise, the Jets will be stuck paying $5 million for a backup punt returner who either never gets any playing time on offense or blocks younger players when he does.
It will be interesting to see if there was a plan for Cole or the Jets were just throwing as many resources as they could at any receivers they could actually get to play for them and are just going to figure it all out later.
Hopefully, Cole can remind everyone that he does indeed exist and provide examples of what he can do early and often when the team gets to camp.