FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Kellen Winslow Jr. bristled a bit Tuesday when asked about the trajectory of his once-promising career.
For all his talent, the former sixth overall pick in 2004 now finds himself here: on a minicamp tryout with the Jets and in desperate need of work.
But by no means does Winslow, 29, believe he's past his prime. And any insinuation that he hasn't lived up to his potential won't be taken lightly.
"Yeah, I didn't like that question," the tight end said, long after a crowd of reporters had dispersed. "I mean, I've had a productive career. That's just how it goes sometimes. It's out of your control. I mean, I did well in Seattle when I was there in camp. And sometimes, it just comes down to money and you can't do anything about it. That's just how it goes."
Winslow, a Pro Bowler in 2007 for the Browns, believes he has "years left" in the NFL. But he has just days to impress the Jets. He looked good catching two passes in Tuesday's practice, but it's much too early to tell if the Jets will sign him.
"Obviously, Kellen Winslow was a tremendous player in this league for a long time -- one of the premier receiving tight ends in the game," coach Rex Ryan said. "So we'll see how he responds. Obviously, it's going to be recovery more than anything else, how healthy he is."
Winslow said he feels good physically. But only time will tell how he responds to the Jets' minicamp regimen and Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast system.
"I'm really excited," he said of the opportunity. "I've just got to learn the offense. I'm used to some of the terminology, but some of it's different. It'll take me some time, but I'll get there."
Winslow had a career-high 1,106 receiving yards and caught five touchdowns with the Browns in 2007. He put up respectable numbers during the next few years in Tampa Bay, but Winslow said the Buccaneers' losing record during his tenure (17-31) overshadowed his productivity.
He was traded to Seattle in May 2012 but was released after he declined to take a pay cut. In September, he signed with New England, but after playing in just one game, he said he asked to be released.
"It was a great spot and I respect the heck out of them and what they're doing over there," said Winslow, whose father is a Hall of Fame tight end. "But it was going to be hard for me because I didn't go through training camp with them. I went through training camp with Seattle. And they've got Rob [Gronkowski], they've got Aaron [Hernandez] and Wes Welker, so where do I fit in?"
Winslow had hoped he'd find a better situation. "But I didn't get picked up [last year]," he said. "Yeah, it was shocking. But it makes me more hungry."