Kerry Rhodes: Stay or Go?

It was supposed to be a breakout year for Kerry Rhodes. More than one pundit talked about the potential for Kerry to play the role Ed Reed played for Baltimore under Rex Ryan. He was supposed to return to the Pro Bowl caliber form he showed in 2006 and 2007 and become one of the top five safeties in the game. It didn't happen. There were some outstanding performances near the end of the year. Kerry had terrific games against Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and San Diego. Even his most ardent supporter couldn't contest it was an uneven and disappointing year. Nobody could have predicted a midseason benching.

Rhodes was one of the most vocal Jets during the season. He often failed to back up his play. How many times did he shy away from contact when playing the run? He had no sacks in the regular season. He had 3 interceptions. A pair came against Carolina. That left him a single pick in the remaining 15 games. He didn't force any fumbles in the regular season. The safety position is a playmaking position in this defense. Rhodes didn't make too many. We've seen his capabilities. The only reason he didn't make the Pro Bowl in those 2006 and 2007 campaigns was John Lynch's name recognition. There was arguably no greater underachiever on the league's top defense than Rhodes.

Rex was clearly disappointed enough with Kerry to bench him. I remember Bob Papa and Matt Millen describing a conversation they had with Rex during the Thursday night game against the Bills in Toronto. When discussing the safety position, Ryan said he'd rather have a less talented overachiever than a more talented underachiever. That seemed to be a direct comparison of Eric Smith and Kerry.

This is probably going to be one of the most debated issues of the offseason. I struggle to see how the Jets can trade Rhodes. His value isn't terribly high at this point. We're probably talking about a midround pick at best. People tend to overvalue Draft picks. What are the odds the Jets find a player as good as Rhodes. Think back to the Jonathan Vilma trade. The Jets got a pick that turned into Dwight Lowery. Is Lowery a nice player? Sure. Would anybody seriously consider taking him over Vilma if given the choice? I don't think so. It's very difficult to find impact players late in the Draft. Trading a starting caliber player isn't worth it.

That brings us to the other problem. It would create a hole. The Jets would need to find a new starting safety. I wouldn't feel comfortable with Eric Smith starting for 16 games. Smith is an NFL caliber player. He found a niche working underneath and as a blitzer. I don't think he has the athleticism or the range to succeed in a starting role, though. The Jets are limited in what they can do this offseason. Why open up a hole?

I will make an exception. If the Jets can flip Rhodes and fill a hole with a proven player, I'm all for it. I mean make a trade to add a legitimate pass rusher or a top flight corner. I'm not sure how practical that kind of hope is, though.

There is no doubt Kerry's play improved after the benching, and he came a lot closer to becoming the impact player many expected. Unless they can add something to really improve the team in an area of weakness, it's worth riding this out and seeing whether he can return to the kind of form he showed during that 2006-2007 run.

I vote stay.

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