Robert Saleh: Jets Will Leave No Stone Unturned at Tight End

Drew Sample

Getty Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample could be an option for the New York Jets at the trade deadline.

When New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh addressed the media on October 20, he made two important announcements about the tight end position.

The franchise has gotten little to no production from the current group on the roster and that could continue as veteran Tyler Kroft is dealing with a bunch of injury issues moving forward. Saleh noted that Kroft has a “back issue” but he had also been listed with chest and rib injuries in recent weeks.

The prognosis from the Jets HC did not seem overly optimistic either. With a solemn tone, Saleh stated: “[Kroft’s] fighting his way back, I give him credit, it is not easy what he’s going through [right now].”

Assuming the Jets starting tight end is out again in Week 7, that leaves Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, Kenny Yeboah and Daniel Brown. On the season, Griffin is the only one of the four with a reception so far, accumulating eight catches for 49 yards.

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Jets Must Target a Tight End

For Zach Wilson’s sake, Joe Douglas must target a reliable tight end at the trade deadline. Saleh said this when asked if the Jets might be in the market for a TE: “Joe’s phenomenal in the sense [that] he’s always looking at the roster, he’s always having open dialogue, [at] every position which is his job, right? But his transparency and his communication and all that is really as good as anybody I’ve been around, so to answer your question there [are] not many stones Joe leaves left unturned.”

We’ve discussed several options at this position throughout the preseason and regular season, but a few names have stood out of late as deadline fever ensues. Here are the headliners with links to feature articles:

I wanted to throw one more name into the mix, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample.

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Bengals Insider Suggests Sample Is Available

During an ESPN compilation from their NFL Nation crew of reporters, Bengals beat reporter Ben Baby suggested that the former second-rounder could be available at the right price. He stated:

Sample, the Bengals’ 2019 second-round pick, has found various roles in Cincinnati’s offense. He still lags behind C.J. Uzomah in snap share and overall productivity, however. It’s highly unlikely that the Bengals will be looking to trade Sample, but given his output and the value he could have to other teams, he could be a potential trade target.

I know “highly unlikely” doesn’t sound promising but Sample would check a ton of boxes for the Jets if they could convince Cincy to move him.

One, he’s young. The former Washington Huskies graduate just turned 25 in April and there’s a ton of untapped potential there with room for growth. This wouldn’t be a move for an aging veteran like Zach Ertz, Sample could become the tight end of the future.

Two, he’s cheap. The Bengals prospect might cost a mid-round draft pick but he’s under his rookie contract until the end of 2022. That would give Douglas and Saleh a year and a half to evaluate him. You could still draft a tight end in 2022, but this would give you three young bullets for Wilson if you include Yeboah.

Three, he fits the mold. Sample got the most burn in 2020 when Uzomah was injured. He’s more of a blocking tight end with solid grades from Pro Football Focus in pass protection and run-blocking that season (72.6 and 72.1 respectively), but he was also a reliable safety net for Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback was a rookie at the time and Sample logged 40 receptions for 349 yards and a touchdown.

In all honesty, Sample kind of replaced Kroft in Cincinnati. He’s a very similar player and could even be seen as a younger version of the injury-prone vet. The Jets could follow in the Bengals’ footsteps and nab their in-line tight end of the future at the deadline.

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