Finished on Reserve/COVID: Griffin
Finished on Injured Reserve: Wesco
Finished on Practice Squad: Brandon Dillon
Finished on Practice Squad IR: Brown
No Longer With Team: Brown
Reserve/Future Signings: Lawrence Cager, Dillon
Potential Free Agents in 2022
'22: Tight End Quest?
The Jets know the value of a talented tight end in their offensive equation. After all, HC Robert Saleh was the DC and OC Mike LaFleur the pass-game coordinator for the 49ers from 2017-20 when George Kittle emerged into a 70-catches/1,000 yards-per-season Pro Bowler. Kittle won't be available in free agency but a few familiar TEs such as Rob Gronkowski, Mike Gesicki and Zach Ertz could hit the market, and the draft has a number of top tights scattered through the first three rounds, such as Trey McBride and Jalen Wydermyer, for the Jets, with four picks in the top 38, to research in the coming months.
Among the TEs on their roster now, Ryan Griffin is a reliable pass catcher/blocker/special-teamer who is under contract. Tyler Kroft came in last year as a UFA, showed nice receiving skills when healthy, which was for about half the regular season, and can become unrestricted again. Trevon Wesco has been more blocker than catcher — including seven starts as a TE or blocking FB. Kenny Yeboah has shown some flashes, in preseason and late in the RS, to hint that he could stick around.
See the best images of Jets Tight Ends during the 2021 season.
'21: Contributors When Well
The TEs did some noteworthy things in '21. Through the first 14 games, Griffin was the only Jet regardless of position with at least one reception in each game. Kroft's 13-yard touchdown grab from Mike White with 3:45 to play was the decisive score in the Week 8 win over the Bengals, who went from there all the way to Super Bowl LVI. Conor McDermott was a tackle-turned-TE when he expertly snared Zach Wilson's fourth-quarter fourth-and-goal 1-yard fling for a TD to help beat the Jaguars in Week 16.
But the unit was beset by injuries throughout and COVID late. Kroft (back, chest) missed eight games on the year, Griffin (knee, ankle) the last three and Wesco (knee, ankle) five games in all. Dan Brown, traded to KC, then re-signed to the practice squad, was a PS elevation for five straight games before going on IR (hip) for Week 18. Parlty as a result, the Jets again finished low in the NFL's team TE production categories. Their 50 receptions and 534 yards at the position were both 31st in the league, their three TDs (not counting McDermott's score) 29th. However, their 10.68 yards/catch was 14th.
In part due to injuries and in part to their receiving skills, five different tight ends caught at least two passes during the season — Griffin (27), Kroft (16), Wesco (3), Brown (2) and Yeboah (2). That's the most Jets TEs with two-plus catches in one season since 1989, when six TEs — Mickey Shuler (29), Keith Neubert (28), Billy Griggs (9), Greg Werner (8), Chris Dressel (3) and K.D. Dunn (2) — all had two-plus catches.