It was four years ago Saturday that the Pittsburgh Steelers traded away wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a measly fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but that trade couldn’t have worked out any better.
Holmes, who was about to enter into the final year of his rookie contract at that time, was facing a four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. On top of that, the former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State was also facing a lawsuit in Florida at that time from a woman who claimed Holmes threw a glass at her in an Orlando nightclub.
While the Steelers only were able to get a fifth-round draft pick for Holmes, they were probably ecstatic to even get that as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported at that time that the team was prepared to release Holmes outright if they couldn’t find a trade partner.
During the draft that followed the trade, the Steelers traded that fifth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick that they ultimately used to select wide receiver Antonio Brown out of Central Michigan.
McFadden, who was a former Steelers draft pick himself in 2005, had just completed a disappointing season with Cardinals in 2009 and he returned to Pittsburgh to start all 16 regular season games in 2010. While he was a liability in coverage during that season, McFadden did post a career-high in tackles (81) and intercepted two passes while forcing two fumbles.
As for Brown, his story is still being written. As a rookie in 2010, he only registered 16 catches for 167 yards, but he followed that up in 2011 by making history when he became the first NFL player to compile both 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 total return yards in the same season. His efforts earned him team MVP honors as well as his first Pro Bowl selection.
In 2013, Brown became the first player in NFL history to finish a regular season with at least five catches and 50 receiving yards in every regular-season game and he also set a new franchise single-season receiving yardage record. He finished the season second in the league in both receptions (110) and receiving yardage (1,499), and earned a second trip to the Pro Bowl and another team MVP award for his efforts.
As for Holmes, he was released by the Jets last month after a second straight injury-plagued season. While he did sign a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011, he registered just 146 catches for 2,128 and 16 touchdowns in 43 games played in during his four seasons in New York. He is currently a street free agent just five years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLIII.