Bereft of talent at the tight end position for years, the New York Jets should consider Rams tight end Gerald Everett in free agency.
The New York Jets have been without real talent at the tight end position for years. From Jeff Cumberland to Kellen Davis to Chris Herndon, the Jets just haven’t been able to get consistent production out of the position since Dustin Keller was in town.
After a promising rookie season in 2018, Herndon was thought by many to be the long-term answer at the position. But after a 2019 season that was decimated by injuries, he has taken a major step back in 2020. The Jets rank bottom five in tight end targets for the second consecutive season.
Part of this has to do with scheme. Historically, Adam Gase doesn’t target his tight ends often in the passing game. The main factor, however, is that the position group has simply been bad.
Quite simply, tight end is a position of need for the Jets. One man who should be on their radar to plug that hole in a likely affordable way while still providing a sizable upgrade: Gerald Everett.
If you’ve been following my free agency segments, you’ll know that I love players who are versatile. This allows coaches to be more creative and provide matchup problems for opposing teams; forcing them to account for multiple scenarios on any given play.
Everett has been utilized in a variety of different ways in Sean McVay’s offense, as a result of his play-making ability. When gets the ball in his hands, he’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s been true since his days at South Alabama and it has continued during his journey into the NFL.
South Alabama TE Gerald Everett is stupid athletic after the catch. pic.twitter.com/2WTRKyRB03
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) November 24, 2016
Everett has a career yards-after-catch (YAC) average of 5.5 yards. (The 2020 average among tight ends is 4.7.) In 2020, Everett leads all tight ends with at least 40 targets (29 qualifiers) in YAC per reception with a mark of 6.3.
We're still thinking about this Gerald Everett catch and run. #LARams
— The Ringer (@ringer) October 4, 2019
Gerald Everett breaking tackles for 30 yards!
— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2019
In addition, Everett has been a reliable target, catching 74.0% of his targets this season. That ranks 10th among tight ends with at least 40 targets, comparable to players like Darren Waller (75.0%) and George Kittle (75.5%).
Of course, some of that has to do with scheme, as many of Everett’s targets are drawn-up and thus easy to convert. But the fact he has maintained that number with a relatively high usage shows that he can handle an added workload. Everett is tied for 18th among tight ends this season with 37 receptions.
Everett is also an underrated blocking tight end. In 2020, he owns a run blocking grade of 62.9 at Pro Football Focus, good enough for 32nd of 80 qualified tight ends (61st percentile).
— patrick (@PatDStat) October 4, 2019
Also, how about Gerald Everett with the double pancake crack block lmao pic.twitter.com/TeXWICci2U
— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) June 21, 2019
Interesting design from McVay…
Watch TE Gerald Everett insert C-gap with the flow of the outside zone (not against the flow like a split zone)
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 11, 2020
While Everett is solid as a run blocker, he is a bit susceptible as a pass blocker, allowing a career pressure rate of 9.4% that is a few notches above the 2020 positional average of 7.0%.
This is where Herndon comes in. While Herndon struggles to block in the run game (55.8 grade, 60th out of 80), he’s actually a competent pass blocker, allowing a pressure rate of 4.0% this season. His PFF pass blocking grade of 75.0 ranks sixth of 61 tight ends with at least 20 pass protection snaps.
So, Everett and Herndon can cover up each other’s weaknesses in this phase. Having two tight ends who can hold their own in blocking situations can do wonders for an offense, allowing an OC to get creative when utilizing 12 personnel.
Speaking of getting creative, McVay has made sure to keep defenses guessing where Everett will be on the field. He’s played in the slot, outside, inline, and in the backfield as well, damaging defenses from every spot.
Everett has even shown the quickness to be utilized in the run game as a tight end. He has five career carries for 31 yards, scoring one touchdown and picking up two additional first downs with those five attempts. This is something he did in college as well, pushing his versatility even further.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 12, 2017
This season, Everett scored the first rushing touchdown of his career.
— Rams Nation (@RamsNationLAX) October 4, 2020
With the Rams extending the contract of fellow tight end Tyler Higbee, they may not have a ton of interest in retaining Everett, and there’s little chance that Everett plans on sticking around to be the No. 2 guy. At this stage in his career, Everett has shown that he’s ready to take the next step into a lead role on a different team.
In essence, Everett offers everything in an H-back/extra-weapon role that a healthy Quincy Enunwa once promised for the Jets. He’s done well handling his supporting role in Los Angeles, and it is highly intriguing to imagine what he might be able to do with a larger volume of targets.
If the Jets want to expand their versatility and creativity on offense, Gerald Everett would be a huge step forward in accomplishing that goal.