Having lost Dustin Keller this offseason via free agency, the Jets have an unproven group of tight ends, which is why the team is now taking a look at Kellen Winslow Jr. during this week’s minicamp. Based off what he has shown this week, a contract offer should be forthcoming.
Brought in as a tryout player, Winslow Jr. is set to enter his ninth year in the league with something to prove. He played just one game last year with the Patriots, asking for his release in late September. Now a free agent, the Jets could present him a tremendous opportunity to not only make an NFL roster but also win a starting job.
During the first two days of minicamp, Winslow Jr. looked good though not surprisingly a bit slow as he has not participated in an NFL offseason conditioning program.
“It was good I think. They wanted to see how I look, how I’m feeling. They wanted to take a look at me. My job is to impress them,” Winslow Jr. said. “I felt good, I give myself a B, maybe a B-minus.”
The son of Kellen Winslow, a Hall of Fame tight end with the Chargers, Winslow Jr. will forever be linked with a 2005 motorcycle accident during the offseason where he tore his ACL and suffered a subsequent staph infection. He recovered from that injury to become one of the league’s better tight ends, as evidenced by an appearance in the Pro Bowl in 2007. But now he is out of work and looking for the Jets to be that kick start to his career.
Winslow took and passed a team physical Thursday morning, setting him up to be officially signed.
Now to stay in shape this offseason, Winslow Jr. has taken up a different type of biking — the kind that involves pedaling and not revving up the engine. He says pedaling his way through the San Diego area has helped keep him in shape while waiting for a call from an NFL team.
He could see himself pursuing the sport seriously when his playing career is over, maybe even at the professional level.
“Definitely, I think that’s what I want to do when I’m done,” Winslow Jr. said, indicating that maybe track cycling would be a good fit for someone with his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame.
“Maybe Velodrome. Cyclists weigh something like 150 pounds, 160 pounds at most. I’m at 240 pounds. I think Velodrome is more realistic. It keeps you fit. It is a challenge. I love it.”
But before he puts on the tight cyclist shorts for good, he still appears to have plenty of football left in him. Tuesday’s opening day of minicamp showed a player who, conditioning wise, was behind the rest of the players on the field. But in terms of skill and overall ability, he looked right there and could be an impact player if the Jets chose to sign him. Wednesday he was solid again, showing good hands on a day where the receivers struggled to hold onto the ball. Thursday was no different.
His feet are still quick and his hands hold onto the ball, making him an intriguing option as the Jets move forward with minicamp.
Head coach Rex Ryan teased that in terms of blocking, Winslow Jr. isn’t a “hired killer” but he still thinks the veteran can add something to this inexperienced group of tight ends.
“The one thing that jumps out at you is his skill and athleticism,” Ryan said. “He still has that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.