Looking Ahead: Jets 2013 Tight Ends

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

New England Patriots v New York Jets

Over the next few days, we’ll take a look at each position on the Jets roster and take a look ahead at what the Jets might expect and might need to address this coming offseason.  Up next, the Tight Ends.

Coming Off The Books

Dustin Keller — A little over a year ago Keller looked like he was en route to a big eventual payday from the Jets, but since then his quarterback (who favors him) has imploded, his offensive coordinator has proved to be a mistake and he was injured much of the season it’s hard to justify a big contract for him.  That said, Keller caught a scorchin 78% of passes thrown his way this season, an amazing stat.  Keller expressed that he doesn’t want to be franchised, but that doesn’t seem very likely at this point by the Jets and their cap concerns this year.  The Jets might transition tag him, but that’s nothing more than a first right of refusal and won’t work to the Jets favor in this instance.  Keller has expressed a real desire to stay in New York, but with a new GM, what will happen between him and the new man in charge?  A new OC might have a lot to say with the value someone like Keller could offer the team in 2013 but even so, the Jets might not be willing to give Keller a contract with any serious cap implications in year one and based on his injury concerns this year, they don’t want to push any gaurantees back too far either … an idea which Keller might not like.  Keep lines of communication open, but let Keller test free agent waters.

Jeff Cumberland — Cumberland was a creation of former GM Mike Tannenbaum and 2012 was the year we finally got to see how he could contribute.  Cumberland had some high points and low points during the season, but he actually graded out as the 31st best TE in the league via Pro Football Focus.  The Jets have been careful to protect him in the past and Cumberland might have shown some of his potential this year.  Granted, his receving ability is not on par with Dustin Keller, but he could be a competent replacement at the spot if the Jets are really hard up on cash.  As a restricted free agent, the Jets choice seems easy. Low tender him and bring him back as a #2 at the very least in 2013.

On The Books

Konrad Reuland  — Reuland linked up with the team late enough that his production might be questioned by his unfamiliarity with the offense.  That said, Reuland was one of the absolute worst run-blockers in the league, and that’s got to get cleaned up if the Jets want to keep him around in 2013.  Expendable, but should compete with Hayden Smith and Josh Baker for a spot.

Josh Baker — I loved what I saw from Josh Baker over the summer, but that brutal knee injury against the Panthers ruined his chances.  The Jets offense seems to highly value the F-Back type of tight end and Baker is a great example of one of those.  Baker is a hard-nosed player and might be in the mix for the #2 or #3 spot in 2013 based on who they draft..  If there is one silver lining, it’s that his injury occurred so early in the season that he should be close to full speed for spring practices.  Let him compete for a higher roster spot.

Hayden Smith — Smith has come a long way quickly.  As a former rugby star, Smith saw a very little bit of time at the end of the season.  In one of the best complements I can give a guy transitioning from other sports to a new one at the highest level, Hayden Smith didn’t do anything to dissuade those inside the organization from giving him more opportunity moving forward.  Smith is a capable blocker and could really make a jump next year in production.  Knowing his roles and keys that much better will make him less hesitant and better able to channel his obvious killer instinct.  More time this year working with coaches on and off the field can only help him. Let him compete for a higher roster spot.

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