In about a week or so, 2014 NFL free agency will be kicking off to give some of the top players in the league an opportunity to test the waters and see if a new home is on the horizon. The New York Jets plan to be proactive this time around and do their very best to acquire top talent to bolster their team.
Needless to say, the Jets lacked a bit of an offensive punch when it comes to their production at tight end. Both Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow Jr. combined for decent numbers, but both lacked the top playmaking skills that a quality tight end could contribute. It’s important that the Jets invest some time and money into acquiring a key upgrade to the position. The best offensive juggernauts in the NFL always have a dependable TE to not only create mismatches down the field, but also provide key blocks in rushing plays.
The Jets will be about $21.2 million under the salary cap, so they’ll hopefully be big spenders in the free agent market this year. Most predict that the Jets will grab a WR first, and then possibly look at the top three TEs willing to negotiate a deal. When you look at the top players at the position who are free agents, only one truly stands out since others already got franchise tagged by their respective teams less than a week ago.
Brandon Pettigrew is coming off one of his less productive seasons due to injury, but in the games he played, he was still a major force on the football field. In addition to his excellent catching skills, Pettigrew is one of the best run-blocking TEs playing today, which would be a great addition for the Jets.
The best years under head coach Rex Ryan came when the Jets were an established ground-and-pound football team. If you run the football successfully, it’s a proven fact you will win football games. If the Jets were smart and wanted to go back to that style of running the football that got them to the AFC Championship two years in a row, they should definitely go after Pettigrew. He would definitely be a major upgrade while also being a good mentor to Cumberland.
Also keep in mind, there will be a void to fill at TE since the Jets plan to part ways with Winslow Jr. for all his off-field antics.
Pettigrew is entering his sixth year in the NFL and could definitely help elevate Cumberland to the next level of his career. Cumberland will also be a free agent but has been in ongoing contract negotiations with the Jets to get a new deal done soon. If Cumberland re-signs with the Jets and Pettigrew hops on board, he would surely give him have that extra motivation to be a better player in a very important mentoring role.
As far as Pettigrew and his contract negotiations are going, Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew will most likely let him walk. Last week at the NFL Combine, Mayhew confirmed that while Pettigrew is a priority free agent, they are also in the hunt of acquiring players via free agency.
If the Jets acquire Pettigrew, it would not only create a big splash in free agency, but it would finally add a key player to and another big-time receiving threat. It’s a key upgrade the Jets absolutely need if they are to contend in the AFC East this upcoming season.