One of the reasons there shouldn’t be much of a panic if Braylon Edwards leaves the New York Jets via free agency is because of tight end Dustin Keller. I am not one of the people who is optimistic about Edwards returning because every indication is that Santonio Holmes is a higher priority and I doubt the Jets will find a way to afford both this off-season.
Even though I agree with the decision to keep Holmes over Edwards, I am still aware of how productive Edwards was for the offense last season. Yet, Keller has the ability to compensate for his absence.
A common argument for keeping Edwards over Holmes is his size and ability to create match-up problems with smaller corners. Keller is athletic enough to flex out as a wide receiver and take advantage of those same corners, which we have seen over the past three seasons. He is 6 foot 2, 250 pounds and despite his improvements in blocking, still has the ability to be more of a wide receiver than a true tight end for this offense.
During Holmes suspension last year, when Keller was given a bigger role in the offense he responded with 19 receptions and five touchdowns in four games. Let’s see what he can if he spends a whole season as the Jets number two option in the passing game behind Holmes and as their primary target in the red-zone because of his size.
Keller is coming off his best career season, leading the team in receptions. There is no reason not to be confident that he will keep growing and developing with Mark Sanchez. The physical ability to be a Pro-Bowl tight end is there, now all he needs is the opportunities in the passing game.