Jets release WR Santonio Holmes

Updated: March 10, 2014, 6:50 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com

After four turbulent seasons with the New York Jets, wide receiver Santonio Holmes is looking for a new team.

In a long-anticipated move, Holmes was released Monday after a second straight injury-plagued season. His lack of production coupled with a $10.75 million salary-cap charge in 2014 were the primary reasons behind the Jets' decision.

Only five years ago, Holmes was named Super Bowl MVP as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a span of 24 hours, the Jets cleared $17.75 million in cap room by releasing Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

"I appreciate Tone's contributions over the last four seasons," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "I've always admired his knack for making the clutch play. He's a tremendous competitor who wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. I wish him nothing but the best."

Holmes, who turned 30 last week, made only 43 receptions over the past two seasons and missed 17 games with foot and hamstring injuries. His Lisfranc injury in 2012, which required two operations, was a devastating blow. He made it back for 2013, but he wasn't the same player and ended up tearing a hamstring that cost him five games in the middle of the season.

Recognizing his prohibitive cap number, Holmes said at the end of the season that he would be willing to take a pay cut for the second consecutive year to stay with the team. But the Jets want to rebuild at receiver with younger, faster players. Holmes finished with only four 100-yard receiving days in 43 games with New York.

He signed a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011, capitalizing on an impressive 2010 -- his first season with the Jets. But once Holmes got the big deal, his numbers declined and his attitude soured. A high-ranking team official once described him as "a pain in the ass."

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesSantonio Holmes was released by the Jets on Monday after four eventful seasons in New York.

Holmes wound up collecting $25 million on the contract, breaking down to $266,000 per reception.

It was an eventful run in New York, not all of it good.

One year after winning the Super Bowl, Holmes violated the league's substance-abuse policy and was traded to the Jets on the cheap for a fifth-round draft pick. He became an integral part of the team's playoff run in 2010, his signature moment an acrobatic scoring catch in the Jets' upset of the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs.

In 2011, Holmes became a disruptive force in the locker room, clashing with quarterback Mark Sanchez. Holmes -- named a captain by Rex Ryan before the season -- was such a problem that the coach decided to abolish the tradition of naming permanent captains.

At the time, the Jets might have released Holmes if it hadn't been for the large amount of guaranteed money in his contract.

He sparked controversy to the very end, creating headlines before a Week 15, do-or-die game against the Carolina Panthers. He said the Panthers secondary was "the weakest link" of their defense. That was a motivating factor, several Carolina players said after beating the Jets.

Holmes was a nonfactor in the game, dropping the first ball thrown to him and finishing the Jets' 30-20 loss with two catches for 14 yards.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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