Mark my words, by the time the first couple of games of the regular season are over Derrick Mason will be ahead of Plaxico Burress on the depth chart, he will see more field time, and he will show far more production, as he already has his entire career. Mason will be a greater threat in coverage, allowing Holmes to get open for large gains. Mason will even prove a better deep and scoring threat.
Little Billy: But mister Bro, everyone is talking about Plaxico as a real red zone threat, and saying Derrick Mason will be great in the slot. Why makes you think otherwise?
Well little Billy, first of all, shut up. But to truly understand the receiver depth conundrum the Jets have, we need to first understand WHO Derrick Mason is.
Derrick Mason is a lovely young whippersnapper, 37 years young, out of Michigan State just like Plaxico Burress. Put it this way; Derrick Mason began his career with the Tennessee Titans when they were still the Oilers. Derrick Mason has had 8 seasons well over 1,000 yards receiving and 11 seasons over 750 yards receiving. Plaxico Burress has 4. Derrick Mason set the NFL record for single season all purpose yards with 2,659.
Over a 15 year career, Mason has played in 218 games, amassing 924 receptions for 11,891 yards and a 12.9 receiving average with a long of 79 yards, 66 touchdowns, and a whopping 634 first downs. Mason has amassed nearly 1600 and 3500 kicking and punting returning yards, respectively, for three touchdowns. Over 12 years, Plaxico has spent them with the Steelers, Giants, and Oneida State Correctional Facility, respectively; pulling down 505 receptions for 7,845 yards 55 touchdowns a 78 yard long 363 first down a -7 yard rush and a 15.5 average.
The past couple of seasons, Mason has competed with the likes of Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth, and T.J. Houshmanzadeh and several others for receptions. Mason beat all of them out for 802 yards and 7 touchdowns last year, as well as 1,028 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2009. Plaxico Burress spent those same two years making sangria in a metal toilet. Mason's success all these years wasn't in the slot for the most part, it was typically as a speedy and reliable receiver in the number 1 or 2 role. In fact it was Anquan Boldin that the Ravens ran as a slot receiver, with Derrick Mason on the outside. Burress accrued almost all of his touchdowns, the major thing that credits him as a "red zone threat", or at least the lions share as the Giants sole #1 and deep threat.
How about likelihood to see field time? Mason has missed 6 games over 15 years, most of them earlier on. Burress has missed 16 games under contract, missed multiple team functions, been suspended multiple times, missed 2 years in prison; been sued in civil court 9 times, and fined 45,000. Mason hasn't gotten in trouble. Mason runs his own charitable foundation while Plaxico wears sweatpants to nightclubs.
Little Billy: Alright alright, mister Bro, fine! Derrick Mason is far more consistent and a better all around receiver as well as a better human being, and he's ready to play now. But everyone says he's signed to replace Jerricho Cotchery as a 3rd down and slot receiver. How do you know he won't be?
Oh geez, I forgot you were there, kid. Where the hell are your parents? Well, as I said before, Mason never was a slot receiver. Teams would put receivers like Boldin in the slot over Mason. Mason's amazing and consistent career production has been a result of lining up as a split end or flanker.
It's true that Mason is 5 '10 and Plaxico Burress is 6'5, a huge benefit both on the outs and in the red zone. Typically 6 '5 receivers play wideout and 5 '10 are far more likely to see action in the slot, this is absolutely true. I have no doubt on the sets where the offense plays all three or more receivers, Plaxico will play on the end and Mason will be the slot receiver. It just doesn't make sense otherwise. Many people have a good point, Burress is much taller and has a greater distance receiving average.
But Mason is no stranger to being a deep or end zone threat, and he has the deeper overall length reception. The simple matter of fact is that Rex of Schotty are going to have to pick one of the two receivers to put on the field with Holmes and Keller on most plays. Plaxico rolled his ankle before he even got to camp, and Mason is looking to finish his career on a high note with a winner. If Plaxico hadn't missed as much time as he had, I would have little doubt that he would be the man opposite Holmes and Keller on most if not all of those aforementioned plays. But I think by the time early regular season comes around Mason will clearly have beaten out Plaxico for the number two role on the depth chart.
This doesn't mean Mason can't play the slot in situational, or even most plays. Wes Welker was the best number 2 receiver in the league, and now he's effectively a number 1, and he almost always lines up in the slot. It just means for general purposes you turn to Mason over Burress, which only makes sense, until Burress gets back into the groove of things; if he ever does at all. I truly believe when it comes down to crunch time on two receiver sets, Rex or Brian will choose Derrick Mason over Plaxico Burress, and rightfully so. Not only has Mason earned it in every capacity, but he's in better physical shape for it.
People saying Mason was brought on board to be the number 3 receiver are seriously underrating him, as well as giving an entirely unproven Plaxico Burress WAY too much credit.