It took a little bit longer than expected, but the New York Jets got their man.
Wednesday night, the possibility of wide receiver Derrick Mason joining the Jets was floated out for the first time.
He did indeed take a physical with the Jets on Thursday, but rather than sign immediately, he went home for a few days to mull it over.
After working out the 37-year-old Mason and administering a physical, the Jets officially released long-time receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who according to reports had asked the team to trade him as early as February.
The Jets were unable to get any trade interest in the veteran wideout, so they decided to let him go. He will presumably catch on with another contending team looking for a slot receiver. Pittsburgh and Baltimore may be fits, perhaps.
“I’m a man of my word,” Ryan said on Friday after the move was made official. “If I tell you that we would give you permission to seek a trade or release you if we had picked up somebody, then that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll be okay one way or another.”
“It wasn’t like we were signing Derrick and letting Jerricho go,” Ryan clarified. “That was not it. I’d obviously like to get Derrick right now. But he’s got other teams [interested]… I’m sure he’d have to leave money on the table to come here.”
After a few days of sweating it out, the Jets were relieved to find out Saturday that Mason decided to take the their offer. While the parameters of the deal aren’t yet known, it likely was not much more than a one-year deal for the veteran minimum.
Mason broke the news about his decision to his fans on Twitter this afternoon, and he sounds excited to be here.
He also mentioned how funny it is that he’s moving from one young quarterback to the next, from Ravens fourth-year quarterback Joe Flacco to Jets third-year signal caller Mark Sanchez.
Meanwhile, the recently re-signed Santonio Holmes was excited to hear about the acquisition of the veteran pass catcher, as he joins fellow new Jets receiver Plaxico Burress to form a brand new corps of receivers, that last year was dubbed the “Flight Boys.”
With three of the Jets’ top four receivers from last year (Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and Brad Smith) now elsewhere, Mark Sanchez will have to rely primarily on Holmes and the veterans Burress and Mason to move the ball on offense.
The Jets also have a stable of young up-and-comers at the position, including rookie fifth-rounder Jeremy Kerley, rookie seventh-rounder Scotty McKnight and third-year wideout Patrick Turner, a former college teammate of Sanchez’s at USC.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see fourth-year tight end Dustin Keller become a bigger factor in the passing game, provided the Jets find the personell groupings they need to allow him to run free instead of staying in to block.
But as much as Sanchez will need to develop chemistry with his new group of pass catchers, it will be the offensive line and running game that will take the pressure off of him and be the focal point of the Jets offense.
Some of the names and faces have changed, but the New York Jets will have a solid football team when the season kicks off next month. But I’m sure Rex Ryan has already told you that.