Santonio Holmes has yet to even be charged for his latest brush with the law, so the headline might seem a little premature at this stage, but precedent invites speculation.
In the early 1990’s when the NFL got serious about drug testing, Terry Long, Eric Green, Tim Worley, and Carlton Haselrig all got busted for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policies. While the timetables were different for each of the men in question, the failed drug tests signaled the beginning in each case. Bam Morris was arrested for marijuana and cocaine procession and never saw another game in a Steelers uniform.
Holmes offense is minor, but it is not his first run in with the law. Santonio Holmes was arrested twice in the two months after the Steelers selected him with the 25th pick of the draft in 2006. He will likely be on the field when the Steelers travel to play the Redskins, but this latest incident must call his long-term future with the team into question.
The Steelers reputation as one of the league’s stricter teams is well deserved, but they certainly do not have a zero tolerance policy. Last spring the team released Cedric Wilson after he was accused of domestic violence, but had taken no similar action against James Harrison who’d been accused of the same crime. (Indeed, Dan Rooney set off a fire storm with his statement on the disparity in the way the team dealt with the two incidents.)
The Steelers are unlikely to cut Holmes, but he’s still playing on his salary cap friendly rookie contract, meaning that they could easily trade him.
Potentially this may open a window of opportunity for Nate Washington, whose value is on the rise. It is beyond a mere stretch to suggest that Washington could make Holmes expendable, but Holmes legal troubles could very mean that the Steelers will be willing to pay more to retain Nate Washington when he becomes a free agent in 2009.