A 12-year veteran, Mason was signed to replace the departed (and fan favorite) Jerricho Cotchery as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver. His first year with Gang Green, Mason totaled 13 catches for 115 yards and zero TDs in five games.
While somewhat unexpected, the writing was on the wall for Mason’s exit. The New York Daily News recently reported that the always outspoken receiver (along with Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress) complained about the Jets' struggling offense to coach Rex Ryan.
The crux of their argument appeared to center around the ineffectiveness of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, as Mason’s comments after the Jets 34-17 loss to Baltimore in Week 4 would suggest:
"Obviously, there's things that have to change," Mason said after the game. "There's some cracks. And don't nobody really want to identify the cracks. Until we identify the cracks, we're going to keep having the same problems. Whenever somebody wants to seal up the cracks, then we'll continue to move forward as an offense."
While the complaints directed at Schottenheimer were reported to come from all three veteran wideouts—Mason, Burress and Holmes—Mason is clearly looking like the “fall guy,” due to his overall performance compared to the other two. As Mason expressed his frustration with the Jets, the feeling appeared to be mutual with Ryan:
"Let's face it, I thought Derrick would catch 80 to 90 balls but that hasn't happened," Ryan said Monday. "I thought we were going to be a little more three wides but in that plan we tightened it up a little bit. And again, each week will be different."
Now that Mason has talked himself out of town, the Jets will continue to feature rookie WR Jeremy Kerley (who scored a nine-yard TD against the Patriots in Week 5) in three-wide receiver sets.
Mason's issues with creating separation were very apparent this season, and it may take a youthful WR with some speed to jump-start the Jets passing game.
If all else fails, the move may also open the possibility for the Jets to welcome back Cotchery, who has been MIA among Pittsburgh’s inactives, and may find himself cut from the Steelers roster soon enough.