Based on the decision to bring in both C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency, this move felt inevitable. The 32-year old had quickly become the third-best TE option on the roster, fourth if youngster Kenny Yeboah makes some strides.
Griffin also had a clear out in his contract, with a total dead cap hit of $686K in 2022. By cutting him, general manager Joe Douglas saved a little over $3 million, which could be used to help fill a different area of need.
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Griffin Lands in Chicago
With OTAs right around the corner, the nine-year NFL pro wasted no time in finding a new franchise. Just before midnight on April 7, PFF reporter Ari Meirov announced that “the [Chicago] Bears are signing former Jets and Texans TE Ryan Griffin to a 1-year, $2.25M deal.”
It’s a solid offer for the veteran, considering his age and production. Griffin tailed off following his 320-yard campaign in 2019 that included five touchdown grabs. After a dud season in 2020, the tight end did lead his unit in yardage last year — although that was more due to his competition.
Griffin’s 261 yards in 2021 beat out the oft-injured Tyler Kroft and fullback hybrid Trevon Wesco. Yeboah and special teamer Daniel Brown also recorded receptions in limited action, but the tight end room was a mess during Zach Wilson’s rookie campaign.
Douglas was right to blow things up this offseason, and Griffin is the first of the cast offs to latch on elsewhere. He’ll join Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted to bolster a shallow TE group in Chicago.
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Jets Addition Flying Way Under the Radar
Uzomah has gotten more publicity of the two signings but it’s possible Conklin could be the future top tight end in this offense when all is said and done.
The Minnesota Vikings’ fifth-rounder is a rising star that’s currently entering his prime NFL years at 26 going on 27. Conklin has always had an impressive catch percentage — 71.5% for his career — but he didn’t get much playing time during his first three seasons in the league. In year four, he enjoyed a nice breakout after being elevated into a starting role.
Conklin caught 61 of 87 targets for 593 yards, three touchdowns, and 26 first downs last year. He should have a featured role in the two-TE system that offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was attempting to operate in 2021.
The ex-Viking even noted that the Jets’ plan is to have him work in tandem with Uzomah during his introductory press conference, telling reporters that together they “can be one of the best, if not the best tight end [duos]” in the NFL.
During an interview with team reporter Eric Allen, Conklin voiced that he’s excited to be a Jet for “so many reasons.” He continued: “Whether it’s the plan that the coaching staff has for me, being with a young quarterback was a huge part of it, the offense is an offense I’m very familiar with… just so many reasons why I’m excited about it.”
Green is even the new tight end’s favorite color, and he promised fans that he’s “not just saying that.”