Breakdown: Jets 2011 New Receiving Corps

I’m not sure I like what the Jets did with their receiving corps. Is anyone sure they like it? After signing Santonio Holmes and signing Plaxico Burress, they released Jericho Cotchery, signed Derrick Mason as their probable third receiver and let Braylon Edwards leave for San Francisco.

Mason's numbers are good. In 14 seasons, he's averaged 66 catches a year and has had eight 1000+ yard seasons. He had 61 catches for 802 yards and seven touchdowns last season for the Baltimore Ravens. Not bad. The problem is that Mason is 37. What will he be capable of this season? Decline with athletes is a funny thing. Sometimes it's long and slow, other times, it's so fast you're left wondering what happened.

Edwards signed with the 49ers for 1 year and $3.5 million, although reports say he only gets $1 million unless he makes 90 receptions and goes to the the Pro Bowl. Both are difficult goals. He says he wouldn't have taken that deal from the Jets, but talk is cheap, and before the lockout Edwards looked like he was going to be getting a bigger, multi-year deal.

Rex Ryan said that the Jets would welcome Edwards back for the right price (read: on the cheap), but it doesn't get much cheaper than $1 million with hard-to-reach incentives to make $3.5 million. If Edwards does manage to reach 90 receptions, the Pro Bowl,  the extra money is only $483,000 more than the Jets are already paying Plaxico Burress. They really couldn't find room in their budget for Edwards at that price?

Edwards is younger than both Mason and Burress by 9 and 5 years respectively. Mason and Burress are both considerable risks - Mason because of his age and Burress because he's been in prison for the last two seasons. How well will Mason hold up? How well will Burress return to form? Burress still can't practice fully after rolling an ankle last week at an informal workout. We could speculate that the Jets passed on Edwards because of his legal trouble (including the report that he was recently in a bar fight), but again, Burress just got out of prison, so let's assume Edwards's legal difficulties aren't the reason the Jets chose not to re-sign him.

Was it the best move to give up the Holmes-Edwards-Cotchery combination for the Holmes-Burress-Mason combination?

Remember, Brad Smith is also gone. That means Jeremy Kerley, fresh out of TCU, is probably going to have to step up in the slot. So far he's impressing coaches and teammates with his playmaking abilities, but still is an unknown commodity in big league situations.

It's too early to tell, but I don't feel great about replacing Edwards and Cotchery with Burress and Mason. It feels like a step backwards and it's definitely one of those things that could blow up in the Jets' faces. A lot of things have gone right for the Jets the last two years. Let's hope this new receiving corps turns out to be one of those things that works out instead of falling apart.

Other news:

+ the Jets lost free agent Shaun Ellis, one of their most impressive defensive linemen, to the rival New England Patriots.  Ellis described the Jets offer as "insulting" and that he was "the last man on the totem pole." The Jets offered the veterans minimum of $910,000 for one year. The Patriots signed him for $4 million in base pay.

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