Exploring Dustin Keller's Future with New York Jets and Other AFC East News

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IFebruary 13, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01:  Tight end Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets is brought down by Linebacker Kevin Burnett #56 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The New York Jets have some major financial decisions to make this offseason, and one of those decisions revolves around tight end Dustin Keller.

Selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Keller has caught 241 passes for 2,876 yards and 17 touchdowns in his five-year career with the Jets. Those numbers all lead the team by a large margin. He has also been a favorite target for quarterback Mark Sanchez, with a team-high 333 targets since 2009 and 151 over the past two years.

There's certainly value in keeping him around but how much?

A few weeks ago, we took a look at Keller's impending free agency in our Jets offseason guide. The final verdict was that while Keller has value as a reliable target for Sanchez, he is too one-dimensional to warrant a high price tag.

One option is to franchise tag Keller, as explored by Brian McIntyre of Yahoo Sports' Shutdown Corner blog:

...Keller struggled through an injury-plagued 2012 season catching just 28 passes in eight games. Based on a projected league-wide number of $121 million, the tight end franchise tag is expected to be worth $5.56 million in 2013. Naturally, Keller hopes the avoid the tag so he can test the free agent market.

Is Keller worth that kind of money? Probably not. Should the Jets feel confident about their tight end situation behind Keller? Definitely not.

Jeff Cumberland wasn't awful but definitely didn't do enough to take the mantle as the starter at tight end in the eight games Keller was sidelined with injury.

Moving on from a former first-round pick may not be easy—or preferable—but decisions like these are commonplace during a regime change. For a team with as little flexibility against the cap as the Jets have, investing in Keller seems like a foolhardy move.If the two sides can reach a middle ground with regards to his value, that opens the door for his return. 

Here's some more news and analysis from around the AFC East.


New York Jets

Conor Orr of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger says former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is "excited" about the potential to play for the Jets.

Bleacher Report Jets featured columnist Dylan Lewis writes an open letter to Jets GM John Idzik.

Joe Caporoso and the TurnOnTheJets.com crew deliver a roundtable discussion on the Jets linebacker situation.


New England Patriots

B/R Patriots featured columnist Mike Dussault wonders whether the Patriots window is closing for another championship.

Steve Balestrieri of PatsFans.com thinks the Patriots need to invest in a defensive tackle in free agency.

Christopher Price of WEEI.com thinks that defensive tackle could potentially be Mike DeVito.


Miami Dolphins

Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com says defensive end/outside linebacker Olivier Vernon is ready to build on his strong rookie campaign.

Sean Donovan of AFC East Daily delivers an offseason primer for the Dolphins.

Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post says the Dolphins plans for stadium renovations are getting complex.


Buffalo Bills

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News collects the thoughts of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with regards to some potential reunions with some soon-to-be-former Jets defensemen.

According to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, general manager Buddy Nix thinks the Bills need a young tight end.

B/R featured columnist Ryan McCrystal wonders whether Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib is the best fit for the Bills.

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.