Derrick Mason of the New York Jets speaks to the...

Derrick Mason of the New York Jets speaks to the media at NY Jets Practice Facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Aug. 7, 2011) Credit: Getty

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Tannenbaum said the Jets are a "merit-based" organization that strives to give young players a fair shot when it's deserved. And for that reason, he insisted, Derrick Mason is gone.

"Suffice it to say, things didn't work out on the field with Derrick," the general manager said Wednesday, a day after the 37-year-old receiver was traded to Houston in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick.

"We were committed to trying to make it work and get him to play better . . . And we got an opportunity when Houston called [Tuesday]. And when we make these decisions, we look at a lot of things."

But according to Tannenbaum, those "things" did not include Mason's criticism of the team's offensive shortcomings after a Week 4 loss to Baltimore or his reported closed-door meetings with Rex Ryan regarding offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system.

The GM cited several reasons why he traded only the 18th player in NFL history to surpass 12,000 receiving yards. They were: Mason's on-field performance, budget logistics, the opportunity to get a draft pick and the emergence of rookie Jeremy Kerley, who had three catches, including his first touchdown, against the Patriots.

"It may look one way," Tannenbaum said of the timing of the move. "We can't control that. What we can control is what's best for the Jets."

He added that Mason -- who had only 13 catches for 115 yards and no TDs -- did not request a trade and would have remained a Jet had the Texans not called.

Houstontexans.com reported Mason called the deal "a breath of fresh air" to "come to a situation where they want you and believe in what you can do.''

Several Jets seemed conflicted about the trade, citing personal relationships with Mason.

"I've seen him play with one arm; his shoulder was dislocated. So I know the type of player he is," said Jim Leonhard, who spent the 2008 season with Mason in Baltimore. "It is a little shocking, but at the same time, they felt like a move needed to be made . . . I'm not going to question Rex and Tannenbaum. They do what they do and they've been pretty good at it."

Said Darrelle Revis: "I never thought we would cut him. The guy has proven himself to be an elite receiver. He's very respected here . . . but you've got to move on."

The deal came two days after the Daily News reported that Mason, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress questioned Schottenheimer's play-calling in individual meetings with Ryan.

"He wouldn't be around this league 15 years and having success if he didn't know what he was talking about," Burress said of Mason. "I'm going to stand behind my guy 100 percent."

Rex Ryan also said the team wasn't trying to send a message to Mason or those who remain. He also said Mason wasn't "benched" because of his comments to the media.

"I was probably the most excited guy in the building when Derrick decided to sign here," Ryan said. "We weren't getting the balls to him or whatever. It was more the emergence of Jeremy . . . and I think that's maybe the thing that is getting lost here."

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