Over the next few weeks we will be looking at each position on the New York Jets roster and seeking your input on who you think should stay and who you think should go. Up next, the Jets' tight ends.
Overview: One of the most interesting departures from previous iterations of the Jets offense was the almost willful neglect of the tight end position in the passing game. In 2015, Jets tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis were targeted a total of 25 times (14 and 11, respectively) compared to 107 targets for tight ends Jace Amaro (53), Cumberland (47) and Zach Sudfeld (seven) just a year ago. It's true Amaro was shut down for the season due to a preseason shoulder injury, but would his presence have been the missing piece in the offense?
Expected to Return (4)
Jace Amaro, age 23
Wes Saxton, age 22 (futures contract)
Brandon Bostick, age 26 (futures contract)
Adrien Robinson, age 27 (futures contract)
Amaro had a solid rookie campaign in 2014, but he is not a superb, irreeplaceable starter for the Jets. I look at the three players on this list with Amaro. All have "move" tight end characteristics: Saxton was a receiver who transitioned to an athletic tight end in college before being selected by the Jets as a priority undrafted free agent last summer; Bostick was a core special teamer transitioning to tight end in Green Bay before an ill-fated onside kick recovery in the playoffs; and Robinson, a former Giant, profiled as a large and explosive (check his spider graph) prospect before being cut due to lack of contribution as a blocker or on special teams.
It appears to me that the Jets are looking for answers at the tight end position and are unconvinced on just how helpful Amaro could be to this team. GM Mike Maccagnan recently described Amaro as a "wild card" for the Jets offense in 2016, but for Amaro, most of his 2014 contributions can be chalked up to plays in which he was split out, made a move behind the linebackers for a short catch (not always a clean one, by the way) and turned upfield for yardage. The point is, what does he offer as a receiver in the slot that Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker or even Bilal Powell (when lined up as a receiver) don't already? Amaro could contribute as an H-Back, but I don't get that Amaro is the sort that Chan Gailey will build an offense around either. The Jets seem to be experimenting with a number similar profiled players to Amaro, so don't be surprised to see them draft a tight end should one fall in their lap in the middle rounds.
On the bubble (3)
Jeff Cumberland, age 28 (potential cap cut)
Kellen Davis, age 30 (pending free agent)
Zach Sudfeld, age 26 (pending free agent)
Reaction: The Jets could save $1.9 million off their salary cap by cutting Cumberland, so don't be surprised if he released in the lead-up to March's free agency period. Sudfeld has height, but hasn't done much beyond training camp and preseason games to warrant much further investment by a new front office. Davis might be the most useful player thanks to his blocking as the Jets will need a player with that skill-set as they (presumably) rebuild their offensive line in 2016.