Welcome back to the NFL, Kellen Winslow.
The veteran tight end, who spent nine days with the Patriots last season, signed a one-year deal with the Jets on Friday after completing a three-day minicamp tryout.
The Jets were stuck with a void at tight end after Dustin Keller left for Miami via free agency, and Winslow proved to Rex Ryan this week that he still has something left.
“It’s been a rough go-round, I guess,” Winslow told USA Today. “This last year, when you can’t control it, you get cut, you get traded, you just can’t control it.
“But I’ll tell you I’m very hungry. I’ve always been hungry. Whenever I step out on the football field, I want to beat my opponent. I just want to help this team and make plays for them.”
Last season was a tumultuous one for the former Miami Hurricane. He was traded to Seattle last May but was waived before the season, reportedly after refusing to take a pay cut. Winslow latched on with the Patriots but appeared in just one game — making one catch for 12 yards against Baltimore in Week 3 — before being released at his own behest.
A rough 2012 was a sharp downgrade from his previous seasons, though. Winslow caught more than 65 passes and gained more than 750 yards five times between 2006 and 2011, earning a Pro Bowl nod as a member of the Browns in 2007.
In New York, he’ll team up with fourth-year pro Jeff Cumberland, who currently sits atop the tight-end depth chart, to attempt to recreate Keller’s production. Cumberland is optimistic of their chances, even comparing himself and Winslow to the highly regarded tight end duo up in Foxboro.
“With my size and his size,” Cumberland told the New York Daily News, “I would be more like [Rob] Gronkowski, he would be more like [Aaron] Hernandez.”
It’ll be a tall order for Winslow and Cumberland to match the production of the two Patriots tight ends, but if Winslow performs anywhere near his potential, he can become a valuable weapon for Mark Sanchez (or whoever ends up winning the Jets’ quarterback job).