79 Catches (career high) for 1248 yards (career high), scoring 5 touchdowns, all the while keeping better control over the ball, his first year without a fumble. That's what Santonio Holmes brought to the table last year. He was nothing short of great, coming off of a memorable Superbowl MVP performance, his career with the Steelers couldn't be looking any better. Then this. So it begs the question, where do Santonio and the franchise go from here?
As the 25th overall pick of the Steelers in the 2006 NFL Draft, Santonio Holmes was pegged as the heir apparent to Hines Ward, and the current replacement for the newly departed Antwaan Randle El. He did not disappoint. He tallied almost 50 catches for a little over 800 yards. He was on his way, and only got better as time passed.
Now, entering the final year of his rookie contract, Santonio has put himself in an unenviable position of potential legal troubles, and it leaves the franchise and the fans wondering what's next. Hurting his value as a player, and hurting his team in terms of reputation certainly will not help at the negotiating table. He will almost undoubtedly be offered less money by the Steelers as a result, and perhaps will be looking for greener pastures elsewhere.
What could very well be next is a future without one of our most dependable, most talented stars. If that is to be the case, what other options do we have?
Well, last year's third round pick Mike Wallace was an absolute gem. His 39 catch, 756 yard rookie seasonleft most of us wanting more. His freakish speed led to a league leading 19.4 yards per catch. His skill set is more than comparable to Santonio, it almost mirrors the talents that Santonio had early on in Pittsburgh. He is clearly on the way up.
If you love something, set it free. If it returns, it was meant to be. Antwaan Randle El, whose departure paved the way for Santonio's arrival, has returned after a few somewhat disappointing years in Washington. He is not the same player he once was, but what he has lost in foot speed has been aided by veteran savvy. He's also relatively cheap, and signed through the next three seasons, which is very important.
Arnaz Battle was added, in a move thought by most to be a special teams booster. The former Golden Dome quarterback has played well during his career, but has never been truly exceptional. He provides nice depth and from what I've read, a quality work ethic and great attitude towards the game.
Limas Sweed, a name that draws out some strong emotion amongst Steelers fans is still around. I was a strong Limas supporter, and to some degree still am, very much so. But he needs to show it sooner than later or I foresee him trying to make plays with either a star or a bull on his helmet.
Brandon London, the man who got lost in the shuffle of free agency, has some real upside too. At 6'4" and 215 lbs. he provides the size we currently lack with our receiver corps. As a smaller school prospect, he has limited on field experience offensively, but has been mentioned as a solid special teamer, who also possesses a great work ethic and attitude.
Also included in our wide receiver crew is Tyler Grisham, who despite his size has shown aggressive blocking ability in college. He saw the field very sparingly late in the season last year. Jason Cherry, another small school guy, who, to be quite honest, I know very little about.
My point is simple. Despite the skills that Santonio brings to the table, he needs to recognize that we have other players who are able and willing to take his job. They come with less drama, and at a cheaper rate. I would love to see Santonio in Black and Gold for years to come, but realistically, he has made that very difficult on himself.
I post this not to make light of his alleged transgressions, but to discuss what effect they will have on our team, on the field, both this year and into the future. Thoughts?