The New York Jets made a ton of improvements this offseason to several key areas of the team:
Tight end wasn’t one of those areas.
Besides that everything else at the position is pretty much the same from last season with three other tight ends listed on the roster: Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, and Trevon Wesco (although he’s really a fullback now).
There’s no other way to put this, the group lacks sizzle.
Brown, Griffin, and Kroft are all essentially the same type of players with similar ceilings. While there was a nice pop from Kroft in the preseason (catching two touchdowns from the rookie quarterback), it was probably just a flash in the pan.
When you evaluate the grand scope of his career, the veteran has played in the NFL for six years, during that time he has never had a season greater than 404 yards receiving. Nor has he had more than 42 catches in any single season.
That track record suggests he’s just a guy and nothing more. Although the Jets don’t have to settle for mediocrity they could upgrade the unit significantly.
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Free Agency Provides Several Possibilities
We’ve broken down 10 ways the Jets can upgrade their tight end position and we’ll split them evenly down the middle.
Here are five tight ends the Jets could sign right now in free agency that could provide a different flavor in the room.
5. Kenny Yeboah
The Jets have Yeboah on the practice squad after signing him as a priority free agent following the 2021 NFL draft out of Ole Miss. I was initially fine with keeping him there, despite the upside, because we had Chris Herndon.
That changed last week when Gang Green traded the super athletic fourth-year pro to the Minnesota Vikings. Now the group lacks upside, Yeboah provides that in spades, albeit he has some flaws. He would provide an “it” factor for this group.
4. Tyler Eifert
This would be a high upside add. Eifert has insane size (6-foot-6, 255 pounds), but his major problem has been health. He has only played in a full 16-game season once during his career, but the good news is over the last two years he has played in 31 out of 32 possible games.
Back in 2015 Eifert had a magical 13 touchdown season but hasn’t been able to recapture that same magic since. What do you have to lose with a move like this? Sign him and if he works out great and if he doesn’t you cut bait.
3. Trey Burton
The former Super Bowl champion is looking for work and the Jets could be a great fit. He doesn’t have the size of an Eifert (only 6-foot-2, 238 pounds), but what he lacks in size he makes up for in versatility and athleticism.
There’s an obvious connection here from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and current general manager Joe Douglas. That familiarity could lead to a contract with the green and white.
This is a player they worked out a few weeks ago and currently, he finds himself on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad. Matthews spent many years in the pros as a viable wide receiver but recently made the conversion to tight end.
This is the kind of dart throw the Jets should make that would add some sizzle and flair. A positional group in the NFL should have a healthy mix of everything: safe reliable players and risky ones with higher ceilings. Matthews fits the latter category.
1. Ben Mason
This name should sound super familiar to Jets fans. In the lead-up to the 2021 NFL draft, there were a lot of rumors suggesting the green and white had a strong interest in the former versatile Michigan do it all man.
It would probably be easier to list the things Mason doesn’t do as opposed to the things he does:
- Tight end
He can block, catch passes out of the backfield, and was compared to 49ers’ great Kyle Juszczyk. Why wouldn’t the Jets, who had an interest during the draft, sign the multi-talented player off the New England Patriots practice squad?
Plus it would give them a nice brain-drain opportunity ahead of their matchup vs New England in Week 2.
Top 5 Trade Options Jets Should Consider
The top five free agency options are all free agents for a reason, no one wanted them on an active 53 man roster.
In this section we’ll discuss the top five trade options the Jets should consider to upgrade their woeful tight end unit.
5. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s another connection to Douglas here, the Jets and Eagles just had intimate joint practices where everyone got familiar with one another, could this make sense?
I know they all kissed and made up and everyone is back together as one harmonious family in the city of brotherly love, but why not kick the tires?
Ertz is old, 30, but he’s reliable and would be a great weapon for a young rookie quarterback. The price can’t be high and we all know Douglas likes a deal.
4. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons
I had several fans reach out and suggest this one so I had to oblige. Hurst is a talented 28-year old former first-rounder that is buried on the depth chart in Atlanta.
The Falcons just invested the No. 4 overall pick in Kyle Pitts out of Florida who is now the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. Hurst is expendable and would be a nice upgrade over what the Jets currently boast, although that isn’t saying much.
3. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Njoku has seemingly been on the trade block for his entire career with the Cleveland Browns. You can’t deny the talent or athletic gifts, but you can deny his ability to consistently catch a football.
He’s basically a suped-up version of Chris Herndon, both played college at Miami, but Njoku went in the first round and the ex-Jets tight end was a day-three pick. The 25-year old has requested a trade from Cleveland in the past.
2. Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts
Mo Alie-Cox is a former college basketball star at VCU and transitioned to football late. He has played for the Indianapolis Colts for the last three years and is coming off a career season: 31 receptions for 394 yards and two touchdowns.
The Colts also have a pair of tight ends on the roster in Jack Doyle and a rising rookie they used a fourth-rounder on in Kylen Granson. For the right price Cox seemingly could be had.
1. OJ Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s not even close, the top option, regardless of trade or free agency, is OJ Howard. He’s a former top-20 pick that provides everything you’d look for with size, speed, and insane potential.
He’s currently operating as the third tight end with the Buccaneers and they just won a Super Bowl without his services. If I’m Douglas I make the call and see what it’ll take. He’s entering the last year of his rookie contract and could be the long-term answer the Jets have been searching for.