So the bosses gave me the chance to tap into my inner-GM today.
Scour through all the NFL trade rumors out there and it's incredible what you'll find. Right now, some of the hottest names out there include quarterback Kevin Kolb, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback Champ Bailey and running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
(Quick memo to Broncos fans: You've lost your mind if you want to get rid of Kyle Orton and have Tim Tebow become the starter. I've read that out there, but more on that later...)
My mission here is simply trying to figure out which would be the best moves to make for every team. I'll tell you upfront I'm one who says you build through the draft, make smart trades, acquire more draft picks (New England does this better than anyone) and don't overspend unless necessary. So in some cases, I may say it's better for a team to draft.
Time to roll up the sleeves. Feel free to chime in and play GM too. Let's take a look at each team, and the smartest moves to make:
You won't see the Falcons dish out the big bucks to improve their defense, but if I'm general manager Thomas Dimitroff, I want to see a lot more from defensive tackle Peria Jerry and outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Both haven't been healthy, but they need to show whether or not they were solid draft picks.
Outside of improving their defense, the Falcons need a big playmaker, and I've got just the idea: Why not take a risk with Plaxico Burress? He'll be getting out of the pen soon, and it's realistic to approach Drew Rosenhaus with a low-cost offer, laced with incentives.
If the Eagles could do it with Michael Vick, Atlanta could do this too. Worth a shot if you ask me.
Kevin Kolb wants to go to Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald wants him, too.
"I mean, if he's not the best, he's one of the best receivers in the NFL, superstar," Kolb told Philadelphia sports-radio station WIP. "For a guy like that to say something about me, it means a lot. And it's awfully flattering, and I hope that if something happens, their name comes up."
There's no reason to mortgage the future and trade away tons of draft picks, but if Philadelphia makes a reasonable offer for the backup quarterback, Arizona's got to pull the trigger. They need to be smart and remember, though, that Kolb doesn't have much experience.
Fullback Le'Ron McClain is set to be a free agent, but the Baltimore Sun reports that he wants to stay.
McClain (pictured) is a two-time Pro Bowler and could get lots of interest from teams. Besides his blocking ability, McClain showed he can put up decent numbers, rushing for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008.
I'd gauge the interest that's out there, and if it's possible to trade McClain for a third and fourth round pick, I'd do it (reasonable since fullbacks are so rarely used anymore).
One other point of emphasis will be at cornerback. Chris Carr and Josh Wilson both have expiring contracts. Lardarius Webb and Domonique Foxworth should become factors, and there's also the possibility of drafting a corner.
I'm all for re-signing either Carr or Wilson, but there's no need to break the bank. Neither is an elite corner, and there comes a time when the torch needs to be passed and youngsters need a shot.
The team has cut ties with veteran defensive end Marcus Stroud, leaving the team with a hole to fill.
The most logical move would be to give Alex Carrington, Stroud's backup, a shot at the starter's role. This also would still allow the team to go after Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers with the third pick in the NFL Draft. He definitely would be an upgrade over Spencer Johnson, who registered just 55 tackles and two sacks.
This is just the start. Buffalo could also be shopping for a left tackle, wide receiver and a rush linebacker.
The Charlotte Observer reports that first-year head coach Ron Rivera is looking into personnel decisions about the roster and that he had a good conversation with wide receiver Steve Smith.
Smith has two years left on his contract, according to the paper, which also noted that he wanted out of Charlotte last year.
For those who want to wipe their hands of him now, my question is what young stud do you have waiting in the wings? The smartest move is to obviously keep him, draft Nick Fairley with the first pick, get a receiver in the second or third round, then hope you got a shot at Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles or Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon in next year's draft.
By then, you can wish Smith well.
The Panthers aren't going to be turning this around overnight. It's going to take serious work.
Can we all just agree that Jay Cutler definitely needs more protection on the offensive line? I think that's a no-brainer, and I'm betting the Bears will address this via the draft. So that leaves one other issue to address, namely the receiving corps.
I have nothing against Devin Hester, Earl Bennett or Johnny Knox, but this group needs a game-changer. If it's me, I make a run at Sidney Rice in Minnesota. The Vikings haven't decided whether they're going to place the franchise tag on him.
When healthy, you know what Rice can do. And why not nab him from a division rival?
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Carson Palmer's five-bedroom house has been put on the market, and that he's even threatened to retire if he's traded.
His contract runs through 2014, and Bengals president Mike Brown has said the quarterback won't be traded. That's absurd.
Two ideas out there caught my attention: One was a straight up swap with Washington for Donovan McNabb. Another was a trade with Miami for a second round pick in 2012. I'd go for the Miami one, get a cheap stop-gap via free agency, then get ready to draft a franchise quarterback next year.
Besides Andrew Luck, you'll also have Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Kellen Moore at Boise State and USC's Matt Barkley to pick from.
Got to agree with the thinking of the Pro Football Weekly guys, which report that there are rumors the Browns will go after a complement for Peyton Hillis in the backfield. They need someone with speed to blend with Hillis' power. Let me suggest DeAngelo Williams as a possibility.
According to CBS Sports, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron would also like to snag a talented defensive end as well.
Poor Cowboys. Where do you start? Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: Enough of the Dez Bryant foolishness. He's not going anywhere, and don't act so shocked that he's a knucklehead. That was the rap on him before he was drafted.
Next, I'd say the secondary is priority No. 1, followed by the lines. I say if Prince Amukamara from Nebraska is still available by the ninth pick, the Cowboys have to draft him. Then, I'd go up and bulk up the defensive line. Love what I'm hearing about the possibility of Shaun Rogers reuniting with his former coordinator Rob Ryan. If Jerry Jones is smart, it could be low-risk, cost effective deal.
"He doesn't need to be in front, doesn't want to be in front," Ryan said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "There are some guys that like to be in front, if you don't know they'll tell you about it. There are guys like that and coaches like that, but some people like to sit back. He (Rogers) does that. He likes his teammates to get all the glory."
Let's do this in reverse order.
First up: Champ Bailey's put his house on the market, according to the Denver Post. Whatever. This is simple, because if they're smart, Denver simply takes Patrick Peterson with the second pick in the draft and starts him in Bailey's spot from Day 1.
Now, onto quarterback.
From Pro Football Weekly: "...a PFW insider said it would be very tough to bring the veteran back. While QB Tim Tebow may not give the team the best chance to win, he does have the backing of the fans in Denver. Elway has talked about reconnecting with the fans and could lose some credibility by sticking with (Kyle) Orton. A daily team observer said he gets the feeling that fans would rather win three or four games with Tebow than six or seven with Orton."
It's even absurd we're talking about this. Orton is a proven commodity. Tebow needs to continue to be groomed and see lots of action. Let him get more experience, then when the time's right let him take over. But now is not it.
If the Lions do this the right way, they could improve dramatically in the offseason.
I agree with Brad Briggs from the National Football Post, who points out that the Lions need to address the cornerback position, then improve at linebacker and offensive line. I've said before that they should go after Colorado's Jimmy Smith in the draft, but I'm liking the idea of his teammate Nate Solder.
The ideal bet would be to land Von Miller from Texas A&M, but something tells me he may not be around by then.
Of course, if they decide to address other areas in the draft, they could also take a shot at the Jets' Antonio Cromartie, who could also be available.
Not a whole lot to fix with the champs. The bulk of this team is intact, and you'll also be getting players like Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley back from injury. But what if Charles Woodson decides to retire now that he's won a Super Bowl?
I think the solution is easy: Go after Nnamdi Asomugha. The former Raiders cornerback is on the market and Green Bay has both the cap room and the scheme that could suit him. Don't be shocked, either, if the Eagles make a run for him as well.
With Wade Phillips now on as the Texans defensive coordinator, don't be surprised to see the unit improve. Phillips is a bad head coach, but he's a perfect fit for his current role.
Houston needs to improve its pass defense and also get another pass rusher. Unless he's robbed a bank and landed on the FBI's most wanted list, Antonio Cromartie should be someone the Texans take a look at. I'd also take a shot at Champ Bailey (you've got nothing to lose by asking), and see about prying away one of Baltimore's corners who have an expiring contract.
The Texans aren't that far off from being a playoff contender, and with the right additions on defense, I can see them finally getting over the hump.
Don't forget about how the season ended and Reggie Wayne complaining about having one pass thrown his way. You really think that drama's over with?
If I'm the Colts, I watch what's going on in New York with the Jets, where Braylon Edwards could be a free agent, then with both Steve Smiths in Carolina and with the Giants. There's no reason to let one player handcuff you.
I would also go ahead and look for some depth at safety behind Bob Sanders, who suddenly can't play a down it seems without getting injured. I think it's time to say bye to Bob maybe.
Are you like me and totally confused why Jacksonville remains so ordinary?
The Jags could help themselves on defense, where they had just 26 sacks last season. At the top of my shopping list would be a pass rusher, then safeties and cornerbacks.
Perhaps Washington defensive Andre Carter could be a welcome addition. I'd also take a shot at Raiders safety Michael Huff, or even Dallas' Gerald Sensabaugh, who's not any worse than what they've got now.
I think the Chiefs will hit this out of the park if they play it smart, because they need another talented receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe and then need some youth on the offensive line.
Obviously like Atlanta, I think it would be a worthwhile risk to take a look at Plaxico, but I'd lean on the draft to find your long-term solution at receiver. I also think if Carolina doesn't decide to franchise center Ryan Kalil that the Chiefs should swoop on him, since current center Casey Wiegmann is 37.
If I've got the chance to get Carson Palmer just for a second rounder, I don't hesitate. I also think he's got plenty left in the tank and could probably succeed with the right team.
Watch and see too if the Dolphins either hang on to Chad Henne, or shop Tyler Thigpen, and what they could possibly get for either of those two.
Pro Football Weekly interviewed head coach Leslie Frazier, who talked about the draft and how "getting a quarterback makes a tremendous difference."
"(I would) like to find a guy of high character who has leadership abilities, a strong leader in that regard,"
Frazier told the website. "A guy who is very competitive, who has a strong desire to win. Of course, he has to have the talent to be accurate with the football. The leadership and the character, along with the competitive spirit—I mean those are the key characteristics that you look for.
"Hopefully you'll find a guy who can throw the football and do the things in the pocket with pocket presence and so on, but if he's not a guy with high character, if he's not a leader, if he's not a competitive guy, even though he may have talent, that's not good enough to lead your team to a championship."
Leslie's a smart man. I still say if you can, and it's possible, go after Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. Way more of a solid pick than Jake Locker.
There are lots of defensive ends available in the draft, and the Patriots will have two first round picks. What do you bet they go use one of them for that position to find someone to fit opposite Ty Warren?
Besides that, the offensive line is getting older and will need to be replenished with younger players before too long.
Don't be surprised either if the Patriots try to nab a legit player to fill the need at running back.
Looks like free safety Darren Sharper will remain with the team for another year, which makes good financial sense for the Saints. But their main concern should be addressing the defensive line, which was atrocious and got exposed by the Seahawks.
Marcus Stroud and Shaun Rogers are worth consideration, and Marcus Spears could come cheap, but I'd also rebuild through the draft.
How would you like to be in the shoes of general manager Jerry Reese, who has to deal with having 21 players who are set to become free agents?
Some of them you keep (Ahmad Bradshaw), and others (Steve Smith and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka) could remain if they accept smaller contracts coming off injuries. If they decide not to, there's always the draft, where you could replenish your team with young talented players.
Looks like Antonio Cromartie will be gone, and that the team is focused on keeping wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.
I don't mind that, but Rex Ryan better be aiming at landing Champ Bailey or drafting a stud to put opposite Darrelle Revis. Otherwise, I don't see how you would improve your team.
On the surface it seems insane: Go get Chad Johnson.
But keep in mind, he had some of his most successful years in his career when Hue Jackson was his position coach in Cincinnati. He also remains a big fan of Jackson's, and isn't so fond of Marvin Lewis.
You watch. It'll happen.
There's no excuse for the Eagles to go another year and allow 49 sacks, and they should also concentrate on improving the right side of the offensive line.
I would take a shot at Baltimore's Marshal Yanda, who can play both right tackle and guard positions, as well as Dallas' Doug Free at left tackle.
Pittsburgh's got a tremendous defense, but several of its players are getting older. Casey Hampton is heading into his 11th season, his backup Chris Hoke is 35, Brett Keisel is entering his 10th year and Aaron Smith (pictured) is going into his 13th.
Time to bring in some youngsters.
Here's a stat for you: Last year, cornerback Marcus Trufant gave up 58 catches and had one interception, while fellow corner Kelly Jennings had just one interception as well.
Want to guess what needs to improve for the Seahawks?
The Rams are on their way, but I think it would be wise to give them an additional weapon in the backfield with Steven Jackson. What would happen, for instance, if the Saints decided to finally part ways with Reggie Bush, or Darren Sproles was available?
Running back is one of the options you'll hear out there, as well as outside linebacker.
Pay attention to what the team does with Darren Sproles. That would leave the team depending on Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews.
One other area that must be addressed is special teams, since they allowed four punt blocks, a blocked field goal and four touchdown returns. Whether it's in the draft, or free agency, they've got to make some big time changes here as well.
I'm a believer in what one of my colleagues threw out: If it's possible, you should trade Frank Gore, especially if it means you get back plenty of draft picks in return. San Francisco is going to be dreadful for the next two years as Jim Harbaugh rebuilds this team, and the only players I would make untouchable are Michael Crabtree, Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis.
CBS Sports reports the team plans to build through the draft and that it could make moves in free agency, especially at defensive end. This is a change of sorts, but it does fall in line with what most draft experts were predicting that Bucs would go after a book end for Gerald McCoy.
Like many, I had them going with Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, but we'll see if they get an experienced player in at that spot.
The team has also decided to let linebacker Barrett Ruud and guard David Joseph test free agency. Neither were franchised, and there's no guarantee either will be given offers.
The Packers backup quarterback saw limited action last year, but did well enough that he could draw interest from teams needing a starter. Tennessee may be the front-runner and Dan Pompei with the National Football Post said it would take just a second round pick in exchange.
I'd do it in a second if I'm the Titans. Flynn is a lot smarter than Vince Young, and showed just how much potential he has when he almost led the Packers to a win over the Patriots while filling in for Aaron Rodgers last year.
Wide receiver Santana Moss has been the Redskins' top receiver for six straight years but is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 4.
His previous contract, according to the Washington Post, was renegotiated in May 2009. He had a signing bonus of over $6.2 million, and was paid under $1 million last year.
If it can be structured right, you keep him, but it also makes no sense to give an aging player a fat contract either.