Derrick Mason’s playing time was cut deeply on Sunday. Last night, the Jets flat-out gave him the boot.
In a stunning and swift move that comes a week before the NFL’s trade deadline, the Jets shipped the veteran wide receiver off to the Texans for a seventh-round draft pick, according to a league source.
The Houston Chronicle first reported the move.
In August, Mason was brought in to be the third wideout behind Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress when they severed ties with Jerricho Cotchery, and was mostly expected to line up in the slot. He was supposed to help the Jets’ production on third down, but instead only managed 13 receptions for 115 yards through their five games.
His playing time was reduced significantly in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, seeing action on just six snaps. He was targeted by Mark Sanchez only once, reeing in a 7-yard grab in the fourth quarter to give him 12,006 career receiving yards, making him the 18th player in NFL history to top 12,000 reception yardage.
That came on the heels of the critical comments Mason made in the aftermath of the Jets’ Oct. 2 loss in Baltimore, starting a smoldering brushfire by saying he believed there were “cracks” within the Jets‘ offensive scheme.
"Obviously, there are some things that have to change," Mason said then. "It's evident."
"There's some cracks and don't nobody want to really identify the cracks," he said. "So until we identify the cracks, we will keep on having the same problems. So whenever somebody wants to seal up the cracks, then we'll continue to move forward as an offense.”
After not playing much versus the Patriots, Mason said it was "a coincidence" he didn't see much of the field in a game following his comments. Rex Ryan, who initially thought the 37-year-old wideout would catch between 80-90 passes this season, did his best Monday to make it clear Mason's time wasn't simply cut because of his outspokenness.
"I can tell you this: it had nothing to do with the conversation he had with the media," Ryan said. "I had a conversation with Derrick [last week], and the reason he never played as much had absolutely nothing to do with the conversation he had with media. We never brought it up.”
"I didn't put a muzzle on anybody."
Mason had been flying home to Nashville, Tenn. each Monday morning to be with his family, then returning to New Jersey the following day to get begin learning the gameplan for the upcoming opponent.
However, he wasn’t overly well versed with the playbook, and the emergence of rookie Jeremy Kerley might have also played a factor in the Jets -- who're mired in a three-game losing streak heading into Monday's game with the 0-4 Dolphins -- sending Mason packing.
The rookie wideout, who had been playing mostly on special teams through the first four weeks, was solid against the Patriots, posting three receptions for 33 yards and scoring his first career touchdown on a 9-yard reception from Sanchez in his 18 snaps.
Now, he’ll move up on the depth chart, benefiting from Mason’s quick departure.