The message from Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was clear on Wednesday. The trade of Derrick Mason had everything to do with the player’s suspect performance on the field and nothing to do with his controversial comments following a Week 4 loss in Baltimore.
On Tuesday night, Mason was traded to Houston for a seventh-round pick in a move that Tannenbaum said was made due to the emergence of rookie Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick out of Texas Christian University. Mason, who was cut by Baltimore during preseason, signed in August after the Jets parted ways with the long-tenured Jerricho Cotchery. He had just 13 catches for 115 yards in his five-game career with the Jets, but he made headlines for his statements about the offense not being effective in passing the ball.
There won’t be a spot for him in the Jets’ Ring of Honor, but there is also no animosity according to Tannenbaum.
“What he said after the Baltimore game had nothing to do with the decision we made last night. Obviously his performance on the field isn’t where he expected it to be or where we expected it to be,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re always going to make a decision for what’s best for the team, but it’s based on what we thought is going to give us the best chance to win on the field.”
Mason had a relationship with head coach Rex Ryan from the time when Ryan was on staff at Baltimore, before leaving to join the Jets in 2009. With 937 career receptions, he topped the 12,000 receiving mark for his career this past Sunday in New England with his only reception of the game. Mason was on the sidelines for much of the game as Kerley was consistently utilized in the three-receiver set.
Kerley had his first three career receptions against the Patriots and coupled with Mason’s inability to seemingly grasp the playbook, it all made for an easy decision for Tannenbaum when the Texans called on Tuesday night about a possible trade.
“For a number of reasons but principally because we felt it was an opportunity to improve the play at that receiver position, we made that decision,” Tannenbaum said. “The fact of how it lined up from a timing standpoint, you got to still make what’s in the best decision in your mind for the team.”
Known for being at times vocal in Baltimore when things didn’t always go his way, Mason was not run out of town for his critical comments two weeks ago, according to Tannenbaum, and he isn’t being made a public example in the Jets’ locker room. A report surfaced on Sunday morning that Mason, along with fellow wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, went above offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s head to complain about an offense that is in the bottom five in the league.
The Jets denied in a statement on Sunday afternoon that any such meeting ever took place.
Several times on Wednesday, Tannenbaum denied that the move to send Mason packing was solely based on his performance on the field and not due to anything off the field.
“Not at all. The great thing for us was that Rex was with this guy for a long guy in Baltimore. Here’s a guy that’s closing in on a thousand catches — he’s been productive for a long time,” Tannenbaum said. “He would have been here had Houston not called — he was here for the balance of the season, he has a contract for next year. The fact that Rex knew him was one of the reasons Rex went after him.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.