Buried in an article reporting that the New York Jets are interested in looking at pending free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason, Newsday’s Calvin Watkins revealed that the team offered tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins a two-year, $8 million contract which was rejected, according to a source.
Seferian-Jenkins is one of five regular starters from the 2017 Jets about to hit the free agent market. The 25-year-old revitalized his career in New York after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived him in September 2016 following a DUI arrest.
The tight end has said in recent interviews that he’s become sober since then and isn’t shy on social media about his love for the Jets.
Man I really hope to be here I love it here! https://t.co/yUtuycPpuc
— A. Seferian-Jenkins (@Aesj88) January 8, 2018
Seferian-Jenkins scored three touchdowns in 2017 and posted career highs in receptions (50) and yards (357). His touchdown total would have been higher had referees not made some flat wrong calls this year, particularly in the midseason contest against the Patriots. He also caught 67.6 percent of his targets, according to Pro Football Reference, another career-best mark.
Seferian-Jenkins was a second-round draft pick out of Washington in 2014. Tampa Bay actually picked him 11 spots before the Jets drafted tight end Jace Amaro, who was just signed to a reserve/futures deal with the Kansas City Chiefs after he didn’t play in 2017. And without Seferian-Jenkins next year, the Jets’ top tight ends might very well be Neal Sterling and Jordan Leggett, the latter of whom didn’t see the field in his rookie year, so it would be in both parties’ best interests to work out a deal.
But it’s also clear that Seferian-Jenkins wants more than $4 million per year. What does he deserve? According to Spotrac, 12 tight ends made more than $5 million last year, a combination of stalwart veterans like Jason Witten, Greg Olsen and Antonio Gates and a younger generation of players like Jack Doyle and Dion Sims.
Seferian-Jenkins could point to Sims’ meager 15 catches in 14 games this year with Chicago and make the case he should earn more than him, but the Jets probably don’t want to go overboard paying a tight end who’s only had one very good year in the league so far. Perhaps the two sides will reach a compromise on a deal worth $5.5 million a year.
One more nugget the Spotrac analysis reveals: The Jets spent less money on the tight end position than 29 other teams in 2017. Without Seferian-Jenkins on the books in 2018, they drop to last in the league. Those call back the days of Chan Gailey, when the position might as well not have existed. Fans and media agree that Seferian-Jenkins is one of those few success stories in 2017 that New York needs to retain.