The most obvious beneficiary of the decision to trade Derrick Mason is rookie receiver Jeremy Kerley. In his first extended action last week, Kerley finished with 3 receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown, making more of an impact than Mason already had all season which accelerated the decision to trade him.
Kerley was probably the most hyped Jets player throughout training camp as he repeatedly made big plays in every practice. He had a somewhat quiet pre-season and didn’t do much until the Raiders game when he ripped off a big punt return. Last week was the first time he really had a chance at receiver and he showed the big play ability the coaching staff was raving about all summer.
The decision to move Mason is a smart one in that it will give Kerley the chance to grow into the slot receiver role that he appears ready to take over. He has the short area quickness required for the position but also has the speed that Mason lacked to push up the seam. The more Kerley is involved in the regular offensive packages, the more the Jets will likely expand his use in the Wildcat, which will help diversify their attack.
Kerley doesn’t have the pressure of becoming one of the unit’s top options with Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress also at receiver. Yet, he should be a complimentary weapon who gradually takes on a bigger role. Hopefully the coaching staff will also begin to expand the role of running back Joe McKnight by incorporating him in the screen game and giving him more outside handoffs, which coupled with Kerley’s greater use will provide a needed shot of speed to the offense.