4. C.J. Uzomah, TE, NY Jets
C.J. Uzomah may not be a "starter" in name, but the veteran tight end did start 13 of the 15 games he played last season. He was on the field for 53 percent of the team's offensive snaps. For all intents and purposes, he's a starter.
Uzomah mostly played second fiddled to position-mate Tyler Conklin in his first season with the Jets. He finished the year with just 21 catches for 232 yards and two touchdowns, although he did make his presence felt as a blocker.
The Jets like what Uzomah brings, both on and off the field. On the field, he's a reliable possession receiver who doubles as an effective in-line blocker. Off the field, he's one of the most charismatic and beloved players in the locker room.
That said, he might not necessarily be a part of the Jets' future. Uzomah is still under contract in 2024, but the Jets could release him and save over $5 million.
Now, the fact that the Jets restructured Uzomah's contract this offseason makes it a little less likely. Releasing him next spring would incur a dead cap penalty of just under $6 million. They'd still save money, but not as much as they would have if the restructuring didn't happen.
This largely depends on the development of Jeremy Ruckert and, to a lesser extent, Zack Kuntz. Ruckert was one of the stars of OTAs this spring, and the Jets believe he could be ready to take on a larger role in 2023 after what was essentially a redshirt rookie year.
If the Jets believe Ruckert can replicate Uzomah's production, it would make sense for the team to move on next offseason. After all, they didn't draft Ruckert to sit on the bench for three years.