It's been said before, but it's hard to make mock drafts and decide what team is going to take what player with all these different variables. Who is going to be signed to a team in free agency greatly changes the draft. What trades take place on draft day change what a team is doing. Lastly, some players get traded on draft day can all kill what you think is going to happen with your team in the off season. I'm going to talk about some player moves that are specific to the Jets and some that are just NFL moves.
I think out of these 5 moves, I'm gonna nail about 4. I'm going to give you the offseason move, or trade, and my reasoning behind it. I don't have any inside knowledge, but I'm going to use logic and past examples as my reasoning. Now on to the topic at hand.1. First up is Payton Manning.
He's the hottest topic. A while ago it was will he stay and mentor for a few seasons, or will he go. The current news around the NFL is that he's definitely going to be released before March 1st. Since he's not being traded, he has the opportunity to go to the team of his choice. Some people have mentioned the Jets. I have bad news for you, it won't be New York.
Consider that his salary this season was 28 million if he doesn't get cut. He is going to demand a large number, and even if it's not 20 million it's going to be a huge number. Also consider, he's not going to go to a team that is a perennial cellar dweller. If he has his choice, he is going to go to a veteran win-now type of team, similar to what Favre did with the Vikings.
Payton Manning is going to be a Washington Redskin. Before you laugh consider the facts. The Redskins started last season 3-1 and in first place in the NFC East. They started the season before that 4-0 with McNabb. They are fast out of the gate and fade down the stretch. The Superbowl NFC representative NY Giants were 9-7 and won the conference, while the Redskins were 5-11 in last place. The Cowboys and Vikings were 8-8 respectively. There is no run away dominant team, and winning the division is just a Manning away. The road through the playoffs is easier in the NFC as well. Add to that, he would be able to play against brother Eli Manning 2x a year.
The owner is Dan Snyder. He pulled the trigger on a 100 million dollar Albert Hainesworth deal. $100 million for a defensive tackle? I think a quarterback with a big number is not that big a deal to him, as he desperately wants to field a winner. Consider the coach. Mike Shanahan coached the Broncos to 2 NFL titles with a veteran and hall of fame QB about to retire in John Elway. This is a good team with a good defense and bad offense that had a losing record. If you throw in Dan Snyder tossing money around they are easily a Payton Manning away from dominating the NFC East next season. Throw in the fact that they have no money tied up in quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Jon Beck they have the cap space and the empty position sitting waiting for him.
Also consider there are rumors of them in the running to move up to draft Robert Griffin III. They can get Manning without using a draft pick, and promise him some help in the 1st round of the draft via Justin Blackmon or whoever he wants. They currently have the 6th pick. They can still draft a QB of the future in Nick Foles or Osweller in the 2nd round, and Manning could probably bring long time pal Reggie Wayne along to Washington. This would suddenly give them Manning, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, and Blackmon to go with a good head coach and a good defense. It also allows them to draft a 2nd round highly rated QB to groom behind Manning for 2 or 3 years with no pressure.
2. Jets Pass Rush
The unwritten rule is that the Jets every year need pass rushers. Let's look at the recent Jets history. In 2010 they needed corners because they had just lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship. In a knee jerk reaction they traded for Antonio Cromartie, and drafted Kyle Wilson. They double dipped to ensure they could handle what they wanted to do on defense.
This season the consensus is that they need a pass rusher. I believe as history has shown they will again double dip. Once in free agency to try to cover the open spot left by Bryan Thomas and once in the draft. The combination of best price and most production in free agency comes in the form of John Abraham of the Atlanta Falcons.
If you don't remember him, he is the 6'4 260 pound defensive end that ran a 4.4 in the combine and had multiple 10+ sack seasons before he was traded to Atlanta. He has played 6 years in NY and another 6 in Atlanta. When he was with the Jets he was injury prone and subject to groin pulls and things. The last 5 years with Atlanta he has missed a total of 4 games. He's over his injury issues and he's an old veteran that can take the left outside linebacker spot from BT. He's 34 now, but last season he notched 9.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. In fact the last 4 seasons he lowest sack total was 5.5, and he notched 9.5 or more the other 3. The Falcons aren't going to make the hurdle in the NFC South, and the Jets are going to sign him to a deal similar to what they gave Jason Taylor in 2010.
Here's the double dip part. In the draft with the OLB spot (pass rusher) covered, they can go with the best player available. I still believe they will take a pass rusher and double cover the trouble spot. I think they like Courtney Upshaw, but will instead draft Nick Perry. He is similar to John Abraham when he came out of college. This turns the anemic Jets pass rush from a liability to a positive. They can rotate Calvin Pace, John Abraham, Nick Perry, and Aaron Maybin, and get a solid pass rush all game long. The days of Jamal Westerman and Garrett McIntyre are a thing of the past.
Empty slot with Bryan Thomas departure+Need of pass rusher+familiarity with the team
Sione Pouha played a great season for the Jets. Nose tackle is one of the hardest positions to fill in the NFL, do the the size, skill, and durabilty needed to hold up in a 3-4 system. The Jets are rumored to have about 8 million in cap space currently before signings and re-signings. The resigning of Pouha is 50/50. He is a great player and does exactly what they need. However he is 32 and is getting ready for a multi year deal. I don't see the Jets giving a 32 year old a 4 or 5 year contract unless it has a low signing bonus or is incentive laden. Pouha, probably and wisely won't go for either. He has never indicated he would like to play anywhere else, but due to the skyrocketing prices of starting nose tackles he could easily get between 6-8 million for a team in dire need of one annually. Darnell Dockett for example is an average 3-4 nose for the Arizona Cardinals. He has a 6 year 56 mil deal. Vince Wilfork is in a 5 year 40 mil deal.
Where is there a team that plays a 3-4 defense that is in need of a good run stuffing nose tackle? The Pittsburgh Steelers come in and scoop him up. They currently have 34 (soon to be 35) Casey Hampton starting at nose for them. He had some good years, but is long in the tooth and more injury prone than Pouha. The Jets try to keep him, but the Steelers who already took Cotchery will take Pouha and he will start for them for the next 3-5 years.
The Jets will in turn move practice squad player Martin Tevaseu to step in and play the nose. For the last 2 seasons he was the last round of cuts in preseason. This year he steps off the practice squad, much like Pitoitua did this past season. The combination of Kenrick Ellis and Tevaseu will fill the void left by Pouha.
4. Matt Forte
Matt Forte is the premier running back of the free agency class. The Bears offense is almost nothing without him. The Bears and Vikings were the front runners for the NFC north 3 years ago, and now the Lions and Packers are the front runners for it every year. Forte even with a leg injury, has never had higher value, and is in place to go wherever he wants for some pretty good money.
Odds are that he doesn't stay in Chicago. I say that because the Bears do not have a track record of holding on to players when their contract expires. They have really only held onto a handful of guys, and most of them were defensive starters. My thinking is that he goes to the Detroit Lions who make a pretty good offer for him.
The reasoning? It strengthens the Lions while weakening the Bears (taking away their only play maker). If you watched the Lions and the Saints you saw the Lions score and score and score. They do this well. What they don't do well is run the ball, or slow the game down. They need to be able to hold onto a lead by controlling the clock and throwing short passes to the back to keep the defense off the field. These are the things that Matt Forte can bring them along with stability at the position. By signing Forte, they can keep the offenses of Green Bay off the field and take the Bears out of contention. Instead of Forte putting points on the Lions twice a year, he helps give them a running game for the next 5 years. He also lets them stop calling guys like Jahvid Best and Kevin Williams starters.
Mario Williams is 6'6 and 290 pounds. He was written off early in his career and now is reveared as of late. He's started as a 4-3 end, and moved to a 3-4 end, and most recently has been a linebacker in a 5-2 alignment. He's done it all, and done it pretty well and he's only 26 coming off an injury. He is sure to command big dollars.
My guess is that he does not return to the Texans. He didn't play the last 11 weeks of the year, or in the post season and the Texans defense continued to chug along. JJ Watt and Ryan Kerrigan are young, and the system is like a machine adding parts to fit and play well. I think they will not resign him, in order to re-sign future players. Mario will have the freedom to go where he wants and he picks a system where he can continue to produce.
There are certain teams that do a specific thing. The Giants always draft defensive ends that pass rush. The Packers always draft receivers. The Jaguars always bring in lineman. I think the Vikings are like that with defensive lineman. They brought in Jared Allen, but lost Ray Edwards to the Falcons. They still ranked top 3 in the NFL in sacks with 50 on the year. On the year they were 11th against the run, but 26th against the pass. They gave up 4,000 yards passing and 8 yards per pass play.
That speaks to the fact that the secondary is not so great, but they like to have attacking defenses. Mario WIlliams taking over at left defensive end and Jared Allen at right end improves the pass rush and the run game. In addition the Vikings have the #3 pick in the draft. Lots of people, including me have them drafting a cornerback like Morris Claiborne of LSU. In a division with the Lions and Packers that like to throw, the addition of WIlliams and drafting of Claiborne helps to negate the passing attacks of those teams and gives them a chance to grind it out with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerheardt while Ponder improves.
There you have it. Just 5 things I think you will see this off season to help teams before the draft comes around. I didn't include other moves like Vincent Jackson finally getting a long term deal in San Diego or Desean Jackson going to Miami. These are just my thoughts on what you will see based on what I think are certain teams tendencies over the years. Thanks for reading