Thanks to the CBA issues, there is still much to be done before an NFL season can take place. First off, the free agency period and of course, all the impending trades.
Every team has a hole that needs to be filled, even the mightiest of them all. There are a lot of players who want to see new homes and a lot of players who don’t but probably will anyway. Most can be described as an impact player, a game-changer or just someone to provide support for the actual superstar of the team. Here are my thoughts on who can go where and the reasoning behind it. Obviously, not all picks will come close to happening, but here’s hoping.
At the end, send some feedback and tell me where you think some players will go (and I would appreciate it if you’re not condescending about it; remember, this is all speculation until the NFL’s brass sign on the dotted line.)
Arizona Cardinals-Kevin Kolb (QB) from PHI
The Cards couldn’t solve their QB issue at the draft, and I don’t see them signing a free agent. Kevin Kolb is the best solution here and has the potential to boost Larry Fitzgerald’s stats out of the water. With Kolb, the Cardinals could move from cellar dwellers to potential playoff contenders.
Atlanta Falcons-Shayne Graham (K) from NE
Shayne Graham did a fine job taking over the kicking duties in New England when Gostkowski got injured, and with Matt Bryant becoming a possible UFA, the Falcons will need a kicker. Graham is perfect for the job, and New England can once again collect on a great trade.
Baltimore Ravens-Steve Smith (WR) from CAR
It seems Steve Smith has fallen off the charts in 2010, his worst year statistically since 2002, but don’t blame him; blame the Carolina Panthers and their failed attempts of getting a legit No. 1 QB. It’s just like Arizona and Larry Fitzgerald, except I see Fitzgerald sticking around for the long run; not to mention his fall has been small as Kurt Warner has only been retired for a season.
It may be time for a new home. Smith is a No. 1 WR, and in Baltimore, they are already losing T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth at the position, so it is time to beef up the wide out position, and hopefully, Anquan Boldin will continue to have less pressure on him that so him and Smith can torch secondaries with their speed and bring the Ravens even more success than they have known in the last few seasons.
Buffalo Bills-Donovan McNabb (QB) from WAS
The Donovan McNabb/Mike Shanahan saga in Washington is a tale that can be solved with a single trade. A move to Buffalo could help the Bills get out of the bottom five and perhaps compete with the Dolphins for third in the AFC East. Considering the price tag that McNabb would bring could push back the Bills a bit, but we all know that there is still some work to be done before they see the success they saw in the 1990’s where they won four consecutive AFC Championships.
Carolina Panthers-Antwaan Randle El (WR) from PIT
In recent times, Randle El has been used less and less. He started with the Steelers, then a couple years in Washington and now he is back in Pittsburgh. Another move can’t hurt him, and it will help a team slowly on the rise and having a veteran wide receiver like him should help Cam Newton’s confidence, but on that, we will see and speculate on how Newton does in his rookie year.
Chicago Bears-Reggie Wayne (WR) from IND
Think about this for a second: Wayne has one year left of a six-year deal he signed with the Colts, Pierre Garcon is playing excellent football and we all know when Peyton Manning is throwing the ball, things are just that much easier.
That being said, Jay Cutler needs an elite receiver, and Wayne fits the bill. If things don’t work out, he’s always welcome back in Indy for 2012. With all the focus in the draft on trying to protect Manning, the Colts could look for some defensive help in return, and the Bears aren’t short on that front.
Cincinnati Bengals-Darren Sproles (RB) from SD
I know, I know, the Bengals’ last focus should be at the running back position and they should be dead set on making Carson Palmer happy and getting a line backer in the process.
Here is the issue: The Bengals run offense was ranked 27th in the league last season, and getting the opportunity to better that is huge for them.
Why would the Chargers spend so much money on Sproles if they use Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews more? Here is their way out, and Sproles won’t need to be a third-string running back anymore.
Cleveland Browns-Santonio Holmes (WR) from NYJ
This was just a given. The man leading in reception yards for this team is a tight end at 763 yards, passing yards ranked 29th in the NFL last season and points scored ranked 31st. With the work done to have Colt McCoy and Jake Delhomme as the tandem here, a No. 1 receiver is mandatory, and what better person to take the job than a former Super Bowl MVP.
Holmes had a great year with the Jets in 2010. He had six touchdowns and 746 yards on the year, and if sent to Cleveland, can possibly do more as a major threat in the back field.
Dallas Cowboys-Jimmy Clausen (QB) from CAR
Clausen’s purpose in Carolina may have come and gone after the Panthers selected Cam Newton first overall in the 2011 draft; however, Clausen may prove to be good trade bait, and we know Cowboys fans are looking for Roy Williams to get out of town. This may be the best chance to do so. The Panthers get a weapon, and Clausen gets to learn his craft under the bright lights in Texas and serve as Romo’s backup, and if necessary, step in if Romo gets injured again, because Kitna could get traded and Stephen McGee may not be the answer.
Denver Broncos-Brandon Jacobs (RB) from NYG
Jacobs has gone on record to say he wants out of New York. Great news for Broncos fans, as this opens the door for a big bodied rusher to come in and form a great tandem with the smaller Knowshon Moreno. Sure, the Broncos are loaded up with running backs, but they’re all too small to handle the big defenses of the NFL and is another reason they had to choose second overall in this past draft. Send a smaller back the other way, and this deal is a good one in my eyes.
Detroit Lions-Adam Vinateri (K) from IND
Arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history, Vinateri has some competition. Brett Swenson wasn’t even drafted; yet the Colts saw something in him and signed him to a deal. Sign Vinateri and then trade him to the Lions. There is not telling how well Jason Hansen’s leg will hold up, and Dave Rayner is an unrestricted agent.
Trading for Vinateri gives the Lions a great leg that can get the long field goals if necessary and can take some pressure off of Matt Stafford in terms of field position.
I know a lot of you will question this choice for the realistic possibility of it actually happening, but you never know who can get traded where. Even New England fans didn’t expect to see the man who won them two Super Bowls on last second field goals to be playing for one of their fiercest rivals.
Green Bay Packers-Marion Barber (RB) from DAL
The emergence of ( ) allows Barber to be put up on the market. His numbers dropped from 932 yards to 374 yards in 2010, and while most would look towards the abysmal record the Cowboys had, others will see the logical reason: Barber’s time in Dallas is done, Felix Jones has emerged as the new No. 1 and Tashard Choice can provide back up running back duty. The Packers can use the skill of Barber to run to another Super Bowl title and will probably not have to touch any key components of their 2010 team to get Barber over.
Houston Texans-Michael Jenkins (WR) from ATL
Jenkins is not only a game changing receiver for his ability with the ball, but also for his ability without it. Last season, he missed four to six weeks due to an injury suffered during a scrimmage with the team. He came back and put up 505 yards and two touchdowns for a highly successful Falcons team.
The Falcons moved up the list in the 2011 draft and grabbed Julio Jones. Jenkins may prove to be expendable now, and Houston could use a guy like him (if he stays healthy) to draw some players away from Andre Johnson and run the slot area a little more.
This might be the move that finally gets the Texans into the playoffs and the monkey that is the Colts off their back…for a time.
Indianapolis Colts-Darius Butler (CB) from NE
Who would ever think the Colts and Patriots would make a trade with one another. Well, simple fact is, the Colts could use someone in the back field, and with the position being a little crowded in New England, one of those dominos will have to fall.
I predict Darius Butler will head to Indy because of the emergence of Devin McCourty, the play of Leigh Bodden and that Ras-I Dowling will be a starter as early as this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars-Amobi Okoye (DT) from HOU
J.J. Watt is ready to start in the NFL in my opinion, and that means there is an odd man out here, and it is Okoye.
Okoye can pressure the QB really well and recorded 3.0 sacks this past season. He can make an impact and provide some depth at a position that is truly in need, especially when considering most of the time, the QB’s they will encounter are at the top of their game.
The trade would happen within the division, but it isn’t one of those blockbuster deals, so I say it is realistic, but to be honest, not likely to happen.
Kansas City Chiefs-Johnathan Joseph (CB) from CIN
When it comes to making an impact and having to face the first place teams, the Chiefs can use some help with defending the deep ball. Johnathan Joseph has that ability, and put him together with Brandon Flowers, you are going to give some teams a headache. I say some teams, because it is going to be a battle to repeat as AFC West champions but this little acquisition could go a long way.
The Bengals can go with Leon Hall and Adam Jones to start with and then see what happens. Remember, people, this is merely speculation.
Miami Dolphins-Kyle Orton (QB) from DEN
Even though John Elway will continue to have doubts on Tim Tebow, he is the future of the Broncos, and Elway will have to learn to be a bit more patient with the young QB in my opinion and if not, there is Brady Quinn to consider as well.
With that being said, Orton can be expendable and can bring some good coin back into the Mile High City if Miami is willing to pay the price.
Orton may be questionable with his movement in the pocket, but I like his vision with the wide receivers. He had some great chemistry with now-Dolphin Brandon Marshall in 2009 with the Broncos, so that can be something worth watching, as I don’t think Chad Henne is the answer to a stacked AFC East.
Minnesota Vikings-Jon Kitna (QB) from DAL
Christian Ponder will need some work and tutelage in order to be the starting QB, so in the mean time, why not grab a veteran like Jon Kitna? He played some solid football for Dallas last season when Tony Romo broke his clavicle, throwing over 2,000 yards and 16 TD’s before going down himself on Christmas Day against the Arizona Cardinals.
Kitna can help the young Ponder and at the same time, fill the void of Brett Favre.
On that point, we know the Vikings will take a chance on crafty veterans before their young talent comes through the ranks. We also know that Kitna can mentor young talent as well as have success on the field. He did the same thing to a young Carson Palmer in 2003 with Cincinnati.
Kitna will be 39 at the beginning of the season and is nearing the end of his career, so not only would he make an impact on the field with veteran instincts, but also make an impact off the field and possibly turn Ponder into the franchise QB faster than they expected.
New England Patriots-Reggie Bush (RB) from NO
The Patriots have been known in recent times to have a pass first offense. Not since the days of Corey Dillon has Tom Brady had a Pro Bowl level running back to hand the ball off to. BenJarvus GreenEllis was the first Patriot to rush over 1,000 yards in a season with New England since Dillon, and he barely made it in the last game of the season. Danny Woodhead is great, but Bush has the size that can create an awesome tandem with Woodhead at the running back position
The addition of Reggie Bush makes sense and can provide that extra weapon that could take the Patriots to Super Bowl contenders to the perennial Super Bowl favourites they were going into the post-season a few short months ago.
It would be ironic too, as the player that the Saints drafted (Mark Ingram) to make Bush expendable was the same one New England traded away on draft day, so we know the Pats and Saints have no problem making the big deals with each other, and we know Bill Belichick is as good a trader as a stock broker in New York.
New Orleans Saints-Alge Crumpler (TE) from NE
With the departure of Jeremy Shockey, the door is wide open for a veteran TE, and how fitting that I picked a Saints player to go to New England as well. A Crumpler (plus a couple draft picks) for Reggie Bush. Talk about your run of the mill steal, a four-time Pro Bowler and a multiple All-Pro selection.
New York Jets-Steve Smith (WR) from NYG
Another case of trying to out-duel Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan, and the Jets can try and grab someone from their own home in the New York Giants organization. They will likely get rid of either Holmes or Edwards, and a guy like Steve Smith can fit the No. 3 slot well enough and has the potential of moving up the depth chart with consistent play.
He had 48 catches for 529 yards last season, and it will definitely be cheaper than at least one of the two they had under contract last season.
New York Giants-Matt Light (OT) from NE
The “Light” has gone off in New England. With the drafting of Nate Solder, the second round draft choice in 2001 will be looking elsewhere to play in 2011. Set to be a UFA, Light can walk from the only pro team he has ever known, but I don’t think Belichick will let him go that easily and could possibly trade the rights to him to the Giants before he hits the free agent market, giving the Giants ample opportunity to get him locked up. The Giants have a good O-line, but Light can make them that much better.
A three-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl Champion with size and strength can use a fresh start after a not so great ending to the Patriots season.
Oakland Raiders-Chad Ochocinco (WR) from CIN
Can you imagine Ochocinco in California? His character and personality should be a hit there, and with the team so close to Hollywood, Ochocinco can make an impact on a Raiders team that was set back a number of years after the draft bust of JaMarcus Russell.
Jason Campbell is behind the helm now, and with the Raiders are starting to look better and better but still need a deep threat after getting the most production from Zach Miller, and he only had 60 catches for 685 yards and five TD’s.
Philadelphia Eagles- Leon Washington (RB) from SEA
The rule change that pushed forward the kickoff spot by five yards will limit the amount of kick return TD’s, and with that, the ticket for Washington out of Seattle is there. He is primarily a running back, and the Seahawks grabbed Marshawn Lynch last season so the trade would make sense.
Washington will definitely work more on his running game this offseason and could prove to be a great acquisition for Andy Reid and Co. Michael Vick is probably the best running QB in the league, but with that extra threat on the ground and not to mention a great alternate in terms of punt returns and the odd kick return if DeSean Jackson goes down with injury, Washington could pay major dividends.
Pittsburgh Steelers-BenJarvus GreenEllis (RB) from NE
This ties into the pick I made for New England to grab a certain high profile running back to become a tandem with Danny Woodhead. Sure, GreenEllis was a 1,000 yard rusher last season, but by going to Pittsburgh and relieving some of the running off of Rashad Mendenhall, there is something solid happening there.
Split the duty and possibly be just as dangerous as they were when Mendenhall was running alone.
San Diego Chargers-Lance Moore (WR) from NO
Lance Moore is a restricted free agent, and being in that position gives all the power of where you are going into the hands of other people. Moore has had up and down seasons and set a career high in 2008 with 79 catches, 928 yards and 10 touchdowns.
When it comes down to it, the more weapons Philip Rivers has, the more deadly with the ball he becomes.
As much as the Chargers want to resign their UFA’s, it seems the winds of change are blowing over San Diego, and some will walk for better pay, but Moore will provide room for Patrick Crayton, Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd and could even develop into a bigger role if Floyd opts for free agency.
San Francisco 49ers-Eddie Royal (WR) from DEN
The Niners leading receiver in yards was tight end Vernon Davis. A guy like Royal to fill out the depth chart could be huge in bringing back the glory days of the NFL. Royal was third in yards for a receiver, behind Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney.
The trade would make sense because the Ravens can either load up on draft choices or grab from the bulk of defensive players in the 49ers organization. It also means Royal will have to step up if he wants to be there, and if he worked enough, he will make a big impact on the team, but until then, we can only speculate and assume from his previous work.
Seattle Seahawks-Matt Flynn (QB) from GB
This is one of the risky choices. A young QB in Matt Flynn, in his only start, came monumentally close to defeating the Patriots, who were riding hot at the time. If he puts that much effort into every game, he will be a starter soon enough.
In Seattle, we have Matt Hasselbeck, who is getting up there in age and will retire soon enough, and Flynn is only 25 (26 on June 20) so there are plenty of years to transform Flynn into the new starter for the Seahawks.
St. Louis Rams-Bernard Berrian (WR) from MIN
The uprising of the Rams continues, and it seems that they need a receiver to help get them over the hump and into the playoffs.
Berrian hasn’t seen the numbers in Minnesota that he did when he was in Chicago and could be a great addition to a young team. Though Berrian will be 31 on December 27, he still has many years left and could mesh well with the young Sam Bradford.
This trade could be realistic, and with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice (barring he opts to become a free agent) as your top two receivers in Viking country, the Vikes could get some great building blocks in return.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Leon Washington (RB) from SEA
The rule change that will limit the amount of kick return TD’s will prove to be the ticket for Washington out of Seattle. He is primarily a running back, and the Seahawks grabbed Marshawn Lynch last season, so the trade would make sense.
Washington will definitely work more on his running game this offseason and could prove to be a great running back for Tampa, as they are very close to being back in championship talk.
Tennessee Titans-Vincent Jackson (WR) from SD
Flashback to last season, and we see the Titans experiment with Randy Moss to no avail. Time sure has changed in Tennessee. Vince Young is on his way out, Moss is a free agent and Jake Locker is the new QB. Adding a stellar wide out at this point is great for Locker’s development, and Jackson is the guy that will make it happen.
He isn’t happy in San Diego, and it may stem from that contract dispute he had with the team. Even though the Chargers put a franchise tag on him, he is meant for greener pastures, and Tennessee may be the place to start again.
Washington Redskins-Vince Young (QB) from TEN
One project exits, another one enters. Donovan McNabb will probably be shipped somewhere (see Buffalo Bills) or released, because I don’t see Mike Shanahan leaving anytime soon, and even if McNabb were to stay, he would be too expensive to be a bench warmer in the U.S. capital.
Vince Young is on the outs in Tennessee, and if he isn’t released, will probably be traded and get a fresh start. Sure, Washington hasn’t been ideal for QB’s getting fresh starts (sorry, Donovan), but if Washington can get a little “Young”er, they could be on their way to competing with the likes of Philadelphia, Dallas and the Giants, teams with established starting QB’s.