Tyler Kroft and Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh hit it off talking about football -- of course -- but also comparing notes about their families.
Kroft, 28, is the first TE GM Joe Douglas signed this offseason and the third skill player -- after WRs Corey Davis and Keelan Cole. Saleh's wife Sanaa is due to soon give birth to the couple's seventh child; Kroft and his wife Lexi have a five-month-old daughter.
Asked about his early interaction with his new coach, Kroft said: "It was great, we talked about family and how that's a foundation and cornerstone for both of us. We welcomed our first daughter and she's about to be five months, so we talked about everything from family to football and just life in general. You can see that he's happy and appreciative to be in the position he's in and he's eager to work, which is always an exciting position to be around."
Kroft (6-6, 252) joined the Jets on a one-year deal after two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. In 2019, after four seasons in Cincinnati with the Bengals (he was drafted out of Rutgers in the third round, 85th overall, in 2015) Kroft signed a three-year deal with the Bills. After 21 games in Buffalo, Kroft moved on in free agency to another club inside the AFC East.
"I love what the energy has been around the building," Kroft said about his visit to the Jets Atlantic Training Center in Florham Park, NJ. "Everything I've been told has been shown. I love the scheme that they have going here and I think I would be a great fit in that scheme. As I talk to the guys, former players and everyone that's involved, it seems like it would be a great fit.
"Football is a grind and it's a tough game to play, so when you have great energy around the building and different players you can build off of, personally I believe that's what breeds success. You have to go day-in and day-out and come ready to compete and have that itch to get better. So, having that high energy — and after meeting with Coach Saleh who has energy for days — that personally was a good fit for me. Scheme-wise, I know what they're kind of what they're interested in running after seeing the 49ers. Offensively tight ends are pretty involved, so that's important to me."
With the Bills last season, Kroft made 12 catches for 119 yards and 3 TDs in 10 games (4 starts). He was twice (once in November, again in January) placed on the team's Reserve/Covid-19 list. During his time with the Bengals, he made 67 catches, for 661 yards and 8 TDs in 51 games (35 starts). Overall he has 85 career receptions, for 851 yards and 12 TDs in 72 games (42 starts).
Though Kroft wasn't a main focus of the Bills' offense (he was targeted only 30 times in his two seasons), he was productive when he had the chance -- scoring TDs on 4 of his 18 catches over his two seasons there. All four of the TE passes came inside the red zone, and three came from the 4-yard line or closer.
"I would say that I'm a three-down tight end," he said. "I know I want to improve in all areas of the game because it's important to get better, but I think of myself as that three-down tight end and someone who can really ball in the pass game. I can handle myself in the run game as well."