Next man up often serves as a slogan for teams in the NFL.
Dustin Keller’s value to the New York Jets has already been discussed at great length. Unfortunately, Keller’s unlikeliness to stay became a reality after New York opted not to use their franchise tag. There will undoubtedly be a line of potential suitors for the tight end’s services.
While New York would love to keep him and should, they could lose a bidding war. This would leave a great void in an offense that already struggled.
That is where Jeff Cumberland enters the picture.
Cumberland played well last year when forced into a larger role. He displayed a capability to constantly find openings in the defense. When Mark Sanchez looked his way, Cumberland responded.
While Keller missed eight games, Cumberland stepped up in his new role. The third year player may have only compiled three touchdowns, but one of those came in the disaster also known as New York’s week 15 loss to the Tennessee Titans. While passing looked impossible at times, Cumberland served as a surprising bright spot.
There have been discuses of placing a second round tender on the soon-to-be restricted free agent. That may seem like a ridiculous move given his status as a relative unknown. However, it is a move to suggest New York understands his value. There needs to be a pass catching option at tight end in the West Coast offense.
While New York should do whatever is necessary, Cumberland could help soften the blow if he does leave.