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  1. I've been saying all along we should stick to the 4-3 and focus on personnel for that, but just for fun here's a mock offseason for running a "hybrid" defense We make some cuts and extend Ryan to make cap space, and on defense we bring in some talented players coming off down seasons on 1 year deals. We wouldn't realistically be able to keep many beyond the 1st year but would be able to get good value on production Extension Matt Ryan (27) 2013 salary $10M Ryan is not set to hit FA til next offseason but we extend the franchise QB now and free up some cap space for this offseason Resigned William Moore (27) 4 year deal Moore is probably our best player on defense, a complete playmaker who impacts games. Durability has been his biggest problem, keeping his deal reasonable Robert McClain (24) RFA 1 year deal McClain is a former 7th round pick of the Panthers who came in off the street and produced as the nickelback. He's resigned to a 1 year deal and is the favorite to be the nickel next season Michael Palmer (25) RFA 1 year deal Resigned to compete for the TE spot if Tony retires, depth if he comes back Antone Smith (27) RFA 1 year deal Resigned to compete for depth Will Svitek (31) 1 year deal Resigned cheap for depth Not Resigned -Sam Baker -Mike Cox -Brent Grimes -Chris Hope -Todd McClure -Luke McCown -Chris Owens -Mike Peterson -Chris Owens -Lawrence Sidbury -Vance Walker Cuts -Tyson Clabo (31) 2013 salary $4.5M -Dunta Robinson (30) 2013 salary $8M -Michael Turner (31) 2013 salary $6.9M Free Agency LT Jake Long (27) 6'7 319 lbs, Miami Dolphins 4 year deal Baker is not a franchise left tackle. Jake Long is, and he's going to be available. Long is massive and a mauler, a prototypical LT. There are some positions that are more valuable than others in football, LT is one of them. I have no problem coughing up the dough when it comes to securing a franchise tackle, I just can't stomach spending it on someone like Baker. We sign Long and start to give Ryan something he's never had-a talented O line. DE/OLB Antwan Barnes (28) 6'1 251 lbs, San Diego Chargers 1 year deal Barnes is a guy few people probably know about. He came into the league with the Ravens and always had prototypical edge rusher talent but never put it all together until 2011 when he played all 16 games and had 11 sacks with 2 forced fumbles, clearly his best year. It was his only year he played all 16, last season he played 11 games as a backup and had only 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. He'll be available for as cheap as you can find someone with his talent at his age. Barnes gives us a much needed edge rusher at DE, but he can also stand up and play OLB if we go with 3-4 schemes in the hybrid defense. DT Terrance Knighton (26) 6'3 330 lbs, Jacksonville Jaguars 1 year deal Knighton is the DT I've had us signing in all my mocks. I wanted to do one with Glenn Dorsey but I'd only sign him to run a 4-3. Since we're running a hybrid, we go with Knighton, who gives us what we're missing at NT in both the 4-3 and 3-4. Knighton is the huge space eater we don't have. He can also push the pocket and get sacks and tackles for loss. He was demoted last season and Jacksonvilles D was really bad, so he'll be available for cheap on a 1 year prove it deal. If he proves he can be a difference maker as a run stopper and to a lesser extent pass rusher we'll probably resign him next offseason. OLB/DE Manny Lawson (28) 6'5 240 lbs, Cincinnati Bengals 1 year deal Lawson is an athletic player who seems like he's been stuck inbetween being a 3-4 OLB and a 4-3 OLB. He doesn't seem to be dominant in anyone aspect but appears talented enough to do a lot of things well and contribute. In 09 he had a career high 6.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 6 run stuffs. For us he can come in at OLB in the base 4-3 so we can move Spoon into MLB. He can also line up as a 3-4 OLB. In the nickel he can be the 2nd LB with Spoon as an athletic guy who can cover a lot of ground as well as blitz, or even contribute as a DE edge rusher. Lawson had only 39 tackles last season so should be available for fairly cheap and open to coming here for a bigger role. CB/PR Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo Bills 1 year deal Cutting Robinson frees up cap space but also creates a need. McKelvin is a former 1st rounder who was demoted to nickelback behind 10th overall pick Stephan Gilmore and 2nd rounder Aaron Williams. He's said he's looking to be a starter, an opportunity he will get with us for cheap coming off a relatively unproductive season at CB. McKelvin did lead the league in punt return average and had 2 TDs, as well as ranking 4th in the league in kickoff return average last season. He showed as a rookie he can handle full time kick off return duties but with us we'd let him stick to being a starter at CB and the full time punt returner, where he's a dangerous weapon, and let someone else handle the wear and tear of kick off returner. McKelvin has elite athletecism as you can see on his returns, but as been about as productive in terms of stats as Robinson the last few years (about 10 passes defensed, 2 INT a season). I think he could learn a lot being around Samuel. If he can refine his technique a bit that athletecism can really translate into production. If he jumps a route and picks it off, no one is going to catch him. Draft 1st round - OG. Here we take the best OL available, ideally a massive talented road grader we can plug in at guard to be a difference maker from day one 2nd round - DE/OLB. We pickup an athletic edge rusher to add to our restocked arsenal and develop 3rd round - RB/KR. We snag the fastest RB we can find to pair with Rodgers and develop as a receiving weapon. He could contribute as a dangerous KR immediately as well 4th round - TE. We take a big bodied TE to compete with Palmer and Coffman and develop. Ideally a big TE with solid blocking ability who can make tough catches over the middle and use his size in the redzone, someone who can be a quality blocker without having to catch a lot of passes if he has to play early. 4th round (Lofton comp pick) - CB/KR. We snag an athletic CB to compete with McClain for the nickel and be depth and to develop to the future. Ideally one with return ability who can contribute as a kick returner 5th round - WR/KR. We pickup a speedy WR for depth, possibly one who can be a return weapon as well 6th round - OLB. We draft an athletic LB for depth and special teams 7th round - SS/FS. We draft a safety to compete with Shillinger for the #4 safety spot 7th round (Sanders comp pick) WR/KR. We take a shot on some more WR depth 7th round (Weems comp pick) - RB/KR. We take a flier on another speed RB 7th round (Hayden comp pick) - CB/KR. We take a shot at some more CB depth Depth Chart QB Ryan, Davis RB Rodgers, ROOKIE (3rd round), Snelling, Smith/ROOKIE (7th) FB Ewing, (Snelling) TE Palmer, Coffman, ROOKIE (4th round) WR Jones, White, Douglas, ROOKIE (5th round), ROOKIE (7th round) LT Jake Long, (Holmes), Svitek LG Blalock C Konz, Hawley RG ROOKIE (1st round) RT Holmes, Johnson It's back to basics on offense. Ryan's had lots of weapons, but an average at best OL his whole career. Out is Baker, in is Long, Konz and Holmes step in as 2nd and 3rd round picks in their 2nd seasons, and a rookie 1st rounder is thrown into the mix. Now we've got a big talented young OL to develop. Rodgers showed he could be a productive inside runner and gets all these new blockers, including the FB Ewing coming back from injury. We add a talented speedster in the 3rd to develop as a speed and receiving back. We add a big bodied TE to develop, and some WR depth. RE Antwan Barnes, ROOKIE (2nd round) UT Babineaux, Peters, Jerry NT Terrance Knighton, Robertson LE Abraham, Biermann, Massaquoi/Matthews ROLB Manny Lawson, ROOKIE (6th round) MLB Spoon, Dent LOLB Nicholas, James RCB Leodis McKelvin, McClain, Franks/ROOKIE (7th) LCB Samuel, ROOKIE (4th round) FS Decoud, Shillinger/ROOKIE (7th) SS Moore, Mitchell 3-4 RE Babineaux NT Terrance Knighton, Robertson LE Peters, Jerry ROLB Antwan Barnes, ROOKIE (2nd round), (Nicholas) RILB Spoon LILB Nicholas, (Lawson), Dent LOLB Abraham, Manny Lawson, Biermann We added our big, athletic NT that can command a double team in the run and pass game in any scheme. We added an upfield FA DE in Barnes, another edge rusher in the 2nd round, and an OLB in Lawson who can play in space or be an edge rusher as well. We replaced Robinson with McKelvin. Finally we have enough talent and depth upfront. We can stop the run, Abe is no longer the only pass rusher, and we've added some athletecism in coverage in Lawson and McKelvin I think Babineaux, Peters and Jerry are short for 3-4 DEs but could do alright in a penetrating up field 1 gap scheme like Wade Phillips, especially with Knighton there to eat up double teams and hold the point in the middle. Depth is thin on the DL in our 3-4 but If Robertson can be a starter quality NT it would let us use Knighton as a strongside end. The 3-4 look does give us a variety of LBs to throw at offenses with these offseason moves, and would open a wide range of nickel pass rush options from the basic 4 man DL 2 LBs to exotic packages like 1 DT 5 LBs K Bryant P Bosher KR ROOKIE RB (3rd round), ROOKIE CB (4th round), ROOKIE WR (5th round), Leodis McKelvin PR Leodis McKelvin, ROOKIE CB (4th round) We had no return game at all last year. McKelvin was the best punt return man in the league last season, and is dangerous as a returner as there is in the league. We let him handle the punt return game full time. We pickup a variety of speedy RBs, CBs, and WRs to handle the kickoff return duties and spare McKelvin those hits as we need him at CB. We pickup a number of athletic players for depth which should boost special teams blocking and tackling.
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