New York Jets  

 

Dynamic Holmes' rare ability should make him Jets' top priority

Kathy Willens / Associated Press
Santonio Holmes' knack for coming up with the big play in crunch time would make him valuable to any offense.


NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks solicited questions from fans on the NFL's Facebook page this week. After reviewing the submissions, he tackles the posts that grabbed his attention.

Who should the Jets keep at wide receiver: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards or Brad Smith? Do you see the Jets making a play for Plaxico Burress? Lazy Lex

The New York Jets have a tough decision to make at wide receiver. Ultimately, the Jets would like to retain Holmes and Edwards, but money is always an issue.

Both guys made huge contributions to the passing game, and their presence is a complement to the Jets' punishing rush attack. They also provide Mark Sanchez with the weapons he needs to reach his potential as a franchise quarterback.

If the Jets had to make the decision between Holmes and Edwards, look for them to pick Holmes. The Super Bowl XLIII MVP is a legitimate No. 1 receiver with the rare ability to shine while running every part of the route tree. Since he can excel at all facets of the position, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has the flexibility to use him in a variety of ways. As an intermediate option or vertical threat, Holmes must be accounted for by the defense and that opens up the field for his teammates. He also brings dynamic running skills, which allows Sanchez to hit him on short passes with the potential for big gains. Given his overall skill set, the Jets would likely make him the priority in free agency because he can serve as the anchor to their passing game.

Edwards also makes a strong case for his value. He is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, leading the team with 904 receiving yards and being one of four Jets to catch 50-plus balls. Although Edwards lacks the flat-out speed to run past defenders, he routinely made plays down the field, averaging a career-best 17.1 yards per catch. That is significant because it indicates his big-play ability. When looking at other aspects of his game, Edwards' size (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) and leaping ability stand out because he is a huge threat in the red zone. He has scored 11 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Smith is also a significant piece to the Jets' offensive puzzle, but he is easier to replace than Holmes or Edwards. While Smith is a terrific kick returner and explosive utility player, he is not a starter and I seriously doubt the Jets would break the bank for a role player. Although they would certainly miss his versatility, they have some current players on the roster (Joe McKnight is a possibility) that could potentially fill those roles and make Smith more expendable when free agency starts.

In regard to Burress, he could be a strong option for the Jets if either Edwards or Holmes leaves. Though Burress' age (34 in August) and two-year layoff will likely lead to some diminished skill, his size (6-5, 232), production and big-play potential make him worth exploring. Throw in the fact that he has serious roots in the New Jersey area and he could be an intriguing fit for the Jets.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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