The 10 best tight ends in the history of New York Jets

Who is the greatest tight end in Jets history?
Dustin Keller
Dustin Keller / Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps no position in the sport of football has evolved more than the tight end position over the years. It's transitioned from a primarily blocking role to a versatile position integral to both the passing and running games.

Modern tight ends are now expected to possess the speed and agility to run routes and make crucial catches, while still maintaining the strength and technique necessary for effective blocking. The NY Jets have seen that very transition over the years.

Unfortunately, while the team has a lengthy history of standout wide receivers and running backs, the same can't really be said for their tight ends. This might just be the weakest position group in Jets history.

Still, there are a few notable names in Jets history that stand out amongst the rest. Let's take a deep dive and analyze the 10 best tight ends in franchise history.

Criteria for selection

As with every all-time list, there isn't one single metric that can be used to determine the "best" tight ends in a team's history. The overall lack of great options at the tight end position makes this a very difficult list to put together.

We will be ranking these players based on a combination of team success, individual success, awards, accolades, longevity, memorable moments, overall impact, etc. An emphasis will be placed on the lasting impact they've had on the Jets' organization.

This list will include any player who played the tight end position for the Jets, which means that a couple of notable wide receiver/tight end hybrids will be mentioned. If the Jets listed them as a "tight end," they will be included on this list.

We're also taking into account contributions as both a receiver and blocker. This isn't necessarily a list of the most productive receiving tight ends in Jets history, although impact as a receiver will be prioritized.

The top 10 tight ends in NY Jets history

10. Kyle Brady

Kyle Brady's name will forever be attached to one of the most infamous moments in NFL Draft history. Despite the cries from Jets fans for their team to draft future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, the Jets opted to select Penn State tight end Kyle Brady with the ninth overall pick.

Brady never lived up to expectations in New York, spending just four years with the team before leaving to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. He'd actually put together a very respectable 13-year career, although only the first four came as a member of the Jets.

Still, Brady was a capable tight end for the Jets in the mid-to-late '90s. He was an above-average blocker who continued to improve in that area over the course of his career and a reliable enough contributor in the receiving game.

Brady ranks 11th among all tight ends in Jets history in receiving yards, one spot behind Jeff Cumberland. It's unfortunate that his solid NFL career will always be overshadowed by the Jets' infamous draft-day blunder.

9. Chris Baker

The phrase "he was a solid and capable starter" will be thrown around a lot on this list, but it certainly holds true for longtime Jets tight end Chris Baker. Baker was the definition of average, and that's not a bad thing.

A third-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Baker was drafted to complement Anthony Becht in the Jets' tight end room, and he'd go on to spend the next seven years with the organization.

Baker eventually took over as the full-time starter, although he never recorded more than 409 yards in a season. That said, with nearly 100 career games with the Jets under his belt, he absolutely deserves a spot on this list.

Baker ranks seventh among Jets tight ends in total receiving yards, a result of his longevity and consistency over a number of years.

8. Tyler Conklin

Yes, Tyler Conklin is already one of the best tight ends in Jets history, and you could very easily make an argument he deserves to be even higher on this list.

Conklin signed with the Jets ahead of the 2022 season, and at the time of writing, he's put together consecutive seasons of 500-plus yards. He already ranks eighth all-time among Jets tight ends in receiving yards.

In fact, only two tight ends in Jets history have finished a season with more catches than Conklin. His 2023 season in which he finished with 61 catches for 621 yards is legitimately one of the best single-season performances by a Jets tight end in decades.

Conklin will have an opportunity to continue climbing up this list with a hopefully healthy Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. He's already cemented his place in Jets tight end history.

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7. Anthony Becht

One of the members of the Jets' historic 2000 NFL Draft class, Anthony Becht was never the receiving threat that many of the others on this list were. For that reason, he tends to get a little overlooked in Jets history.

But make no mistake about it, Becht was an important piece in those early 2000s Jets offenses. The future St. Louis Battlehawks head coach often acted as a sixth offensive lineman, leading the way for Curtis Martin and the Jets' dynamic rushing attack.

In five years with the Jets, Becht amassed 133 catches for 1,164 yards and 17 touchdowns. He'd last another six years in the NFL, primarily with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before calling it a career after the 2011 season.

Becht is arguably the Jets' best blocking tight end of all time and he always seemed to have an affinity for clutchness. That's why he deserves his spot on this list.

6. Johnny Mitchell

If this were a ranking of the most talented tight ends in Jets history, Johnny Mitchell would likely be near the top. Unfortunately, the former Nebraska star never lived up to his potential in the NFL.

The Jets drafted Mitchell with the 15th overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft with the hope that he could become a future building block on offense. Mitchell had trouble adapting to the NFL game as a rookie, but he started to put things together in his second season.

Mitchell finished that year with 39 catches for 630 yards and six touchdowns before putting together his best season under Pete Carroll in 1994 with 58 catches for 749 yards and four touchdowns. Only two tight ends in Jets history have finished a season with more yards than Mitchell.

That would prove to be the peak of his career, as the Jets would draft Kyle Brady the following offseason, his role would decrease, and he'd leave following the 1995 season. Mitchell caught just one more pass in the NFL after departing the Jets (and retiring a few times).

5. Pete Lammons

Pete Lammons was the Jets' starting tight end when the team won Super Bowl III and also the team's first Pro Bowler (or AFL All-Star) at the position. Often overlooked in a receiving corps that featured stars like Don Maynard and George Sauer, Lammons was a quality NFL player in his own right.

Lammons had his best two seasons in his first two years in the NFL, totaling over 1,000 yards and nearly 90 catches between 1966 and 1967. He was still a key contributor by the time the Jets won the Super Bowl the following season.

Lammons was known as a quality blocker with excellent hands during his time in pro football. He was also the model of consistency and durability, missing just one game during his six years with the Jets.

The Texas product ranks fifth all-time among Jets tight ends in receiving yards and is the only tight end on this list to have won a championship with the team. That has to count for something.

4. Dustin Keller

The most recent Jets tight end on this list outside of Tyler Conklin, Dustin Keller was a staple of those Jets teams that made consecutive AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010. To a certain segment of younger Jets fans, he's the standard bearer at the tight end position.

The 30th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Keller immediately earned a prominent role as a rookie and proceeded to put together four straight seasons of at least 500 yards to begin his career.

Keller's best season came in 2011 when he led the Jets in receiving, finishing with 65 catches for 815 yards and five touchdowns. Mickey Shuler is the only Jets tight end to record more receptions in a single season.

Unfortunately, a severe ankle sprain would limit Keller in 2012 and his career would come to a tragic end after suffering a serious knee injury with the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Still, Keller has earned his place in Jets history, ranking fourth all-time among tight ends in career receiving yards.

3. Jerome Barkum

Here's where we get into the hybrid territory. Jerome Barkum was drafted by the Jets with the ninth overall pick in the 1972 NFL Draft as a wide receiver, While Barkum played both tight end and wide receiver at Jackson State, the Jets initially deployed him as a wideout at the NFL level.

Barkum excelled at the position, even earning a Pro Bowl nod in 1973 after finishing with 44 catches for 810 yards and six touchdowns. He would later transition to a full-time tight end in the late 1970s.

Barkum was never the most effective blocker, instead making an impact as a speedy deep threat and reliable receiver. His 12 years with the Jets earn him a huge plus for longevity, but it's hard to overlook the fact that his best days with the team came as a wide receiver.

Barkum technically ranks second among all Jets tight ends in career receiving yards, but a lot of that production came as a wide receiver. Still, his longevity and years of reliable production easily earn him a top-three spot on this list.

2. Rich Caster

Jerome Barkum isn't the only hybrid wide receiver/tight end on our list. Rich Caster began his Jets career as a wide receiver, but head coach Weeb Ewbank's decision to move him to tight end proved to be a stroke of genius.

Caster's first season as a tight end came in 1972. Ewbank's decision was due in part to the Jets' selection of Barkum in that year's draft, but it also helped that Caster's 4.50 speed was a major mismatch for opposing defenses.

Caster made the Pro Bowl in his first season as a tight end, totaling 833 yards and 10 touchdowns. No tight end in Jets history has finished a season with more touchdowns and only one has recorded more yards.

Caster would make three Pro Bowls with the Jets as a tight end before moving back to wide receiver in 1977 (Barkum was switched to tight end). His 17.3 yards per reception ranks first among all qualified tight ends in NFL history. Yes, NFL history.

1. Mickey Shuler

The Jets may not have the most prestigious history of talented tight ends, but Mickey Shuler stands alone atop the list as the best tight end in franchise history.

Primarily a blocking tight end at Penn State, Shuler was drafted in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Jets and used in a similar fashion under then-head coach Walt Michaels. It wasn't until Joe Walton took over as head coach that Shuler found his footing as a receiver.

Shuler broke out with 782 yards in 1984 and followed that up with the single-best season by a tight end in Jets history in 1985, finishing with 76 catches for 879 yards and seven touchdowns. The two-time Pro Bowler owns the four seasons with the most catches by a tight end in Jets history.

He'd top 800 yards again in 1988, earning second-team All-Pro honors in the process — the only Jets tight end to accomplish that feat. Shuler finished his 12-year Jets career with 438 receptions, a mark that's tied for fifth among all players in team history.

His combination of longevity, individual success, and historic accolades makes him the clear-cut choice for the best tight end in Jets history.

The 10 best tight ends in NY Jets history by receiving yards



Years With Team

Receiving Yards


Mickey Shuler




Jerome Barkum




Rich Caster




Dustin Keller




Pete Lammons




Johnny Mitchell




Chris Baker




Tyler Conklin




Anthony Becht




Jeff Cumberland