Jets Game Changing Offseason Moves: Trading Kerry Rhodes

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Kerry Rhodes looked like a budding superstar at safety after his first three years in the league. Then he got a $33.5 million contract. His play tailed off at that point. He stopped making impact plays. He did not stop talking as though he was one of the best safeties in the game.

Rhodes and Eric Mangini never seemed to have a problem, but Rex Ryan was a different story. Ryan was so unhappy with him that he benched Kerry for a game against Carolina in 2009. In retrospect the writing was on the wall, and the team shipped the safety to Arizona during the offseason for a midround pick in this year’s Draft during.

Rhodes has clear flaws. He talks way too much relative to his production. He also appears terrified of contact at times, which is a bad trait for a guy on defense. There has been one constant, though. Even as his impact plays have disappeared, Rhodes has been a terrific cover safety. You may say whatever you would like about him, but that makes him a huge asset in a passing oriented league. His play after the benching was excellent. The Jets would not have won the Playoff game at San Diego had he not delivered a top performance.

Gang Green plans on replacing Rhodes with Brodney Pool, a guy with a more physical style of play. The problem is that physical style has brought a major history of concussions. That’s scary, particularly with the league getting more conservative on letting players with head injuries into the lineup.

There’s also Donovan Warren, a rookie cornerback from Michigan with great potential. The NFL Draft Advisory Board, which is composed of general managers and personnel directors, told him he had top three round talent. It still might take him some time to get the intricacies of a new position, though.

There’s also Eric Smith, who plays well enough as a stopgap starter and in sub packages. The team really doesn’t seem to have much faith in him as a starter, though. Gang Green has signed two safeties the past two offseasons to replace him in the starting lineup.

It’s a popular thing to say the Jets won’t miss Kerry Rhodes because of what he didn’t do. He was an effective player, though. The free safety position is a bigger question mark than it would have been had the team simply held onto him. We may question whether selling him for 50 cents on the dollar was the wisest move at the end of the year if Pool gets hurt again, and Warren isn’t ready. On the other hand, Pool has the potential to be better than Rhodes if he stays healthy because of his cover skills and willingness to deliver a big hit.

That makes the Kerry Rhodes trade a game changing move.

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