Former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller racked up solid numbers in his five seasons with the team, as he hauled in at least 45 receptions for over 500 yards in his first four seasons in the league. He played in all 16 games in those four seasons, and he probably would have kept the streak going in 2012 had he not missed half the season. In 2013, Keller was dealt even more bad luck, as he didn’t even play a snap for the Miami Dolphins after tearing his ACL (among other injuries he sustained in his knee) in the preseason, and he currently sits on the free agent market.
USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reports that Keller expects to play this upcoming season and is in no hurry to get ready before securing a deal. Although his injury wasn’t as severe as Jermichael Finley’s, he hasn’t garnered as much interest on the free agent market, but that might also be because he isn’t viewed as being as much of a game-changer as the former Green Bay Packers star TE. That said, Keller did receive significant interest from the New England Patriots in the spring, as they could use a solid veteran with plenty of AFC East experience to add to another recovering TE in Rob Gronkowski, intriguing UDFA physical specimen Justin Jones, and solid blocker Michael Hoomanawanui.
Pelissero tweeted that Keller is still making progress, and while it’s always good to hear that a player is making progress, he still isn’t fully recovered due to the magnitude of last year’s knee injury. The 29-year-old is still in the prime of his career and should make a full recovery, but that does at least raise eyebrows. It will be interesting to see how many teams show interest, but I’m sure Keller will sign a deal at some point in 2014. At this point in time, the Patriots look like the strongest connection, but it’s still generally a feeling out process.