Santonio Holmes will be back with the Jets in 2012. After Holmes essentially quit on his team in Week 17 in Miami, many thought there was just no way the Jets could bring him back. As the Jets' season came to and end, a seemingly endless stream of reports surfaced that talked of a fractured locker room. Many pointed to the apparently year-long strained relationship between Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez. The 2011 Jets were painted as a chemistry experiment gone terribly wrong, and Holmes' selfish, me-first attitude was the catalyst. Instead of looking at the true on-field flaws the team clearly had all season, everything was chalked up to chemistry problems, which eventually boiled over on that Sunday in South Beach. But deep down, everyone knew that Holmes would come back next season. He had to. It's simply a numbers game.
More: Sticking with Holmes
Had the Jets decided that there was just no way in heck that Sanchez and Holmes could co-exist, or had they wanted to make an example of him -- aside from stripping him of the asinine captaincy given to him prior to the season -- it would have cost them $9.25 million against the cap in 2012. Now that they've retained him, they're on the hook for $15.25 million guaranteed over the next two years. Moral of the story? Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez need to learn to co-exist.
(That is of course unless the unlikely scenario of Peyton Manning lining up under center for the Jets next season comes to fruition).
In the end, it's simply what the Jets had to do. Nobody in the NFL is in a position to take a $12 million cap hit in one season and not feel the repercussions. Some may think that the $12 million would have been better used if Holmes were not on the team. While that perhaps does have some validity to it, especially if you're a subscriber to the idea that the Jets' only problem in 2011 was in the locker room and not on the field (it wasn't), Holmes is a darn good player who can play to that contract. Whether or not you think $12 million for one receiver in today's NFL is a worthwhile investment, Holmes has top-receiver ability and is a proven winner. We have short memories in sports, and Holmes is no kid anymore, but he's also not that far removed from hauling in one of the toughest, clutchest catches in Super Bowl history. Of course, he was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey back then.
But looking not as far back in the past as Super Bowl 43, Holmes was an integral part in the Jets' 2010 season in which they went 11-5 and made a deep playoff run. In just 12 games that season, he had 746 receiving yards (he had a paltry 654 this past season) and made numerous clutch catches, most notably late in games against the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. Remember his brilliant touchdown catch against the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round? Throwing those passes to him? Mark Sanchez.
Yes, the 2011 season was a bad one for Holmes, and that's largely in part because it wasn't a good one for Sanchez either. It's not rocket science, Holmes' numbers will depend on Sanchez's play. 2012 is going to be a make or break year for Sanchez, and his best bet for "making" it is to repair his relationship with Holmes. There was no reason for Holmes to quit on his team, and if you believe some of the reports that came out, his childish behavior is indeed unacceptable. But in a way you can't blame him for being upset at not consistently getting the ball. Whether it was Sanchez or the Jets' offensive schemes (likely a combination of the two), the Jets were far too conservative in the passing game, and too often Sanchez looked to check the ball down to his backs. When Holmes gets more passes thrown his way, there's a good chance the Jets will be a more consistent and explosive offense. That will make Holmes happy, Sanchez happy, and everybody happy, right?
There have been murmurs that the two are going to get together sometime soon (perhaps they already have), and you can bet that Holmes will be a part of Sanchez's "Jets West" offseason camp this year. A good Santonio Holmes will only help the Jets in 2012. Whether he and Sanchez can fix their problems and make it work remains to be seen, and it's likely to be the main storyline throughout the offseason. But there was really no other choice.