The New York Jets offense was dealt a massive blow on Friday when tight end Dustin Keller joined the archrival Miami Dolphins. Keller signed a one-year deal and will earn a salary of $4.25 million this upcoming season.
The move tells a tale of two cities between New York and Miami. The Dolphins have taken major strides in free agency with Keller joining newly acquired wide receiver Mike Wallace along with current Dolphins' starters Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. The four receivers now make up a unit that can challenge in the AFC East and give quarterback Ryan Tannehill a plethora of options to target. In contrast, the Jets have lost five free agents to other teams and have yet to make a significant signing so far in free agency.
Gang Green lost two key offensive weapons in a matter of just two days as running back Shonn Greene departed the New York Metro area for Tennessee earlier this week. New York will miss two pivotal pieces that brought them to back-to-back AFC title appearances. The Green and White did add tailback Mike Goodson from the Raiders to fill the void left by Greene but time will only tell if their plan to start Jeff Cumberland will translate to offensive success at the tight end position. New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will have to find a way to utilize his players in his West Coast system to make Jets' fans forget about the troubles last season.
Originally drafted by the Jets as a first rounder in 2008, Keller was a workhorse for the team. He made great strides with each season he played until an ankle injury caused him to miss eight games, the only time he's been held out of a game his entire career. He finished the year with career lows in touchdowns (two) receptions (28) and receiving yards (317) making his contract year less than ideal for a player looking for long-term security. Overall, Keller ranks fourth all-time in Jets history in receiving yards by a tight end with 2,876.
A Purdue University standout, Keller has enjoyed success with the Jets right from the onset of his rookie year. His first season saw No. 81 play alongside legendary quarterback Brett Favre and Keller posted stellar numbers, reeling in 48 receptions for 535 yards and three touchdowns. The Mark Sanchez era began in 2009 when Keller managed to avoid the sophomore slump. His breakthrough year came in 2010 when he emerged as one of Sanchez's favorite targets. The tight end led the entire team in receptions with 55 and totaled over 650 yards. His five touchdowns set a career-high and his exeptional play led the Jets to an AFC title appearance and just one win away from a Super Bowl berth. Keller replicated his production again in 2011 where he amassed 815 yards and appeared in all 16 games. He tied his touchdown totals from the year before and emerged as one of the top tier tight ends in the NFL.
Keller hopes his success will continue in Miami where he was brought in to replace the recently eparted Anthony Fasano. It only took the Indiana native two days to make his decision to make the switch.
"I'm with the team I want to be with," Keller told reporters in South Florida . "Everything is perfect right now."