The Jets have taken chances on troubled players before.
The organization did its due diligence on veteran linebacker Erin Henderson, who spent the 2014 season away from football following two DWI suspension in a six-week span, and it heavily weighed the pros and cons of introducing Brandon Marshall, a star wideout with a long rap sheet of off-field incidents, into their locker room.
Now, the same is true for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the troubled tight end whom the Jets claimed off waivers on Monday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released their 2014 second-round pick on Friday, shortly after he had posted $750 cash bail following his second DUI arrest in three years. While at the University of Washington in 2013, Seferian-Jenkins pleaded guilty to a DUI charge and served one day in jail.
Though the Bucs were more than willing to part with the 6-5 pass-catcher, the Jets clearly see potential in the tight end, who, in two-plus seasons, has 45 receptions for 603 yards (an average of 13.4 yards per catch). The Jets also have a glaring need at the position.
They did extensive research on him this summer in the event that he ever became available, via trade or release.
From a salary-cap standpoint, it’s a calculated low-risk move that the Jets front office hopes will produce a high rate of returns this season.
But only time will tell if their newest tight end will end up being productive.
Under the direction of general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, the Jets organization has, thus far, proven to be an environment where second chances can prosper. But it’s on the player to make the most of his opportunity. But unlike Marshall, Seferian-Jenkins isn’t a veteran who has already proven he’s learned his lesson or has turned the corner. Instead, he’s a talented 23-year-old with plenty of baggage and a history of making poor decisions.
His latest arrest ended up on TMZ.com, which posted the police dash-cam video of Seferian-Jenkins stumbling and slurring his words to an officer early Friday morning.
His football ability isn’t a question, though. He’s a bigger and more effective blocker than former Jets draft pick Jace Amaro, so Seferian-Jenkins could potentially be another big-body target for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But it’s up to the youngster to make the most of the fresh start he’s been given.