Jets ‘Badly Wanted’ Hated Division Rival’s Star Player: Report

Jonnu Smith Patriots

Getty New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith fighting off a New York Jets defender in the middle of an NFL contest.

The New York Jets have played things pretty safely during general manager Joe Douglas’ tenure thus far.

He has mitigated risk and has kept things pretty close to the vest. While that has delivered ample cap space and tons of draft picks, it hasn’t exactly delivered in the win column thus far.

That narrative is expected to change this upcoming offseason. Although one insider says the Jets were this close to pulling off a blockbuster move this past year, but they were left at the altar.

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A Very Interesting Backstory

It was no secret that the Jets wanted to upgrade the tight end position last year and they had their eyes set on former Tennessee Titans stud Jonnu Smith.

Connor Hughes of The Athletic says the Jets “badly wanted” the 26-year-old budding star and made him “a compelling offer”, but instead he chose to join the hated New England Patriots.

The talented tight end signed a record-breaking four-year deal for $50 million and featured over $32 million in total guarantees.

While he is in the playoffs with the Pats and had far better team success than the lowly Jets who hold a top-five pick, Smith didn’t get the individual glory this season.

In 16 games played, he only registered 28 catches for 294 yards and a single touchdown. Those ended up being some of his worst career numbers to date.

Most of the season he played second fiddle to another tight end on the roster who was signed last offseason in Hunter Henry.

The veteran had a career-high in 2021 with nine touchdown grabs to go along with 50 receptions and over 603 receiving yards.

The Jets meanwhile pivoted to some lower-level options when they swung and missed on Smith. Fast forward a year later and the Jets will once again be searching for an answer at the tight end position.

Several Tasty Ideas

It is fair to wonder if Smith has some regret about picking the Patriots? Although we haven’t invented time travel yet, so there is no point in worrying about those issues anymore. It is time to look towards the future.

How can the Jets finally solve the tight end void in 2022?

Well, Hughes provided some possible answers in his column for The Athletic.

He mentioned two aging veterans that could pique the Jets’ interest. One we have heard about quite often due to the obvious Douglas connection from their time in Philadelphia together (Zach Ertz).

While the potential Zach-to-Zach connection sounds interesting and could probably sell a few t-shirts, he is 31 years of age and probably wants to remain with a Super Bowl contender.

Although the other veteran Hughes named could be an interesting band-aid to hold things down for the next few seasons. Jared Cook of the Los Angeles Chargers is 34, will be 35 by the start of the 2022 season, but continues to produce at a high level.

He has played for seven different NFL franchises over the last 13 years and hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. Here are Cook’s numbers over the last four years:

  • 196 receptions
  • 2,669 yards
  • 26 touchdowns

Not too bad for an old man.

It would behoove the green and white to double-dip at the position this offseason. Add a solid veteran in free agency and then follow that up in the 2022 NFL draft with a younger more long-term option.

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