NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a time when Santonio Holmes was beloved by the Jets’ fan base. He was as clutch as they come.
Now, he’s as unemployed as they come.
The 30-year-old wide receiver was released on Monday, less than a day before NFL free agency officially was to begin. The move saves the Jets $8.25 million in 2014.
“I appreciate Tone’s contributions over the last four seasons. I’ve always admired his knack for making the clutch play,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s a tremendous competitor who wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Holmes, a former Super Bowl MVP with the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011 after playing a huge role in the Jets’ run to a second straight AFC championship game the previous season, but appeared in just 31 of the next 48 games, registering just 94 catches and 1,382 yards.
He even told reporters he’d take a pay cut, perhaps even a significant pay cut, to return to the Jets in 2014.
“Anything for the team,” Holmes said at the time.
The Jets reworked Holmes’ deal prior to the 2013 season, lowering his cap hit to $7.5 million, but he did basically nothing in what was a surprising 8-8 season for Jets, but their third straight season of no playoffs. Holmes finished with 23 catches for 456 yards and a touchdown.
Controversy seemed to follow Holmes around during his tenure with the Jets. He quarreled with quarterback Mark Sanchez and the team’s offensive linemen during the 2011 season. The bad blood continued into the final game of the regular season at Miami. Holmes got in an argument with tackle Wayne Hunter in the huddle and was later benched by Ryan.
The volatile wide receiver also did not see eye to eye with the media as he often kept his answers short during most interviews. He inadvertently made headlines last season when he called Carolina’s secondary the Panthers defense’s “weakest link” while trying to credit the unit. All that did was light a fire under the Panthers, who went on to beat the Jets 30-20.
Speculation has Holmes possibly signing with Arizona or returning to Pittsburgh, ProFootballTalk.com reported.
By cutting ties first with corner Antonio Cromartie and now with Holmes, the Jets are freeing up a ton of money to get super-aggressive in free agency. If they cut quarterback Mark Sanchez, as has been rumored, they would be in excess of $40 million under the salary cap.
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