8 Dream Offseason Additions for These 8 NFL Teams
Some media types will lie to you. They'll tell you that the mood at NFL training camps is upbeat because every team has a chance.
That's about as ridiculous as betting on the Chicago Cubs every year because eventually it "has to be their year."
By the time the veterans report, we know the makeup of the teams. There are always a few surprises during the season, but there are also at least 10-15 teams you can delete from contention.
The same isn't true when the league year kicks off with free agency. Every team legitimately has a chance to add some talent with splashy moves. It's what we love about the offseason. Anything is possible.
So in that spirit, I put together a wish list, like what a first-time home buyer would do, with luxuries that seem like dreams to the experienced owners.
However, for the sake of sanity, I limited the prospective teams to those that could feasibly find some cap room. Even my wildest dreams don't involve Jerry Jones. Ever.
Minnesota Vikings: Defensive End Michael Johnson
Sometimes the stars align and everything falls into just the right place at just the right time. Defensive end Michael Johnson to the Minnesota Vikings would be one such occurrence.
First, the man who put Johnson in the position to succeed throughout his young career is now in charge of the Vikings. Head coach Mike Zimmer will give Johnson some comfort, and Johnson will give Zimmer proven talent at an important position.
Second, defensive end also happens to be a position of need for Minnesota. Former key cog Jared Allen is likely gone, leaving a void that Johnson could fill nicely.
Lastly, the Vikings have cap space ($21.7 million) and play in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler. Johnson will get the cash he wants while also putting his skills on display against top-notch competition.
There hasn't been a better paring in Minnesota than Gordon Bombay and District 5's hockey team.
New York Jets: Tight End Jimmy Graham
Remember that the title clearly includes the word "dream." I'm sure Jimmy Graham would fit that description for Geno Smith and the New York Jets.
The lack of perimeter and backfield talent outside of Santonio Holmes remains a large obstacle to Smith's development. Plenty of fans will call for Eric Decker to help out, but he won't be the game-changer they need. Decker is more of a complementary player than the type who will physically dominate as a No. 1.
(Chill, trolls, he's still fantastic.)
The better fit here is Graham. He can handle any receiving duty the Jets would throw at him, whether it's high-pointing the ball over defensive backs or stretching the defense vertically.
Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Tackle Eugene Monroe
Nobody said they all had to be new acquisitions. While there are plenty of teams that would like to hold onto their studs, few can match the Baltimore Ravens' desperation for good offensive linemen.
Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is more than that. Despite racking up at least 300 fewer snaps than his linemates, Monroe posted a grade twice as high as any other Raven on offense. In fact, only linebacker Elvis Dumervil posted a better seasonal grade on the entire team.
The Ravens have plenty of the needed pieces to be successful. However, they can't take the next step without rebuilding the line. Letting Monroe walk would be akin to taking two steps back.
Atlanta Falcons: Defensive End Michael Bennett
The Atlanta Falcons fell apart in 2013. Injuries and a lack of depth at certain positions shot the team in the foot before it had a chance to cross the starting line.
Defensive end Michael Bennett would do more than add depth along a thin front seven, though. He could provide the type of impact that drives the Falcons back to relevancy.
The best part? You don't have to take my word for it. Just look at what he's done in Seattle. Bennett's nine sacks, 17 quarterback hits and 39 hurries paced Seattle and would go a long way in Atlanta.
His presence would also give the young secondary more time to develop by shortening the time they have to cover receivers. With Bennett crashing down the line, cornerbacks Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant would get more chances to create turnovers, which would ultimately take the pressure off an offense looking to get back on track.
Oakland Raiders: Defensive End Greg Hardy
Many people have Greg Hardy pegged for the Falcons. It's hard to blame them. He is just as likely, if not more so, to have that Michael Bennett-type effect.
And that's exactly why Hardy to the Oakland Raiders makes more sense.
Hardy has the numbers of a cornerstone defensive end and is just entering his prime at 25. Bennett is a few years his senior.
The Raiders are still looking for franchise guys on both sides of the ball. The draft will likely yield their quarterbacking hope, but Hardy is their best option for the defense.
Also, with $58 million in cap space, the Raiders have the right words in their vocabulary to catch Hardy's ear.
Chicago Bears: Safety Jairus Byrd
The Chicago Bears switched their focus in the past two years to the offense. While the Jay Cutler-led unit can certainly put up points, it will never be enough with the defense in its current state.
In short, the defense needs a savior. It needs safety Jairus Byrd.
Byrd is a dynamic player who will give the ailing secondary instant credibility. Instead of giving up leads, the Bears will get the stops and turnovers necessary to close out games.
With Chicago's relatively modest cap space of about $4 million, it's probably a pipe dream, but with a couple of unseen maneuvers, anything is possible.
Miami Dolphins: Offensive Tackle Branden Albert
Once the bullying scandal hit, the Miami Dolphins found themselves without their entire left side of the offensive line. The offense couldn't handle the carnage. It mustered just seven points in its final two games when a win in either would have clinched a playoff berth.
There will be other priorities, but few will be higher than protecting third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He's flashed promise, accounting for 39 touchdowns in two years, including 24 scoring passes last season. But he's also put the ball on the turf 11 times over that same span.
Offensive tackle Branden Albert could slide right into the starting lineup and help Tannehill out immensely. Albert finished just behind Eugene Monroe in the pass-blocking rankings for tackles, falling by a final score of 14.5-14.4. In other words, Albert is legit.
The Dolphins have a nice cap cushion, sitting about $14 million under the cap. There's no reason these two can't talk about a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Indianapolis Colts: Outsider Linebacker Brian Orakpo
I tried to stay away. Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has done such an amazing job turning around the team that I didn't want to bring up the Erik Walden contract of 2013.
But I have no choice. This team gave up 44 points per game in the playoffs. That's not good enough.
The defense desperately needs someone to bookend the rejuvenated Robert Mathis. He can't operate too much longer at such a high level so this needs to be an urgent concern for Grigson.
And he can easily fulfill that requirement by bringing in outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. His explosiveness is evident by his 11 sacks and 29 quarterback hurries, and he could create another nightmare (I couldn't help myself) to keep offensive coordinators awake during the week.