FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on Wednesday when talking about the trade that sent veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason from New York to Houston for a seventh-round pick. Mason had signed with the Jets this August after being cut by the Ravens, and the 15-year veteran had been critical at times of the team's stagnant passing offense -- which is in the bottom third of the league.
Burress called the move "a business decision" and said he understood the trade, but he still wanted Mason to be the team's third wide receiver, despite his comments about the offense's "foundation" being suspect.
"Everybody has different personalities, different characteristics. He wears what he thinks on his sleeve. You can't sit there and say that half the time he's wrong -- the guy has been playing for a long time," Burress said. "He wouldn't be around this league and playing for 15 years and having success if the guy didn't know what he was talking about. I'm going to stand behind my guy 100 percent."
The Jets are not calling this a player dump or a signal to the rest of the team, despite the fact that Mason was demoted to participating on the practice squad last week and made his first appearance in Sunday's game in New England in the third quarter. Mason, who was signed to be a starter, did register one catch against the Patriots in limited action, good enough to push his career total to over 12,000 receiving yards.
Mason, for his part, remained diplomatic while addressing the media in Houston on Wednesday.
"I'm done," he said. "I just want to put that behind me as quickly as possible. They can continue to talk about it if they want, but I've got a job to do, and that's to come here and play good football. I can't worry about what happened in New York. I enjoyed my two months there, if it was that."
Through his five-game career with the Jets, Mason registered just 13 receptions for 115 yards and no touchdowns. Mason was replaced in the Jets' three-receiver set on Sunday by rookie Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick out of TCU who had the first three catches of his NFL career in that game.
"Why he wasn't successful on the field -- there's probably a lot of factors that could go into that," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "Suffice to say that he didn't play at the level he had hoped, we had hoped."
But while the Jets brass, including head coach Rex Ryan, didn't want to pin Mason's critical comments about the team on the reason for his departure, his teammates didn't seem so certain. Veteran right guard Brandon Moore was asked about the reason for Mason being traded and he originally responded that "I don't know if he's gone because he wasn't producing."
Several members of the media then informed Moore that the party line given by the Jets had been that the sole reason why Mason was traded was in fact because of his lack of productivity and that there were no other factors at play. Tannenbam went so far as to say that Mason "would have been here had Houston not called — he was here for the balance of the season."
Moore amended his comments quickly.
"I don't think he's gone because we're 2-3, I don't know why he's gone," Moore said.
The Jets are now left to move on and will have to adapt not only personnel-wise with the insertion of the rookie Kerley into the lineup but also emotionally as well. Mason was a veteran and a strong voice on the team whom Kerley and Burress both cited for his willingness to work with the younger players.
"I got drafted back in 2000, I've seen worse things happen," Burress said. "It's nothing personally towards 'D-Mason' or anything like that. I guess they had to make a decision and 'D-Mason' was the guy that was let go. I don't think there's anything personal towards him or send a message.
"I'm not surprised. I've seen it all from every angle possible. That's how it goes sometimes."