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CJ Uzomah: Jets Must Move on From This Free Agency Blunder

The Jets need to accept CJ Uzomah as a bust and move on to use the cap space more productively.
CJ Uzomah, Jets tight end

The older we get the more difficult it becomes to accept accountability. We want to find someone or something else to blame, but we often can’t accept that mistakes are a part of life. It doesn’t make you less than to admit your blunders. It’s the best step to move forward. That’s where the Jets are at with CJ Uzomah. The veteran tight end was the cream of the crop for Joe Douglas’ 2022 free-agency moves. A respected veteran coming off a career year and the Bengals’ first Super Bowl appearance in decades, it seemed like a great fit to give Zach Wilson a veteran target to grow with. Including one who just played with Joe Burrow.

Alas, the tenure has been anything but smooth. Inconsistent QB production, injuries, and the emergence of Tyler Conklin made things reevaluated. Uzomah will help a team, just not the Jets.

The Jets Must Move on From This Free Agency Blunder

A reliable tight end is often a great tool for a young quarterback. For a majority of them, it takes time to adjust to NFL coverage in the secondary which prevents them from achieving the same level of success early on, especially when they are throwing to inexperienced receivers. Not every team trades for a veteran number-one receiver. (i.e. Diggs trade) Nor can draft the college teammate of a historic season. (i.e. Bengals drafting J’Marr Chase) However, a quality tight end can provide insurance for a quarterback when under duress.

For that reason, I was a fan of the CJ Uzomah signing at the time. Zach Wilson was entering his second season and needed more options in the passing game. A seven-year veteran out of Auburn University, Uzomah became a useful weapon in Cincinnati. His targets rose during the final seasons of the Marvin Lewis era. Although the arrival of Chase and Higgins cut into his targets, his 6’5″ frame became useful for Zac Taylor. He even caught Joe Burrow’s first playoff touchdown to begin the Bengals’ path to the Super Bowl. In the two years that have passed, I can confidently admit I was wrong.

Zach Wilson & the QB carousel did no favors

To say that Uzomah’s uneventful tenure lies on his shoulders alone is an unjust comparison. Before his arrival, Uzomah was seen as an underrated red zone target in the embarrassment of riches that was the Bengals’ offense at the beginning of the decade. A lot of that stems from Joe Burrow. So to see the drop in production go from the 2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year to Zach Wilson is understandable. Not to mention Mike White, Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemien, and Tim Boyle. Now add learning two completely new offenses within that span, Uzomah had little chance to thrive, even with a healthy Aaron Rodgers.


The world is unpredictable. It’s close to impossible to predict when an injury is going to occur. Unfortunately, the injury report hasn’t been kind to CJ Uzomah over the years. Before coming to New York, Uzomah had a history of injuries to his right leg. The most significant of which was a torn right Achilles in week 2 of the 2020 season. The injury cost Uzomah the remainder of the year. He was dealing on and off MCL sprains during his first full season in New York. This gave Tyler Conklin enough time to unseat him as tight end one in the depth chart. Despite playing 27 games within the past two years, Uzomah has only 39 targets including 12 this past year.

How New York benefits

With pressure mounting for Douglas and Saleh, the Jets need to make some major changes on offense. With needs at both offensive line and wide receiver, New York needs to make their cap space count, especially with no second-round pick as of now. If New York moves on from Uzomah, the team’s deadcap is only a reasonable five million dollars. With a majority of the guaranteed money paid off, New York can gain nearly $6 million in usable cap space. While not astronomical, it does help the team get closer to over $40 million in available cap space. That can be put towards signing a reliable receiver like Mike Evans or Tee Higgins next to Garrett Wilson.

Or perhaps a veteran left tackle like longtime Cowboy Tyron Smith. Even more intriguing, is a reliable backup quarterback such as Jacoby Brissett. Ideally, someone like Ryan Tannehill who is familiar with the former Titans’ coaches in the offensive staff is also on the table for New York.

Main Photo: [Vincent Carchietta] – USA Today Sports


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