We're not sure whether Cumberland was staking his claim to the uniform number that he and Decker shared last season or if he's opening up negotiations.
Either way, Jeff is set to have a big year for the Green & White after signing his own contract with the team last Saturday.
"It feels real good," Cumberland told me about agreeing to stay with the team he broke in with as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois in 2010. "It's all about a business decision at the end of the day. You could go see what's out there, what there is to offer. But ultimately the Jets were the best place for me.
"You don't have to go anywhere, you're familiar with the coaches and the players, you don't have to relocate your family. So to stay in the place where you started is always good."
It's also good to have the same offensive coordinator for two years in a row. Cumberland is eager to get going under OC Marty Mornhinweg for a second season after spending 2011 in Brian Schottenheimer's offense and '12 in Tony Sparano's unit.
Jeff Cumberland's receiving numbers last season weren't overwhelming — he had 26 receptions for 398 yards. But his four receiving touchdowns actually led the offense, and he became one of those receivers identified as then-rookie
And his 15.3 yards/catch was actually quite impressive. It was the third-highest for tight ends in the NFL last season. As for franchise history, the 15.3 mark was the second best since the early '70s, when Richard Caster and Jerome Barkum were in their primes.
"When you play this game, or any sport, you've just got to be patient and go with what they give you," Cumberland said. "But this is my fifth year in the league now. I've been very patient. This year I feel I should be able to show the ability I know I have."
Jeff's offseason has been split between his hometown of Columbus, OH, and some Caribbean island hopping. But he's back in training now, with a special emphasis on lateral movement and "working on my stopping and going. My straight-ahead speed no matter how much I weigh is always going to be good, but how fast can I start it off, how fast can I shut it down. Working on that will help me in my routes."
And will help him protect No. 87 as we head into next month's start to our offseason strength and conditioning program.
Here are the top three yards/catch averages in the NFL last season and in our history since 1979 (*minimum 20 receptions):
|CUMBERLAND'S VERY GOOD AVERAGE|
|TOP YARDS/CATCH, NFL TEs, 2013*|
|Vernon Davis, SF||52||850||16.3||13|
|Brent Celek, PHI||32||502||15.7||6|
|Jeff Cumberland, NYJ||26||398||15.3||4|
|TOP YARDS/CATCH, JETS TEs, 1978-2013*|
|Johnny Mitchell, 1993||39||630||16.2||6|
|Jeff Cumberland, 2013||26||398||15.3||4|
|Jerome Barkum, 1979||27||401||14.9||4|