Patriots cornerback Darius Butler’s reaction spoke volumes.
“Wowwww, a 5th round pick!” Butler tweeted Sunday night. “I know this is supposed to be a deep draft, but damn Pitt.”
Butler was reacting to news that the Jets acquired Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft choice. He later tweeted that his reaction wasn’t necessarily concern that Holmes was in the division, but based on the “shock” of the low cost to acquire him.
The low cost looks to be based on four factors: 1. Holmes is apparently facing a four-game suspension for substance abuse (per Pro Football Talk and confirmed by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter); 2. Holmes enters the final year of his contract; 3. In a turbulent offseason, the Steelers making a statement about the type of players they want on their team; 4. The Jets’ willingness to take on players who have run into off-field problems.
So what does this mean for the Patriots?
On Twitter, ryant316 writes: “So when are the Pats going to match all of the Jets’ acquisitions? Jets seem to be the favorite by adding Holmes.”
My opinion is that the Jets have added an explosive piece with this move. From a pure talent standpoint, the Jets just decisively got better – for a low price.
Defenses planning to stack the box against the run now must consider the presence of Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Holmes on the outside, and Dustin Keller at tight end. If quarterback Mark Sanchez makes progress in his second season, it has the makings of an impressive unit, anchored by a solid offensive line.
It all looks powerful on paper.
Still, the Patriots thought they had an explosive team in 2009, only to find out how powerful the wrong mix of players in the locker room could be. It was a reminder that an explosive mix can work in two ways: It can spark a team to greater heights, or blow things up. Former Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli used to have a saying on the board in his office reminding him that he was not collecting talent, but instead, building a team.
So here we have two bitter rivals approaching the offseason with contrasting plans.
The Jets are going for it with big names and players with off-field concerns which cost them little to acquire. The Patriots have focused on internal harmony and have loaded up on draft picks to refuel their draft-and-develop pipeline with an eye on sustained success over time.
It is compelling to watch unfold and adds another intriguing layer to the Patriots-Jets rivalry.
Can the season start today?