Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Jets [Print without images]

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Positional analysis: Wide receiver

By Rich Cimini

This is part three in a nine-part analysis of the Jets -- a position-by-position breakdown as we head toward the scouting combine and free agency:

WIDE RECEIVER

2012 depth chart: Santonio Holmes (starter/injured), Stephen Hill (starter/injured), Jeremy Kerley, Braylon Edwards, Clyde Gates, Chaz Schilens, Jordan White.

Overview: Ugh. Clearly, this was the weakest position on the team in 2012. Only one receiver met expectations -- Kerley, the only true playmaker on offense. Holmes' season-ending foot injury in Week 4 was devastating to the offense. As weird as it sounds, the Jets missed Holmes more than star CB Darrelle Revis, according to Rex Ryan. The immediate future of the position is tied to Holmes recovery from surgery and Hill's ability to rebound from a disappointing rookie year (and arthroscopic surgery on his knee). If Holmes returns to his pre-surgery form and Hill takes a major step forward, the Jets will have a decent foundation -- but those are big ifs.

Free agents: Edwards, Schilens.

2013 personnel preview: The Jets can't possibly return with the same cast, especially with new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg installing the West Coast offense. They need a proven playmaker, preferably a receiver with a background in the West Coast system. Right now, there are no receivers worth the ninth overall pick in the draft, so the immediate help will have to come in free agency. Problem is, the Jets don't have much cap room, so it'll be a case of, "Look, but can't touch." They have to find a cost-effective veteran; maybe Edwards can be that guy. Brian Hartline (Dolphins) is an interesting second-tier free agent, but even his asking price might be a bit much.

Salary-cap situation: Don't be surprised if the Jets try to get Holmes to take a pay cut on his $11 million base salary -- an exhorbitant amount for a No. 2-quality receiver coming off a serious injury. Problem is, $7.5 million of the salary is guaranteed. If they cut him, they'd take an $11.25 million cap hit and they'd also have to pay him the $7.5 million.

However, unlike Mark Sanchez' guarantee, Holmes has an offset clause, meaning he can't double dip if he's released. In other words, his maxes out at $7.5 million in 2013 earnings if he's cut and signs elsewhere. Maybe, with financial motivation to stay a Jet, he'd be receptive to a restructured deal. New GM John Idzik is supposed to be a skilled negotiator; let's see if he can get Holmes to take a haircut.