As the New York Jets head into the new league year it is time to start analyzing the roster in order to identify team needs. In this edition we will review the tight end group which is a position that could be a new point of emphasis in the west coast offense.
Dustin Keller (28 catches, 317 receiving yards, 2 tds): 2012 was a very disappointing season for Keller as injuries limited him to only 8 games in a contract year. Dustin’s absence really hurt the Jets offense as he was a reliable target for Mark Sanchez that opened up the middle of the field and the passing game.
2013 outlook: Gang Green is in a tough spot with Dustin Keller as he is an unrestricted free agent. Keller is a very good receiving tight end that could flourish in the right offense. Now the question is can the Jets afford him? Would the Jets consider throwing a franchise or transition tag on him? My gut tells me that the Jets are going to let Dustin test the market and that he will receive a contract offer that the team refuses to match.
Jeff Cumberland (29 receptions, 359 receiving yards, 3tds): Jeff Cumberland showed some flashes in 2012 as he saw substantial playing time while filling in for Dustin Keller. Cumberland displayed big play ability in the passing game but has some work to do in terms of route running, blocking, and consistently catching the ball. As of right now probably considered a solid #2 tight end.
2013 outlook: Cumberland could be thrown into the starting tight end position if the Jets are unable to re-sign Keller. The new offense should be able to take advantage of Jeff’s receiving skills, but there is some serious room for improvement.
Konrad Reuland (11 receptions, 83 receiving yards): In 2012 Reuland was thrown into action as the Jets tight end group was decimated by injuries. Konrad was mostly used for his blocking and was not given many opportunities in the passing game.
2013 outlook: If Reuland returns in 2013 it will be more than likely as a #3 tight end.
Free agent options: Fred Davis, Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, Dallas Clark, James Casey, Anthony Fasano, Delanie Walker, Kellen Winslow, Chris Cooley, Visanthe Shiancoe, Dante Rosario, Tony Gonzalez
Outlook: The tight end position has to be an area of concern for the Jets, especially as the team moves on to a more pass friendly offense. Ideally the Jets would retain Keller, but I think he may price himself out of the equation. There are some very interesting free agent options but again it comes down to money. This could be another position where Gang Green looks to the draft to address.