In Defense of Jeff Cumberland


Dec 29, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets tight end

Jeff Cumberland

(87) makes a catch against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets defeated Miami 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, the NY Daily News broke the story that the Jets are negotiating with unrestricted free agent tight end Jeff Cumberland on a new contract. This got the fan base upset, all very confused about why the Jets would even consider bringing back this player.

So, we are going take the opposite viewpoint this morning, and make the case for bringing back Jeff Cumberland.

First of all, there is the issue of depth, specifically, the fact that you can’t have too much of it. If that depth can already be familiar with the system that your team runs, even better. Yes, Kellen Winslow outperformed Cumberland in 2013, there is no disagreement there. Anyone that follows this blog knows how excited I was to have Kellen Winslow in the fold last year.

However, with all of his problems off of the field, it is seemingly less and less likely that the Jets will be bringing Kellen Winslow back. So, if the Jets are going to bring back a familiar face at tight end, it’s going to be Cumberland. Nowhere does the article say that he is coming back to START, nor does it say they are going to break the bank.

Here are Jeff Cumberland’s stats so far in his career:

Receiving & Rushing

Are these the stats of a number one tight end in this day and age of the NFL? Probably not. But are they the numbers of a player that is a serviceable backup, that could step in if necessary? Absolutely.

You get similar results when you look at some of his advanced metrics, courtesy of our friends at Pro Football Focus.  For example, Jeff was targeted 39 times, catching 26 passes, for a catch percentage of 66.7%.  Taking into account the trials of a rookie quarterback, and you look at these numbers in a different light.  They aren’t perfect, but they aren’t so bad either.

We have talked about yards after the catch being a staple of the “West Coast” offense, have we not?  Well, Jeff Cumberland was ninth in the league in this category with 7.7 yards after the catch per reception(for tight ends that played at least 25% of team snaps).  That puts Jeff 2.5 yards higher than players such as Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates (5.2)

Another interesting stat in Jeff’s favor is yards per reception.  He ranked fifth at the position with 15.3 yards per reception, and was over one yard better than Jimmy Graham (14.1).

Now, am I saying that Cumberland is a better player than Jimmy Graham?  Of course not.  I do have eyes.

What I am saying is that if the Jets keep Jeff Cumberland around, it’s not such a bad idea.  The guy has ability, and would certainly be an able backup to Eric Ebron or whomever else the Jets bring in.