Monday, April 12, 2010

Jets continue strong offseason with steal of former Super Bowl MVP

What is 79 receptions, 1,248 yards and 5 touchdowns worth in today's NFL? Apparently just a fifth-round pick, which is what the New York Jets traded to acquire Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers after the wide receiver's first 1,000-yard season.

Now there is more to the story. Like Holmes' likely suspension for the first four games of the 2010 season for substance abuse and a history of legal troubles. But in trading just a third-day draft pick for a receiver who helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XLIII, this represents a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for the Jets.

This move comes off the heels of the team's trade for former Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a third-round pick earlier this offseason. The Jets may be depleting the middle of their draft, but they are stacking their team with talented players in the process.

These moves even prompted the outspoken Chad Ochocinco to beg the NFL to stop the Jets with this tweet to Roger Goodell: "Mr. Goodell the NY Jets are unfairly loading their team up with great players like the Yankees do, we need to stop this now!"

Naysayers have bashed the Cromartie move, saying he had one good season and has fallen off since. But the Jets won't need to rely on Cromartie to cover the other team's top target thanks to All-Pro Darrelle Revis and Cromartie will easily be more talented than at least half of the receivers he has to cover.

Once Holmes joins the Jets after four games (similar to the Braylon Edwards situation last season), he will provide an instant boon to a receiving corps that was considered a draft-day need for the Jets. Now the team can concentrate on improving what is already an outstanding defense by drafting a defensive end to pressure the quarterback without blitzing or a cornerback or safety to add talent and depth to their secondary, which already houses two Pro Bowl cornerbacks and a solid strong safety in Jim Leonhard who fits Rex Ryan's system perfectly.

Second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez will now have a solid group of receiving options including Edwards, Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller and LaDainian Tomlinson and Leon Washington (if he remains a Jet) out of the backfield. It's not out of the realm of possibility to expect a leap in production from the former USC star and maybe, just maybe, a positive TD:INT ratio after 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions last season (including the playoffs).

With their moves this and last season (don't forget the package of draft picks traded to move up and acquire both Sanchez and Shonn Greene, who should start at running back), the Jets have proven how much they devalue mid-round draft picks and how much other NFL teams overvalue them.

Are the Chargers going to find a Pro Bowl-caliber player with a late third-round pick draft pick. Will the Steelers draft a future Super Bowl MVP in the late fifth round? It's possible, but highly unlikely. For every Terrell Davis and Tom Brady, there are plenty of late-round picks who never make it (or never even get the chance). If I'm the Jets, I'm happy to give up those odds for Pro Bowlers.

The NFL Draft hasn't even taken place yet and I'm already extremely excited for football season. And I'm a Yankees fan who expects big things from them this season as well. That can only bode well for the Jets chances at advancing further than the AFC Championship game this season. If they don't, they can at least say they tried, unlike most of the rest of the league's front offices.

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