NFL Free Agency: 10 Possible Landing Spots for Santonio Holmes
New York Jets' wide receiver Santonio Holmes is an unrestricted free agent.
While he's extremely talented and did well in his first season as a Jet, hauling in 52 balls for nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns, he doesn't seem to be committed to staying in New York as a Jet. Holmes has gone on record saying he's going to find the best deal possible for him and roll with it.
The Jets would love to retain Holmes, but they did see this coming when they traded for him from Pittsburgh. Either way, if the Jets don't have the greenbacks to re-sign him, Holmes will be landing elsewhere.
Of course, a plethora of teams could use a receiver with Holmes' output. Good receivers are hard to find, and ones that can perform in the clutch—much like Holmes has, time and time again—are even harder to obtain.
Thus, here are 10 teams who could use Holmes the most, considering the multi-year deal he hopes to receive.
10. St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are in desperate need of a receiver. Sam Bradford had a hell of a rookie season, but—let's be honest—he didn't have enough firepower around him to excel like he should have.
Holmes is a versatile receiver. He has the ability to play deep routes, but he can also run off screens and play the sub-20-yard game pretty effectively, too.
The Rams' current options at wideout are pretty slim. Danny Amendola was their leading receiver last season, but the dude isn't a deep threat at all. Brandon Gibson showed flashes of brilliance throughout the season, but he, too, lacks the consistency the Rams so desperately need on deep routes.
Holmes will spread the field with his speed and athletic ability to go up and get the ball. Bradford has an arm, and Holmes could get the best out of it should he become a Ram.
9. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers ranked dead last in passing yards per game in 2010 and for good reason: Their lone threat at the wideout position was Steve Smith, while their quarterbacks were Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen.
Of course, the Carolina Panthers addressed one of these issues, drafting Cam Newton out of Auburn with the first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton should add a strong arm, but is he going to throw to 12-year veteran Smith the majority of the time?
Holmes has the ability to get up the field in a hurry, and the Panthers need a receiver like that to help develop Newton and ease him into professional-level football.
Plus, the NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in the league. With staunch defenses like those of the Falcons and Buccaneers, a speedy receiver who can get separation quickly would almost be a necessity.
8. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins ranked in the top 10 in passing yards last season; but you can't attribute that to the receivers the Redskins currently have.
Santana Moss played a hell of a season with Donovan McNabb at the helm, but with any other non-Hall of Fame quarterback, Moss has proven to be a second option at best. Chris Cooley is an elite tight end and should be played as such. Again, he won't bring the dynamic combination of speed and skill as Holmes possesses.
Adding Holmes to an eighth-ranked offense is scary. They competed well in the NFC East, considering the turmoil that was going down in D.C. Now McNabb is no longer part of the equation, Holmes could slip in and make the new starting quarterback, John Beck, look like he knows what he's doing.
Whether the Redskins would be willing to give Holmes a multi-year deal is a different story, with a roster that's surprisingly older on the offensive end.
7. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans had quite a bit of turmoil last season, and it started when Randy Moss was acquired off waivers.
Moss wasn't the issue, of course. There was already a growing rift between Jeff Fisher and Vince Young, and now both are out.
Regardless, the Titans aren't retaining Moss. While the organization feels confident enough in their young receivers to do so, Chris Johnson still had the most catches of any receiver in Tennessee, and that's something you don't normally want to ask of the running back you so heavily rely on.
Holmes provides the same productive output Moss would, minus the distractions (although Holmes has proven to be vocal in his time as Jet). He has the same ability to get past receivers, and he has solid hops to get up there and fight for balls thrown merely in his direction.
Jake Locker, the Titans' first-round pick, has enough of an arm to get it to Holmes. Giving him options, including Kenny Britt to go along with Holmes' explosiveness, could do wonders for his development.
6. New England Patriots
People are going to remain skeptical about Holmes becoming a New England Patriot when free agency begins (if it begins). That's probably because they might not want to deal with another loud-mouthed wide receiver, considering what they went through with Randy Moss.
Holmes is a proven winner, though. His performance reaches new heights when a game is on the line, and he isn't afraid of big moments, something the Patriots have found themselves in on a consistent basis in the past decade.
We all know just how amazing Tom Brady is. If he's given disgruntled receivers, he'll usually turn them into Pro Bowlers. Give him college kids, and they turn into elite options at wideout. Give him freaking donkeys, and he'll most likely turn them into NFL wide receivers.
Give him Holmes and, holy hell, you have a combination that rivals that which came about in 2007 when Moss first came to New England.
The Patriots would want him because Wes Welker is their leading receiver. That's not all bad, but Deion Branch nor Welker are deep threats that Tom Brady can use on a consistent basis.
5. New York Giants
The New York Giants were dry at receiver last season despite finishing eighth in passing yards per game.
Hakeem Nicks was Eli Manning's leading receiver, hauling in 19 more passes than the second option in Mario Manningham.
The Giants are currently looking at bringing back Plaxico Burress, but why not add a receiver whom you know still has explosiveness?
Holmes would push the Giants to a whole new level. As it is, Nicks and Manningham have the ability to go deep, and adding Santonio Holmes would be deadly for the entire NFC East, which is filled with teams with weak secondaries, save for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Holmes can play the mid-field game, consistently burning the opposition within 20 yards. He has the acceleration to catch and run off screens, too, and it opens up a lot of doors for the Giants' running game, which has been their bread and butter the past three years.
4. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have absolutely no receivers worthy of first-option status on any NFL team.
Add Holmes, and they become a team that has legitimate Super Bowl hopes.
Last season, Jay Cutler (insert Cutler joke here) played reasonably well and a hell of a lot better than he did the season before. He proved he still has an arm, and his strength is being hindered by the lack of a true deep threat (although he forces a ton of passes, unfortunately).
Holmes could get the best out of Cutler's arm strength. As you no doubt remember, Holmes is a deep threat with awesome athletic ability. If Cutler can improve upon his 2010 outings, the Bears' offense will finally be potent.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are definitely not hanging onto vocal receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.
However, they did draft Andy Dalton at quarterback (to replace Carson Palmer) and A.J. Green at wideout to replace Ochocinco.
What does that mean for Holmes' chances of becoming a Bengal? It means they've gotten a hell of a lot better.
Green has the potential to be a stud of a receiver, and learning from Holmes could do wonders. Dalton, too, could benefit, because he'd have a legitimate threat on deep posts and streak routes (thanks, EA Sports' Madden).
Adding Holmes to the Bengals' once-potent offense could be huge in the development of young players and could mean even more if he could help them start winning right away.
2. Oakland Raiders
Despite not making the playoffs last season, the Oakland Raiders showed huge strides. They became a team that was defensively sound, shutting down even the most potent of offenses. They also had a rock-solid offense anchored by Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell's somewhat-sound play at quarterback.
Of course, they're missing pieces.
The wide receivers in Oakland aren't terrible, but they aren't legitimate starters, either. With the exception of Jacoby Ford, the lead wideouts aren't worth holding on to.
If you add Holmes to an offense that relies on hard running, you'll most likely see increased performance on the ground thanks to field spacing. There would also be many more options on deep routes, with both Ford and Holmes having the ability to go up and wrestle for throws.
Holmes could push the Raiders to a completely different level because his presence alone has the ability to change entire defensive schemes.
1. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers had a weird year last season. They managed to finish up as one of the best offenses in the NFL and still missed the playoffs.
However, their receivers are, as they have been for the past three years, mediocre. With the exception of Vincent Jackson, all wideouts that the Chargers utilized were highly immature and lacked the football IQ to help them win immediately.
Holmes would add a different dimension of offense.
Rivers hasn't had a receiver as speedy as Holmes. He, like Jackson, can go up and contest for every ball thrown his way. As it is, Philip Rivers knows exactly where to throw the ball, and it's usually up to his receivers to make the play. As Holmes has proven, whether he's receiving passes from Ben Roethlisberger or Mark Sanchez, he can make plays.
Overall, the Chargers wouldn't mind bringing him to San Diego. A.J. Smith has a knack for finding talent and convincing players to play in San Diego (although he has a problem keeping that talent). Adding Holmes would seriously launch them back into contender status.