Former Browns and Cardinals experts reflect on what they saw in current Kansas City Chiefs tight end Ricky Seals-Jones in recent years.
Earlier this offseason, the revolving door at tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs rotated once more and brought in yet another new backup to sit behind All-Pro Travis Kelce. Unlike the candidates of years past, however, this year’s entrant, Ricky Seals-Jones, holds very real potential for solid production and, in a worst case scenario, some actual security in case something happens to the starter.
Seals-Jones is an NFL vet who is still quite young at the age of 25. After starring at Texas A&M, RSJ caught on with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent and showed solid hands as he climbed the depth chart to even start 5 games in 2018. In 2019, the Cards placed him on waivers heading into the regular season and the Cleveland Browns seized an opportunity to bring him in.
With the Browns, Seals-Jones put up the same sort of part-time production that had been his calling card in his short stint in the desert. He caught 14 passes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns (two against his former team) in 14 games and 3 starts. After moving from the poor quarterback play in Arizona, Seals-Jones’ catch rate rose nearly 15 percent in Cleveland even as his targets decreased.
This offseason, the Chiefs allowed Blake Bell to hit free agency after a single season and he found a new home with the Dallas Cowboys behind Blake Jarwin. To fill his spot, general manager Brett Veach added Seals-Jones on a one-year deal. Given the offensive limitations of any realistic option last year, Seals-Jones seems like a fairly big leap forward. But how real is that feeling?
It’s easy to be optimistic about Seals-Jones, but the reality is that he’s a player who has never eclipsed 350 yards in a single season. This will be his fourth year in the NFL and even this offseason he had to settle on a single-season agreement to serve as a backup for the Chiefs. Are Chiefs fans looking at RSJ through rose-colored lenses if they view him as an exciting new option on offense?
We recently asked some questions of Randy Gurzi, a Cleveland Browns expert who runs the site Dawg Pound Daily, and Scott Allen from the Arizona Cardinals site Raising ‘Zona to get a better idea of how Seals-Jones looked in his last two locales and what they would expect from him in a new environment like Kansas City.
What drew the Cardinals to RSJ in the first place?
Scott Allen: Not sure what drew the Cardinals to RSJ but it likely had to do with size as a former basketball player. Bruce Arians has never really been into tight ends as part of the offensive scheme but loves guys that can use their hands to not only catch but block on the line. It most likely came from that aspect.
After two years in Arizona, what did you think of his potential as he departed for Cleveland?
Scott: In Arizona it really is hard to gauge potential. Tight ends have been coming to Arizona for years, decades and moving on to bigger and better things. Certainly RSJ had potential, still does in my opinion. I was happy he was getting an opportunity in Cleveland he might not otherwise here. Sure, he was more productive as far as receptions went in 2018, his last season in Arizona when he caught 34 passes opposed to the 14 he caught last year. 2018 was a weird year for the Cardinals, awful offensively. Nothing went the way it should have, thus why he was a little more involved.
What did the Browns think they were getting when they signed RSJ?
Randy Gurzi: When signing him, they thought they were getting a big target to help them challenge defenses over the middle of the field. Seals-Jones was never going to be a blocking threat at tight end, but he’s an oversized receiver who can beat linebackers with his speed and safeties with his height. And it’s safe to say they got what they expected, even if they didn’t play him as much as they should have.
Why did the Browns let him walk?
Randy: Cleveland went all-in on Austin Hooper and once he was signed, it felt as though RSJ was no longer in consideration. They suddenly had Hooper and former first-round pick David Njoku with Stephen Carlson as well, who they seem to like. In reality, Seals-Jones was lost in the numbers game.
Given your year of observance, what would you say is his ceiling and what you would say is his floor going forward?
Randy: Seals-Jones averaged over 16-yards per catch and had four touchdowns with only 22 targets last season. To me, that means he has a rather high ceiling as a No. 2 tight end. He’s never going to be a threat to top 1,000-yards but it wouldn’t be crazy to see him gain 500 yards and five touchdowns in a high-powered passing offense. As for his floor, he’s never had less than 200 yards receiving so it seems as though that’s it for now. Again, he’s not a star but he’s a player who can show up and make some splash plays and fans will love that about him.