NFL Trade and Free Agents 2011: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Every Team
After last week's talks between the NFL owners and the NFLPA*, many are optimistic that the two sides will come to an agreement within the next two to three weeks.
If that's the case, then as far as games go, we won't miss out on any, even the preseason, which I know all of you are excited about.
However, one thing that has been interrupted by the lockout so far has been free agency, as well as player trades.
Even if a deal were done today, there would be a rush on players since training camps would be opening up in less than a month.
With the shortened signing period (as well as trades) before the start of camp, teams will rush to decisions and possibly make bad ones.
Here are some best- and worst-case scenarios for each team.
During the lockout, there hasn't been a single trade rumor linked to the Buffalo Bills, so there isn't really a best-case scenario for them there.
However, there is a worst-case scenario, and that would be trading away high picks to get a quarterback (which they have been rumored to be looking for).
Of the quarterbacks who are rumored to be on the block, none of them are that much better than Ryan Fitzpatrick to be worth the Bills trading away any high draft picks.
Fitzpatrick had his hiccups last season, but if he gets better pass protection and better run support, he can be just as good as Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb.
The best- and worst-case free agent scenario for the Bills involves linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Bills need to re-sign him, and since they don't figure to be big players in free agency, he's their best-case scenario, and losing him would cripple an already bad run defense.
It's no secret that the Dolphins need a quarterback.
Chad Pennington is getting up there in age, and even when he was young, he never had a big arm. Also, it would appear that the Chad Henne era is coming to a close.
In free agency, the best option available for the Dolphins would be Marc Bulger. He's not the same quarterback he once was in St. Louis, but he'll come cheap and will make the Dolphins more competitive than they currently are.
The worst move they could make in free agency is signing Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck is showing his age (in fact, he looks older) and probably isn't a better option over what the Dolphins have now.
As far as trades go, we're sticking with quarterbacks.
Reportedly, the Dolphins are interested in Panthers quarterback Matt Moore. He's young and cheap and might fit the Dolphins well. Of all the quarterbacks on the block, he might be what's best for the Dolphins.
On the flip side, the Dolphins should absolutely stay away from Kevin Kolb. The Eagles' asking price is way too high for a quarterback who has only started seven NFL games and has only played in a total of 19 games in four seasons.
New York Jets
The key to the New York Jets' success the past two season has been their defense, especially their cornerbacks.
Re-signing Antonio Cromartie should be a top priority for the Jets, and re-signing him would be their best-case scenario.
Their worst-case scenario would be to sign Randy Moss. They've got a young, confident quarterback, and the last thing he needs is an ultra diva wideout to deal with. Besides, there are younger and better-suited wideouts in free agency.
On the trade front, the Jets aren't linked to anyone currently, but the worst thing they could do would be to trade away any of their 2012 picks. They've got a good young core and need to build off that.
New England Patriots
After letting Randy Moss go last season, the New England Patriots showed that their depth at wide receiver wasn't too hot.
One thing they could do this offseason is grab a big, tall receiver to help Tom Brady in the red zone.
Right now, I can't think of a better receiver for them than Plaxico Burress. Bill Belichick seems to have a way with diva players and can get them to buy into his system for a few seasons, and that's all he'll need to get the Patriots back on track in the AFC East.
Their worst-case scenario in free agency would be losing offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Brady, though talented, has shown he's not as effective a quarterback when he's on his back. Losing Mankins to free agency could really hurt the Pats.
The Ravens are a pretty stacked team. Had they not had their second-half collapse last year in Pittsburgh, they could have very well been Super Bowl champions.
Their best-case free agency move is actually the supplemental draft, and that would be to sign Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor is a gifted athlete that they could line up under center in the Wildcat or line up at the wide receiver position. He'll give coach John Harbaugh a ton of options that could really confuse division rival Pittsburgh.
Their worst-case free agent move would be if they had to re-sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He proved in Seattle and with Baltimore that he's at best a No. 2 receiver (Robin to Chad Ochocinco's Batman in Cincinnati) rather than being the guy to depend on.
With no real top-flight receiver, bringing back T.J. would be a mistake.
The Ravens have been rumored to be interested in trading for Carolina's Steve Smith. A best-case scenario for them would be trading a fourth- or fifth-round pick for Smith. Worst-case is trading anything higher for the aging WR.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a mess this offseason.
Their star quarterback wants out, their star receiver is doing everything he can to injure himself and, to top it all off, their fanbase has to endure this lockout.
The Bengals' best-case free agency acquisition could possibly be Matt Hasselbeck. I know what I said about him a few slides back with Miami, but this is different.
With Cincinnati, he'd be tutoring Andy Dalton while holding down the fort for the Bengals. Since nothing from last season shows any signs of the team being good, Hasselbeck's play probably wouldn't have too many negative effects on the Bengals, and his wisdom could do wonders for the rookie quarterback.
Their worst-case scenario would be to re-sign Terrell Owens. His agent may say he's not done, but he's done, and there is no way T.O. would humble himself to take the league minimum (which is more than he's worth), so there is just no value in bringing him back.
As far as trades go, the Bengals' best-case scenario would be to trade away Chad Ochocinco. His actions during the lockout just show his complete disinterest in either football or the Bengals. Either way, trading him would be addition by subtraction.
Their worst-case scenario would be if they can't convince Carson Palmer to stay and are forced to either let him retire or trade him away. Franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees, and Cincinnati isn't exactly the place that will attract any quarterbacks to come play there.
The Browns need secondary help, and their best-case scenario is to land a decent cover corner or safety in free agency. Since he's ready to bail on the Redskins, Carlos Rogers might fit in well for the Browns and could come pretty cheap since there are a few corners above Rogers that are gaining a lot of interest.
Worst-case scenario for the Browns is for them not to land a decent free agent. The fans need something to get excited for, and doing very little in free agency won't help the fanbase look forward to 2011.
The Steelers really don't have to do much this offseason in order to stay a top dog in the AFC.
However, they might want to take a flier on a former Steeler. Plaxico Burress might be a great addition to the team.
On the flip side, the Steelers would be wise to stay away from former Giant running back Tiki Barber.
The Houston Texans badly need some defensive help. Their best-case scenario would be to land the coveted Nnamdi Asomugha; however, reports are that he's not interested in playing for Houston.
Their worst-case scenario would be if they didn't get any defensive help.
The Indianapolis Colts have a simple offseason: Re-sign Peyton Manning and Robert Mathis.
Manning is a no-brainer and will be signed. Best-case scenario here is that they don't have to break the bank to get a deal done.
Their worst-case scenario in the offseason is not re-signing Mathis. There are holes in the Colts defense, and losing Mathis just creates another one.
Best-case scenario for the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency is re-signing Kirk Morrison, while the absolute worst thing that can happen to them probably will, and that's losing wideout Mike Sims-Walker.
Best-case scenario for the Titans this offseason is to keep Kerry Collins on board in order to help mold Jake Locker into the franchise quarterback of the future for the Titans.
The worst thing that could happen to the Titans is Chris Johnson holding out.
With the lockout, there is probably already going to be a shortened training camp schedule, so a holdout by Johnson could hurt his football readiness by Week 1.
On the trade front, the best-case scenario for the Titans is getting Albert Haynesworth back from the Redskins and getting him cheap.
Worst-case scenario on the trading front is not being able to trade Vince Young and having to release him.
The Broncos' biggest hole might be defensive tackle, so their best-case scenario would be to sign a defensive tackle when free agency opens up. Worst-case scenario is not signing any DTs.
On the trade front, their best scenario is to trade for defensive line help if they can't sign any in free agency.
The absolute worst thing they can do (and they're doing it) is trade away Kyle Orton. Tim Tebow did well last season, but he isn't ready to be the full-time starter. Keeping Orton around for at least another season would be wise.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are looking to land a top-tier wide receiver when free agency opens. Stealing away Vincent Jackson from San Diego would be the best outcome for them.
On the reverse side, the Chiefs can ill afford to let five-time Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters slip away this offseason.
For the Oakland Raiders, free agency is quite simple for them. Best case, they re-sign Nnamdi Asomugha; worst-case scenario is that he gets away.
San Diego Chargers
Best-case scenario for the Chargers would be to sign wide receiver Steve Smith as a slot receiver. However, their worst-case scenario is signing Smith to the slot but losing Vincent Jackson on the outside.
Best-case free agent move for the Boys is cutting Roy Williams. Worst move they could make is not getting younger on the defensive side of the ball.
Best trade move would be if they can unload Williams off on someone for at least some sort of pick since Jerry Jones traded away a first-rounder for him.
New York Giants
Best free agent move would be to bring back Plaxico Burress, and the worst would be to bring back Tiki Barber.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been hush-hush on the free agent market, but getting younger on defense should be a priority.
With trades, though, their best-case scenario is getting a first-round pick for Kevin Kolb, and worst-case scenario is no one taking the bait and not getting offers above a third-rounder for the QB.
Where do I start with the Redskins? They've got a lot of needs, and I have so little space.
Their best-case scenario is adding a shutdown corner like Nnamdi Asomugha to the roster.
Worst-case scenario is that they don't re-sign Santana Moss.
Best-case trade for the Redskins is shipping out Donovan McNabb, and worst case is that he is still on the roster when training camp opens.
The Lions made great strides last season and are no longer considered the doormat of the NFL.
To further solidify their defense, the Lions' best free agent pickup might be linebacker Keith Bulluck. However, things can stay as they've always been in Detroit if they can't re-sign Chris Houston.
Green Bay Packers
For the Super Bowl champs, it's hard to imagine worst-case scenarios, but they have some. In fact, the worst-case scenario for any defending champ is losing too many free agents due to teams willing to overpay men with rings.
However, the Pack can take steps towards back-to-back championships by adding some offensive line help.
The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be very active this offseason. First off, they need to re-sign a few players.
Best-case scenario for them is re-signing Pat Williams and keeping their defense intact.
Their worst-case scenario will likely happen, and that is wide receiver Sidney Rice leaving.
In the world of the trade, the best-case scenario is trading away pennies for Donovan McNabb.
Worst-case scenario is trading away a fortune for Kevin Kolb.
The Bears were very, very close to going to the Super Bowl. A weapon here or there could be the difference in 2011.
Best-case scenario for the Bears would be to steal Santana Moss away from the Redskins and give Jay Cutler another weapon.
Their worst-case scenario would be not re-signing Olin Kreutz.
As far as trading goes, the Bears' best-case trade would be to acquire Chad Ochocinco. Worst-case scenario would be getting the Ochocinco of last season.
For the Atlanta Falcons, their best-case scenario is to sign cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The worst-case scenario here is to pay too much for him.
Best-case scenario for the Carolina Panthers—excuse me, the basement-dwelling Carolina Panthers—is to re-sign Charles Johnson.
The worst thing they could possibly do is not get any offensive line help.
Best-case scenario is to trade away disgruntled wideout Steve Smith; worst-case scenario is to not be able to trade him and have to release him.
New Orleans Saints
Best-case scenario for the Saints this offseason is to get some offensive line help to keep Drew Brees upright.
Speaking of Drew Brees, one of the worst things that could happen for the Saints this offseason is not getting Brees an extension and carrying contract negotiations into the season.
With trades, there is no worst-case scenario. They are rumored to be shopping Reggie Bush. If they get what they want, they win; if they don't get any good offers, they can keep him as another weapon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were one of the NFL's surprise teams last season. Josh Freeman seemed to come out of nowhere and established himself as a viable franchise quarterback.
Best-case scenario for the Bucs would be to grab him a weapon like Vincent Jackson.
Worst-case scenario is that they can't re-sign any of their 11 unrestricted free agents.
The Cards need a quarterback—the best thing they could do in free agency is try to grab one on the cheap.
Their worst case would be not being able to sign one and having to trade away a fortune to get one.
Best-case trade would be to get Kyle Orton. He's proven and won't be as expensive as the Cards' worst-case scenario, and that would be Kevin Kolb.
Kolb isn't that proven, and his price is too high.
St. Louis Rams
There isn't much talk regarding the Rams and their free agent prospects.
Best-case scenario is that they nab a top-flight wideout like Vincent Jackson.
Worst-case scenario they can't get any offensive weapons.
Trade-wise, the best case is getting the relatively cheap Steve Slaton from the Texans. Worst-case scenario is that they overpay for Darren Sproles.
San Francisco 49ers
The best-case scenario for new coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers would be to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith.
The worst-case scenario for Niners fans is that the team re-signs Alex Smith.
The fans are ready to move on from the Smith era, but it seems like Niners brass is not.
Best-case scenario for the Seahawks would be to pick up a free agent quarterback like Marc Bulger.
Worst-case scenario would be for them to go after Matt Leinart.
Worst-case trade scenario for the Seahawks would be to go after Kevin Kolb. The asking price is too high.
For the Seahawks, the best-case trade they could go for would actually be Donovan McNabb.