NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jeremy Kerley always figured he’d stay right where he is.
The New York Jets made sure the reliable wide receiver didn’t go anywhere, signing Kerley to a four-year contract extension on Tuesday.
Kerley, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 out of TCU, was due to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“I love being a Jet and I consider myself a lifetime Jet,” Kerley recently told The Associated Press. “I’m not worried about all of that. That will all take care of itself.”
The team did not immediately disclose financial terms. According to multiple reports, the deal is worth $16 million ($5.4 million guaranteed).
“To have an extension and play four more years here, it’s a blessing,” Kerley told the team’s official website Tuesday. “It’s a relief off my shoulders and really off my family’s shoulders.”
The move came three days after the Jets completed a stunning deal to acquire wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick.
Kerley, 25, has led the Jets in receptions the past two seasons despite missing a few games with injuries. He has 22 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown this year. He could have more, though, making two terrific catches earlier this season — that didn’t count.
Against Green Bay in Week 2, his jaw-dropping 37-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-down play with just over 5 minutes left was wiped out by an ill-timed, last-second timeout by the Jets, who lost 31-24.
Eight days later, with the Jets trailing Chicago by eight and driving for a potential tying score on fourth-and-5 from the 9, Kerley fought off safety Brock Vereen and snagged the football in the end zone — but landed just out of bounds.
He also had a 9-yard TD catch at New England last Thursday called back because of a holding penalty on guard Oday Aboushi.
Kerley has seen his role diminish in recent weeks with just seven catches in New York’s past four games, but remains one of the league’s top receivers on third-down plays and ranks first on the team with 45 targets.
His versatility — he can line up on the outside, in the slot, run the occasional wildcat play and return punts — could have made him an attractive target in free agency during the offseason.
While Harvin’s acquisition could potentially take some plays away from Kerley, the Jets didn’t want to lose a player who has developed good chemistry with quarterback Geno Smith.
The trio of Kerley, Harvin and Eric Decker, all of whom are different types of receivers, gives the 1-6 Jets a solid foundation for this season and the future at a position that has recently been a huge question mark.
In his three-plus seasons, Kerley has 150 catches for 1,865 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also rushed for 84 yards and has a 10.3-yard career punt return average.
The Jets have several other key players due to become free agents after the season who, like Kerley, could be in line for extensions, including defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, linebacker David Harris and nose tackle Damon Harrison.
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