NFL Nation: Santonio Holmes

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman wants to wait a couple more days before making a decision about whether to keep Marquess Wilson on the active roster.

With the receiver expected to miss the next month, the Bears can free up a spot on the active roster Tuesday at 3 p.m. by placing Wilson on the injured reserve with a designation to return.

“I think I could better answer that after Wednesday’s practice, and it’s simply because there’s a lot of technical CBA rules involved in this thing,” Trestman said. “I think that to bring clarity to it, I’d rather give you that answer as we move through the week.”

If the Bears decide to place Wilson on the injured reserve with a designation to return, he won’t be able to participate in practice until Week 7 and won’t be eligible to play until Nov. 9, when the team travels to Green Bay coming off its bye week.

If Wilson remains on the active roster, he’ll continue to occupy a spot the team could use to bolster another position. But the positive side of that is Wilson could return to action as soon as he recovers instead of waiting until Week 7 just to be eligible to practice.

Every team is allowed to use the IR with designation to return only once per year. The Bears used their short-term IR designation last season on Charles Tillman after he suffered a triceps injury during a November loss to the Detroit Lions.

The team might opt to use the short-term designation on Wilson given the presence of veteran receiver Santonio Holmes, who is now expected to take on the No. 3 role. Now that the Bears are in game-planning mode, the playbook will be narrowed significantly for the Week 1 matchup against Buffalo, which would give Holmes a better opportunity to fully absorb the aspects of the system the team will utilize against the Bills.

“At this point, there’s no comfort level [in the offense],” Holmes said. “Still learning the system, working my way into one of the core guys for this team, and I still have a lot to learn. [I’m] spending a lot of time with Coach [Mike] Groh learning the offense, going over plays, formation, personnel and things like that on a daily basis to keep me caught up with the team.”
CLEVELAND -- Here are five things we learned in the first half of the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale versus the Browns.

1. 53-man roster mostly set before game: The Bears offered up a fairly complete picture of the final roster when they decided to sit numerous reserve players like: Josh Morgan, Ka’Deem Carey, Brock Vereen and Michael Spurlock. Unless the Bears find better alternatives over the weekend; all four appear to be in decent shape as the final cut date looms on Saturday. However, the decision to rest Carey and Vereen is somewhat curious. Outside of their draft status as fourth-round picks, neither did much to stand out over the summer. And no, Shea McClellin was never going to be cut. The Bears have not abandoned hope of salvaging the career of the former first-round draft choice.

2. David Fales knows the offense: Fales lacks ideal arm strength, but he does come across as a smart quarterback who understands where the ball is supposed to go. He did a decent job under intense pressure, and showed serious courage by throwing the ball deep on several occasions. The Bears are probably better off keeping only two quarterbacks on the active roster, but Fales showed enough smarts in the preseason to warrant a spot on the practice squad, if he clears waivers as expected.

3. Santonio Holmes can help Bears: Holmes proved he still has some juice left when he broke a tackle to score a 32-yard touchdown, followed by a 30-yard punt return. Granted, Holmes accomplished this against Cleveland backups, but he made the most of the opportunities presented to him. Holmes has too much experience to let walk away. Josh Bellamy had himself a solid first half with two catches for 43 yards in the opening quarter, but Holmes seems a smart choice to be the No. 4 wideout behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Morgan, with Spurlock also in the mix. We’ll see how/if Marquess Wilson’s injury complicates the situation when it boils down to determining the 53.

4. FirstEnergy video screens a nice touch: The Browns installed two giant video screens in the upper decks behind each end zone, a move that greatly enhances the in-stadium experience in Cleveland. The Bears need to strongly consider adding similar technology at Soldier Field, because the current video setup is below average for a stadium built in the last 11 years. The fans would love it. And it opens up tons of marketing and sales opportunities for the club. That’s a win-win for everybody involved.

5. Browns took it seriously: Cleveland needed starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to orchestrate a touchdown drive. The Browns are desperate for good vibes heading into Week 1. We all know Cleveland will probably stink again, but this is a franchise that is trying to sell hope to its tortured fan base. They call this place the “Factory of Sadness” for a reason. But the home fans actually seemed upbeat after the first 30 minutes, especially when Johnny Manziel fired a touchdown pass. Mission accomplished for the Browns.

W2W4: Chicago Bears

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
The Chicago Bears (2-0) face the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) in preseason game No. 3 at CenturyLink Field.
  • No. 3 receiver battle: Bears coach Marc Trestman said Josh Morgan deserves first shot at the No. 3 job with Marquess Wilson on the shelf because of a fractured clavicle. So Morgan is set to receive all the repetitions at the No. 3 spot with the first-team offense. He’s been one of the team’s most productive targets this preseason, but the Bears signed Santonio Holmes on Saturday. Holmes expects to play sparingly. So he’ll certainly be a player to watch as Chicago continues to look for a competent complement to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The Bears plan to make sure to put Holmes into situations he's comfortable with to help him succeed as he learns Chicago's offense.
  • How starters handle the noise: In addition to changing eating, sleeping and practices in anticipation for the late West Coast start, the Bears have worked all week at operating in noisy environments, such as what they’ll see at CenturyLink Field. The club catered its game plan going into this contest to feature as little verbiage as possible in making adjustments, and the Bears plan to utilize silent snap counts all game in addition to using hand signals to call in plays. The Bears welcome the challenge of dealing with the noise after struggling in the last preseason game to call plays because of headset malfunctions.
  • Competition for No. 2 quarterback: The Bears plan to play Jay Cutler and the first-team offense into the early part of the second half. Afterward, Jordan Palmer will be the first quarterback off the bench as he continues to compete with Jimmy Clausen for the primary backup job. Right now, the competition appears too close to call. So this game will play a major role in the staff’s decision. Palmer’s completion percentage (70.0) is higher than Clausen’s (64.3), but the latter owns the better passer rating (123.3) and has thrown one more touchdown pass this preseason (2).
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jay Cutler's interactions with teammates and the media always seem to creep into the narrative about the quarterback, and on Tuesday Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said "we've absolutely noticed a difference in Jay."

Cutler admits he's changed, too.

"It might be true. Anytime you are in an offense and have the same group of guys around you, it's going to be more comfortable. It is for me anyway," Cutler said. "I like the group of guys we have in the locker room, understand what we are doing offensively. And it's early. It's still preseason with you guys."

Described as petulant to the media in the past with televised on-field blowups with teammates and coaches as evidence that he's been difficult to get along with, Cutler hasn't displayed such qualities so far. But to Cutler's credit, he didn't in 2013 either.

Going into 2014, Kromer believes Cutler is taking on more of a leadership role. He's moved on to a new staff led by an offensive-minded head coach in Marc Trestman. He's finally protected well, and not taking unnecessary punishment every time he drops back to pass. He's surrounded by a bevy of weapons on offense, and playing in an offensive system he believes in strongly on a new seven-year contract.

"I think everyone in the building has noticed a difference in Jay," Kromer said. "None of us knew Jay very well before getting here last year, and we worked through the year and that first year is always hard on everybody. But what I see in Jay Cutler right now is a guy that's the leading the group; a guy that is approachable, and is working to make everybody better because he realizes it's important that everybody is on the same page with him."

New receiver Santonio Holmes admitted as much Monday, saying the quarterback has "taken me under his wing, talked to me, and kept me close." The expectation is Cutler's approach will translate into victories this season. During training camp, Brandon Marshall called Cutler "a totally different person," adding that "I think he has great balance in is life now."

"He's talked with receivers. He's talked with linemen. He's working with running backs constantly," Kromer said. "That's a maturity on his part of knowing the offense, knowing what we want as coaches and feeling good about being the leader that he is. It's been a very good start of the year that way."

Will it continue? Well, it did in 2013 despite the Bears finishing 8-8 in a season in which Cutler was forced to miss time due to injuries on two occasions.

Cutler seems to now totally understand the value of making everyone else around him better, which is part of the reason that within an hour of Holmes signing his contract on Saturday, the two were on the field together working on plays to develop a rapport as quickly as possible. Cutler displayed similar qualities in 2013, too.

"If Santonio Holmes is going to play, Jay's going to rely on him," Kromer said. "Jay knows he has to be on the same page with him. So the faster he can get to know him, the better off he's going to be and that's Jay's goal."
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman confirmed the team put free agent wide receiver Santonio Holmes thru a workout on Tuesday.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Bears brought in free agent receivers Holmes and Ben Obomanu before eventually signing wide receiver Greg Herd to a one-year contract.

“I did not [attend the workout]”, Trestman said. “I have it on tape but I haven’t looked at it. I think that’s something for our personnel department at this time. I don’t have a response [as to how Holmes looked] because I didn’t look at it.”

Holmes, 30, caught 23 passes for 456 yards and one touchdown last season in 11 games for the New York Jets. He played in just four games in 2012 before suffering a lisfranc injury.

Holmes best season in the NFL came with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009 when he posted a career-high 79 receptions for 1,248 yards. Holmes was also named MVP of Super Bowl XLIII.

The Bears assigned the 6-foot-3 Herd uniform No. 81. He is expected to add a fresh set of legs to a unit that is currently down in numbers after Marquess Wilson fractured his collarbone. Wilson is out indefinitely following surgery on Tuesday morning.
PITTSBURGH -- There is a reason, beyond the headaches that accompanied his production and flashes of greatness, the Pittsburgh Steelers have no interest in bringing back Santonio Holmes.

They simply don’t need the 30-year-old wide receiver, who won the MVP Award in their last Super Bowl victory but has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons.

[+] EnlargeLance Moore
Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoWide receiver Lance Moore, an eight-year veteran who signed with the Steelers this offseason, brings his 4,281 yards and 38 TDs to Pittsburgh.
Consider what offensive coordinator Todd Haley said last week about the Steelers’ receivers.

“It’s as deep a group as I’ve been around from top to bottom,” Haley said near the end of offseason practices. “I think some guys that are pretty good football players probably won’t make the team.”

Haley tempered his assessment of the Steelers' wide receivers with the acknowledgement that the current group has yet to show what it can collectively do in pads.

And, of course, everything looks better in June when every team is still undefeated and pass-rushers are wearing shorts and are prohibited from hitting quarterbacks.

But Haley’s comment about the overall quality of the Steelers' wide receivers resonates even at this time of year because of his resume.

He coached the wide receivers in Dallas and Chicago while climbing the coaching ladder, and the Arizona Cardinals had arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL in 2008 when Haley was their offensive coordinator. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin helped the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance and nearly led them to an upset of the Steelers in Tampa.

Whether the potential Haley sees in the Steelers' wideouts translates into production, one season after the loss of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders, who combined for 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013, remains to be seen.

Here are a few things to like about the Steelers’ wide receivers following organized team activities and minicamp:

  • Lance Moore, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract in March, stood out as much as any player during offseason practices. The former Saints wide receiver proved to be a quick study while learning a new offense, and he could put up big numbers if opposing teams pay too much attention to Pro Bowler Antonio Brown. Moore reminds me of Cotchery in the sense that he is a pro’s pro.
  • Markus Wheaton still has a ways to go to win the starting job held down by Sanders last season, and that is a good thing. Wheaton had a solid offseason, but he will have a lot of competition during training camp. Justin Brown, who stood out during offseason practices, will be among those who push Wheaton. The 6-3, 209-pound Brown spent all of last season on the practice squad, but wide receivers coach Richard Mann said, "He’s just a different guy. He understands the concepts. He’s smoother. His body language is different.”
  • The Steelers have so much depth at wide receiver that Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft, will have trouble making the team. Heyward-Bey has to be consistent catching the call during training camp. But if he does that and makes the team, he would become a nice player to have as a No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver. "He has the speed. He has the talent,” Mann said. Hopefully we will put him in a position to succeed with his speed and smartness, and we will take advantage of what he does best.”

Plenty is still unknown about the wide receiving corps. What exactly will the Steelers get out of Martavis Bryant this season? Is Wheaton ready to emerge as a significant contributor after catching six passes for 64 yards as a rookie? Will Brown build on his strong offseason and make a serious push for a roster spot?

These are among the questions that won’t be answered until after the Steelers report to training camp on July 25.

As Mann said, “When we start playing tackle, we will figure out what we have.”
PITTSBURGH -- An injury-plagued wide receiver who has already worn out his welcome once in Pittsburgh returning to the Steelers?

To borrow from Santonio Holmes' most recent NFL home -- where the former New York Jet trampled on another welcome -- fuhgeddaboudit.

Truth be told, the chances of James Harrison returning to the Steelers aren't that much better than Holmes' even though veteran cornerback Ike Taylor said on TribLive Radio that each would like to wear black and gold again.

Harrison turned 36 earlier this month and is not a special teams player at this point of his decorated career. The Steelers are committed to Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones at outside linebacker. And they found a mentor for the outside linebackers who have 24 career sacks among them when they hired Joey Porter as a defensive assistant coach.

Plus, Harrison is a different kind of leader. The five-time Pro Bowler sets a shining example with how he pushes himself to the brink -- whether he is training or chasing down quarterbacks. He is not the type to throw an arm around a younger player and offer pointers.

So what are the odds of Harrison returning to the Steelers for a second stint in Pittsburgh? Probably about as slim as a goal post even with the Steelers thin at outside linebacker.

The Steelers simply reach a point of no return with players when they hit a certain juncture of their career. That is taking nothing away from Harrison, who deserves to be remembered as an all-time great in Pittsburgh.

But it is also too early to completely rule out his return.

An injury could change the Steelers' outlook at outside linebacker. They may also decide they need more help there after offseason practices or during training camp at some point.

By all accounts, Harrison is in terrific shape, and he has been training in Arizona while hoping to get a call from an NFL team.

That call isn't likely to come from the Steelers. And if it does, it won't be in June but rather late July or early August.
So now we have another trade rumor that is sure to tantalize Jets Nation: The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly listening to offers for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who posted career numbers last season.

Are the New York Jets interested? Should they be interested?

First of all, it's amusing to hear that a team isn't actively shopping a player, but willing to field offers. The Jets weren't actively shopping Darrelle Revis last year, and look at how that turned out. The Jackson-Jets possibility has traction because his former Eagles coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, is now the Jets' coordinator and because the Jets still need a game-breaker at wide receiver. Eric Decker helps, but they need more firepower.

While you can never say "never" in the NFL, it would be a surprise if the Jets make a strong push for Jackson. Such a move would run counter to the John Idzik-ian way. Jackson's ability can't be denied (he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards last season) and he's only 27, but there are economic and character issues that don't seem to match the general manager's philosophy.

The contract is huge. Jackson is due to make $30.5 million over the final three years of his contract, including $10.5 million this season. The money is non-guaranteed, but it would be a $10.5 million cap hit. Do the Jets want to take on another big contract at receiver after doling out $15 million guaranteed for Decker?

Jackson is straight out of the Santonio Holmes diva school. He argues with coaches, complains about his contract and does stuff to annoy the people around him. Why else would Chip Kelly, an offensive guru, want to trade a top weapon in the prime of his career? The Jets removed the wart that was Holmes, so do they really want go there again? Obviously, Mornhinweg's input would be vital. If he absolutely believes Jackson would behave and be a team guy, it would be worth a call to the Eagles to start some dialogue. If there is any hesitation, stay away.

One thing to remember: This could be the best wide receiver draft in history, and there is a good chance the Jets can acquire an impact player with the 18th pick. They could get Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, whom many say is a Jackson-type player.

If the Jets were a little further along in their development, meaning a legitimate contender, I could see Idzik making the splashy move for Jackson. You might have noticed, but Idzik is a slow builder, thinking long term over quick fix. It might not make the fans happy, but it's quite obvious that he doesn't care what the fans or media think.
Let’s look deeper into the San Francisco 49ers’ interest in free-agent receivers Julian Edelman of New England and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.

Odds of landing them: There is competition. The Patriots want Edelman back and Cleveland has been connected to him as well. Nicks is visiting Indianapolis on Friday. Carolina is also interested. The 49ers don’t have a ton of salary-cap room, so they have to get creative in a deal with either player.

Who else is out there if Edelman and Nicks don’t end up with 49ers: The top available receivers include Steve Smith, James Jones, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerome Simpson.

Who is the best fit? Probably Nicks because he is an outside receiver. Landing him on a short-term deal to see if he can become a top-notch player again could be smart. Don’t get me wrong; Edelman is good as well. You don’t catch 105 balls in a season if you’re not talented. But Anquan Boldin is essentially a slot guy as well. Still, I’m sure the 49ers could find ways to make it work.

How Crabtree, Boldin and the draft figure: Crabtree is a free agent next year and Boldin is 33. So, even if the 49ers sign Edelman or Nicks, I can still see them taking a receiver early in the draft.

Kaepernick factor: I’m sure quarterback Colin Kaepernick is paying attention. This passing offense could be nasty with Boldin, Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and Nicks or Edelman. It would open it up. It could also behoove Kaepernick to wait to get his contract done until next year. He could put up big numbers with another top weapon.

Should Seattle worry? Yes. The 49ers must get better on offense to beat Seattle. That was the reason why the 49ers couldn’t overtake Seattle in 2013. A big-time offensive weapon could even the playing field.

Scout's thoughts: “I was a little surprised to be honest, especially after the re-signing of Boldin. Quinton Patton also shows some promise, but this would be a heck of a receiver corps if is Patton is your No. 4. I would think if they were in the market for WR though, that they would be looking for a pure speed guy, which isn't Nicks or Edelman.” -- ESPN analyst Matt Williamson
A few takeaways on Santonio Holmes' long-anticipated release by the New York Jets:

1. Good riddance: This was a long time coming. The Jets would've cut him last year if it weren't for the 2013 guarantee ($7.5 million) in his contract. Holmes was the ultimate diva, causing problems when things didn't go his way. He was the root of the locker-room turmoil in 2012, clashing with Mark Sanchez in a meeting and getting thrown out of the huddle by teammates in the season finale. Holmes and Sanchez met in the offseason to patch up their relationship, with Holmes telling Sanchez he'd be a team player. It sounded sincere at first, but he reverted to his selfish ways, telling Sanchez he wanted at least five catches per game. Because of Holmes, mistakenly named a captain that year by Rex Ryan, the Jets abolished the practice of making permanent captains. That will be Holmes' legacy.

2. A quarter-million dollars per catch: Former general manager Mike Tannenbaum made a nice trade in 2010, picking up Holmes for the fire-sale price of a fifth-round draft pick. With a substance-abuse suspension looming, the Pittsburgh Steelers were desperate to unload the former Super Bowl MVP. The Jets got one good year out of Holmes, who delivered many clutch plays, but their mistake was overpaying when he hit free agency in 2011 -- five years, $45 million. Holmes benefited from the perfect storm. Because of the lockout, it was a late free-agent period. The Jets didn't have another No. 1-caliber receiver, so they were desperate -- and they got squeezed by Holmes. He collected $24 million the past three years, which breaks down to $255,319 per reception.

3. A hard lesson: The Holmes debacle should serve as a cautionary tale for John Idzik, who soon will be doling out the first big free-agent contracts of his GM tenure: Don't invest significant money in players with character issues. More often than not, you get burned. As they attempt to rebuild the wide receiver position, through free agency and the draft, the Jets should put an added emphasis on the intangibles, looking for team-oriented players not afflicted by the "disease of me," as Pat Riley once said. Granted, it's hard to find those guys at receiver, a diva position, but they're out there.

4. A new No. 1: The Jets just dumped their most accomplished receiver, so they need to find a new No. 1. They have a No. 3 (Jeremy Kerley) and a No. 4 (David Nelson), along with a wild card (Stephen Hill). They can find a No. 2 in free agency, a No. 2 who probably will be miscast in a lead role. The future No. 1 probably will come from the draft, one of the richest receiver drafts in history.

New York Jets have money to burn

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
INDIANAPOLIS -- Turns out the New York Jets will have even more salary-cap room than expected.

The NFL is expected to raise the salary cap to about $130 million, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday -- about $4 million higher than projected. The cap was $123 million last year.

Nothing is official yet, but it looks like the additional $4 million will give the Jets about $24 million in cap space. That would be enough to re-sign potential free agents (right tackle Austin Howard, kicker Nick Folk and tight end Jeff Cumberland are the top priorities) and be active in the free-agent market.

Obviously, they will gain more flexibility when they start dumping veterans. They would create an additional $26 million by releasing Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez and Antonio Cromartie.

The Jets are being applauded in some circles for having only $48,958 in "dead" money on this year's cap, one of the lowest totals in the league, but that figure is deceiving. If they cut the aforementioned three veterans, they'd get hit with $12.8 million in dead money, barring June 1 designations.
NFL Network draft Mike Mayock conducted a pre-combine conference call Tuesday with reporters. A few takeaways from a New York Jets perspective:

1. Mayock called this "the deepest and best draft class I've seen in probably 10 years," especially at the wide receiver position. That's good news for the receiver-needy Jets. Mayock said there's so much talent in the draft that a general manager told him that having a top-20 pick this year is equivalent to a top-10 choice last year. The Jets pick 18th.

2. Assessing the Jets' receiving situation, Mayock said, "They need some talent out there." He said he wouldn't be surprised if the Jets picked multiple receivers in the draft. That, of course, could hinge on how they attack free agency. He believes the Jets could have a shot at one of the top three wideouts at 18, most likely USC's Marqise Lee or Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Clemson's Sammy Watkins will be "long gone."

3. Lee and Evans are totally different in terms of body types and skill sets. Lee can play inside, outside and return kicks. At 6-5, Evans is a massive target on the outside. Mayock mentioned how the Jets already have Jeremy Kerley in the slot and Stephen Hill on the outside, adding that Santonio Holmes (an expected cap casualty) is "at the end of his career." Mayock added, "I just think you pick less about X's and O's there; it's which guy is the best football player. My perspective is, you can't go wrong with either Marqise Lee or Mike Evans." He also mentioned Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, in the Evans mold at 6-5, as a possible consideration.

4. Mayock is high on North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, so much so that he wouldn't be surprised if Ebron is a top-10 pick. The Jets need a pass-catching tight end like Ebron. Based on Mayock's evaluation, it doesn't sound like he'll slip to 18.

5. It took more than a half-hour into the session with reporters, but Mayock was finally asked about Missouri's Michael Sam, the first openly gay prospect in NFL history. Sam's sexual orientation never was mentioned; Mayock kept it strictly about football, giving Sam a lukewarm evaluation.

"He’s a tweener," Mayock said. "That's why people have trouble with the evaluation. ... I saw him on tape and again at the Senior Bowl. What I saw was a natural edge rush guy. He's much better going forward than backward. He’s got a little bit of explosion off the edge, but he doesn’t have the length (at 6-1 5/8, 255 pounds). He’s got linebacker size, but he’s got the physical skill set of a defensive end. He’s a tough fit. What I see is a situational pass-rusher, not an every-down player, and a core special teamer."

Mayock expects Sam to be picked anywhere from the third to fifth round.

6. Mayock raved about Notre Dame's Zack Martin and his versatility, his ability to play guard and tackle. It would be a stunner if the Jets went in that direction at 18, but it's something to file away, considering guard Willie Colon and tackle Austin Howard are headed to free agency.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles would have loved having wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in coach Chip Kelly's offense in 2013. And they certainly would like to have Maclin back, fully recovered from his ACL tear, in 2014.

The issue was always going to be whether the soon-to-be free agent was overwhelmed by an offer from another team. According to a report in the New York Daily News, that could very well happen.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsIn a weak free-agent class for receivers, Jeremy Maclin could be a hot commodity.
Jets beat writer Manish Mehta reported Friday that Maclin and Pittsburgh's Emmanuel Sanders are on the Jets' radar. New York had the No. 31 ranked passing offense in the NFL last season and is expected to part ways with Santonio Holmes to clear $8.25 million in salary-cap space.

Maclin would probably be a good fit in Kelly's system. But he knows for sure he would excel under Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The same is true of former Eagles head coach Andy Reid in Kansas City.

So if Maclin has to settle for a one-year, prove-it contract to show he can return to his pre-injury form, he might feel more confident in an offense he's already had success in.

And if the Jets, Chiefs or another team in need of a receiver -- New England? Carolina? -- are willing to give Maclin a longer-term deal, he might just go for the security. He's still only 25, but two ACL surgeries have given him a keen sense of how quickly a career can be short-circuited.

With few elite receivers on the market this year, teams may be more willing to take a bit of a risk with Maclin -- especially teams with coaches who already have a relationship with him.

It's worth pointing out that the risk isn't nearly as daunting as it once was. The state of the art in repairing and rehabbing ACL injuries is very good.

While teams like the Jets might see a desperate need for Maclin's services, the Eagles' viewpoint is a little different. They did very well on offense without him in 2013. Riley Cooper, who is also on the brink of free agency, emerged as a legitimate weapon. DeSean Jackson remains a big-play threat.

By re-signing Cooper and bringing veteran Jason Avant back, the Eagles could have the same core group of receivers that combined for 167 receptions, 2,614 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Would Maclin make that group better? No doubt. But would he make it better by enough of a margin to outbid the Jets or another team for his services? And what about the possibility of getting a big-bodied receiver like Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin in the draft?

Those considerations don't even begin to address what Kelly might have in mind for his tight ends, especially Zach Ertz. Ertz was getting more playing time, often at the expense of Avant, in the last month of the season.

All things being equal, the Eagles would like to see what Maclin can do in Kelly's offense. But if all things aren't equal, and if a market develops for Maclin, the Eagles are in a position to move on.

The next big thing: Jets

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
Top priorities for the New York Jets over the next few months:

1. Trim the fat: The Jets are likely to dump three big contracts before the March 11 start to free agency -- wide receiver Santonio Holmes ($10.8 million cap charge), quarterback Mark Sanchez ($13.1 million) and cornerback Antonio Cromartie ($15 million). By cutting those three players, the Jets would create $26.1 million in additional cap room, putting them more than $40 million over the salary cap. There probably will be interest in re-signing Cromartie for a lesser amount.

2. Money to burn: After a year of coping with a salary-cap squeeze, John Idzik finally has the flexibility that every general manager covets. Let's see if he uses the money wisely. His philosophy is to build through the draft, but he'd be crazy not to be active in the free-agent market. First, he should re-sign right tackle Austin Howard and kicker Nick Folk, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents. After that, he needs to find a wide receiver, a tight end and a safety. Names on the radar will be Eric Decker, Brandon Pettigrew and Jairus Byrd, respectively.

3. Draft for offense: The Jets picked a defensive player with their last five first-round picks. That has to change. With the 18th pick, they need to focus on offensive playmakers. Three names to watch: wide receivers Marqise Lee and Mike Evans and tight end Eric Ebron. If one of the Big Three at quarterbacks falls to 18 -- Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater -- they'd have to think hard about going in that direction.

Study: Jets healthiest team in NFL

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
The New York Jets faced many challenges in 2013 -- a turnover-prone rookie at quarterback, seven new starters on defense, etc. One thing they didn't have to confront: A spate of injuries.

They were the healthiest team in the league, according to a study by Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin. The Jets lost a league-low 20 games by starters due to injury, including only five on defense. That, too, was the league-low.

The study doesn't reflect Mark Sanchez's season-ending shoulder surgery in the preseason. That would've been another 16 games lost if you operate under the presumption he would've been the opening-day starter. As you know, Rex Ryan never named a starting quarterback. Still hasn't.

The Jets got hit at wide receiver, where they lost Santonio Holmes (five games) and Stephen Hill (four). But, all things considered, they were extraordinarily fortunate when it came to injuries. Good thing, too, because they probably didn't have enough depth in certain areas.

On defense, they lost cornerback Dee Milliner and outside linebacker Quinton Coples for three and two games, respectively, providing continuity that allowed the coaches to integrate seven new starters. General manager John Idzik needs to fortify the team's depth in his second offseason because, honestly, what are the chances to staying this healthy in 2014?

In case you're wondering, the most injury-prone team was the New York Giants, which lost a league-high 91 games by starters, including 26 on the offensive line.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22