NFL Free Agency 2011: New York Jets and 10 Landing Spots for Santonio Holmes
With free agency approaching this Friday, teams are scrambling to talk with their most coveted free agent prospects. Chief among the free agents in the 2011 class is New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
Holmes is far and away the best free agent wideout in this class, with Sidney Rice of the Minnesota Vikings being the only one who even comes close, and he missed almost all of 2010.
With the new salary cap system in place, there are a number of teams with mounds of cap space, and they need to spend big bucks just to hit the minimum floor requirement.
Holmes is due a massive payday this week. Despite his off the field issues, he is a stud on the field and kept himself clean during the work stoppage, which is more than can be said for some of his peers.
These teams are going to be throwing themselves at the 27-year-old, so the biggest question remains: does he want the most money, or does he want to compete?
Any of these teams can offer him a massive contract, so Holmes will have to decide whether he is a mercenary or a competitor, and he'll have to do it soon.
10. Seattle Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is gone, freeing up cap space for Santonio Holmes
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The Seattle Seahawks just found out today that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will not be returning. This doesn't hurt them too badly, as they were only offering him a one-year deal, but it does create an interesting situation.
Now that they are not paying Hasselbeck, the Seattle Seahawks have $39 million to play with and are allegedly looking at the likes of Tavaris Jackson to replace him.
That will require Seattle to consider an upgrade at wide receiver. While Brandon Stokley, Golden Tate, John Carlson (TE) and Mike Williams form a quality receiver corps, they lack a true No. 1 guy in that bunch.
Santonio Holmes can fill that need with his impressive route-running and home run play potential. His presence would be a great security blanket for whatever young quarterback Seattle chooses to start, and like most of the other teams on this list, the Seattle Seahawks have money to burn.
9. St. Louis Rams
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The St. Louis Rams are another team that might be in the mix to compete for the services of Santonio Holmes. Having retained slot receiver Danny Amendola, the Rams are free to pursue a No. 1 guy to play with Sam Bradford.
Santonio Holmes has already shown an ability to develop a rapport quickly with young quarterbacks, as he did in 2010 with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Rams have Mark Clayton as a free agent, but with $35.6 million in cap space, anything is possible.
The St. Louis Rams narrowly missed winning the NFC West last season, and will be facing stiffer competition for the title in 2011. Adding Santonio Holmes to their already considerable offense would make them a dominant force in the division without question.
Look for them to make a play for Holmes, but don't expect them to break the bank for him either.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have only three noteworthy pass-catchers, and only one of them is an actual wide receiver.
Mike Sims-Walker was outstanding in 2009, but completely fell off the radar in 2010. Marcedes Lewis was fantastic catching as a tight end in 2010, but was playing for a contract, so who knows if he will keep it up. Maurice Jones-Drew...well you don't want your running back to be your leading receiver.
This is where Santonio Holmes comes in. The Jacksonville Jaguars have over $30 million in space, and hardly anyone to spend it on. They are in desperate need of a true No. 1 guy, and they can definitely offer Santonio Holmes the money he wants. It is just a matter of whether or not he wants to go there.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
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The Cincinnati Bengals have more weirdness going on this week than any team would want to have. Owner Mike Brown has thrown down the gauntlet, calling out Carson Palmer on his bluff about retirement.
On top of that, they are likely to let free agent Terrell Owens walk, and are probably going to cut or trade Chad Ochocinco, leaving major holes at wide receiver.
If Palmer DOES retire and the Bengals cut or trade Chad Ochocinco, that will be close to $18 million coming off the books for a team that already has a small payroll of $77 million. This means the Cincinnati Bengals would have to spend close to $50 million just to make the floor.
Well, luckily for them, that also leaves them with a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton and a rookie No. 1 receiver in A.J Green. Basically this would add up to mean that Santonio Holmes' large salary demands and considerable talent will be welcomed with open arms.
Plus, they can always pitch Holmes on the fact that he will get two cracks at the Pittsburgh Steelers per year with them.
6. Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns have a boatload of cap room and very little offensive talent to speak of. Yes the running joke about Peyton Hillis being the entire offense is funny, but Colt McCoy is seriously going to need a legitimate target.
Like all the teams before them on this list, the Cleveland Browns can throw piles of cash at Holmes if they want. What they need to do, is find a way to pitch their organization to him.
Like the Bengals, they can always go the AFC North route, but they'll need more than that gimmick to get him over the remaining teams on this list.
5. Arizona Cardinals
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The Arizona Cardinals are a dark horse team in the Santonio Holmes race, but there are circumstances in which they could use his services, and they definitely have the money to go for it.
The Arizona Cardinals have a current payroll of about $85.76 million, giving them just under $40 million to play with in free agency once they sign draft pick Patrick Peterson.
Even if they land Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles and give him a big contract, they will still have to spend just to hit the cap floor.
One of the notable Cardinal free agents is wide receiver Steve Breaston. Though Breaston is a quality No. 2 receiver to go alongside Larry Fitzgerald, signing Santonio Holmes could completely change the Arizona Cardinals' fortunes. A Holmes-Fitzgerald combo would be like the rebirth of the Anquan Boldin-Fitzgerald tandem that existed not too long ago.
Talk about bringing a young quarterback into a good situation. Signing Holmes could be a great move for the Cardinals.
Holmes would like this situation as well, especially if they land Kolb.Kevin Kolb with Larry Fitzgerald and Santonio Holmes would make the Arizona Cardinals a favorite out west, and once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most interesting possibility for Holmes in my opinion. It isn't that they need a wide receiver. It isn't that they want Santonio Holmes. It is that they have the lowest payroll in the NFL, putting them $59 million under the cap.
It isn't like Tampa Bay has some kind of insanely prolific offense, so Holmes going there would only help them. They have the cap room to give him the biggest offer of all, and they are required to spend a lot of money. Most importantly, they are a contender, which is sure to attract Holmes.
Wanting a ring would be his main reason to stay with the New York Jets, so if he gets a huge offer from a team on the cusp of a title, he just might take it.
3. Chicago Bears
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The Chicago Bears have a high chance of landing Santonio Holmes if they want him badly enough. They have millions of dollars to spare, they have a solid quarterback and last season they lost the conference title game—something Holmes can relate to.
Chicago has a glaring need at wide receiver—Johnny Knox is not the answer. They can lure Holmes in with promises of championships and a big fat contract. If they make him the right offer, he will probably take it.
The only issue is that the Chicago Bears can make an offer to somebody like Plaxico Burress for a lot less money, which may prevent them from going after Holmes with impunity.
The Bears have also taken an interest in Brad Smith, which knocks their chances down a bit. Had they not announced a possible courtship today, they'd have been the top contender for Holmes' services.
2. New York Jets
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The New York Jets, Santonio Holmes' current squad, are desperate to retain his services. Likewise, Holmes would really like to remain in New York.
The problem? Unlike every other team on this list, the New York Jets are OVER the salary cap, which means they will have to make some tough choices and exercise some finesse to keep him around. The Jets are entering another year of contention, but they need to make a competitive monetary offer.
If they cannot, even Holmes' loyalty to Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez won't be able to keep him in the fold.
Essentially, the Jets have to make a choice. They can either keep Holmes at the expense of every other Jet free agent, or they will have to let him go and keep the roster intact.
A tough call.
1. Washington Redskins
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The Washington Redskins probably want Santonio Holmes more than anybody other than the New York Jets. Dan Snyder loves to spend his money recklessly on free agents, nobody knows just what he will do to the Redskins budget to obtain Holmes.
The Washington Redskins are already dumping Donovan McNabb and most likely Albert Haynesworth, freeing up the cap space to make a massive offer.
If Holmes is smart, he'll stay away from this circus team, but the money Snyder is bound to offer might just be too enticing.He is not the type of receiver that has a 14-year career, and he will likely want to take the big money now, while he can get it.
Yet another talented player to be sucked into Dan Snyder's realm.