What is going on with McCareins?

To say Justin McCareins' Jets future is up in the air, might be an understatement.

The veteran wide receiver had just 23 catches last year. Considering he's slated to make $2.9 million this season, and counts $3.9 against the cap, you wouldn't think he's worth that kind of money entering the 2007 season.

Plus, how many #3 receivers in the NFL make in the neighborhood of $3 million? Not many, if any. So what are the Jets going to do with him? Well, it was rumored that they attempted to trade him earlier this off-season, but no deal reached fruition.

It's possible that they could explore that option again this summer. If a team loses a key receiver during training camp, the Jets could be in a great position to get some decent value in return for McCareins.

Perhaps Jets coach Eric Mangini was singing the praises of McCareins in the OTA's to pump up his trade value.

"I think he made three really good plays that I can think of off hand," said Mangini. "He was running an in cut and (Andre) Dyson had a chance to pick it off and (McCareins) had the presence to get his hand in, get the ball out and prevent the interception. There was another play where a route was covered, the pocket broke down, and Chad (Pennington) rolled out and Justin (McCareins) did a real nice job of getting open. Later on, he did the same thing, but added the compliment of understanding where he was in relationship to the back of the endzone - going up and getting the ball and coming down in bounds. He had three plays that jumped off of the screen."

The way Mangini was talking about McCareins, you would think he was talking about Jerry Rice. That is just good business.

But it's also possible that McCareins could remain with the Jets, if they suffer some wide receiver injuries in training camp.

However, it they stay healthy, he could be the odd man out in a number's game, especially with his cap figure.

Barring injury, the Jets starting receiver will be Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Entering his second year, you have to figure that Brad Smith will be ready to challenge for the #3 spot. Cotchery said he was often the team's best receiver in practice last year. If Tim Dwight's foot heals sufficiently, he would be hard to cut. He's the type of versatile, smart, tough player Eric Mangini loves.

And don't forget second year wideout Wallace Wright, who was on the regular roster at the end of last year. The coaches love his work on special teams, and this could secure him a roster spot.

Seventh round pick Chansi Stuckey also has a good chance of making the team. Don't judge him by the round he was selected. The only reason he slipped was because of a foot injury. You will see this summer that he is a lot better than a seventh round player.

And the wildcard at the wide receiver spot is free agent pickup Frisman Jackson. He spent the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns, but was out of football last year. With the Browns in 2005, he had 24 catches. He has excellent size (6-3, 217) and athletic ability. He came into the league as a quarterback, so he was still developing as a wide receiver when the Browns released him. He could still be a player on the rise.

Jackson could be a good replacement for McCareins as the Jets big wide receiver, and he's probably a little more fluid as an athlete. McCareins is a solid player, but is somewhat stiff athletically. So if the Jets stay healthy this summer, expect McCareins to be dealt in August. But if they get ravaged by injuries, he will likely stay.

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