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QB- We've got the first thing every team in this league needs, a franchise QB. Ryan (27) had his best season, just like he has every year in his career. How do you know if you have a franchise QB? Do you expect him to go down the field and win the game on the last drive? Without question I do and you can bet he is highly respected around the league. Ryan has even found ways to get it done with seconds left on the clock instead of minutes. Ryan also demonstrated great toughness in the last game of our season, not missing a snap. I fully expect Ryan to be even better and put up even more absurd numbers. Watch some of his highlights from this year and see how he dropped balls into tiny inches wide windows. That's something you either have or you don't and Ryan definately has it. Consider that Gonzalez was open on that 4th and 4 pass interference not called play and that Ryan would have had time to find him if a LB wasn't coming in unblocked and think of how great he will be once we improve the OL. Backup McCown is a UFA and may be replaced by another vet for cheap or we may go with Davis as the 2nd QB and look to add a late pick or UDFA. We should be more focused on making sure Ryan gets protected better than his backup. RB- Turner built this into a respectable team from a bad one but his time may be up. He is 30 and has a large cap hit and may be cut to free up space. This is a passing team now and his style doesn't quite fit. If he can't catch on with another team he certainly deserves a chance to come back and get a ring with us, he deserves it. Rodgers (22) as of right now will get a chance to be the featured ball carrier in this pass first offense. The staff tried to force that some this last season and Rodgers responded with some good things behind some bad run blocking. He definately impressed with his run vs Sea. He could be even better next season especially with improved blocking and is very young. I like him as an inside runner but the reality is he lacks homerun speed. He can still be a very productive player but we need to add a speed back. He had 53 receptions but averaged 7.6yds with only 17 first downs and 1 TD Snelling (29) Barely got to touch the ball and was used more as a receiver than runner, but was less efficient than Rodgers. In the playoffs the times he did get to touch it he ran like it was the last time he'd get to touch the ball. He may be in line for more touches if Turner is cut but may be pushed down the depth chart again by further moves. He may see time at FB or as a 2nd RB if Gonzalez retires and we go with more 3 WR 2 RB sets. I see Turner most likely being cut, Rodgers getting a shot at a starter, but we need to address the lack of speed at RB. We could do it with an impact FA like Reggie Bush or a cheap one like Larod Stephens Howling but the best way is probably to use a early-mid round draft pick on a rookie with blazing speed. Ideally one that can contribute as a weapon in the return game too. The offense is lacking a RB with that homerun speed that is always a threat, can rip off those big runs when the defense is focusing on the receivers, and can get big gains as a checkdown receiver. Adding an explosive RB as a runner and receiver will add a new dimension to the offense and offset the potential loss of Gonzalez. FB- The 3rd pick of last years draft was 5th round pick Bradie Ewing. He got injured last year and will get a chance to secure the job. Mike Cox is a UFA. Snelling may see some snaps here. The front office obviously felt good enough about Ewing to take him when we didn't have many picks. His team bio says he had 30 touchdown blocks his senior year, maybe he gets healthy and provides a much needed spark to the run blocking and a bodyguard for Ryan. TE- The big wildcard here is Gonzalez. I have a feeling he'll be back. He'll probably take his time. The best thing the team can do is prepare as if he is retiring by improving the OL, adding a speed RB, and getting ready to draft a TE, and when he decides he wants to come back you can bet we'll find a way to make room. Even if he does decide to retire I don't want to waste cap room on any of the FA TEs. Palmer is a RFA and Coffman is a UFA. I think our best option is to take a TE in the midrounds where great value can be found like Gronk, Hernandez, Finley and others. While we could certainly use an athletic young mismatch TE, it may be easier and more helpful to find a big bodied TE like a Kyle Rudolph. A guy who can be a factor as run and pass blocker, and who gives us a tough big body with big hands over the middle that we don't have in Douglas. WR- Jones (23) beasted even harder in his 2nd season as expected and emerged as a dominant force while staying healthy for every game (13 reg season games played as a rookie). He makes the spectacular look routine and is as deadly a physical talent as you will find in the league. He and White basically split duty as #1 receivers. Next season he will take over as the clear #1 target and beastmode even more. He and Ryan are going to give defenses nightmares for a VERY long time. I loved the beginning of the 9er game when we just got the ball to Julio and let him take over the game, I have a very hard time understanding why we went away from him and to Douglas with the game on the line. Hopefully the coaches learned from that. White (31) turned in another workhorse season like he always does, and the continued emergence of Jones helped White post his highest avg per catch since 2008 and 3rd highest yardage total. He and Jones are the best WR duo in the game. Jones taking over as the workhorse next season with Roddy as the #2 will continue to create opportunities for White and prolong his career by saving him defensive attention. He will continue to produce at a high level for another 2-4 years Douglas (28) had an underwhelming season statistically as he always seems to, but we should consider that without even including the RBs he's behind Jones, White and Gonzalez. He did seem quite involved as a blocker in our screen game though. I wish that with the game on the line we forced the ball to our big 3 receivers instead of Douglas, or atleast got him involved earlier in the game if we were going to go to him in the crunch. If Gonzalez retires Douglas will certainly get a shot at more targets, especially if we're trying to bring along a rookie TE. I don;t want Douglas catching passes over the middle tho we should look to get it to him in space and on screens, and use his speed to attack defenses deep. Use a big bodied TE for those tough catches over the middle. WR is certainly one of if not our strongest unit, at the top anyways. We could use some depth and I wouldn't mind a speedy WR who can contribute as a returner in the mid-late rounds. We will run a lot of 3 WR set but have no 4 WR and may need that depth over the course of the season. OL- The OL seemed better in pass protection but not good run blocking and not great overall. Not quite a playoff caliber line. Baker (27) apparently played a bit better but I saw him leave the QB hanging out to dry plenty of times and has a history of back problems. Maybe he gets resigned for relatively cheap but if we're going to be spending big money I'd prefer to try to upgrade with Jake Long who should be available, and give Ryan a real franchise LT he can trust. Blalock (29) is one of the few parts of the OL you can feel confident about Konz (23) should replace McClure at C, giving us a much needed upgrade in size. That should help improve the run blocking and ability to anchor a pocket. Konz took his licks at guard as a rookie against the likes of Suh and hopefully shows a good leap in his 2nd year settling in at C. Clabo (31) has been our RT but I think with his size his best fit right now could be RG, where no one stood out and we need someone with Blalocks size like Clabo to actually move DTs and anchor the pocket. At 330 Clabo gives us that, and allows us to get more athletecism at the OT spot in this passing offense Holmes (23) was a 3rd round rookie while Konz was a 2nd. I don't think Holmes saw much action as a rookie and is a real wildcard here. He's got great size at 6'5 333. If the staff thinks he's a LT and is ready that would open the option of letting Baker walk and replacing him with Holmes, then focusing on getting a RT or RG. I think a much more realistic option though would be starting Holmes at RT, which would allow us to upgrade our size at RG and C with Clabo and Konz. It would also open the option of starting Holmes at 1 tackle spot and then grabbing an OT with our 1st rounder. Hawley (24) didn't do much to distinguish himself and has the look of a backup interior OL at this point. Primarily a C with his size Johnson (25) was a 3rd round pick in the draft that Hawley was a 4th. Johnson has better size at 6'6 but has not distinguished himself either and has been injured. Right now he looks like a backup G/RT Baker could be resigned, upgraded through FA or even replaced by Holmes or a rookie. Whether it's through FA or the 1st or 2nd round (no more mid rounders) I think we need to add 1 talented OL whether that's replacing Baker or to fill the void at RG/RT. I think Konz will start at C and be better than as a rookie, and hopefully Holmes can emerge as a starter. I'm not confident in Johnson or Hawley emerging as an impact player. I think the safest way to upgrade the OL is instead of paying injury prone Baker we spend on a franchise LT like Long, making everyone else better combined with the young draft picks stepping in Up next Defense and Special Teams
The rules are simple: 1) Cannot use core players or recent high draft picks the team would never trade: Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Sean Weatherspoon, Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson, William Moore, John Abraham, Peter Konz, Lamar Holmes. 2) Cannot trade the 1st or 2nd round picks in the 2013 draft. 3) No Clark Kent lol. I encourage you to post your own. I've mainly highlighted these needs in the trades I've been formulating: DT, RB, #4 WR, TE, left tackle, SLB, DE Here's one example of a new hypothetical trade with detailed analysis: The Falcons trade a 2013 5th round pick and a 2013 6th round pick for RB Reggie Bush, WR Clyde Gates, and a 2013 7th round pick. The NFL pushed the trade backline back from Week 6 to Week 8, and I think this will result in more trades that occur in the MLB and NBA near the trade deadline: teams that are effectively out of the hunt for playoffs will be much more open to dealing talented players, particularly those who are on expiring contracts. By Week 6 only the god awful team or 2 in the NFL new that they were out of it -- it isn't unfeasible to make the playoffs after starting 1-4 or 2-3. But if you're 2-5 or 1-6, or god forbid 0-7, you have a much better idea if you are not going to make the playoffs or if you are a lousy team that needs some rebuilding. One team that I think will find themselves in this dilemma is the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins may have an improved defense, but they have no WRs to put up points with and will likely be rolling with a rookie QB (although Garrard has been getting the most 1st team reps to date). If they start off that bad in a division with 3 teams with postseason aspirations, they may want to get as many draft picks as possible to continue the rebuild. There are a few interesting names on this roster, but the one that sticks out to me is Reggie Bush. Bush is on the last year of his deal and won't help bring fans to the stadium if they're that bad -- what's also important is that the NEW regime in Miami drafted Lamar Miller in the 3rd round and were astounded he was available since they had him rated as a late 1st round/early 2nd round RB in the draft. They also have Daniel Thomas from last year's second round of the draft, but the new regime doesn't seem to think he fits the scheme and aren't too high on him -- I'd consider going after him but he isn't explosive and is identical to Jason Snelling, just younger. Lamar Miller is going to have a big role as a rookie, whether as a slot WR, return man, or RB. If their season is in the gutter, they may want to get Miller more touches as the future of the RB position in Miami so he's ready to be the featured guy in Year 2. Gauging what Bush's value is is a little more formulaic than other trades I've posted since he was traded to the Dolphins from the Saints. The Dolphins gave the Saints safety Jon Amaya and swapped 6th round picks with the Saints, allowing the Saints to move up. That was a very marginal price, but Bush had a very nice year last year showing that he's finally capable of running inside and outside which would seemingly boost his trade value. Then you factor in that Bush is a year older and the Dolhpins would get a financial reprieve from moving Bush in a lost season and not having to pay the second half of the last year of his contract (the Falcons would) and the Dolphins' owner is typically cost-conscious. Let's say for arguments sake that a 5th round pick would definitely do it because that's clearing his trade value. A 6th round pick should also get it done if we negotiate well. If we want anything additional, we'd have to go with the 5th round pick -- and we may have to swap an additional pick depending on what we're going after. The new regime has soured on Clyde Gates, a popular name around here a year ago who ended up drafted by the old Dolphins regime. The new regime doesn't like him and he's plummeting down the depth chart. That was written before they brought in Ochocinco to get snaps ahead of Gates. He could end up getting cut, but then I think that a team with a higher waiver slot than us like the Colts would claim him since they need WRs. Gates is a speed demon and could be an interesting pick up for us. He could compete for the #4 WR job and he certainly has the talent to win it. We are pretty thin after our Top 3 WRs and I'm all for bringing in quality depth. By allowing the Dolphins to move up from their 7th round pick to our 6th round pick, we get Gates instead of them cutting him and sitting him on the bench for the entire year. Atlanta trades for Bush because it gets a running back who excels in the screen game which is a major part of our offense this year. We also lack a premier return man and Bush is one of the best in the game. We'll get 7 weeks to see how Quizz handles his role, and if he doesn't excel then we will probably scour the trade market or the free agent for a back who could do a great job. I expect Quizz to do well, but I'd expect that Bush would be better. A backfield with Turner, Bush, Quizz, and Snelling has many facets and is deep and talented. Bush would give us a great weapon on our turf and he also showed last year that he can run with power inside the tackles. What's best about this is that Bush is on the last year of his deal so it would be a half season try out. If we really like his fit in the offense we could extend him in the offseason, or if we don't/we like the other free agent options like Jonathan Stewart or Matt Forte better than we can take a run at them and bring them in to be the feature back. A win-win for both teams, as the Dolphins get another draft pick to rebuild after a lost season and the Falcons get a great scheme-fitting piece to Koetter's offensive puzzle as well as a great return man without any long-term commitment.