Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jets WRs: Out with the new, in with the old

The New York Jets were 84 years old at wide receiver last year. Their three-player tandem of Santonio Holmes (27), Braylon Edwards (28) and Jerricho Cotchery (29) averaged 28 years old. This season, the Jets are 98. With Holmes, 34-year-old Plaxico Burress and 37-year-old Derrick Mason, New York averages 32.7 years of age among its top-three wideouts.

Does age matter? Not necessarily, but it is a notable swing. It’s not uncommon for teams to pick up an aging veteran to replace a mid-career No. 2 or No. 3 wideout for cost reasons. The Jets however, are essentially plugging in a mid-30s guy who hasn’t played football in two years (Burress) for a healthy, big, physical receiver (Edwards) who may just be reaching his peak. Then, they’re replacing Cotchery, a late-20s wideout who has been as sure as can be (aside from a poor showing against Green Bay last year) his entire career and was a staple in the Jets organization for a guy three years from 40.

This could work. Holmes is a no-brainer, and Burress, when healthy, is capable of changing a game with his 6-5, 232-pound frame and ability to grab footballs that seem out of reach. Holmes and Burress have both caught Super Bowl-winning touchdowns. Then there’s Mason. While old, Mason is a solid No. 3 who caught seven touchdowns last year while totaling over 800 yards.

Or, it could blow up in GM Mike Tannenbaum’s face. Burress has already been battling minor injuries in camp, which could linger through the beginning, if not the entire season. Mason, as has been repeated, is old. He’s in great shape, but his best years are most likely behind him. Plus, he might have to miss some time for an AARP meeting or something.

Personally, I thought the Jets needed to bring back Edwards over Holmes. Edwards truly grew up during his time in New York, learning to catch the easy passes, continuing to grab the tough ones, consistently fighting hard in run blocking and always showing his passion of donning the green and white. However, with all of the late-game heroics and steadiness Holmes provided last season, Tanny and Rex Ryan can’t be blamed for making him the top priority. And it seemed as if the Cotchery situation was out of their hands, as they simply respected his wishes to get a fresh start somewhere else, where he might be able to be a No. 2 or primary receiver.