Rex Ryan needs to relearn his ABCs. The New York Jets head coach should never have given Santonio Holmes a “C” to place on his jersey as a team captain. After the wide receiver’s meltdown in a season-ending loss to Miami, it’s obvious the correct letter would have been a “D.” As in “Diva.” Thinking that Holmes – who has a litany of off-field problems and failed drug tests – was a good choice as a Jets leader is just one of the mistakes Ryan made in 2011. Such problems with selfish players like Holmes come with the territory. Some of the NFL’s greatest wideouts are Divas or provide another “D” word – drama – with their antics and/or media comments. Here is a look at who enters 2012 destined to grab headlines as they deal with uncertain NFL futures. — Alex Marvez
Following a year out of football, it wouldn’t be surprising if Moss has the itch to play again. Moss turns 35 in February but a season off to rest may have done his body and mind some good. Moss, though, would have to show he still has the burst that made him a future Hall of Fame wide receiver and quash concerns about his prickly attitude poisoning the locker room.
Edwards was one of the few things that didn’t work out well for San Francisco during the 2011 season. He caught only 15 passes before hurting his knee and was ultimately waived without being claimed. Edwards was on the verge of becoming one of the NFL’s top receivers in 2007 but has experienced a gradual slide since then. Edwards, 28, must try to reinvent himself in 2012 with his fourth different team in four years for any shot at a big-money contract down the road.
Coming off reconstructive knee surgery and with the personal baggage he has amassed, the 38-year-old Owens shouldn’t be shocked that no team tried signing him in 2011. Owens is now being connected with a minor-league indoor football league, which would provide some immediate relief for his financial problems. Owens, though, will likely continue his Quixotic quest for another shot at the NFL during the offseason.
San Diego’s announcement that general manager A.J. Smith is returning for the 2012 season may be bad news for Jackson. Smith has used restrictive one-year tags on Jackson for the past two seasons after butting heads during contract talks. Jackson, who wants the guaranteed money inherent in a long-term deal, might now be headed for another year as San Diego’s franchise player.
Maybe, just maybe Ochocinco will finally make an impact play in New England during the playoffs. However, don’t hold your breath. With 15 catches and just one score, Ochocinco has done nothing to justify the roughly $6 million he earned in 2011. Ochocinco, who turns 34 next week, has struggled so badly that his NFL future beyond this season should be in question.
The fact that Burress caught 45 passes with eight touchdowns after spending the previous two-plus years in prison makes him a legitimate NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate. Burress, though, may not be coming back to the Jets. A pending unrestricted free agent, Burress could have appeal to another team willing to spend more money on one of the league’s better red-zone threats.
Having already played for five different teams in the past seven seasons, Lloyd could be on the move again. A midseason acquisition by the receiver-starved St. Louis Rams, Lloyd did a nice job with 51 catches in 11 games. But the chances of Lloyd re-signing are up in the air with the Rams having fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney.
Pittsburgh made sure Ward registered his 1,000th career catch by calling a fourth-quarter shovel pass during last Sunday’s 13-9 win over Cleveland. The 35-year-old Ward probably won’t be adding to that receiving total with the Steelers in 2012. He has slipped to backup status behind a strong corps of young wideouts and is set to earn $4 million next season. Retirement seems likely if Ward doesn’t want to wear another uniform.
Once Philadelphia’s season ended, Jackson made a public apology for letting contract issues affect his on-field play. Jackson dropped passes, pouted on the sideline and made bad on-field decisions. He’s still one of the NFL’s most explosive players and only 25 years old, but that lack of maturity will make interested free-agent suitors think twice about offering the boatload of guaranteed money Jackson is seeking.