NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets acquired talented but troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night for a fifth-round draft pick this month, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams had yet to announce the trade.
Holmes, the 2009 Super Bowl MVP, gives quarterback Mark Sanchez another big-time target to throw to in an offense that already had receivers Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, promising tight end Dustin Keller and recently signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
Holmes has 235 career catches for 3,835 yards and 20 touchdowns, but also brings his share of off-field issues, which could explain the relatively low price the Jets paid to get him.
The 26-year-old receiver is facing a lawsuit in Florida from a woman who claims he threw a glass at her, cutting her above the eye, in an Orlando nightclub. The police also have been investigating the woman’s claims. Holmes denies hurting the woman, and a witness has since taken responsibility for tossing the glass, according to Holmes’ lawyer.
In 2008, Holmes was arrested for possession of marijuana and was involved in a domestic violence incident in 2006; the misdemeanor charges were dismissed.
He has one year remaining on his contract.
The Jets, who lost to Indianapolis in the AFC championship last season, and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have shown to be unafraid lately to add players with questionable backgrounds. They traded for Edwards two days after he was accused of punching a friend of NBA star LeBron James in October outside a downtown Cleveland nightclub.
New York also acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie last month from San Diego despite him dealing with paternity issues. Cromartie has fathered seven children by six women in five states, and the Jets advanced him $500,000 to clear up his legal troubles.
The Jets acknowledged having interest before last year’s draft in former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who’s currently serving a prison sentence. Burress pleaded guilty last August to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and for having a loaded handgun in a nightclub that went off and shot him in the leg in November 2008.
The move could also put an end to speculation that the Jets might have interest in acquiring Denver’s Brandon Marshall. Despite saying those rumors were unfounded, New York has been grouped among numerous teams who could make a move before the draft for the Broncos receiver.
The 5-foot-11 Holmes, a former first-round pick out of Ohio State in 2006, adds a speedy complement to the Jets’ passing game. He’s coming off the best season of his career statistically, after having 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns. His presence should allow Cotchery to assume more of a slot role, where he is extremely effective, and take double coverages off Edwards.
Despite being benched earlier in the 2008 season for the marijuana arrest, Holmes made a number of big plays — none bigger than in the Super Bowl against Arizona. He caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 35 seconds left in regulation, leading the Steelers to a 27-23 victory. He caught nine passes for 131 yards in the game.
“Wow we got Holmes this is crazy,” cornerback Darrelle Revis posted on his Twitter account. “We makin big moves this off-season. Putting the pieces together to get closer to that superbowl ring.”
Tannenbaum and the Jets have made headlines this offseason despite the league’s “Final Eight” restrictions that have limited who they could sign. New York has traded for Holmes and Cromartie, and signed Tomlinson, safety Brodney Pool and kicker Nick Folk.
The Jets are still also waiting to hear from free agent linebacker-defensive end Jason Taylor, who met with the team for two days last week. The NFL’s active sacks leader went back home to Weston, Fla., on Friday without a deal in place, but is expected to make a decision sometime this week whether to join the team he has considered an enemy for most of his 13-year career.