The next question you have to ask: What does Holt have left? I just got off the phone with a pro scout from a rival team that thinks the answer to that is “enough.”
That is to say that the guy who posted six straight 1,300-yard seasons from 2000-05 and eight 1,100-yard years in a row from 2000-07 is gone. But there’s still something there, which is why the Patriots signed him.
“The biggest thing with him is he just can’t run the way he used to,” the scout told me. “He’s a possession receiver, a great route runner, and he has that veteran savvy. But he doesn’t get separation like he used to. You can put him in the slot and, similar to Hines Ward, he doesn’t run that well, but on route-running ability and intelligence, he can get open.
“He’ll get upfield a little bit, he’s got good hands, but he’s not ripping off those 40-, 50-yard chunks anymore. He’s not a huge impact guy, but on third-and-short, third-and-4, third-and-6, he can run that little option route and get that yardage. He can’t play on the outside, like Jacksonville used him. But he can play inside as a slot guy.”
My follow-up to that regarded whether this is Wes Welker insurance, since the Patriots’ All-Pro could miss a sizable chunk of the 2010 season. The scout’s answer came twofold: a) Yes, he could be viewed as Welker Insurance as a serviceable slot guy but b) he’s not going to be elite in the role.
“The difference is take someone who’s not speed demon like Hines Ward or a T.J. Houshmandzadeh and normally they’re tough, not afraid to take hits, thickly-built,” the scout said. “That’s what hurts him. He’s not an overly physical guy to take shots over middle. He had decent production last year. They’ll get something from him.”
So what went wrong in Jacksonville? Well, Holt wasn’t cheap. He signed a three-year, $13 million to join the Jags last year, so when the team moved on in February, part of it was financial.
Another part of it was the emergence of some younger guys, and that Holt had trouble producing as an outside receiver.
“They put him on the outside, and they paid him,” the scout said. “They have Mike Sims-Walker, who showed up and became a No. 1 receiver, and they also brought in (Kassim) Osgood and I know he’s a (special) ‘teams’ guy, but he’s going to get a shot. They drafted Mike Thomas, out of Arizona, they have (Jarrett) Dillard, so there are some young guys ready to step up.
“(Holt) wasn’t a dynamic playmaker, he was an older possession guy. He was not a gamebreaker. In my opinion, they made a decision as an organization to move on, and let younger guys flourish.”
Now, I know the big fear a lot of you have is that this is Joey Galloway all over again. That’s one thing I was told you shouldn’t worry too much about.
“Joey Galloway had that trait as a deep threat who could stretch the field,” the scout said. “The difference between Joey and Torry is that Torry’s a much more discipline route-runner, he’s better underneath. When a vet can’t run anymore, he needs to be more savvy and find different ways to beat guys. Torry can do that, although at this stage, you probably don’t want to put too much on him.”