With free agency approaching (March 9), we're analyzing the biggest needs on the New York Jets' roster, examining possible upgrades:
Position: Tight end
2017 cap hits of top returnees:
Key stat: Everybody knows former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey rarely used tight ends in the passing game. These numbers prove it: During the last two seasons, the Jets were dead last in tight-end receptions (26), last in yards (268), last in touchdowns (one) and last in targets (54), per ESPN Stats & Information. Thirty-one teams utilized the tight end, and then there was the Jets. The closest team to them in tight-end receptions was the Cardinals with 97.
Money matters: They have no financial restrictions. Not a single dollar is guaranteed, so they can cut everybody and start from scratch, if they choose.
Big picture: New coordinator John Morton comes from an offense (Saints) that employed three wide receivers and one tight end as its base package. He also has roots in the West Coast system, which is tight end-friendly. Therefore, it's safe to assume he will place a high priority on finding a pass-catching tight end. Seferian-Jenkins, who had 10 catches in limited opportunities, has the ideal skill set, but he has consistency issues -- on and off the field. He's subject to a personal-conduct suspension stemming from a DUI arrest last fall.
Also could become available: Lance Kendricks.
The game plan: Cook and Bennett are the best of the bunch, but they'll both turn 30 before training camp. The Jets should stay away from older vets unless they're willing to take a one-year contract. Cook and Bennett will undoubtedly have long-term offers from teams. Morton knows Davis from their days with the 49ers. He had a decent year for the Redskins (44 catches, 581 yards), but he's 33 years old. The Jets made a play for Gresham in 2015, but he has lost a step. Doyle (59 catches) won't stretch too many defenses, but he's good in the red zone (five touchdowns) and only 26. There are some quality tight ends in the draft; that might be the Jets' best bet. Somehow, they need to come out of the offseason with a starting-caliber player at this long-lost position.