The Jets entered the offseason needing to upgrade at tight end, and general manager Joe Douglas has done it this week.
Free agent tight end Tyler Conklin reached an agreement in principle with the team on Wednesday, according to a source. The deal is for three-years and $21 million per ESPN.
Conklin is the second tight end the Jets have added in three days, joining C.J. Uzomah.
Conklin, 26, is coming off a career season with the Vikings in 2021. He had career highs in catches (61), receiving yards (593) and receiving touchdowns (3). He started 15 games for Minnesota in place of an injured Irv Smith Jr. A fifth-round pick in 2018 by the Vikings, Conklin never started more than three games in a season before last year.
The Jets view him as an ascending player who made the most out of his first real opportunity last year. He can play both in-line and split out, and can be an effective blocker as well as receiver. Conklin is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands. He had 327 yards after catch last year, an average of 5.4 yards per reception.
This gives the Jets’ offense another piece as they try to build around second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. The combination of Conklin and Uzomah is a major upgrade. Last season, the Jets had 50 catches combined by their tight ends for 534 yards and three touchdowns. Uzomah and Conklin combined for 110 receptions, 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021.
It has been a decade since the Jets had a consistent, reliable tight end. Dustin Keller, who left after the 2012 season, is the last truly impactful tight end they had. Mike LaFleur’s offense is based off Kyle Shanahan’s in San Francisco, where they have developed George Kittle into one of the best tight ends in football.