Jets Say Rewards Outweigh Risks With Holmes
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Published: April 12, 2010
Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said Monday he understood the risks of making receiver Santonio Holmes part of the off-season makeover, one that already added a player of questionable character, cornerback Antonio Cromartie. But when he discovered Holmes could be had from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick, Tannenbaum said the upside of adding a dynamic, potentially game-changing 26-year-old receiver made those risks palatable.
“With Santonio, we know there’s been bumps in the road to this point,” Tannenbaum said. “We hope he has learned from them. But it’s up to us to make it work.”
The N.F.L. announced Monday that Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. In 2008, Holmes apologized after being cited for marijuana possession. He is also facing a civil lawsuit by a woman who accused him of throwing a glass at her face at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The issues were too much for the Steelers and they were reportedly ready to cut Holmes when the Jets made their offer.
“Obviously without any of the problems, a player of his caliber who is 26 would not be available,” Tannenbaum said. “We understand the risks, but the price was right for us.”
Tannenbaum said he was confident that a core of what he called the Jets’ character players — a group he said included Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis — would maintain a cohesive atmosphere in the locker room. He also said he thought Coach Rex Ryan was skilled at dealing with potentially troublesome players.
Cromartie acknowledged he has seven children with six women in five states and faces several paternity suits. Last year, the Jets acquired receiver Braylon Edwards, who could face discipline for his role in a Cleveland bar fight.
Holmes was the most valuable player from the Steelers’ Super Bowl victory in 2009, the player who made the unforgettable toe-tapping, game-winning touchdown catch with 35 seconds remaining. Holmes said he considered his arrival in New York a fresh start, despite its being delayed four games by his N.F.L. suspension.
“I know I have to be accountable for my actions,” Holmes said. “I’m willing to do that and to move forward.”
Holmes said he was ready to turn a page, specifically with drug use.
“Given a second opportunity, I understand to go back and do the same things, to make the same mistakes will not be accepted here,” he said.
He did not say what led to the drug suspension. He said that he was at a loss to explain his string of disciplinary issues, but added that he felt as if he had let people down, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, who had lauded him after the Super Bowl victory for apparently righting his career.
“I do feel like I let him down,” Holmes said. “Guys are young. We make mistakes. We always will. It’s hard to pinpoint the mistakes and the reasons why for the fans. It’s just being young.”
The Jets are clearly making a run at a Super Bowl, a goal they fell a game short of last season when they lost in the A.F.C. championship game. In addition to adding Cromartie and Holmes via trade, they signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson. And they did all this in an off-season also marked by the end of the salary cap, which was supposed to hamstring teams seeking this kind of makeover.
Tannenbaum, though, said he did not see it that way.
“We knew what the restrictions were going to be in February,” Tannenbaum said. “We knew we could take a look at the restricted market as well as look at some trades. I look at it as what we could do and not what we couldn’t do. I look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. We don’t sit around and lament what we can’t do.”
Now the Jets have to work on what to do with what they gained.
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