Keeping Dustin Keller Needs to Be a Priority for New York Jets

By Nick Mamary
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively, 2012 was a nightmare for the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez took several steps back while becoming a turnover machine. Sanchez threw 18 interceptions while adding seven lost fumbles. His decision-making proved well below average. Due to injury, the supporting cast did get worse in regards to both name recognition and talent. What may have been forgotten is perhaps one of the biggest injuries in 2012.

Dustin Keller was on his way to becoming a dynamic pass-catching tight end. In 2011, Keller caught 65 passes with five touchdowns. This past season was far rockier, however, as the former Purdue Boilermaker battled ankle problems, missing eight games. Keller was becoming Sanchez’s safety blanket in the face of pressure. His athletic ability allowed for big plays at times.

Now with a transition to the West Coast Offense under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwig, there is that much more importance on a tight end who can stretch the defense. Mornhihig has shown that he knows how to use to get production from this position. During his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, he helped create a game plan that allowed first round bust LJ Smith to haul in more than 50 catches twice during an otherwise disappointing career. After the Eagles brought in Brent Celek, there was an even more exciting dimension. Celek had a career-high eight touchdown receptions in 2010. Keller now assumes that role of a target who possesses speed and size.

New York’s salary cap restrictions are well documented. They need to be smart with their money, so negations could be tricky. As long as he does not ask for something ridiculous like $10 million a year and stays in the $7 to $8 million range, Keller has to be on the New York Jets’ roster in 2013 and beyond.

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