The intermittently on-and-off trade between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins has been finally completed, shipping unhappy wide receiver Laveranues Coles to his old team, the Jets, for wideout Santana Moss, sources familiar with the development said today.According to broadcast reports the Redskins will not get any salary cap relief from Coles in this transaction. By not making this deal until after last Tuesday, it was already determined that the Redskins would take a 2005 salary cap hit of nearly $6 million if they traded or released Coles before June 1. Had Coles agreed to forgo part or all of $5 million payment on his original $13 signing bonus, they could have had that credited to their 2006 cap number. However, if the reports are correct--and that seems to be the way the deal has been heading in recent days--that won't happen.
The main obstacle had been Coles's request for a contract extension from the Jets, partly because he believed that he initially had an agreement with Washington to be released, making him a free agent. But after fruitless talks over the past several days, the Jets and Coles's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, apparently made enough headway.
So on April 1, the Redskins will have to cut a $5 million check and forward it to the Jets' facility. Ouch.
The question being asked is, of course, why? Why take such a big hit to trade a guy that the Skins just gave up a first-round pick and a ton of money for just two years ago? And why for Moss, who hasn't done much of anything special for the Jets?
To address the second part first, Moss doesn't suffer horribly in comparison to Coles. A first-round pick (16th overall) by the Jets, Moss has less tha half as many career catches as Coles (342-151), but has scored just one fewer touchdown (20-19) and has averaged 16 yards a catch for his career. Coles hasn't averaged that much for as much as a full season (save his rookie year when he had 22 catches). And Moss is two year younger than Coles is.
Still, even if you concede that Moss and Coles are roughly equal as players the fact is that this wasn't just a player for player trade from the Redskins' standpoint. There is the little matter of the cap hit and the wasted first rounder.
Coles' reported unhappiness with Joe Gibbs' offense was certainly the team evern considered the trade in the first place. But even is someone is desperately unhappy, you don't toss a first-rounder and five million bucks in the trash because of it. Nobody in the world, probably not even Coles, would have blamed the Redskins if they had told the receiver that they gave him big, big money so shut up and play. Coles, being the professional he is, probably would have.
Based on the facts we know, there is really only one reason that the Redskins would make this deal; they must think that Coles is damaged goods. His injured toe, the one on which he refuses to have surgery, has cost him much of the speed and explosiveness that led to the Redskins dangling the $13 million to lure him from the Jets in the first place. Rehabilitation without surgery didn't nearly do the trick to heal the toe last offseason. It was admirable that Coles gutted it out this past year, but it's safe to say that Gibbs' scheme wasn't the only factor at play in his 10.6 yards per catch average. The toe must have been a big issue as well.
Faced with diminishing returns, it appears that the Skins decided to cut their losses, get what they could for Coles, swallowed the bitter pill of the money and the first, and move on.
This is all speculation, mind you. But so was the notion that David Patten would be a good target for the Skins and, well, we know how that turned out.