NY Jets: Richard Caster, the last great tight end


A look at in NY Jets history remembering the last great tight end the organization had in Richard Caster.

As many of my readers already know, I have been calling for the organization to draft a top end tight end for many years now. It is a position that the Jets have not fared well in historically. They have made their attempts over the years, but sadly for Jet fans, they have fallen short far too often.

The most recent effort came just last season when the Jets drafted Jace Amaro in the second round. A less then spectacular rookie season and a loss of a season due to injury this year has already started to diminish this fan’s enthusiasm over yet another tight end.

I’d like to step back in time to my younger days and remember a Jet tight end who left his mark on the franchise. That player is none other then Richard Caster, who played from 1970 until the end of the 1977 NFL season. Caster, in at least my eyes, is the “last great tight end” for the Jets.

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Caster joined the Jets as a second round pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. He played thirteen seasons in the NFL, eight with the Jets (1970-77), three years with the Houston Oilers (1978 – 80), one for the New Orleans Saints (1981) and finished out his NFL career with the Washington Redskins (1981-82), where he won a Super Bowl ring.

Caster stood at 6’5″ and tipped the scales at 228 pounds. Caster played his college football at Jackson State University where he played as a wide receiver. Converted to tight end by the Jets in his rookie season, Caster wasted no time in becoming a consistent contributor to the Jet teams of the 1970’s.

Caster left an huge mark on the organization and its record books during his Jet career. He holds the all-time record for Jet tight ends with 36 touchdowns to his credit. Caster possessed good speed for a tight end of his day, and he used his body size well to gain separation, as a result, Caster became a threat to take it all the way, every single time he got near the football. He provided plenty of excitement for the fans that faithfully cheered for him from the confines of Shea Stadium.

He was an excellent third down receiver, and never showed any fear while splitting the seam and taking the hits over the middle, to put it simply, Caster was a bruiser, who took the punishment as well as he dished it out. He was a strong runner after the catch, often dragging would be tacklers down field with him. An excellent pass catching tight end, Caster finished his Jet career with 4,434 receiving yards, which places him at the top of the tight end list and placed him 15th overall among Jet receivers.

Among Caster’s other bench setting marks, he holds the top per catch average of any Jet tight end, and stands third if you include wide receivers. Caster’s 18.1 career average is only surpassed by Jet greats Wesley Walker (19.0), and Don Maynard (18.7). To his credit, Caster posted twelve 100+ yard games for the Jets in his career. His contributions to the Jets’ offense made him a three time Pro Bowler, winning selections in 1972, 1974 and 1975.

Caster played in 107 games as a Jet, starting in 88 of those contests and building a brilliant Jet career at tight end in the process. He was a well-rounded talent as well, earning his keep in pass protections as well as a receiver. Caster was versatile in his play, often lining up in the slot and even spread wide as a receiver in many formations. In a nutshell, Caster was the complete package, a contributor in the passing game, a capable blocker in blitz pick ups and a formidable blocker in the run game. Caster wore #88 throughout his Jet career and will likely always be remembered as a Jet fan favorite.

Today, Caster remains active with the NFL and the Jets. In 2010, he testified in front of Congress to urge the Congress to take steps in protecting youth from head injuries involving sports.  Since retiring from the NFL, Caster has stayed involved in youth sports, coaching, teaching and mentoring youths for numerous youth programs including the Boys Club in the Bronx. Caster has started mentoring programs for youth sports, often turning to former NFL players to help in the mentoring process.

In conclusion, I see Caster as one of the all-time great Jet players. He not only “played like a Jet” during his career, but has also been a class act off the field and in retirement as well. To me, he has proven himself to be the type of players kids would be wise to look up to and I will always remember him as one of my all-time favorite Jet players!

Do you have memories of Caster’s Jet career? Do you have a favorite play he was involved in? Maybe you have had the fortune of meeting the man himself? We here at The Jet Press would appreciate it if you would leave us a comment and tell us your take on Caster’s career. As always, Let’s Talk Jet Football!!

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