The Jets have officially signed tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. after he impressed team officials during a three day tryout at the team's minicamp last week.
Winslow Jr. was supposed to turn the Cleveland Browns franchise around when he was selected sixth overall in the 2004 draft. Instead, the son of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow has been unable to find a permanent home in the NFL.
Winslow Jr. made a name forhimself while playing under Larry Coker at the University of Miami. There helped the Hurricanes win a BCS National Championship and was a two-time First-Team All American while attending school in Coral Gables. He was honored as the nation's best tight end in college football when he won the Mackey Award after his outstanding play during his junior campaign.
Since joining the NFL, Winslow Jr. has seen action with the Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New England Patriots. He has 438 career receptions for 4,848 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Winslow Jr. showed glimpses of following his father's path as a star in the NFL while with the Browns. In 2006 he had 89 catches for 875 yards and three touchdowns. Winslow finished with 82 receptions for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns during the 2007 season and was selected to his first Pro Bowl team.
Winslow Jr. saw a resurgence in his career when he signed the largest contract by a tight end in NFL history with the Buccaneers. He did not disappoint during his career in the lightning capital. In first season with Tampa Bay he set franchise records for catches and receiving yards by a tight end with 77 receptions and 884 yards. In 2011, his last full season in Tampa Bay, Winslow Jr. hauled in 75 receptions for 763 yards and two touchdowns.
"I have years left," Winslow Jr. said. "My last (full) year, 2011, I caught 75 balls. I've been productive. It's just the NFL, that's how it goes sometimes. You get cut, you get traded and you can't do anything about it. It's out of my control."
If the Jets want to continue to rebuild, they will need to eliminate the nonsense that has transpired in the locker room in seasons past. Of course Winslow is no saint; he has made major headlines for foolish acts in the past. It began in college when he compared himself to a soldier after a game against Tennessee University. Winslow Jr. continued to be reckless when he fell off his motorcycle and was forced to miss the entire 2005 season because of a torn ligament in his knee. The standout tight end has also openly criticized his former General Manager, Phil Savage.
Winslow Jr. has also seen a fair share of injuries. There is a laundry list of setbacks including the famous motorcycle accident. During his rookie season, Winslow broke his right fibula in Week two and had to sit out for the remainder of the year. He also had an issue with staph infection in the past which is said to have stemmed from his motorcycle injury. The Jets are putting Winslow's past behind them and want to see what he can contribute while on the field.
"I see exactly what you see," Ryan said. "That athleticism and his ability to catch the football, it certainly jumps out. I just see the kind of presence he has."
Winslow Jr. will supply the Jets with a veteran presence on the offensive side of the ball. He will have to battle Jeff Cumberland for the starting job this season. Cumberland had 29 receptions last season as a backup. The two tight ends have huge shoes to fill, having to replace Dustin Keller who departed for the Miami Dolphins in March.
"We thought Kellen did a nice job given the fact that you get off a plane, you get into a meeting and a couple hours later you're out on the field," John Idzik said about Winslow. "I think all things considered, he did a pretty good job."
Cumberland recently told the New York Daily News that the Jets tight ends are comparable to the New England Patriots. He said his size is similar to Rob Gronkowski and Winslow Jr. would have the athletic ability of Aaron Hernandez. One thing is for sure, this group of tight ends in New York need to prove if they hope to jumpstart an otherwise lackluster offense.