One year ago today news leaked out that the Steelers had traded wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Steeler Nation was pretty upset with the move and certainly felt that Holmes was worth more than just the bag of donuts they got in the deal. The Steelers subsequently traded that pick they received from the Jets to the Arizona Cardinals on draft day for former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden and the Cardinals sixth-round pick. That sixth-round pick was used to draft Antonio Brown.
One year later Holmes is back in the news as he is wanting a long term deal from the Jets and that he will not sign his one-year tender if he\’s deemed a restricted free agent when the labor talks are resolved. Holmes was about to enter the final season of his rookie contract when he was traded and the Jets chose not to extend him. The Steelers and Jets both knew prior to the trade that Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the substance-abuse policy. In 2008, Holmes was cited for marijuana possession, prompting the Steelers to suspend him for one game with pay. Also prior to the trade, Holmes had been accused of throwing a drink in the face of a woman at an Orlando nightclub and the alleged victim apparently did not want to press charges, but later sued. The bad writing was certainly on the wall concerning Holmes.
The Steelers knew they stood a chance of not only losing Holmes for the first four games of 2010, but losing him to free agency after the 2010 season for absolutely nothing in return so they took what might have been the best offer on the table at the time and unloaded him and his problems off to the Jets. In addition to using the pick they received from Jets to get Brown, they also drafted Emmanuel Sanders three rounds earlier in round 3. Before trading Holmes, the writing was also on the wall that Holmes could be dealt as former Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El was brought back via free agency in early March.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but the Steelers survived the loss of Holmes thanks in part to contributions by Sanders, Brown and El. In addition, second year wide receiver Mike Wallace made the jump that most hoped he would and the loss of Holmes was easily absorbed in the passing game. At the same time the Steelers sent a clear signal to everyone on the roster that no player was above being traded. Following the trade, the six game suspension of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was also passed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell in late April and many speculated if Ben would be dealt as well on draft day. Needless to say he wasn\’t and the suspension was later shortened to four games and the Steelers went about their business.
Had the Steelers not traded Holmes, Brown likely would not of been drafted and the Holmes suspension coupled with the Roethlisberger suspension certainly would have made the the first four games even more in doubt than they already seemed to be. The Steelers managed to go 3-1 during those first four games and slowly worked in both rookie receivers throughout the year. It is hard to speculate how the season would have unfolded had Holmes not been dealt as his contract year certainly would have received press and been yet another distraction. No one ever questioned the ability of Holmes, only his character and the Steelers decided to cut bait with the former Super Bowl MVP. Although they only received a fifth round pick, it appears to have been the right move. The Steelers made it to the Super Bowl without him and replenished the wide receiver position and also unloaded a player that looks to make a career out of being a distraction to his current team. Score one for Kevin Colbert and Rooney family. A year later and it looks like the right decision was made. Donuts anyone?