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Who Is Dustin Keller's Replacement At Tight End?

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Kerry Rhodes #25 of the Arizona Cardinals intercepts a pass as Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets tries to make the tackle on Dec. 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Kerry Rhodes #25 of the Arizona Cardinals intercepts a pass as Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets tries to make the tackle on Dec. 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Jets have to decide between three veterans for starting tight end this upcoming season.

The Jets options are fourth-year tight end Jeff Cumberland and two second-year tight ends, Konrad Reuland and Hayden Smith. The new starting tight end for the Jets will replace the reliable Dustin Keller. Just how well they do is yet to be seen.

Keller had been the Jets starting tight end since the team drafted him in 2008 out of Purdue. Despite Keller playing only eight games last year, he managed to have a successful five-year stint with the team.

In 72 career games, Keller had 241 catches or receptions for 2,876 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was Sanchez’s security blanket when the opposing defenses were tightly covering the wide receivers.

Keller was a free agent this off-season and he signed a one-year contract to play for division rival, the Miami Dolphins.

The favorite to replace Keller is Cumberland. The Jets signed Cumberland as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 draft.

In 29 career games, Cumberland has accumulated 32 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns while playing as Keller’s backup. Cumberland’s past indicates he could be a successful starting tight end for the Jets.

Cumberland put up impressive numbers for a tight end who only started 12 games in his collegiate career; he played in 46 games. He finished his collegiate career with 59 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In 2005, he had a successful high school regular reason when he had 25 receptions for 801 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named to the Ohio News Network/Ohio High Magazine All-Ohio team and a PrepStar All-American.

The Jets chose not to draft the top rated tight end, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, in last month’s draft. In a Q&A session with Jets’ first-year General Manager John Idzik he indicated why the team did not draft Eifert.

“We will have to wait and track the next three seasons of both Sheldon Richardson and Tyler Eifert,” Idzik said. “The Jets stuck to their board and got an explosive gap penetrator from Missouri.”

“It should be noted that seven teams then skipped Eifert before the he finally went to the Bengals with the 21st pick,” Idzik said. “Eifert is a good receiving target, but he might struggle at the (line of scrimmage) on the next level.”

Idzik has received a lot of criticism from the media for selecting Richardson over Eifert. During Idzik’s tenure, the team drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of last year’s draft who had a great rookie season this past season.

The Jets have to hope that Cumberland can play on the same level as Keller; otherwise, Idzik will continue to receive criticism from the media for not selecting Eifert. Cumberland does have the potential to be a good security blanket for Sanchez or Geno Smith, whoever the quarterback of choice is.