If I Were GM: Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens for many years have been a well run franchise that usually made the right moves. Constantly at the top of the AFC North and a couple of Superbowl victories made them a franchise others would like to model off of. I think that these times are over and have been for a while now in Baltimore. Since winning Superbowl XLVII the Ravens have won 8, 10, 5, 8, 9 games in the following seasons since with no divisional titles.

The blame first and foremost falls, for this downturn in the franchise, in Joe Flacco. Flacco in his prime was an average quarterback at best, and now he is on the downswing of his career. Giving him that huge contract after the Superbowl victory was a terrible mistake, but then also extending him and giving most of that contract as a signing bonus was even worse. They transitioned him to be of a more of a game manager between 2016 and 2017, basically by having him throw the ball less. Pass play percentage dropped from 65.99% in 2016 to 56.36% in 2017.  The problem is that he turns the ball over way too much to be a game manager. Every season of his career he has thrown at least double digit interceptions.

Its not just the turnovers, his yards per attempt has been decreasing over the past four years. (7.2 y/a in 2014 to 5.7 y/a in 2017). 5.7 y/a in 2017 ranked 39/40 quarterbacks who played at least a quarter of the teams total snaps. Flacco was also 15/46 on deep ball throws in 2017; those 46 attempts were only the 23rd most thrown in 2017 down from 66 in 2016; he was also 28th in quarterback rating on the deep ball.

I think this is also on the fact that the team is getting more conservative on offense; not taking as many shots down the field because of Flacco’s inabililty, the lack of talent on the outside, and the lack of time for flacco to throw the ball downfield. He ranks in the bottom half of the lead in average time to throw.

The Ravens woes stems from more than just Flacco and the offense. Injuries have been piling up for years now. They had the most players on IR in 2015 the second most in 2016 and the ninth most this past season, according to Spotrac.

Their drafts since winning the Superbowl have not been very good too, which is important for a team like the Ravens since they are an organization that is not very active in free agency and rely on building through the draft. I think there is an over generalization that Ozzie Newsome is a great drafter but lets look at Rounds 1-3 since the 2013 draft

Year Round Name Position
2017 1 Marlon Humphrey CB
2017 2 Tyus Bowser OLB
2017 3 Chris Wormley DE
2017 3 Tim Williams OLB
2016 1 Ronnie Stanley T
2016 2 Kamalei Correa DE
2016 3 Bronson Kaufusi DE
2015 1 Breshad Perriman WR
2015 2 Maxx Williams TE
2015 3 Carl Davis DT
2014 1 C.J. Mosley LB
2014 2 Timmy Jernigan DT
2014 3 Terrence Brooks DB
2014 3 Crockett Gillmore TE
2013 1 Matt Elam DB
2013 2 Arthur Brown LB
2013 3 Brandon Williams DT

Outside of C.J. Mosley, who has made 3 pro bowls, and Brandon Williams (Can’t include Jernigan since they traded him away), these drafts have not produced alot of talent. Marlon Humphrey had a good rookie year, and Ronnie Stanley is a good tackle, he gives up too many pressures but still can become an elite tackle. The rest is a lot of bust, and I took the first three rounds because this is obviously where the pressure to have successful picks is high. The other thing that stands out is that is a lot of defense; they have only drafted 4 offensive players in the first three rounds over the last 5 drafts, two of which are tight ends and 3/4 being busts. No wonder the offense is struggling when you are investing young players and the ones that do pan out i.e Ricky Wagner Kyle Juszczyk, they let go in free agency.

Cap Situation and Cap Capitulates:

11.8 Million in cap space now, uh, not alot but they will have a lot of cuts woohoo…

  1. Jeremy Maclin WR: He really disappointed this year, has an injury history, and is a 7.5 million cap hit. He’s not the deep threat he once was or is a major red zone threat. The team is going to need to completely remodel the wide receiver position. Cap Savings: 4 million
  2. Danny Woodhead RB: Not saying Danny Woodhead is bad, but the running backs are a strength of this team and he is the most expensive thus making him expendable since Buck Allen is a similar player. Cap Savings: 800,000
  3. Breshad Perriman WR: Huge Bust. Again need to remodel the position. Cap Savings: 1.6 million
  4. Lardarius Webb CB: Struggled this past season, deep position, like about 4th or 5th on the depth chart. Cap Savings: 1.75 million
  5. Za’Darius Smith Pass Rusher: Cutting him could allow Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams to get more snaps as they are younger and show more potential. Only 10 sacks in his 3 years combined. Cap Savings: 800,000
  6. Albert McClellan LB: Over 30 linebacker who missed all of last season to a torn acl. Cap Savings: 1.25 million
  7. Maxx Williams TE: Never lived up to his second round draft position. Only 15 catches last season. Cap Savings: 1 million

Cap After Cuts: 21.4 million… still not a lot

Team Needs:

  1. WR: Mike Wallace is a free agent. Periman and Maclin have been cut. Really need to revamp this position.
  2. TE: Ben Watson is a free agent and Max Williams has been cut/ Nick Boyle is a decent backup but nothing more than that.
  3. OG and C: Ryan Jensen is a free agent. Marshall Yanda can hopefully return from injury and play at the highest level, a future replacement should be looked at getting and an upgrade at the opposite guard is needed.
  4. LB: Their run defense got slightly worse in 2017 from 2016. ( 2016 opponent rushing yard/attempt 3.7; 2017 4.1). Plus they gave up the 5th most touch downs to TE in 2017.
  5. QB: Joe Flacco is not the QB of the future, and Ryan Mallet is a below average backup.
  6. CB Depth: Ladarius Webb got cut. Jimmy Smith might not be ready to start the season. Marlon Humphrey although not that serious did get arrested this off season so a mid to late round pick could be used on a CB

Free Agency:

Name Position Resign Y/N
Mike Wallace WR No
Benjamin Watson TE No
Ryan Jensen C No
Terrance West RB No
James Hurst RT No
Michael Campanaro WR No
Steven Johnson ILB No
Brandon Boykin CB No
Vince Mayle WR No
Crockett Gillmore T No
Brent Urban DE Yes
Chris Matthews WR No
Luke Bowanko C No
Alex Collins RB Yes
Stanley Jean-Baptiste CB Yes
Patrick Onwuasor ILB Yes
Matt Skura C No
Maurquice Shakir G No
Quincy Adeboyejo WR No

Not many free agents on the Ravens. They will lose two starting lineman, Jensen at C and Hurst at LG. Jensen they would like to resign but will be too expensive. Hurst is not a very good player especially at run blocking which is this lines weak point, and given the fact that running backs is the position of strength, they should upgrade him. Skura played in relief of Yanda this season and struggled.

Urban is a nice rotational player and can be brought back cheap. Collins is the starter for the future at running back and is a ERFA so he will be back. Baptiste provides depth and Onwuasor is a solid LB. Both are also ERFA.

Outside FA Signed:

  1. Marqise Lee WR: The Ravens struggled on third down in 2017 (34% conversions, 27th in NFL). Lee tied for ninth in the NFL in third down receptions resulting in a first down. He could be a nice piece to add to a new and improved WR group. WRs in the NFL are being overpaid and Lee will be no exception. He needs to reduce the number of drops though. Look for a back loaded 24 million dollar deal over 4 years, with a 8 million dollar signing bonus and about 10 million dollars guaranteed. If the base salaries are 1, 3, 4, 6 million each year respectively and a 1 million dollar roster bonus in years 3 and 4 it is essentially a 2 year 12 million dollar deal. 2018 Cap Hit: 3 million.
  2. Jordan Mathews WR: Really exploded onto the scene with the Eagles but after getting traded to the Bills he had a disastrous year. He’s still 25 so its not over yet for him. He is a prime candidate take a one year deal hopefully at around 4 million dollars.
  3. Trey Burton TE: He is my steal of free agency. I think he is extremely talented and could easily be an elite TE. The Eagles are not going to be able to resign him so lets have the Ravens pounce (do Ravens pounce?) on him. Again back load a deal 30 million over 5 years with a 500,000 incentive each year for 800 receiving yards and a 500,000 incentive each year for making the pro bowl. Since he has done neither they won’t be counted against the cap, but the incentives give it the potential to be 35 million. At 25 years old this is a good deal. 10 million dollar signing bonus and 20 million guaranteed base salaries 2, 2, 4, 5, 7 million. 2018 Cap Hit: 4 million.
  4. Jahri Evans G: At 35 he is still a good guard but not the same player as he was. Can compete for a starting job and be a stopgap. He could sign for a one year 2.5 million dollar deal. He is mulling retirement but I would try to sign him if he decides to play again.

Draft: 

As stated the team takes a lot of defensive players but with the needs on the offense that might change this year. My strategy is to stand pat and draft young offensive players to fill out the remodel.

Round Name Position
1 Roquan Smith LB
2 Marcell Ateman WR
3 Frank Ragnow C/G
4 Tre’quan Smith WR
5  Taron Johnson CB
6  Wyatt Teller G
6(Comp) Matthew Thomas LB
7 Ralph Webb RB

I can’t help myself; I reached into my inner Ozzie Newsome and drafted best player available and defense. I feel like Smith is a perfect fit for Baltimore. He can be a SAM and cover tight ends, can rush the passer and is effective in the run game. He might not be their where the Ravens pick as teams like the 49ers, Raiders, Dolphins and Redskins  could all draft him, but a GM can dream right. Someone always slips a little, Smith could if Trumaine Edwards keeps getting a lot of hype. Ateman is a big receiver who can be a redzone threat for the team and Tre’quan Smith is a riser who can be used as a deep threat. Ragnow would be a late 1 early 2nd round pick if he didn’t suffer an ankle injury. Good value in the third round. Can immediately start in 2017. Teller provides depth and could be groomed into a starter, Thomas has raw talent who should have stayed in school, but the Ravens are a well coached team that could develop him. Ralph Webb is a body that replaces Danny Woodhead.

This is a team now that I feel can compete even with Joe Flacco, they can open up the playbook because of the revamped. Roquan Smith is going to be a new anchor for that defense. C.J. Mosely probably will want to test free agency and may not be resigned, so we are planning ahead and reloading that defense which is the strength of the team. Offensive line is improved with young talent and veterans who can be used until the younger guys are ready. Quarterback can be addressed next draft by drafting a young guy in the first three rounds as Joe Flacco will be on the team for the next two years.

Up Next: If I Were GM Buffalo Bills

 

 

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If I Were GM: Atlanta Falcons Part 2

Draft:

The Falcons own all their draft picks except for their 5th rounder. They are projected to get a seventh round compensatory pick. Basically at this point in the off season they still need to replace Dontari Poe and find some competition at guard. Another weapon at tight end and receiver could be helpful. This team doesn’t have many holes; its a good problem to have. They are a good candidate to trade down and grab another mid round pick to fill in the roster.

Trade: 

Atlanta Receives Denver Receives
40th Overall Pick 26th Overall Pick
2018 4th Round Pick
2019 4th Round Pick

 

Draft Picks:

2nd Round Tim Settle NT Virginia Tech
2nd Round Dallas Goedert TE S. Dakota St
3rd Round James Washington WR Oklashoma St
4th Round Braden Smith G Auburn
4th Round Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
6th Round Michael Joseph CB Dubuque
7th Round Mark Walton RB Miami
7th Round Comp Khalid Hill FB Michigan

Settle is a big kid who can fill in Dontari Poe’s shoes. Let’s give Sarkisian some weapons, maybe we can brute force his deficiencies, and hope that some young talent can put more points on the board. Goedert is fast physical and can make any catch. Washington is a vertical threat that can replace the loss of Taylor Gabriel. Braden Smith can compete for a starting job. Dan Quinn likes his versatile players and Oren Burks is one. Can play as a coverage LB and even play at some safety in a Dime package. Quick and athletic.  Michael Joseph is a small school star who got a combine invite and could be rising up draft boards. Good size but the question is if he has the speed to play against tougher competition.  Mark Walton is a small running back who resembles Tarik Cohen. Average over 7 yards per carry last year before he got hurt. Khalid Hill will step up and be the starting FB. Can run and catch the ball at an above average rate for a fullback.

This is a team that is on the verge of a another deep playoff run; they need to overcome some coaching mistakes. It makes a front offices job easy when there are not many holes and you have a franchise QB. With these moves in both free agency and the draft they could easily compete to win the NFC South.

53 Man Roster:

QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub:

RB: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Shane Vereen, Mark Walton

FB: Khalid Hill

WR: Julio Jones, Mohanmad Sanu, James Washington, Justin Hardy, Devon Fuller, Marvin Hall

TE: Austin Hooper, Dallas Goedert, Eric Saubert

OL: Jake Mathews, Andy Levitre, Alex Mack, Braden Smith, Ryan Schraeder, Wes Schweitzer, Sean Harlow, Ty Sambrailo

DL: Vic Beasley, Takkarist McKinley, Brooks Reed, Derrick Shelby, Ahtyba Rubin, Courtney Upshaw, Tim Settle, Martin Ifedi, Grady Jarrett, Jack Crawford

LB: De’Vondre Campbell, Deion Jones, Duke Riley, J’terius Jones, Oren Burks

DB: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Brain Poole, Michael Joseph, Marcelis Branch, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Damontae Kazee,  Quincy Mauger

ST: Matt Bryant K,  Matt Bosher P, Josh Harris LS

There are two spots still open on the roster. I intentionally left two off because I really think that there are teams that can separate themselves by finding un-drafted rookies. Un-drafted rookies who make the 53 man are the kind of players I like to have on my team. They are the hard workers who really have a passion to succeed. I think its important for Superbowl bound teams to add a few of those type players every year. Two spots are open. One offensive lineman and a linebacker. Plus they are cheap, if a team can find a few diamonds in the rough it can really stretch the salary cap especially when you need to pay for your franchise QB.

Quick recap:

Sarkisian stinks, but we gave him some new weapons to hopefully improve the offense. We replaced Donati Poe with an equally large run stuffer. The integrity of the defense remains intact as role players were brought back from last years team and Ricardo Allen got tendered. I say it again for the millionith time; I like how this organization is run, they have built a very nice roster all that was needed to be done was reload while the window is still open.

Up Next: If I Were GM: Baltimore Ravens

 

If I Were GM: Atlanta Falcons Part 1

State of the Franchise:

Two years ago they blew a 28-3 lead in the Superbowl. Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco. In comes Steve Sarkisian, who lets just say is not as good of a coach as Shanahan. Lets look at 2016 Atlanta offense and compare it to this years offense.

2016 Falcons 2017 Falcons
Points Per Game 34.1 21.6
Red Zone Attempts Per Game 4.2 3.4
Red Zone TD Percentage  64.56% 49.18%
Yards Per Game 416.4 357.8
Yards Per Play 6.7 5.8
Third Down Conversion % 43.6% 43.11%
Rushing Yards Per Game 117.5 114.3
Rushing Play Percentage 42.27% 43.86%
Yards Per Rushing Attempt 4.5 4.2
Yards Per Passing Attempt 8.9 7.4

The offense overall regressed under Sarkisian. This is a playoff team that I believe can still make a deep run, but they to hope that the offense to rebound and not regress further. Most of the numbers from 2017 are not bad, most are in the top half of the league. The issue is that they really dropped in points per game (34.1 to 21.6). Yards per play and yards per attempt is slightly down, but the redzone TD percentage explains almost all of the variance in the difference in points per game.  The team really regressed in the red zone and will need to improve if they want to get back to the Superbowl. Lets compare red zone numbers between 2016 and 2017.

2016 Red Zone Targets

Name Completions Targets Comp % Target %
Freeman, Devonta 12 17 70.59 17.35
Sanu, Mohamed 10 15 66.67 15.31
Coleman, Tevin 8 12 66.67 12.24
Jones, Julio 5 11 45.45 11.22
Tamme, Jacob 7 10 70 10.2
Hardy, Justin 5 10 50 10.2
Gabriel, Taylor 6 6 100 6.12
Hooper, Austin 3 6 50 6.12
Robinson, Aldrick 2 3 66.67 3.06
Williams, Nick 2 2 100 2.04
Perkins, Josh 1 2 50 2.04
Ward, Terron 1 1 100 1.02
Tialavea, D.J. 1 1 100 1.02
DiMarco, Patrick 1 1 100 1.02
Toilolo, Levine 0 1 0 1.02

2017 Red Zone Targets

Name Completions Targets Comp % Target %
Jones, Julio 5 18 27.78 25
Sanu, Mohamed 7 11 63.64 15.28
Hooper, Austin 7 9 77.78 12.5
Freeman, Devonta 5 8 62.5 11.11
Hardy, Justin 4 8 50 11.11
Gabriel, Taylor 2 7 28.57 9.72
Coleman, Tevin 4 4 100 5.56
Toilolo, Levine 2 2 100 2.78
Hall, Marvin 0 2 0 2.78
Coleman, Derrick 0 1 0 1.39
Sambrailo, Ty 0 1 0 1.39
Roberts, Andre 0 1 0 1.39

2016 Red Zone Rushing Attempts

Name Rushes TDs Touch  %
Freeman, Devonta 33 7 48.53
Coleman, Tevin 23 6 33.82
Ward, Terron 5 0 7.35
Gabriel, Taylor 2 0 2.94

2017 Red Zone Rushing Attempts

Name Rushes TDs Touch %
Freeman, Devonta 53 9 64.63
Coleman, Tevin 22 6 26.83
Ward, Terron 5 0 6.1
Gabriel, Taylor 1 1 1.22
Ryan, Matt 1 0 1.22

Less targets for the running backs in the passing game in 2017. Less Tevin Coleman getting carries in the red zone. Julio Jones who even though is your best player, is not your best red zone target yet he saw a huge increase in targets. This is a direct reflection of the changes in personnel and play calling by new OC Steve Sarkisian. This is a team that still has playoff aspirations and I hope they don’t miss their goals because of a coach that is misusing his personnel. I’m not saying the window is closing, but its definitely not getting any bigger. Matt Ryan is in the last year of his deal, and will need to be paid accordingly, all good teams will get poached in free agency and this one is no exception. The team doesn’t have a lot of cap space. It would be a shame Art Blank doesn’t get to raise the Lombardi Trophy because of a coach that clearly is not the right fit for this team. Sarkisian’s offensive style and play calling changes that the charts above show were a clear cause in the teams failure to convert in the red zone. Hopefully this problem gets resolved and they start using their running backs more in the red zone because the state of the franchise depends on it.

Team Needs:

  1. DT: The Falcons got a steal when no one wanted to give Dontari Poe a long term deal. More than likely they won’t be so lucky this time. He likely is gone and will need to be replaced. RG: 2016 6th round pick Wes Schweitzer played all 16 games for the Falcons this season. He struggled and needs to be upgraded as the rest of the line is very solid.
  2.  RG: 2016 6th round pick Wes Schweitzer played all 16 games for the Falcons this season. He struggled and needs to be upgraded as the rest of the line is very solid.
  3. Offensive Weapon/Red Zone Target: Well if you can’t replace the coach, you can add a target and hope that gives another weapon for Matt Ryan
  4. Run Down LB: Vik Beasley is moving to DE full time next year, which is a smart move. I think the split time hurt his development and his pass rush abilities might improve. That said a LB to replace him could be necessary at least someone to complete with last year’s third round pick Duke Riley.
  5. DB Depth: The starters are set, but they could use a later round pick to bring in another young CB.
  6. K: Matt Bryant is a free agent. Solid kicker.
  7. FB: Derrick Coleman is a free agent. Should be let go and upgraded.

Cap Space: Around 13 Million, takes into account money allocated for draft picks

Cap Casualties:

Levine Toilolo TE: Decent blocking TE, but with a cap hit 4.5 million it seems like he makes a little too much. Austin Hooper is a good blocking TE what they need is a better pass catcher at TE. Cap Savings: $2,500,000

That’s the only Cap Casualty. Trying to keep the roster together as much as possible. That being said I want to talk about Tevin Coleman. He is a super talented running back and there has been talk of trading him because you can’t pay him given the cap situation and the fact that it is hard to pay both him and Freeman. Coleman as shown in the charts above, is a very important member of the offense. The team is in win now mode and you can’t replace him with the amount of money he is scheduled to make next year (977,000).

Free Agents:

PLAYER (19) POS. STATUS Resign Yes or No
Dontari Poe DT UFA No
Adrian Clayborn DE UFA No
Matt Bryant K UFA Yes
Taylor Gabriel WR UFA No
Kemal Ishmael SS UFA No
Andre Roberts WR UFA No
Courtney Upshaw DT UFA Yes
Ahtyba Rubin DT UFA Yes
Austin Pasztor T UFA No
Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB UFA No
Sean Weatherspoon ILB UFA No
Leon McFadden CB UFA No
Ben Garland G RFA No
Jordan Tripp ILB UFA No
Derrick Coleman FB UFA No
Nick Williams WR UFA No
Ricardo Allen SS RFA Yes
Terron Ward RB RFA No
Sharrod Neasman S ERFA No

Unfortunately its going to be hard to resign most of the players on this team with the cap space situation. Keeping Ricardo Allen I think is actually the most important free agent to bring back. He pairs very nicely with Keanu Neal. Its going to be hard to sign him to a long term deal, but being a RFA a first round tender can be placed on him. I can’t imagine a team signing him to an offer sheet then this basically becomes a mini franchise tag. Resigning Matt Bryant is important, he is a very good kicker. Adding depth to the d-line to help the blow of losing Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe, Ahtyba Rubin and Courtney Upshaw are solid rotational guys who can contribute.

Matt Ryan could be extended this off season. It would be nice to get this out of the way but given the cap situation. Resigning the players mentioned above limits the cap space available ( Around $4,000,000 left), and some should be left over to rollover to help pay for Matt Ryan. Maybe he can take a hometown discount something in the range of what Alex Smith was just extended for. Unlikely, but I would start talks at that which mean more than likely an extension will have to wait until next year.

Outside Players Signed:

 Shane Vereen on a veteran’s minimum deal. He is a nice camp body who they could use in some different packages. Good pass catching running back, never used enough in his time with the Giants.

A great defense and still a very good offense. This team is reloading while also developing young talent for the future.This team has been very successful at finding quality players in free agency and has done a great job using the draft as a way to plan ahead. I am very confident this will continue this off season.

Up Next: If I Were GM: Atlanta Falcons Part 2

 

If I Were GM: Arizona Cardinals Part 3

Moving quickly as the league year starts soon and I have 31 more teams to evaluate. I’m still optimistic this will be my only 3 part team. The Cardinals have way too many things going on.

Draft:

Let’s Quickly Look at the team needs again

QB: Added Bradford and Osweiler, but in order for this plan to work a future signal caller is needed

WR: John Brown is back but that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I still think a future replacement for Larry Fitzgerald can be found in the draft.

OL: Still need to finish the remodel

CB: Brought back Tramon Williams so CB is not much of need now

LB: Brought back Josh Bynes but picking up another LB in the later rounds might be a good idea.

TE Depth: Added Virgil Green. TE is set for next year.

DL Depth: Cut Josh Mauro, resigned Xavier Williams and Olsen Pierre

 

Picks:

1st (15th Overall)

2nd (47)

3rd (~97) Comp

4th (~138) Comp

5th (150)

6th* (180)

7th* (212)

7th*(217)

*= Part of conditional trades. Unconfirmed whether they have those picks or not.

 

Strategy:

As much as I’m worried about Mike Mccoy being able to develop a QB this is now the time to get a franchise QB in the draft. I am willing to trade up to get the guy that I think is best suited for this team. As stated I think Mccoy needs a more NFL ready QB. Josh Allen though I think is the best QB in the class, he still needs time to develop. Sam Darnold turns the ball over too much. I think the best QB for the Cardinals is Baker Mayfield. He can make all of the throws and has the leadership capabilities that I think the Cardinals. Will he be there at 15? Maybe. Teams may be worried about his height or his footwork. Some teams believe that he has difficultly going through all of his projections, but I feel that that risk is not worth it. I think trading up into the top five is best. Where exactly in the top five depends on a lot of factors, such as where Cousins goes or what the Browns and Giants do at 1 and 2. So we will go through the hypothetical of Cousins going to the Broncos and the Browns take Josh Allen and the Giants Josh Rosen.

Trade: 

Arizona Receives:

5th overall Pick

2018 4th Round Pick

Denver Receives:

15th Overall Pick

2019 First Round Pick

2018 3rd Round Pick

2018 3rd Round Compensatory Pick

I’m a fan of the trade up then trade down strategy. So after the trade up to get the QB moving down in the second round to gain one of the picks lost back.

Trade #2:

Arizona Receives

55th Overall Pick

2018 4th Round Pick

Carolina Receives:

45th Overall Pick

 

Draft Results:

Round 1: Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma

Heisman trophy winner. Beautiful ball on release. Great down field accuracy. Can make all the throws the NFL requires.

Round 2 Simmie Cobbs Jr WR Indiana

Tall Receiver who is a redzone monster. Will easily become a go to inside the 20 for the Cardinals

Round 3: None

Round 4: Brandon Parker OT North Carolina A&T

Big and athletic. Long arms (35 3/8 inches). Small school riser. Could sneek into day 2.

Round 4:   Wyatt Teller OG Virginia Tech

Solid Starter, experienced. Made 23 consecutive starts. Good at handling interior pass rush.

Round 5: Mike Love DE South Florida

Another prospect on the rise. 5 1/2 sacks this past year. Good size, great motor.

Round 6*: Kameron Kelly CB San Diego St

Big, physical, top end speed may be a question mark. Could be a good press man type corner.

Round 7*: Airius Moore LB NC State

Good pass coverage LB. Could fit as a SAM in the 4-3.

Round 7*:  Kalen Ballage RB Arizona St

Goal line back who can add some depth on the roster. Could also serve as a fullback.

 

53 Man Roster:

QB: Bradford, Mayfield, Osweiler

RB: David Johnson, Elijhaa Penny, T.J. Logan, Kalen Ballage

WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Simmie Cobbs Jr,  John Brown, J.J, Nelson, Chad Willams, Rashard Ross

TE: Jermaine Gresham, Virgil Green, Ricky Seal-Jones

OL: A.Q. Shipley, D.J. Humprhires , Evan Boehm, Will Holden, John Wetzel, Alex Boone, Josh Allen, Brandon Parker, Wyatt Teller

DL: Rodney Gunter, Chandler Jones, Corey Peters, Robert Nkemdiche. Xavier Williams, Olsen Pierre, Pasoni Tasini, Mike Love, Markus Golden

LB: Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick, Scooby Wright, Arius Moore, Josh Bynes, Gabe Martin

DB: Tramon Williams, Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker, Tyrann Mathieu, Antonie Bethea, Ruby Ford, Ronald Zamort, Kameron Kelly, Brandon Williams, Harlan Miller

ST: Phil Dawson K, Andy Lee P, Drew Williams LS

Ok so I solved the Cardinals dilemma. How many wins would they win with this roster? What could be improved upon? What did I do well?

One team down, only 31 more to go. Hopefully the rest of the league won’t need this much attention as the Cardinals roster did.

Up Next: 

Atlanta Falcons: Hopefully 2018 Resembles the 2016 Falcons More Than 2017.

 

 

If I Were GM: Arizona Cardinals Part 2

So this section is going explain what the needs of the Cardinals are and what their cap situation is. What free agents too target and what players need to be resigned.

One other note. I forgot to mention one more concern I had with the Steve Wilks hire. It is more likely than not that the team will be switching to a 4-3 defense. This team is not really built for the change. When you look at their cornerstone piece on the front seven, Chandler Jones, he is a guy who doesn’t put his hands on the ground.  Well see though, there are some young pieces on the front seven who could be able to adapt. I think that it will be interesting to what they do with Hassan Reddick in a 4-3. I think he could fit in a Will LB role.

Team Needs:

  1. QB: Obviously, no QBs on the roster. Carson Palmer retired. To say its a dire statement is an understatement.
  2. WR: Even if Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t retire this is a huge position of need. They need to think about finding a new number 1 for when Fitzgerald retires plus they need to improve the outside WR situation.
  3. OL: The line as a whole could be upgraded. The injuries piled up and the team has older veterans still on large contracts. Major changes are coming to the o-line.
  4. CB: Tramon Williams emerged in the second half as a nice pairing opposite Patrick Peterson. He is a free agent. Justin Bethel too.
  5. LB: Karlos Dansby is a free agent. Another run down linebacker could be added.
  6. TE Depth: Overpaying for Jermaine Gresham was not the best idea. Ricky Seal-Jones could be a nice pass catching option. But they could use a blocking TE.
  7. DL Depth: The DL still hasn’t replaced Calais Campbell and they have nice depth but switching to a 4-3 could require another player specifically in the 5 tech.

Cap Situation and Cap Casualties

Right now given Palmer’s retirement and with a projected cap of around $178,000,000 there should be around $23,000,000.

In order to deal with all of the needs including the quarterback some space is going to be cleared. This is not a lot of cap considering they need a QB. Look at what Jimmy G just received from San Francisco $137.5 mil over 5 years. The Niners just set the bar for Kirk Cousins. The Cardinals are going to have to be able to field a team next year and given the number of holes if they have to gut the team to sign Cousins there is going to be nothing left. There are going to have to be cuts just to get a team on the field. Whats better winning 6-8 games with a bridge QB and a young QB or winning 6-8 games with Kirk Cousins with no money or talent around him. You saw it in Washington. Cousins is a good QB but he isn’t good enough to carry a game by himself. Same goes for Nick Foles. There has been a lot of speculation of whether or not the Cardinals should pursue him. The Eagles are going to have to be given an offer they can’t refuse because of the security he gives them in case Carson Wentz isn’t fully healthy. Not only is the draft capital going to cost a lot, but if he is great you need to resign him. He is not a bridge QB; he still is young enough to build a franchise around, which leads us back to, Jimmy G just got 137.5 million over 5 years. If he stinks, more than likely you didn’t draft a young QB, then we are back to square one and the team is going to need a QB.

That’s my rant for today lets look at few guys I would cut from the roster.

  1. Adrian Peterson RB: This one is obvious. David Johnson is coming back and A.P. isn’t going to want to be a backup. Cap Savings: 2.88 million
  2. Josh Mauro DT: Even though I said they could use some depth on the d-line, the production isn’t worth the cap hit. There are other players who could be found for cheap on the open market. Cap Savings: 2.8 million
  3. Jared Veldheer OT: Moved to RT this season but moved back to LT when D.J. Humphries got hurt. He missed the last 3 weeks to injury as well. Owed over 10 million next season and after coming off of one of his worst season yet it seems like its time to move on. Cap Savings: 6.9 million
  4. Mike Iupati OG: Another lineman with a big cap number. Missed most of the season. The line in general is going to need to be completely made over. Cap Savings: 6.3 Million

I want to quickly talk about Tyrann Mathieu really quickly. I thinking keeping him on the roster is the better decision and I know there is a lot of speculation of whether the team will cut him. Certainly I would ask for a pay cut, but I would not get rid of him if he refuses. You could trade him but not many teams are going to be willing to give up picks for someone with the contract that he has. We are also have this discussion because for some reason, the front office thought it was a good idea to make his 2019 salary guaranteed at the start of the 2018 league year. That is just plain silly. He is too versatile and important to your defense to get rid of him. Plus the Cardinals already need a number 2 corner. The team has so many pressing needs lets not make the secondary an even bigger one.

About 42 million in cap space.

Free Agency:

First lets look at the Cardinals free agents for this year and who I would resign.

PLAYER (28) POS. STATUS Resign Yes or No
Justin Bethel CB UFA No
Tyvon Branch SS UFA No
Drew Stanton QB UFA No
Karlos Dansby ILB UFA No
Tramon Williams CB UFA Yes
Jaron Brown WR UFA No
Frostee Rucker DT UFA No
Troy Niklas TE UFA No
Khalif Barnes LT UFA No
Alex Boone G UFA Yes
Blaine Gabbert QB UFA No
Josh Bynes OLB UFA Yes
Earl Watford RT UFA No
Matt Barkley QB UFA No
Aaron Brewer LS UFA No
Kareem Martin OLB UFA No
John Brown WR UFA Yes
Brittan Golden WR UFA No
Kerwynn Williams RB UFA No
John Wetzel RT ERFA Yes
Olsen Pierre DT ERFA Yes
Vinston Painter RT ERFA No
Xavier Williams DT RFA Yes
Ifeanyi Momah TE ERFA No
C.J. Goodwin S ERFA No
Elijhaa Penny RB ERFA Yes
Daniel Munyer C ERFA No

Olsen Pierre and Xavier Williams: are the two more key guys that I would target. I think they are nice pieces that will contribute on the defensive line. I think they will be cheap to bring back. Pierre is a exclusive rights free agent so he will be back. Williams is a restricted free agent and I would give him a tender and try to sign him to a long term deal. I think he can be the anchor for the defense in the future. Pierre is cheap; Williams on a long term deal might fetch 3-4 million per year. The kid is worth it and wouldn’t be surprised if it is more.

I say bring back John Brown. I’m not a fan of his; he definitely was the product of good QB play (2015 Carson Palmer). That being said he brings good speed and can stretch the field. Still will need to either a free agent or draft a WR or two. If he costs more than 4 million a year though I’m out.

Tramon Williams: He established himself last year and I want that to continue. Even at 34 he proves to be very useful. Try to keep his deal at just a one year deal for around 3-4 million.

Alex Boone: even though he was hurt for part of the year and probably had the worst season of his career; Iupati has been cut and a veteran could be needed. Getting a full training camp with the team will help too. Another 1 year 1- 1.5 million dollar deal should bring him back.

Josh Bynes: Adds LB depth. Could compete for a starting job.

Elijhaa Penny and Ronald Zamort: Add depth to their respective positions.

 

Lets look at players to add from other teams:

Player Pos. 2017 Team
Sam Bradford QB Vikings
Virgil Green TE Broncos
Brock Osweiler QB Broncos

Its very short and sweet. A couple of QBs and a blocking TE. Bradford is the perfect bridge even though he scares the crap out of me because of the injury history. You can easily sign him in my opinion to a cap friendly deal that is incentive laden something in the range of 10-12 in base with incentives to push it to 15-17 million. That’s almost half of Kurt Cousins. It can be for one year too with an option for a second year. Osweiler can come in as a backup plan in case Bradford falls apart. He is a terrible QB but is familiar with Mike Mccoy and could be brought in on the veteran’s minimum. Vigil Green is a good blocking TE that adds value to the team.  A two year deal in the 2-2.5 mil per year kind of range sounds reasonable.

Plenty of cap space was created and a team is beginning to take shape with all the moves going into the draft the team will have about 6-8 million in cap space. I spent more than I wanted too and may have to re-evaluate John Brown some more. Its hard to predict what players will get in the open market given how much the cap changes on a year basis and some players getting ridiculously overpaid.

Up Next The Final Part

Arizona Cardinals Draft and What a 53 Man Roster Might Look Like

If I Were GM: Arizona Cardinals Part 1

State of the Franchise 

I decided to go in alphabetical order and I’m already regretting this because the Arizona Cardinals might be my longest post.

Oh boy, where to begin with this team. There are usually one or two key factors or decisions that need to be made which determine which direction a franchise is heading. There’s at least five or six that I can think of off the top of my head.

Coaching Changes:

First I guess is new coach Steve Wilks who was defensive coordinator for one year with the Panthers. He replaced Sean McDermott who left to be Buffalo’s head coach. Overall, I think this is a positive hire. Teams are becoming less hesitant to hire inexperienced coaches which is a change for the better in the NFL. His one year a DC saw an improvement to the Panther’s D. They improved from twenty-sixth in scoring d to eleventh, and twenty-first in yards allowed to seventh. Reports also say he is an excellent interviewer and has impressed many front offices.

The problem is that, when you hire a defensive guy the offensive coordinator has to be a solid hire. I don’t think Mike McCoy is the answer. On one hand he made Tim Tebow look like a NFL QB, but this past year was pretty disastrous. With a team that is going to have to maybe go with a rookie QB I don’t trust McCoy or newly hired QB Coach Byron Leftwich to be able to develop him.

If I were GM, I would have more than likely tried to hire Pat Shurmur just because I think he has a better grasp of developing a system to fit a QB’s plus he’s gone on record that he would be interested in bringing in Case Keenum to wherever he went. Don’t get me wrong Steve Wilks is a good hire; he fits the strength of the team. I just wish they hired a different OC, such as John Defilippo, who i I think is the next rising star and will be a head coach in the near future.

QB:

Well transitioning a franchise with a new coach is one thing but transitioning a franchise with a new coach and no QB on the roster is hard mode.  Carson Palmer retired and Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton are free agents. The latter two are, well…. uh…., not very good so this team is going to be looking at a new signal caller. This has been frustrating I can imagine for Cardinal fans since they have been kicking the can down the road. This is pretty much a make or break year for the state of the franchise based on how they decide to manage the QB position.

I’ll go into details later, but what I believe is best for this franchise is to tow a fine line between keeping the status quo, by trying to field a competitive team, and building for the future. A bridge QB and a future signal caller is in my opinion the best way no handle the roster, not Kirk Cousins (because of lack of cap space) and not Nick Foles (too many question marks and not worth the draft capital that would need to be traded).

Other Issues:

Injuries: David Johnson, basically the whole offensive line missed major time. Hopefully Johnson can come back, the o-line really struggled this year. Significant changes may need to happen and for most teams it would be a number one priority but given all of the problems its like number 3 or 4.

Larry Fitzgerald: Panic may ensue if Larry Fitzgerald retires. It has been reported that he will make his decision in a week or two. He wants a good QB not some rookie throwing him the ball. All the more reason to bring a bridge on to keep him happy to play one more season. He can be a bridge for a young WR that the team can take in the draft. If he retires there are only two receivers on the roster. Chad Williams (2017 3rd round pick), who had 3 catches in his rookie year and J.J. Nelson.

Aging Defense and Free Agents: The defense is getting older and older and the team has many potential free agents on the defensive side of the ball. In order for this defense to remain strong they are going to have to retain some of these guys.

Summary:

Overall its safe to say things do not look good for the Cardinals. The front office and coaching staff have an uphill battle, but there are things that can be done to get this team back in the playoffs. If there something positive to take away its this:

Carson Palmer went down in week 7 in London. The team got shutout by the Rams then went on the bye. Between using Stanton and Gabbert, this team managed to go 5-4 the rest of the way. This is their combined stats on the season:

Compeltions Attempts Comp % Passing Yards TD INT
174 330 52.7% 1980 12 11

If you project that over 16 games this is what you get:

Completions Attempts Comp % Passing Yards TD INT
278 528 52.7% 3168 19.2 17.6

That completion percentage was lower than DeShone Kizer and CJ Beathard for reference. 53.6% and 54.9% respectively. I tried to find some players seasons to compare to but it is proving difficult. For reference though the top numbers are 2016 Brock Osweiler and below those are 2013 Geno Smith, his rookie year:

Compeltions Attempts Comp % Passing Yards TD INT
301 510 59.0% 2957 15 16
247 443 55.8% 3046 12 21

Basically what I am trying to say is that 5-4 with bad QB play leaves a team with some hope. This is not an endorsement for Kirk Cousins. I still think he is not the solution to the franchise. Ill go into more depth into the next part, which leads me to…

UP NEXT:

Part Two: Team Needs and Free Agency, Rebuilding the Roster

Welcome and Hello

Football is a passion of mine and I wanted to share it with people. I believe that this blog will help me accomplish this goal. I may be called a super fan or a football nerd, but some day I hope to work in an NFL front office. So anyone with connections to a franchise I’m available. (An MLB franchise is also acceptable :P).  But I digress.

Why now? Well, Superbowl LII this year really inspired me. It was one of the more exciting football games I’ve seen in a long time. But its not just because it was a great game; the game itself, even though it was great to watch, still featured elements that have been plaguing the for past few years. Concussions and head injuries (Brandin Cooks), inconstant rules and controversial replay reviews (Corey Clement TD and Zach Ertz TD), declining ratings, etc.

The NFL is currently at a crossroads. Leadership is going to have to make policy decisions and changes in order to make the game more safe without hurting quality of play and deal with other issues. I shouldn’t watch an amazing game and then have to think about all of the controversy or which player had to be carted off the field with a concussion.

What I want to do is document my idea’s for the NFL, how they can change, and potentially create new ideas. These ideas I want to share with people and I want to hear others ideas as well.

I also what this to be entertaining. This is designed to be a place where you can read about anything football related. If you want to know what your favorite team should do at QB, if you want to learn about the hot young LG everyone is hyping before the draft, if you want to know who to draft in your fantasy league, then this the place for you.

What kind of post can you expect on this blog:

  • General posts about current events in football, my reaction to news around the league
  • I am going to create new rules, new ideas that I believe will create a product on the field that is pleasant to watch but also safe for the players. These ideas are my opinion and I want to create a dialog/discussion around them from the people who may read this.
  • There will be draft analysis leading up to and after the draft. I like to watch film, and will give insight.
  • I love fantasy football. I over analysis the crap out of fantasy, but there will be posts on how to make your team a champion one.
  • Off-season analysis- My first series will be about the off season/free agency since it is right around the corner.  I am going to play GM of every team of the league, and look at the state of each roster and determine what I believe each team needs are, who they may/should target in free agency, draft strategies, etc.
  • Other stuff may appear as well from time to time. There might be something about baseball or a movie I just watched and feel the need to share, (The Cloverfield Paradox is not actually a Paradox, if you feel compelled to watch because of the Superbowl ad just skip it), or something along that line.

I want to again welcome you and hope you will continue reading this. This a journey for me, and I hope that every person who reads this will join me.