Trades in professional sports are a gamble and can happen for several reasons. Salary cap concerns make some players moveable, while in other situations, there are talented athletes who struggle with issues away from the field that make change beneficial for both parties. This scenario became apparent during April of 2010.
The Pittsburg Steelers of course traded their former Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes. Then, New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum helped lead a charge to acquire him for a fifth-round Draft pick. Any time a deal occurs, it becomes second nature for analysts to break down who won. Well, that is exactly what we are about to do with this trade. After the 2009 season Gang Green finished their first AFC Championship Game appearance under head coach Rex Ryan, quarterback Mark Sanchez showed flashes during his rookie year. While wide outs Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery were solid, the Jets still seemed like they were missing one top playmaker.
Suddenly, their group looked very impressive. Holmes appeared in 12 games after missing four contests for violating the NFL‘s Substance Abuse Policy; he recorded 52 receptions, six for touchdowns. Sanchez immediately developed a rapport with Holmes, and the offense thrived at times. Things got tense in the locker room during 2011 as New York fell from playoff contention.The gifted playmaker once again caused trouble, most notably by screaming at his quarterback during their season finale. Statistically, numbers were still solid with 51 catches and eight scores. A Lis Franc injury limited him to 20 catches during four games. Holmes bounced in and out of the lineup this past season while only catching 23 passes.
Geno Smith’s status as starter next year has not been determined. If Smith does hold on to his job, he needs surrounding playmakers.
There is no doubt that Holmes remains viable, but potential cap savings of $8.25 million makes a release likely. Looking at this deal from Pittsburgh’s perspective, they traded the pick to NFC West member Arizona Cardinals and ended up acquiring CB Bryant McFadden; they also received a sixth-round selection that became receiver Antonio Brown. Brown’s speed makes him dangerous; statistically, he has been solid throughout, but 2013 was his breakout campaign. Recording 110 receptions with eight touchdowns shows great progress. Ben Roethlisberger needed another target after Mike Wallace left.
Considering Brown’s emergence and Holmes’ expected departure, it seems as if Pittsburg won this deal.