The New York Jets for the past few years have had all sorts of problems when it comes to their tight end situation. This time around, fans can get excited about the possibilities.
After years and years of sub level production from the tight end position, general manager Mike Maccagnan might have solved the problem. As a result, fans of the New York Jets should be excited about the tight end position.
Finding the right players to man the position hasn’t been easy for the Jets. It’s not like they haven’t made attempts before to correct the problem, but players such as Jace Amaro have failed to succeed with the team.
The position wasn’t given much importance by former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, as he used his tight ends primarily as blockers to aid his offensive line. However, Gailey is now gone and John Morton has stepped in to run his version of a West Coast offense. Put simply, Morton likes to use his tight ends as offensive weapons rather than solely for blocking purposes.
Maccagnan went to work last year in hopes of getting some sort of production from the position. In September of last season, the team announced they had signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins was a former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2014 NFL Draft. After two injury-plagued years with Tampa and a DUI arrest, the Buccaneers parted ways with the big tight end.
The 6’5″/262-pound tight end came to the Jets looking for a fresh start. While 2016 wasn’t very kind to him, a series of minor injuries kept him off the field and the big man ended the year with just ten receptions for 110 yards. Not very impressive, but those totals led the team’s tight ends last season.
The good news for Jets fans came this spring when Jenkins showed up for organized team activities lighter and ready to go. Reports out of those practices had Seferian-Jenkins running clean crisp routes and catching everything thrown his way. Seferian-Jenkins is entering the final year of his contract, and the team is expecting big things from him this season. He’ll spend the first two games of the year on the suspended player list as a result of the DUI, but his return should be anxiously awaited by fans.
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In addition to Jenkins, Maccagnan went out and drafted Jordan Leggett in the fifth round of this year’s draft. Leggett measures in as 6’5″ and 255 pounds and played his collegiate ball at Clemson University.
While his forty-time (4.71 secs) at the 2017 NFL Combine failed to impress many scouts, his strong hands are capable of bringing in anything thrown his way. Leggett will need to work hard on his blocking game this summer, but as a target, in the offense, he is an upgrade over anything Jets fans have seen in quite a while.
Beyond Jenkins and Leggett, the Jets have Eric Tomlinson, Jason Vander Laan, and Brian Parker currently on the roster. Tomlinson appeared in seven games last year for the team, he wasn’t targeted in the passing game, as he was used primarily as a blocker for the Jets running game. Vander Laan is a former collegiate quarterback who spent last year on the team’s practice squad as he attempts to make the conversion to the position. Parker has bounced around the league a bit before landing with the Jets, he’ll attempt to make a spot for himself as the summer progresses.
The combination of Jenkins and Leggett promises to be an exciting watch for fans through training camp. If all goes according to plan, that combination will aid Morton’s offense and finally give Jets fans something to be excited about from the position. It’s been a long time coming!