Posted by Will Brinson
The Jets wide receiver corps is in serious flux as the head into 2011. With the exception of Santonio Holmes -- who also signed a five-year deal worth $50 million in the offseason, if you want to count that -- it's entirely likely that the group catching balls from Mark Sanchez will look entirely different.
For starters, there's the presence of Plaxico Burress who, by the by, is dealing with an injured ankle after "tweaking" it on Wednesday while "running around, trying to stay sharp." And it's not even the same ankle injury he's deal with in the past. So that should be concerning, right?
Well, coach Rex Ryan said, per our Jets Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman, it's "nothing serious."
And, according to Burress, if this were a game week, he'd be able to practice and/or play.
In other news, the Jets appear on the verge of signing former Ravens wideout (and therefore "teammate" of Ryan's) Derrick Mason, who was cut by Baltimore during their Borders-like employee cuts last week.
To make room for Mason, it looks like Jerricho Cotchery will get the axe.
"If [Mason] passes the physical, he's on the team and I won't be," Cotchery said, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "It's time to move on."
So that means in a very short time, the Jets will have gone from Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards/Jerricho Cotchery/Brad Smith to Santonio Holmes/Plaxico Burress/Derrick Mason in terms of their wide-receiver depth chart.
If that happens, is that an upgrade?
No, I'm pretty sure it's not. In fact, there's a pretty good chance that it's a huge downgrade.
Cotchery was praised last year for his toughness, despite playing the slot and not getting any of the love that Edwards/Holmes did. And while Santonio might be one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL, he's going to see a lot more coverage coming his way if the only two options on the field are both 30-plus, with one of them just a few months removed from a lengthy absence from football.
All that being said, you can't fault the Jets for some of the moves -- the Santonio signing is justified as long as he doesn't get suspended, Edwards is a troublemaker and not worth the money they might give him, and there's no way they could have paid Brad Smith what the Bills gave and justified it.
But giving Burress $3 million guaranteed and dumping a locker room leader and consistent on-field presence like Cotchery? That reeks of a mistake, even if Cotchery's dealing with offseason back surgery.
Fortunately for the wideout, he's probably got options. As I noted on Twitter, both the Panthers and Chargers stand out as great options for Cotchery. The Panthers could use veteran wide receiver help to draw coverage away from Steve Smith and mentor David Gettis and Brandon LaFell.
Cotchery was Philip Rivers' No.-1 target in college and the Chargers are currently looking for someone to line up opposite Vincent Jackson.
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