The Raiders soured on him, and that was why they were willing to trade him to the Jets this week.
Jets GM Terry Bradway has loved the guy since he came out of BYU in 2002. The Jets were close to trading for him last summer.
Jolley is coming off a season he would like to forget. Even his usually outstanding hands were a little disappointing.
"Jolley had a few more drops last year than usual," said one Raider observer.
And his blocking wasn't very good either. The Raiders had one of the worst running games in football last year, and Jolley's blocking was one of the reasons why.
"He cannot block to save his life," said the Raider observer.
That statement might be a little unfair. Jolley is not a total waste as a blocker. He's a better blocker than Denver tight end Jeb Putzier, who the Jets attempted to sign this off-season as a free agent. Jolley isn't a great blocker, but he's servicable.
"He can get in the way, but he's not going to dominate," said one scout.
But the Jets aren't going to ask him to be the main blocking tight end. That job will belong to Chris Baker. Jolley will serve an H-Back-type roll, similar to the way Frank Wycheck was used in Mike Heimerdinger's offense in Tennessee.
The Raiders aren't interested in a tight end like that. They want to go with a power running game this year with former Jet Lamont Jordan at tailback, and need two good blocking tight ends to help make this effective.
"Jolley's lack of blocking skills made him expendable," said the Raider source.
"They have looked to get a different tight end than I am," said Jolley.
But Jolley is just the type of tight end the Jets want. While they like Baker, with his 4.8 speed, he can be used effectively in the short-mid range passing game, but can't get down field. Jolley ran a 4.59 forty when he came out of BYU and has the ability to stretch a defense. The only top tight end prospect with better speed than Jolley in the 2002 draft was Miami's Jeremy Shockey, now with the New York Giants. He ran a 4.55.
"Jolley has excellent speed for the position," wrote the late Joel Buchsbaum in 2002.
Buchsbaum was very high on Jolley as a receiver entering the 2002 draft.
"He's a natural receiver," wrote Buchsbaum. "He's fluid and catches the ball very well. He can adjust to poorly thrown passes. He will reach for and catch passes outside his frame. He's a really good pass catching tight end."
The Raider observer thinks Jolley's down season in 2004 was connected to the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Rich Gannon. Jolley had much better chemistry with Gannon than his replacement Kerry Collins.
"Gannon worked with him on this as a rookie and Jolley really became a big threat downfield, in the 13- 20-yard range," said the Raider observer. "In my opinion, part of [his struggles in 2004] had to do with not having Gannon. In fact, the more I think about it, you can draw a parallel between Jolley having a great year with Gannon and being a rising star then going to trade bait after Gannon has missed most of the last two years."
Draft expert Mel Kiper compared Jolley to one of the better receiving tight ends of the modern era.
"He is a Jay Novacek-type pass receiver," said Kiper before the 2002 draft.
If that turns out to be the case, the Jets would obviously be ecstatic, and this trade would look like a winner.
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