The New York Jets found a perfect diamond in the rough to fix their tight end woes and help change the destiny of Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Every time the tight end position is brought up in a New York Jets article, one can’t help but look at the numbers before Austin Seferian-Jenkins got fully acclimated with Gang Green.
From the start of the 2015 season through the end of 2016, the Jets essentially played without a tight end:
35 receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown.
Since then, it’s been a complete 180. Especially with Seferian-Jenkins fully in the fold. This season, Jets’ tight ends have a combined 43 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
Nine games into the 2017 season, the Jets have accomplished more at the tight end position than they had in the two previous years—combined.
A lot of that production was accounted for by ASJ, who has 33 receptions for 221 yards and three scores. He’s changed the dynamic of the position. The Jets didn’t only improve the position, they fixed it.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That was very much the case with Seferian-Jenkins who, after being taken in the second round back in the 2014 NFL Draft—12 picks before the Jets took Jace Amaro—was dumped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He didn’t hide his feelings towards the Bucs when the topic was brought up, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
“Being here, standing where I am, playing at the level I’m playing at — and still getting better — that, in itself, is a win [over] someone that gave up on you,” he said. “When someone gives up on you, they believe you won’t get better and you can’t pull yourself out of what you’re going through or whatever hole you’re in.
“To be standing here, competing at the level I am, playing on such a great team, that, in itself, is a win,” Seferian-Jenkins continued. “That, in itself, says [the Bucs] were wrong. That, in itself, speaks volumes to my character. It speaks volumes about this organization, how they can bring in a guy like myself and help mold me into what I am today.”
The Bucs “were wrong” for giving up on him and if that isn’t enough motivation, I don’t know what is. Expect a spirited effort from ASJ on Sunday.
Fresh episode of @thejets_zone breaking down #NYJvsTB w/ @ThePewterPlank's @JYarcho_BUCS + @Aesj88 ready to prove @TBBuccaneers wrong + @tydbutler talking #Jets + PLAYOFFS in same sentence?!?!https://t.co/iAVzr8n1Lc
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) November 8, 2017
We spoke with The Pewter Plank earlier this week to break down the Jets and Bucs. In that conversation we talked about this return for ASJ.
Speaking of, the Jets are set to have over $80 million in cap space this offseason. If it hasn’t been decided to lock up Seferian-Jenkins, it needs to be made as soon as possible.
Due to the Jets claiming him off waivers last year, he’s in the last year of his rookie deal, which pays him $1 million this season. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
This is a player that has turned his life around. We’ve seen so many NFL prospects piss away their opportunity at greatness in the past:
The list of success stories are few and far between.
Getting back to the game on Sunday, Seferian-Jenkins will likely have a huge day statistically and the moment will be sweet. The journey with the Jets now and in the future will be even sweeter with a victory over his former team.
But perhaps my favorite quote from him during the course of this week hasn’t been about regret, but acceptance.
“I wish things went differently, but deep down … no, I don’t. I’m happy I’m here. I’m happy with the way everything worked out. Unfortunately, I had to go down some pretty crappy roads and I had to go through some unfortunate things — all by my choice. But all the bridges I burned brought me here to be a New York Jet, best city in the world, best organization in the league.”
In other words, #PayASJ is now trending on Twitter.