The Roundup: Would Freddie be a Fit?

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

fred-davisSo far through the free agency period, the Jets have shown interest in a few tight ends, which indicates that the team is considering adding some competition to the spot and not just assuming that long-term project Jeff Cumberland will assume the starting role for the 2013 team, or that the team is dead set on drafting a player next month.

While Cumberland has improved in the passing game, he lacks some of the all-around skills that a tight end in a West Coast system might need, so the team is looking to visit with Fred Davis, as was reported widely yesterday.

Per the NY Post:

Free agent Fred Davis told Pro Football Central Radio that he will visit the Jets after he visits the Bills today if a deal does not get done in Buffalo.

Davis, 27, has spent the past five years with the Redskins after playing at USC with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Davis’ best season came in 2011 when he had 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.

It could be that Davis is using a visit with the Jets as leverage with Buffalo to hammer out a deal.  Davis has been in close communication with the Bills for a few days.  Davis was reported to have dined with team brass last Saturday in Buffalo … no word on whether it was an Applebee’s or not.

Doug Marrone’s new Bills offense is expected to resemble the one he ran in Syracuse, which was one with West Coast roots.  So that the Bills are also interested and potential bidding competition is a good sign that he might fit what the Jets could be trying to build in New York as well.

Davis was the franchise player for the Redskins in 2012, despite missing the last four games of the 2011 season for suspension due to failed drug tests.  While a franchise tag is noteworthy, it’s less so considering many GMs use it as a cheap way to keep tight ends based on the drastically lower salary costs of doing so under the new CBA agreement.

Davis appears to be focused on showing the teams that passed him up via free agency that he’s determined to make those very teams regret not signing him.  Here’s what Davis had to say on NFL Network last Friday, via the DC Sports Bog.

“A lot of people are looking at the [Achilles] injury and that stuff,” Davis told the NFL Network on Friday. (Watch the video here.) “I definitely feel like whatever team signed any tight ends right now, I’m gonna make them regret anything that they do – AND the Redskins, too, as well – because I know I’m gonna go out here and I’m gonna do what I have to do. And I’ll bet you next year’s gonna be a good year for me. This is The One right here. This is The Big One. You ever watch Fred Sanford? He had The Big One. That’s what this year is for me. Elizabeth, I’m coming!

Major bonus points to Davis for the Redd Foxx impersonation. Of course, Sanford’s Big One was a running fake, but it’s still a great reference.

Obviously, Davis is a bit of a character — he’s not known as a locker room leader — but he can be productive player.  In the same NFL Network interview, Davis said of Rob Gronkowski that he was “nice” but that he’d take himself over Gronk if he got to play with Brady.  I just hope no one tells him who might be throwing him the ball in New York…

Teams who would sign him will take a risk since he’s already been suspended under the NFL drug policy program.  He’s not an overwhelming blocker but he can be a productive and athletic pass catcher.  Coming out of school, Davis was known more as an H-Back type of player, interesting since the Jets just let a similar player go in Dustin Keller and they have another pass-focused TE in Cumberland already on the roster.  But still, cheap receiving options who can line up in double TE formations or bump out to the slot would have some advantages for a Jets team trying to overhaul their passing attack.

Davis would likely come cheap, and for that reason I get why the Jets are interested.  He would be a managed risk and could come on a short and cheap deal.  Adding a historically productive player like Davis would also take the pressure off the Jets feeling the need to draft a tight end in the early or middle rounds this year with many pressing needs elsewhere on the roster.  While the 2013 TE draft class is a good one and runs deep, signing a player like Davis would give them a chance to adhere to a BPA strategy, even if just a little deeper into the draft.

Watch some poorly edited highlights of Davis here.