Jets Sign ‘Freaky’ 23-Year-Old to Multiyear $3.8 Million Deal

Tyler Conklin, Jets

Getty New York Jets tight end Tyler Conklin hanging out with a teammate during an NFL game.

The New York Jets have signed an intriguing former collegiate prospect.

Gang Green announced officially on social media that it had signed tight end Zack Kuntz. It is a four-year deal with a maximum value of $3.8 million, per Over The Cap.

The standard rookie deal includes a $114,388 signing bonus and the base salary for 2023 will be $750,000.

NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic described his biggest strength as “freaky athletic traits.”

An Interesting Dart Throw by Jets Late in 2023 NFL Draft

Kuntz was the No. 220 overall pick in the seventh round out of Old Dominion in April’s draft.

When you study the college production or lack thereof, you can understand why he went so late in the class.

Over a five-year period at two different colleges, Kuntz only caught 88 receptions for 862 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

However, when you look at the traits and measurables, Kuntz should have been one of the first tight ends selected in the draft.

He measured in at the combine at 6-foot-7 and weighed in at 255 pounds. While he was in Indianapolis he posted a 94 “athleticism score”, per Next Gen Stats, “which ranked first in the tight end class.”

Kuntz was expected to light up the combine with his God-given gifts and he didn’t disappoint.

He had the second-fastest 40-yard dash of any tight-end prospect (4.55). Posted a 40-inch vertical which ranked No. 1 at his position. The 10’8″ broad jump also placed No. 1 among tight ends. Kuntz also delivered 23 bench press reps of 225 pounds which were tied for the best number at TE.

“We were sitting there at the top of the seventh round and just going through some of the guys who just had that freak factor to him and he was right there at the top — the size, the speed, the length, the jump, just everything,” GM Joe Douglas told the media post-draft. “Another size-speed freak.”

Jets Could Have Long-Term Answer at TE

On the surface, the Jets seem pretty well stocked at the tight end position with three roster locks in Tyler Conklin, CJ Uzomah, and Jeremy Ruckert.

However, things aren’t always as they appear on the surface.

The 23-year-old is set to turn 24 before the start of the 2023 season. Despite all the athleticism and God-given gifts, there is a reason he went so late in the draft.

Brugler said he lacks “desired bulk” in his large frame and “struggles” as a blocker. When Dane studied the tape he also noticed that Kuntz is too much of a body catcher instead of letting his hands do the work.

Another big reason he slipped in the draft was due to a “dislocated kneecap” in October of 2022 that required surgery, per Brugler. It forced him to miss some of the buildup to the draft which kept him somewhat under the radar which benefitted the Jets.

The Jets may give him the redshirt treatment in 2023 that they gave Ruckert last year. It might be a bit of a stretch to assume he can be a contributor as a rookie, but if everyone is patient he could pay big dividends down the line.

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