We still don't know for sure that Aaron Rodgers will be the QB for the Jets in 2023, but we know one player who won't be catching passes from him, as the Jets traded wide receiver Elijah Moore to the Browns Wednesday. That deal netted the Jets the 42nd pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, with the Browns also landing the 74th pick in return.
The trade ends an up-and-down two seasons for Moore, who was the No. 34 pick in the 2021 draft out of Mississippi. Moore showed a ton of upside as a rookie especially, catching 43 of 77 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns, and the Browns are hoping that's the player they are adding to their receiving corps.
It's no sure thing, of course, especially after Moore had trouble even getting on the field and seemingly clashed with coaches in his second season. Moore requested a trade back in October after going without a catch in Week 6, and he was benched for the following week and had just one target in the next two games. His role would grow as the season went on, but Moore never had more than 64 yards in a game last season.
When the Jets added Allen Lazard in free agency, a trade seemed likely, and it seemingly became inevitable after they signed Mecole Hardman Wednesday. Neither is as dynamic an all-around player as Moore at his best, but he just wasn't at his best very often in two years in New York. A reset was needed, and now he'll get that in Cleveland.
Of course, the move to Cleveland comes with questions of its own. Brown seems like a natural fit to play the slot alongside Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, though that might not be a best-case scenario for Moore's Fantasy value. The Browns had three or more wide receivers on the field for just 58.1% of their snaps last season, the 11th-lowest rate in the NFL; on passing plays, they had at least three wide receivers on the field 75% of the time, the 10th-lowest rate in the league.
Of course, that doesn't mean Moore will play exclusively in three-WR sets; he offers a more versatile skill set than the more vertically oriented Peoples-Jones, and very well could emerge as the clear No. 2 behind Cooper. However, he'll probably need to be more than a role player to break out, and even then, there's no guarantee he will. Because he'll need Deshaun Watson to play at a much higher level than he did in 2022.
Watson averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt with a 4.1% touchdown rate after coming back from his suspension last season, and on a team that figures to still skew pretty run-heavy, that kind of production isn't going to be enough to sustain multiple Fantasy relevant wide receivers. At his best, Watson did support multiple starting caliber options, first DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller and then Fuller and Brandin Cooks. But he'll need to play at that level again, and it's fair to be skeptical.
Which is all to say, this trade may not be a cure-all that turns Moore into a must-start Fantasy option. It's probably better than the status quo, only because things seemed beyond salvaging for Moore in New York. Moore was a high-upside young wide receiver with questions about how he'll actually live up to that upside, and now he's a high-upside young wide receiver with slightly fewer questions about how he'll actually live up to that upside. He went 112th in a PPR mock draft the CBS Fantasy crew did earlier in the week, and with this move, I think it's fair to say he should go inside of the top 100 now.
But I don't think this automatically vaults Moore into must-start territory. He might get there, but this move isn't enough to convince me.