Jeff Cumberland: 2013 and Beyond

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start out by saying that Jeff Cumberland's career path has exceeded the vast majority of undrafted free agent projects. No matter what happens for him during the rest of his career, he can be proud of what he has accomplished lasting four years in the NFL.

With a dearth of receiving talent, this year was a chance for Cumberland to prove himself as a starting caliber NFL tight end. He finished 2013 with a pedestrian 26 catches for 398 yards and 4 touchdowns.

If you ever have gone to a game in person, you would probably notice that Cumberland sticks out for his size at 6'4" and 260 pounds. He is also very fast, timed in the 4.4 range in the 40. His game, however, is less than the sum of its parts.

Cumberland is a subpar blocker. His struggles with physicality carry over to the passing game. He is bothered by physical coverage despite his size. He is not a great route runner. He also does not use his body well to pull in contested balls. There were a number of big plays he left on the field, notably one late in the fourth quarter against the Patriots that might have helped seal a Jets win in October. He also does not have great field awareness reading defenses.

Cumberland can be marginally effective on a limited number of routes getting up the field to take advantage of one on ones against slower linebackers. This is what I see at least when I watch him on film.

Cumberland is set to become an unrestricted free agent. As you can probably tell, I am not a big Cumberland guy. I tend to think the Jets should move in another direction. Here's why. We are in the era of the receiving tight end. You want your starter to be a big part of the passing game. That means the backup should be better rounded. Cumberland is neither fish nor fowl. He is a pure receiver, but he isn't good enough to be a quality starter. He cannot perform the other supporting duties of a backup. I guess if the Jets find an all-around tight end as a starter or a third tight end to perform the supporting duties, they could bring Cumberland back as an ancillary part of the passing game for $1-2 million. I would be keen to see the team move in another direction, though.

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