With the Pittsburgh Steelers unloading troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes by trading him to the New York Jets for a 2010 5th round draft pick, how does this upset the balance of power in both the AFC North as well as AFC as a whole? Holmes reportedly is facing a four game suspension and the repeated troubles off the field convinced the Steelers to get whatever they could for him right away plus made it a deal that Rex Ryan and the Jets just could not ignore.
But what does it do to the Steelers, the Jets, the AFC North and the AFC overall? The Steelers will miss Holmes' great ability to get open while Ben Roethlisberger is scrambling around in his backfield looking for an open receiver as his pass protection breaks down, as well as the yards after catch that has made him the threat he was there. However, Pittsburgh found a steal in the draft last year in WR Mike Wallace, who is bigger and maybe even faster than Holmes and came on strong last year. He obviously has the confidence of Roethlisberger, as Big Ben threw to him on the last play of the game in 2009 when they came back to beat the Green Bay Packers.
The combination of an aging, yet still productive Hines Ward and Wallace, along with a solid tight end in Heath Miller, makes Holmes expendable in Steeler minds. The hope that WR Limas Sweed will rise to the occasion as well as the off season additions of Antwan Randle-El and Arnaz Battle plus this year's deep draft class convinced the team to part ways with both the player and a portion of the cloud of trouble over them as an organization.
The Jets have obviously upgraded their offense at a relatively inexpensive price. Mark Sanchez now has two Pro Bowl caliber wideouts in Holmes and Braylon Edwards on board, as well as a tight end in Dustin Keller who is a great target in the middle of the field. The addition of LaDanian Tomlinson gives the Jets a lot of targets that should improve the offense by leaps and bounds. However, it will all depend on the growth of the second year Sanchez and remember, this is still most likely a run-first offense just like the Baltimore Ravens.
The addition of Holmes will make the Jets a front runner for the AFC East title and certainly at the very least a Wild Card contender in the conference after making the AFC Championship Game last season before losing to the Indianapolis Colts. That possibility means one less playoff team from the other three divisions in the AFC. The Ravensd the AFC North play the AFC East this season so not only will we face Holmes and his new team, but so will the Steelers in 2010. How the Jets do against the Ravens and Steelers will go a long way towards deciding both divisions as well as the playoff picture, which although a long time away from now, is food for fodder as the 2010 regular season NFL schedule is about to be released within the next week or so.