The Jets have released Laveranues Coles, the fourth leading receiver in franchise history.
The Jets have restructured Coles' contract to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
"I have had the pleasure of getting to know Laveranues since he has entered the league in 2000," Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said. "He is a fierce competitor, a great teammate and a good friend who has always given his best to the New York Jets.
"I spoke with him today and expressed my appreciation for his contributions both on and off the field. This move will allow Laveranues to explore his options, and we both agreed to keep the lines of communication open."
This move would have made no sense without restructuring first. Coles was set to count $7 million against the cap whether he was on the roster, traded, or cut. For his part, LC has made it no secret over the past year he wants a new contract. Allowing the team to restructure was no price for him to pay in order to become a free agent.
This move might be even more surprising than the release of Brandon Moore. Part of it has to do with the cap implications since it did not figure the Jets would save any money by dumping LC. Part of it is the receiver's place in team history. Mainly, it is surprising the Jets would create another hole when it has been well-documented their cap situation is favorable.
It is unclear whether the next starter opposite Jerricho Cotchery is on the roster. Chansi Stuckey showed flashes early in the 2008 season, but his play tailed off toward the end of the year as Dustin Keller emerged. David Clowney has looked great whenever he has seen the field in preseason and the regular season, but to call his reps limited would be a major understatement. It would have made sense to hold onto Coles during the last year of his contract while giving Clowney and Stuckey more playing time. The Jets could have tested to see whether either was capable of filling a starting role in 2010 and beyond while retaining Laveranues for insurance in case both flopped. That is now off the table.
One might think this indicates the team will try to trade up for Michael Crabtree, but that does not necessarily follow. Why would the Jets have not just kept Coles until the Draft in that event? They always could have made this move after they landed Crabtree and held onto LC had they not been successful.
Some might speculate Coles will be back at a reduced price, but that would not make a ton of sense either. He is 31 and had a down year in 2008. Laveranues did not reemerge as a legitimate number one receiver as many predicted he would with Brett Favre. This is not the kind of guy to whom a team should give a longterm contract, especially if there is an option to keep him under contract for one year.
It is tough to figure what the Jets are doing. Like Moore, LC was probably not worth his cap figure. However, releasing him just creates another hole to fill. If the Jets know for sure that either Stuckey or Clowney is ready to step into the starting role, or they can Draft or sign a replacement for cheaper, this move can be justified. It is not clear the team can say that at this point.
Is anybody else getting sick at the thought of Laveranues rejoining his buddy Chad in Miami?