NY Jets sign backup tight end Tyler Kroft to one-year deal

NY Jets, Tyler Kroft Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets, Tyler Kroft Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets have signed their eighth player of the free-agency period reportedly adding veteran tight end Tyler Kroft to the roster.

As reported by his agent, Mike McCartney, Kroft is being signed to a one-year deal and will add further depth to the Jets’ tight end group that already features Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, and Trevon Wesco.

Kroft is a veteran, reliable tight end who played with the Buffalo Bills in each of the last two seasons after coming over from Cincinnati. While he hardly played a featured role in Buffalo, he still managed to haul in three touchdowns on just 12 catches a year ago.

Kroft is a worthwhile if not unspectacular addition, but he could see some significant playing time on offense.

Tyler Kroft give the NY Jets extra tight end depth

A third-round pick of the Bengals in the 2015 NFL Draft, Kroft spent his first two seasons behind Tyler Eifert serving as the team’s second tight end. He still managed to start 17 games over that time, but he recorded just 21 catches for 221 yards.

But given Eifert’s lengthy injury history, Kroft actually received the chance to start in 2017 starting all 16 games and finishing with 42 catches for 404 yards and seven touchdowns — all of which are career-highs.

Since then, however, he’s taken more of a backseat role while battling multiple injuries.

Kroft played just five games in 2018 before suffering a foot injury that would knock him out for the remainder of the season. In 2019, his first year with the Bills, another foot injury suffered in training camp kept him sidelined for the first five games of the season.

And he played just 10 games in 2020 after spending some time on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Kroft has struggled to stay on the field over the past few years, but when healthy, he’s been a rock-solid backup tight end.

The local Rutgers product finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 64.3 in 2020 ranking him as the 37th best tight end in football. Notably, his 63.8 run-block grade ranked 28th at his position and was higher than any tight end on the Jets.

He’s a reliable blocker who is likely an upgrade over the aging Ryan Griffin who was a disappointment last season. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets cut Griffin now and recoup an additional $2.5 million or so in cap space.

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Kroft is quality depth and should give the Jets an upgrade at one of their thinnest position groups.