Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals free safety Kerry Rhodes (25) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
I was looking for a subject to write about today and the usual Jets news just didn’t feel right. So I took to Twitter (@craiglaurasam) and saw a number of tweets from one of the most passionate and unique Jets fans @NYJET_Prime. He was wondering aloud about why Kerry Rhodes still hadn’t found a new team when so many, Jets included, need safety help. He had an idea based on some of Rhodes’ extracurricular activities this offseason. I have no idea if that’s right or not but I do want to take a closer look at Rhodes’ eventful offseason and future going forward.
Kerry Rhodes was drafted by the Jets out of Louisville in the 4th round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played and started at safety for the Jets for the better part of 5 years before being traded to the Arizona Cardinals after the 2009 season. He averaged 83 tackles a year for the Jets along with 15 total interceptions, 9 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. Rhodes was all around safety who could cover, blitz and tackle. In his final year with the Jets he clashed with Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman when he was allegedly slow to pick up the new defense and nicknamed him “Hollywood” for Kerry’s off the field interests in film and modeling.
Fast forward to the end of this season. Rhodes was released by the Cardinals becoming a free agent, one who could excel in a market where safeties were and still are needed. He still has ability as evidenced by his domination of the Jets in December when he had 6 tackles, 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended. So why haven’t more teams looked at him?
The answer might have something to do with publicity he has received in April of this year. Mediablackout.com first posted suggestive photos of Rhodes and a male assistant that made the insinuation that Rhodes was gay (pictures removed comments remain). Rhodes then responded to the rumors to TMZ and other media outlets such as this TMZ article here asserting that he is not gay. Rhodes’ ex-assistant and alleged boyfriend then gave interviews including this one to Bossip.com here where he “details” the relationship that he and Rhodes allegedly had.
Whether or not Rhodes is gay is not a question for me or anyone really to answer except for him. Have the rumors made teams think twice at bringing in Rhodes? Other than a visit to the Bengals reported on April 10th there has not been another team that has had him in for a visit. Many teams can use an upgrade at safety, including the Jets and the rest of the AFC East, but no news about Rhodes. He wouldn’t come to the Jets because of his rift with Ryan and Thurman unless they can bury the hatchet. Although I’ve seen stranger things happen I doubt it will come to pass not only because of his relationship with the coaches but the fact that the local media will make his sexuality a constant story.
We will see in the coming days if Rhodes will find work because some teams are receiving salary cap relief from their designated June 1st cuts. This is the time that the remaining veterans start to visit and sign again. Will there be a market for a player with something left to give or will teams be scared off by media scrutiny or worries about how the locker room will react? This is an interesting test for the NFL in how they treat a potentially gay player. Most cheered publicly when NBA player Jason Collins or WNBA player Brittney Griner came out as homosexual. How will the NFL react to a player with just rumors of his sexuality out there? Will they be as progressive as they claim? We will soon see.