In the first edition of this article, I examined the pricey, dominant defense I would have signed if I had an unlimited budget with my expansion team, the Los Angeles Crusaders, in this uncapped year. It is assembled entirely of the best free agents, and the premise is all were signed immediately upon being available at whatever the cost.
In this edition, I name my offense...for a more realistic application of the free agent rankings, check out my articles on what the Green Bay Packers offseason moves should be at PackerChatters.com.
QB: Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, A.J. Feeley
I do not care what the compensation would be to Denver, Orton is the best quarterback on this list. He can manage a game for you with very little surrounding talent, and Campbell could push him for the starting job—we can't really know what he can do given what he has had to work with.
Feeley is a very solid back-up, and should the top two guys get hurt, I would feel this team could still win.
RB: Thomas Jones, Darren Sproles, Chester Taylor
Jones was last in the league in yards after contact, but is still a bona fide starting running back.
Sproles is small but a good change of pace, while Taylor is coming off an unimpressive year and has already hit the 1,000-carry and 30-year old milestones, but knows the third-down role well.
This would be arguably the best three-man rotation in the league.
FB: Tony Richardson, Justin Griffin
Richardson is one of the best fullbacks of the free agency era, and can lead the way for the team and the back following him into holes, even though he is well past his prime.
Griffin is a solid blocking fullback, but not especially impressive as a receiver or runner.
TE: Ben Watson, Randy McMichael, Brandon Manumaleuna
Watson is a genuine threat the opposition would have to game plan for, and McMichael is a solid target in the passing game.
Manumaleuna is little more than a blocking tight end, but he is a good one.
WR: Derrick Mason, Nate Burleson, Mushin Muhammed, Antonio Bryant, Torry Holt
Mason is a legitimate starting wide receiver, but a marginal top target.
Burleson, Muhammed, and Bryant are really more appropriate choices for a third receiver, but would at least give a team depth at the position.
While there is no doubt in my mind that Terrell Owens is better than all of them, between his drops and his destructive presence, no team without a top quarterback should sign him at his age.
Torry Holt has no such problems and would be a great fifth receiver.
OT: Mike Gandy, Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Barry Sims
Gandy is good enough to protect his quarterback’s backside, and Tauscher can do on the right side if he can hold up.
If not, Clifton is capable of filling in on either side, and would be good enough if not forced to make it through an entire season.
Sims is not worthy of a starting role, but is a quality backup.
OG: Bobby Williams, Stephen Neal, Artis Hicks
I make no pretenses about knowing the top two players well, but they are ranked among the top 40 free agents available this year by Pat Kirwan of ESPN.com. Both also played for decent lines: Williams with the successful running Bengals and Neal with a line that protected an immobile QB reasonably well.
Hicks looked as good as the overrated starters he replaced when I saw him play with Minnesota, making him a very solid backup.
C: Kevin Mawae, Casey Rabach
Mawae is aging, but has been among the league’s best centers for most of his career. Rabach has been solid, and was an absolute beast with the Wisconsin Badgers—he can start somewhere, but on this all free agent team would be the first interior lineman off the bench.
K: Jay Feeley
Neil Rackers is probably a better kicker, but Feeley has been in more big games and has had success there, plus can punt in the event of an injury.
P: Hunter Smith
Smith is a good punter who has a good average per punt, net average, and can pin teams deep. He also can handle kickoff for the lesser-legged Feeley, as well as other duties in a pinch.
Overall, the Crusader’s offense would be incredibly deep but lack many Pro Bowl players; no matter with the defense giving them short fields and low scores to top. This makes a game manager the ideal quarterback, especially since the Crusaders would run the ball well, using that to set up play-action.
However, the receivers’ strength would come from spread sets that utilize the unit’s depth, and that does not play to the strength of the rest of the offense since quarterback is the weakest position. Protection would be very good but a bit fragile on the outside.
Special teams would be a question for a team made up of players not used to those roles, but the athletic ability would be there for success and the kicking game would be solid. However, the defense could carry both special teams and a mediocre-at-best passing attack.
In fact, I would expect to go 19-0 and shut Mercury Morris up once and for all!