First, the New York Jets demoted wide receiver Derrick Mason. Then, late Tuesday night, they traded him to the Houston Texans for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, ESPN New York reported.
The move comes after a swirl of reports that Mason was unhappy with the team’s offense.
In the latest twist for Team Drama, Mason reportedly was benched for the first half of the Jets’ game Sunday against New England because of critical comments he made after a loss on Oct. 2 to the Baltimore Ravens. Coach Rex Ryan denied that, saying he wanted to give rookie Jeremy Kerley a shot as the No. 3 receiver Sunday and suggesting the move came from a “private conversation” last week with Mason. “I had a conversation with Derrick, and the reason he didn’t play as much had absolutely nothing to do with a conversation [he had with the media],” Ryan said. “You guys know I have an open policy with the media. I don’t put a muzzle on anybody.” In any event, Mason, who usually plays half the snaps, had one catch in six plays in the loss to the Patriots.
“Guys, let's face it, I thought he'd catch 80 to 90 balls and that hasn't happened,” Ryan said.
The Jets weren’t sharing details, but Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, citing unnamed sources, reports that the team thought Mason wasn’t learning the playbook quickly enough. Mason, who had played for the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans, was courted by both teams as a free agent this summer, and the Jets seemed like a good fit. But the team had cleared him to spend Mondays and Tuesdays in Nashville with his family and that contributed to the perception that he wasn’t committed. Add to the mix that Mason, 37, had only 13 catches in five games and, a source told Cimini, at times Mason didn’t know the play.
A New York Daily News report last week indicated that Mason and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Plasico Burress met privately and individually with Ryan to register their complaints about Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive system, a report Ryan denied. “The great thing is with that one I can guarantee you it was untrue because I was the guy supposedly that had the conversations,” Ryan said. “I can tell you this 100 percent: I did not have the conversations. That was it.”
Ryan defended Schottenheimer, too. “We’re fortunate to have Brian coaching with us,” Ryan said. “That whole [offensive assistant coaching] group is an excellent staff. We’ll get this thing righted. We made strides.”
And Mason is making strides toward Houston, where, in his first game Sunday, he’ll get to face the Ravens. Again.