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Jets pick up former Super Bowl MVP despite off-field troubles

By Michael Waxenberg, Staff Writer

On Monday, the New York Jets announced they acquired wide receiver Santonio Holmes in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth round pick. Trading for the dynamic receiver was the latest move in what has been a dynamic off-season for GM Mike Tanenbaum and the Jets.

When news of the trade broke, Jets pro-bowl cornerback Darelle Revis wrote on his twitter page, "Wow we got Holmes this is crazy. We makin' big moves this off-season. Putting the pieces together to get closer to that super bowl ring."

As does Revis, fans have many reasons to be thrilled with this latest blockbuster deal.  The talent Holmes possesses is unquestionable and last year was the most productive of his career thus far with 79 receptions, 1,248 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. The speedy and shifty Holmes should find himself in some favorable match-ups because of double teams Braylon Edwards may command and the sure handedness of Jericho Cotchery who is now moving back to his more comfortable position as a slot receiver.
Another quality Holmes will bring to the Jets is Super Bowl experience. Holmes was the Super Bowl MVP only two years ago and caught not only the winning pass on his toes in the corner of the end zone, but important passes leading up to that.

The most appealing part of this deal for the Jets is that they only give up a fifth round pick to get him. It is clear the Jets are intent on winning now and the experience and playmaking ability Holmes brings should help second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez develop while giving the team a chance to win the Super Bowl at the same time.

The league also announced Monday that Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. This is the latest slip up for Holmes in what has been a somewhat tumultuous off-the-field career. In 2008 Holmes was suspended for a game due to marijuana possession. His rap sheet also includes a domestic violence arrest (charge was later dropped) and the most recent incident, a woman accusing Holmes of throwing a glass at her in an Orlando nightclub.

The woman is suing and has filed a criminal complaint against Holmes. When GM Mike Tanenbaum was asked about these indiscretions he said, "Obviously, a guy with his production, 26 years old… he wouldn't have been available if these indiscretions didn't happen, and the suspension."  There were reports that the Steelers had become so infuriated with Holmes that they were prepared to release him outright. 

In the last year, the Jets have acquired three players with off-the-field issues. Two days before the Jets traded for Braylon Edwards, Edwards was reportedly in a fight with a friend of Lebron James' in a Cleveland nightclub. When the Jets traded for Antonio Cromartie they agreed to take the unusual step of paying $500,000 of Cromartie's salary up front so he could deal with child support issues. Cromartie reportedly has fathered seven children with six women in five different states. The third acquisition is Monday's signing of Holmes. The Jets also admitted flirting with the idea of bringing in Plaxico Burress before it became apparent he was going to serve jail time. 

The Jets are not the only team that has gone after guys with off-the-field issues.  The Cincinnati Bengals gave defensive lineman Tank Johnson his last shot in the NFL and he has subsequently turned his act around and played well. The Bengals also signed controversial running back Larry Johnson to back up Cedric Benson last season. Johnson is now with the Redskins. As long as teams feel the potential upside of a player outweighs the risk of him being a distraction, it appears there are teams out there that will take a chance on that player.

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