The New York Jets and tight end Dustin Keller began preliminary talks towards a contract extension earlier this offseason. Keller has led the Jets in receptions in each of the past two seasons and is scheduled to earn $3.052 million in the final year of his rookie contract.
Those talks have stalled as the Jets look to see how Keller produces in new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's system, Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger reported Saturday, citing people with knowledge of the Jets' mindset.
"The way I prefer it, I would have something done, just to know they want me to be part of the future in the organization, they want me to be part of the core guys," Keller said Saturday. "Not to get that done, it bothers me a little bit. But like I said, I can only handle what I can handle, and I'm going just go out and play my game. And I know that will be good enough."
Tight ends played a prominent role in the Miami Dolphins' offense during Sparano's first two seasons at the helm of the franchise, though not always in a receiving role. The Dolphins used two-tight end personnel groupings on about 40 percent of plays, but No. 1 tight end Anthony Fasano caught between 30 to 40 balls each season. That's much less than the 45 to 65 receptions Keller has averaged under Brian Schottenheimer.
Keller is a more dynamic tight end than Fasano. If he remains productive, it's doubtful that he'll be allowed to test free agency as the Jets could place the franchise tag on him in 2013. With a salary cap expected to remain flat, the tight end tender is projected to be worth $5.555 million next season.