What if no quarterbacks go early in the first round?
The Jaguars needed a veteran presence at quarterback irrespective of whatever happens in May’s draft.
But it’s somewhat intriguing that while the Jags made that move, Matt Cassel was linked with the Texans before re-signing with equally QB-needy Minnesota. Josh Freeman’s name comes up when people talk about the Raiders.
None of these players are likely to be long term solutions.
But how about this thought…
Last year the draft community spent a lot of time debating Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Mike Glennon and Landry Jones.
Everyone had a favourite. Everyone assumed at least two or three would go in the first round because of the importance of the position.
In the end E.J. Manuel was the only day one selection.
Glennon — a third round pick — wasn’t too highly rated in comparison to some of the others. Yet he showed the most promise as a starter and has at least a decent chance of developing into a franchise quarterback for the Buccaneers.
You can’t compare one class to another, and clearly last year the NFL didn’t think much of the QB group.
But could it be happening again?
Could we be totally overestimating a quarterback class and the likelihood of a cluster of top picks being spent on the position?
The Houston Texans appear likely to take a quarterback at #1 — and John McClain made some very valid points on NFL AM this morning to back that up.
But what about the rest?
Could the Jaguars be preparing to add a Sammy Watkins or a Khalil Mack at #3, waiting until round two or three to go after a Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, A.J. McCarron or even a Logan Thomas?
Watkins just looks special — a rare talent. For a team that has little to offer a rookie signal caller, could a case be made for going Watkins-QB instead of one of the top quarterbacks and possibly the eighth or ninth best receiver in round two?
Oakland could go in many different directions. Re-signing Jared Veldheer is important. Whatever happens there, how enticing will a Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson be at #5? Or a Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack for that matter?
The Jags and Raiders are going through major rebuilds. They’ve seen Seattle build around a quarterback and then insert Russell Wilson as a starter to win a Championship.
They won’t feel handcuffed into going QB. If they don’t grade Blake Bortles as much more than a late first rounder, if they can’t trust Johnny Manziel and if they just don’t think Teddy Bridgewater is special enough — they can pass.
The Browns are a bit of a wildcard all of a sudden. They’ve gone from almost certainly trading up to get ‘their’ quarterback, to people now believing they’ll avoid the position altogether at #4.
The Vikings sitting at #8 might wish to avoid drafting another first round quarterback after the disaster that was Christian Ponder.
I’m not saying any of these scenarios are likely, but it’s become the assumed position that the top three quarterbacks will go quickly.
Could we see something like this?
#1 Houston — Blake Bortles (QB)
#2 St. Louis — Greg Robinson (T)
#3 Jacksonville — Jadeveon Clowney (DE)
#4 Cleveland — Sammy Watkins (WR)
#5 Oakland — Khalil Mack (DE)
#6 Atlanta — Jake Matthews (T)
If Clowney, Robinson, Watkins, Mack and Matthews are the top five players in the draft — and you can make a strong case for that — why isn’t this at least somewhat possible?
And how would it impact the draft?
Would we see teams jostling for position, trying to get back into round one for a Bridgewater or Manziel?
Would they simply sit tight, content with the secondary options (Carr, Garoppolo, McCarron, Mettenberger) if none of that trio are available?
How low could two of the ‘big three’ drop?
Could it weaken the options for teams picking late in the first round?
It’d create a fascinating dynamic, that’s for sure.
Doug Baldwin given second round tender
Seahawks tendered RFA WR Doug Baldwin at a 2nd round level ($2.187M)
— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) March 7, 2014
This isn’t a surprise.
Baldwin would’ve been snapped up on the original round tender as an UDFA. Yet with such a strong draft for receivers, it’s unlikely anyone will bite on a second round pick.
It made sense for Seattle to make this move. It’ll be interesting to see if a long term deal is possible, especially if Golden Tate walks in free agency.
Further thoughts on Bennett and Tate
I fully expect Tate to re-sign in Seattle.
It’s a safe bet that the market for receivers in free agency is going to be atrocious. Eric Decker might get a nice deal, but that could be that.
With so many quality players available in the draft, it seems very unlikely anyone will offer Tate the kind of money Seattle would be unwilling to match.
In fact he might struggle to garner much more than $4-5m on the open market.
Often the best deal you’ll get is the one before you start making visits.
I sense Riley Cooper anticipated a flat market and knew he had the best offer from the Eagles already on the table.
It might actually be to Seattle’s advantage if Tate becomes a free agent. If he’s not being offered the kind of money he expects, it’ll suit the Seahawks.
I think it’ll be a very different situation with Michael Bennett.
It’s not a great draft for pass rushers and despite a few naysayers playing down his impact last year — he really had a terrific season.
He can feature in all schemes, he can play inside and out.
He has 21.5 sacks as a versatile starter the last three years.
And with Greg Hardy and Brian Orakpo being franchised, he’s competing with Michael Johnson (3.5 sacks in 2013) and Jared Allen (aged 32) to be the top pass rusher on the market.
I know who I’d rather have.
I’m not surprised stuff like this is emerging…
An NFC West bidding war could be coming between the 49ers and Seahawks for DE Michael Bennett. Story coming at PFT.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 7, 2014
The Niners are unlikely to be able to afford Bennett with only a projected $10m in cap room available.
A treasure trove of picks in a loaded draft class will likely be their total focus this off-season.
Yet they can help drive Bennett’s price skywards. And there should be plenty of interest elsewhere after such a fantastic 2013.
I mentioned this yesterday and I’m going to repeat it again, because I think it’s worth debating.
Franchising Bennett never appeared to be an option for the Seahawks. It was consistently ruled out, by either John Schneider himself or by the media quoting sources.
Let’s look at the possible scenario that would’ve guaranteed one more year of Bennett for Seattle…
Franchise tag = $13m
Cutting Clemons saves $7.5m
Pass rush includes: Avril, Bennett, Mayowa, Irvin — possibly a draft pick (eg Marcus Smith)
This would’ve cost a cumulative total of $5.5m in extra outlay, with the only loss being Clemons.
It would’ve meant keeping Avril and Bennett at the heart of your pass rush for one more year, while placing the responsibility on Mayowa to replace Clemons at right end.
The financial outlay on Bennett would be substantial, but really it’s only $2m more than the cap hit Zach Miller took up last season.
Here’s the extreme alternative…
If they lose Bennett in free agency, the chances are they’ll keep Clemons on his $9m salary. Seattle can’t force him to take a pay cut. And they surely wouldn’t be willing to lose yet another starter on the defensive line?
With Clemons secure, you maybe look into replacing Bennett with a player like Jared Allen or Lamarr Houston. You’re likely to be spending at least as much as Bennett cost on his one year deal ($5.5m).
This would effectively mean an added cost of $5.5m at best. Exactly the same amount you’d pay in the scenario that saw Bennett tagged.
This isn’t me criticising or challenging the front office. Why would I do that?
It’s merely a talking point nobody else is bringing up. I’m throwing it out there so we can debate this.
There’s still every chance the F.O. re-signs Bennett to a cool four-year deal on $7.5-8m a year after another bold free agency strategy pays off.
There’s even the chance they simply re-load on the defensive line on the cheap and don’t miss a beat.
But the discussion is fascinating to me, because it took a few years to get the D-line right. Blowing it up and starting again (very possible considering the status of Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald) will be a real challenge — even for Schneider and Pete Carroll.
Seahawks re-sign Jeanpierre & Johnson
OL Lemuel Jeanpierre & S Jeron Johnson have signed one-year contract extensions with the club. pic.twitter.com/NE9BL97X6o
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 7, 2014
Ryan Shazier could be a top-20 pick
I’m told Ryan Shazier/OLB/Ohio State ran a blistering forty at pro-day…unofficially low 4.4’s..
— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 7, 2014
Put a 4.4 alongside these numbers from the combine:
— 6-1, 237lbs
— 25 reps on the bench press
— 42 inch vertical
— 10.10 broad jump
— 6.91 three cone
— 4.21 short shuttle
Shazier gets caught in traffic too easily, but there’s no doubting he’s a truly fantastic athlete. Certainly one of the best in the draft.
At a time when all the focus is on the size of Seattle’s cornerbacks, the speed of their linebackers is very underrated.
Teams looking to mimic the ‘Hawks have to look at this guy. He could be an option at #12 for the New York Giants, at #13 for the Rams or the New York Jets at #18.
It seems very unlikely he’ll make it past the Bengals at #24. That could be a worse-case-scenario for Shazier.
Shazier running 40 and Chip Kelly to the right. pic.twitter.com/ePiI3wPcdI
— Aimal Arsalla (@aimalarsalla) March 8, 2014