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The Steelers traded WR Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft (No. 155 overall) late Sunday night.
Holmes, 26, was named Super Bowl XLIII MVP after catching nine passes for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown in Pittsburgh's 27-23 win against Arizona to cap the 2008 season, and he caught a career-high 79 passes for 1,248 yards in ’09. However, he has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Also, he is facing a lawsuit after a woman alleged that he threw a glass at her in an Orlando nightclub in March.
Holmes has denied the allegation, and he has not been criminally charged in connection with the incident. Holmes' lawyer reportedly has said that another man has taken responsibility for throwing the glass.
"I really don't have much to say about it because I didn't do anything," Holmes told ESPN in March. "My lawyer is handling it from here."
Holmes joins an intriguing Jets receiving corps that includes WRs Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards and TE Dustin Keller.
The PFW spin
For the Jets, this was a low-risk trade. By midseason, Holmes could be the Jets' go-to receiver. He is dangerous on short and intermediate routes and can get deep, too. He's more consistent than Edwards, who has No. 1-receiver talent but has struggled with drops. Even if Holmes doesn't succeed in New York, the Jets will have surrendered just a fifth-round pick in the trade, and they have decent enough WR depth beyond him.
The Steelers' reason for trading Holmes appears quite clear: They had tired of the off-field problems that followed him. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday that the Steelers were willing to release Holmes if they couldn't trade him. In addition to the four-game suspension, Holmes was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in October 2009 and was left off the active roster by the club for one game. (He also was arrested twice in 2006, but both sets of charges were dropped.)
The departure of Holmes opens a spot in the starting lineup for second-year pro Mike Wallace. Antwaan Randle El, back for a second stint with the Steelers, also could be a bigger part of the plans on offense, and third-year WR Limas Sweed also likely will get another chance to contribute after two disappointing pro seasons. The Steelers could look to draft a receiver, and perhaps earlier than anticipated now that Holmes, whom they traded up for in Round One of the 2006 draft, is no longer in the picture.
Without Holmes, the Steelers would have been hard-pressed to win Super Bowl XLIII; such was his value to the offense, and such was his talent. He is in the prime of his career, and he could be a key part of the Jets' offense for years to come, assuming he can stay on the field. Certainly, the Steelers are aware of this, and undoubtedly, they know a fifth-round pick doesn't sound like much for a player like Holmes. But clearly, they had reached their breaking point with him.
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.