The New York Jets re-signed tight end Jeff Cumberland to a contract extension. Cumberland signed a three-year contract, which should keep him in Green and White until the end of the 2017 season. The veteran was the second tight end on the roster last year, eventually replacing Kellen Winslow for the starting role on the depth chart towards the end of the season.
Cumberland is a young tight end who has spent the past few years serving as a backup. He came onto the scene last year replacing Winslow, starting in 12 games. The 26-year old tight end scored four touchdowns last season on 26 catches. He tallied two yards shy of 400, a career high for the fifth year player out of Illinois.
Signing Cumberland to three more years will give the veteran a shot at taking the lead role as tight end for the first time of his career. By signing Cumberland to an extension, it seems that Gang Green will be moving on from Winslow. Winslow was a valuable target for Geno Smith last season, until his suspension. From then, No. 86 was the safety net for the rookie quarterback down the stretch.
Re-signing Cumberland will provide Smith with another comfortable target in his second season, but the Jets can do more. There are plenty of other free agent tight ends on the market this year that the Green and White can bring to New York. Some players still available are Scott Chandler, Fred Davis, and the former Jet, Dustin Keller. Another option for tight end is Eric Ebron. The NFL hopeful out of North Carolina has a rare combination of size, speed, and strength. He has great hands and he is very athletic, as he put on display in his last season with the Tar Heels. His gameplay resembles Vernon Davis, the All-Pro tight end in San Francisco, and drafting him in the first round will add another young, reliable weapon to the roster.
Gang Green's decision to keep its tight end for another three years can allow him to grow and mature into the role of an every down player. His comfort level with the now second year quarterback is high and this can be promising for next year. Smith seemed to lack a consistent target last season with the exception of Cumberland coming off the line. Cumberland has been a solid backup tight end the past two seasons and he will remain in New York for at least three more years.