Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 comments Bleacher Report Has the Official List of Riskiest Moves Every NFL Team Made This Offseason

Did you know that every NFL team made a risky move this offseason? You probably didn't know that, but it's true because Bleacher Report says it's true. Even teams that barely made any moves, made a risky move by not making a move. I've not changed my opinion on the dregs of Bleacher Report, but I admit they have done a really good job of hiring top-end talent to write for the site. The problem is the other writers on the site who do the 34 page slideshows where the 34th slide is the link to the next slideshow. These are the same writers who are tasked to write the same type of slideshow eight other Bleacher Report writers have written in the past few weeks. So when I say "Bleacher Report" I'm talking about the dregs and not the entire site as a whole. It used to be more of the entire site as a whole, but the content has improved in many ways.

Anyway, this Bleacher Report author has a list of the riskiest moves NFL teams made, even if they didn't make any moves at all. And yes, the 34th slide is the first slide of the next slideshow, which could not annoy me more.

The NFL offseason is a time for boundless optimism, as every club seemingly morphs into an amalgamation of the '85 Bears and '07 Patriots after free agency and the draft. But the truth of the matter is that each franchise has made at least one risky move that could jeopardize its standing in 2014.

"JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING!" Now isn't the time for optimism, now is the time for panic! Every team made a risky move, or didn't make a risky move which in itself was risky, that could cause that team to lose games in 2014. Sure, maybe some of the moves these teams didn't make weren't made for a reason, but that's not the point, the point is "JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING," that could happen.

Risky moves come in all different shapes and sizes. Some teams neglected glaring areas of need, and instead fortified positions of strength. Others will go into the season with an injury risk at quarterback and a substandard backup.

I guess the question of, "Was there a better backup available on the free agent market or through the draft?" would be a stupid and overly logical question to ask. It's not like there are a bunch of great backup quarterbacks just hanging out on the free agent market eager to take their spot as the second-best quarterback on an NFL team.

It's possible that all of the moves detailed here could work out, but that's extremely unlikely. The probability is that at least some of these moves will come back to bite teams in the derrière.

This is analysis. It's unlikely all 32 teams will have their moves or lack of moves work out. No kidding. Again, the NFL isn't a video game. There is a supply and demand issue. The author says the Bills took a risk in trading up for Sammy Watkins, but if they didn't trade up for Watkins then what were their other options? Take a lesser receiver in the draft and not give E.J. Manuel a guy they perceive to be the #1 receiver he needs to succeed?

Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Cardinals: Letting LB Karlos Dansby Walk in Free Agency 

I agree in principle with this, but the criticism is off-base.

Compounding the matter is the season-long suspension of linebacker Daryl Washington, which further weakened Arizona's linebacking corps. In a season where the Cardinals are built to challenge the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers for NFC West supremacy, linebacker now looks like their weakest position on defense.

Perhaps the Cardinals should have made Dansby a better offer in an effort to keep him in the desert.

Dansby was signed by the Browns in March and Washington wasn't suspended for the first four games of the season until April and not suspended for the season until May. So while Washington's suspension does compound the problem, it's not as if the Cardinals knew they wouldn't have Washington on the roster for the 2014 season when they didn't match the Browns offer to Dansby. I'm sure if they could predict the future as the author seems to think they should be able to, then they would have worked harder to keep Dansby or find a Plan B.

Atlanta Falcons: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Pass-Rusher 

Like who? The author never says who this top-notch pass-rusher the Falcons didn't acquire might be. I would figure if there was a top-notch pass-rusher available the Falcons should have signed then the author could at least give this person's name.

But that never happened, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff opted instead to add beef along both the offensive and defensive line. There's no question that those moves were needed, as the Falcons had to become more physical at the point of attack, but it was still surprising to see the team not sign or draft a potentially elite pass-rusher.

Hey, guess what? A pass-rusher is part of the defensive line in the Falcons base 4-3 defense (that was supposedly beefed up). This also brings up the question of how the Falcons can beef up the interior of the defensive line and the offensive line, while still acquiring a potentially elite pass-rusher in the draft. Were the Falcons supposed to secretly draft two players with one draft pick? They had to make choices and if they had not drafted Jake Matthews then the author would say the Falcons were making a risky move by not protecting Matt Ryan. Every team can't fix every hole with a limited amount of draft picks.

Buffalo Bills: Trade Up for WR Sammy Watkins 

What should the Bills have done?

The Bills should have selected an offensive lineman with the ninth overall pick and kept their picks in 2015.

Oh, that makes sense. But what doesn't make sense is which offensive linemen does the author think the Bills should have drafted at #9? There was no offensive lineman other than Taylor Lewan graded to go in the Top 10 of the draft and (spoiler alert) what did the author say about Taylor Lewan in this very slideshow? He says that drafting Taylor Lewan was the biggest risk the Tennessee Titans made this offseason. So..................this is awkward. The author states the Bills should have selected an offensive lineman, but the only offensive lineman worth taking in the Top 10 the author states as being a big risk.
Carolina Panthers: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Wide Receiver 

Yes, there was a long list of top-notch wide receivers just waiting to be signed for a reasonable amount of money to fit under the Panthers tight cap.

Gone are receivers Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon. That quartet of pass-catchers combined for 156 receptions last season.

Gettleman also signed Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood, none of whom inspire much confidence.

They did combine for 108 receptions and are much cheaper considering both LaFell and Ginn were free agents. 

It would have been smart for Gettleman to add multiple receivers in the draft in an effort to restock the cupboard for quarterback Cam Newton, but that didn't happen.

It also would have been smart to draft an offensive lineman considering three members of the 2013 offensive line retired and it would have been smart to draft a defensive lineman considering the team can't afford to pay Greg Hardy the $80 million he wants after this season. But again, wide receivers are super shiny! Who cares about the other needs the team had?

Dallas Cowboys: Not Having a Reliable Backup Option for QB Tony Romo

Who? Who should the Cowboys have signed to be the reliable backup? This is typical talk radio bullshit. A guy criticizes a team for not making a move, but has no suggestions for what that team should have done. Was there a large group of reliable free agent backup quarterbacks that I wasn't aware of? Fine, the Cowboys should have gotten a good backup for Romo. Who? Just pointing out what the Cowboys did wrong without a suggestion on what they could have done right is typical talk radio bullshit, simply designed to elicit a reaction.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 34 years old and is coming off a second back surgery, so it should stand to reason that the team has a reliable backup option, right?

Well, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't seem to agree with that logical train of thought, as it appears likely that former Browns draft bust Brandon Weeden will be the player a heartbeat away from being the starting passer of America's Team.

Kyle Orton could be the backup if he doesn't retire. Perhaps Jerry Jones decided he didn't want to pay backup money for a guy who may end up being a third string quarterback?

Yes, the same Weeden who owns a 5-15 career record as a starter and has tossed more career interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23).

This is as opposed to the large variety of free agent backup quarterbacks who have a winning record as a starter and have significantly more touchdowns than interceptions?

Green Bay Packers: Signing Undrafted TE Colt Lyerla 

If signing an undrafted free agent is the riskiest move an NFL team has made in the offseason then I would say that team hasn't really made any risky moves. Lyerla is an undrafted free agent. There's no risk behind signing him.

Green Bay is currently unsettled at the tight end position. The team's primary starter there for the past five seasons, Jermichael Finley, is currently a free agent and is coming off major neck surgery. The Packers drafted Richard Rodgers in the third round, and Andrew Quarless remains from last season.

It's possible that the Packers will count on Lyerla to produce in the passing attack. And given his past transgressions, he could prove to be a very difficult player to trust.

So wouldn't the Packers risky move have been to not sign a reliable tight end and rely on a draft pick and an undrafted free agent to contribute at the position? Signing Colt Lyerla is almost a no-risk proposition. There's no risk other than he can't be part of the solution at tight end for the Packers.

Houston Texans: Drafting Tom Savage as QB of the Future 

I'm not sure teams draft quarterbacks and officially label them "QB of the future," but whatever. I won't argue semantics. What was the solution presented by the author?

The team could have traded back into the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater, but opted to stand pat and nab the inconsistent Savage in the fourth.

Yeah, that would have been a much better idea. Unfortunately, the Texans didn't do this. But wait, what did the author say the Vikings riskiest decision this offseason was?

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

Oh. So rather than make the risky move of drafting Tom Savage, the Texans should have moved up into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater. By the way, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE VIKINGS DID and the author said this was the riskiest move the Vikings team made all offseason. So for the second time the author suggests a team draft a different player in the 2014 NFL Draft than they drafted, but then states the team that drafted that player made a risky move in doing so. So the Texans should have exchanged one risky move for another or the author simply can't remember the contradictory shit he's writing. I'll let you be the judge.

Miami Dolphins: Drafting OT Ja'wuan James in 1st Round 

But his drafting of tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round represented a major reach. James was considered by many to be a fringe Day 1 prospect, and while he should step in and start at right tackle, it's debatable if he merited selecting in that spot.

Three issues with this paragraph:

1. If James steps in and is the starter at right tackle then isn't that a persuasive argument he merited selection where the Dolphins selected him? He is starting as a rookie, which is what they drafted him to do.

2. This whole "Day 1 prospect" thing means nothing. The way the NFL Draft is split up now, a Day 1 prospect is a 1st round pick. So "Day 1 prospect" now means "1st round prospect."

3. Speaking of being a Day 1 prospect and a major reach. That's not entirely accurate. I used the Google machine to do a quick search to see where James was projected to go and this is what I found.

Walter Football had James as a "steal" at #64. He also said there are a lot of teams that would consider taking James in the second round.

NFL Draft Scout had James as a 1-2 round selection.

CBS Sports had James as a 1-2 round selection. had James as a 2-3 round selection.

Granted, not every scout agrees that Ju'wuan James was a first round selection, but the Dolphins needed a tackle and there are plenty of reputable outlets that had him going in the first round or early second round. That doesn't mean he is a major reach at #19.

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

I'm not sure how a team in desperate need of a quarterback that trades back into the first round to take a quarterback that was projected to go in the first round for much of the draft process (and even was seen as possibly going #1 overall) is taking a major risk.

But if Bridgewater falters and proves the critics right, the team's decision to trade back into the first round to select him (32nd overall) will surely set the franchise back and get general manager Rick Spielman fired.

But if the Vikings didn't draft a quarterback who could start for them this year, then the Vikings could struggle to go .500 and Rick Spielman will be fired anyway. Trading back into the first round to draft a quarterback who was projected to go in the first round isn't that much of a risk.
New Orleans Saints: Trading RB Darren Sproles 

That made it all the more surprising when Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton dealt Sproles to NFC rival Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick in this past May's draft.

Yes, the Saints traded up to select speedy receiver Brandin Cooks in the first round, and the team is expected to deploy Cooks in a similar fashion to how Sproles was utilized. But Cooks is unproven, while Sproles has been successful at the NFL level for years.

Sproles is also 30 years old, while Brandin Cook is not 30 years old. I mean, sure, the Saints possibly replaced Sproles production but it was a risk to trade Sproles and open up salary cap room to sign other players that would improve their team. Trading a 30 year old running back who isn't really a running back and opening up salary cap room to improve the team at other positions is JEOPARDIZING THE SAINTS SEASON!

Plus, the Eagles are the favorite to win the NFC East, and could end up facing the Saints in the playoffs. Why in the world would New Orleans want to possibly face Sproles come next January?

Perhaps because the Saints were originally just going to release Sproles, but the Eagles were the only team willing to give up a 5th round pick to acquire him? There are two conferences in the NFL. GM's can't worry about trading a player within the same conference or else even fewer trades would happen than do currently occur.
New York Jets: Not Acquiring a Big-Name Cornerback 

The Jets tried to bring back Darrelle Revis, but he signed with rival New England. They tried to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but he inked a deal with the crosstown Giants. They cut Antonio Cromartie, who signed with the Cardinals. They watched as Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay) and Vontae Davis (Indianapolis) left the market.

So the Jets tried to acquire a big-name cornerback (and of course a cornerback HAS to be a big-name or else he isn't an impact cornerback of course), but they couldn't manage to do so. I'm not understanding the risky move. The Jets did try to acquire a big-name cornerback, they just failed. What would be risky is paying a cornerback a ton of money he isn't worth simply to shore up a position the team perceives as a need. As usual, too many people mistaken making a move for the sake of making a move as progress.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Drafting a Cornerback in the 1st Round 

In the first round of May's draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a potential difference-maker at the linebacker position in Ryan Shazier.
Shazier could shine in coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense and has the opportunity to bring speed and playmaking ability to a linebacking corps in desperate need of both.

Stupid, stupid move. Since when has any NFL team benefited from upgrading their pass rush? It's not like a great pass rush helps take pressure off the secondary or anything like that. As I've said before in regard to this pick, not drafting a cornerback isn't a risky or dumb move if the Steelers are able to upgrade their pass rush. I don't get why some people think an NFL team is capable of fixing every weakness in one offseason. It's not realistic.

San Francisco 49ers: Engaging in Trade Talks for Coach Jim Harbaugh 

There is a lot more to this than the 49ers simply engaging in trade talks for Jim Harbaugh. It's not like they woke up one day and decided they wanted to get rid of him. The trade talks were a result of disagreements between he and Trent Baalke and the fact Harbaugh wanted a contract extension worthy of a head coach who had won a Super Bowl.

But that apparently hasn't been enough to secure his long-term employment, as Harbaugh's contract will expire after the 2015 season. Plus, the 49ers reportedly engaged in trade talks with the Cleveland Browns for Harbaugh's services.

If the author read the article he would see that Harbaugh isn't entirely happy in San Francisco and the 49ers have denied they were involved with trade talks. I don't believe them, but still, they did deny it and there seems to be a reason other than pure boredom to trade Harbaugh. He wants a lot of money and wants more power, power that Trent Baalke currently has.

This is as ridiculous a story as the NFL has seen in a long time. Harbaugh has proved to be one of the league's finest coaches and has helped return the 49ers to relevance.

Which is why Harbaugh wants to be paid like one of the league's finest coaches, if not the league's finest coach, and the 49ers are hesitant to do so. It's a matter of economics, not a risk the 49ers were just wildly taking.

Seattle Seahawks: Not Yet Addressing RB Marshawn Lynch's Unhappiness 

Seattle's risky move was not overpaying a 28 year old running back? I would think it's the opposite that is a risky move. After all, remember what happened the last time the Seahawks handed a huge contract to a 28 year old running back?

The only way to address Lynch's unhappiness is to pay him. The Seahawks will have to pay Russell Wilson in coming years, so I think the risky move would be to pay Marshawn Lynch and reward him for his great play, thereby tying up cap room in the future.

Lynch was the bell cow of last year's Super Bowl champions and still has a lot left in the tank.

Does he have a lot left in the tank? How is that known for sure? His yards and yards per carry were down last year. He's also a running back getting near the age of 30, which historically is a time when running backs start to decline.

The Seahawks would be wise to resolve this situation as soon as possible and make sure Lynch is brought into the fold for training camp.

The only way to bring him into the fold is to pay him. I disagree the Seahawks would be wise to pay him and it's risky to not sign him to a new contract. Lynch is a great running back, but the risky move would be to give him the contract extension that he wants. I don't devalue running backs as much as others might, but the position certainly doesn't have the market value it used to have.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Signing QB Josh McCown and Naming Him the Starter 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon played splendidly as a rookie, tossing 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions and leading a suspect roster to a 4-9 record as the starter.

But new Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht made it apparent that Glennon wasn't their choice for 2014, as they inked free-agent quarterback Josh McCown to a two-year, $10 million deal and quickly named him the starter.

After complaining other teams like the Cowboys didn't have a quality backup quarterback, the Buccaneers do have a quality backup quarterback in Glennon, but this doesn't please the author. The Buccaneers also signed McCown and the author is now stating it was risky to name McCown the starter. It's not like Lovie Smith can't change his mind in August after the preseason starts. So it's risky to not have a quality backup quarterback and it's risky to not allow a quality backup be given the chance to be the starter. Everything is risky.

Tennessee Titans: Drafting OT Taylor Lewan in the 1st Round 

Much like the New York Giants' selection of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round, this isn't an indictment of tackle Taylor Lewan, whom the Titans selected with the 11th overall selection in May's draft: It's that the Titans had more pressing needs to fill.

Oh, ok. I get it. Drafting a quality offensive lineman was a risky move because the Titans had other needs to fill. So wouldn't the risky move be "Drafting an offensive lineman" and not specifically drafting Taylor Lewan? Because saying "Drafting Taylor Lewan in the 1st round" certainly sounds like an indictment of Lewan, which is an interesting opinion considering the author was fine with Lewan being picked two picks earlier by the Bills.

The Titans lost Alterraun Verner in free agency and could have spent their first-round selection on a cornerback to replace him. They could have also tabbed a pass-rusher to fit in new coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 defense.

Which corner specifically? As usual throughout this slideshow, the author has no suggestions for which specific move these teams should have made to avoid making a risky move. He's able to identify the risk, but stops short of actually providing a specific solution he thinks these teams should have made instead of taking the risk.

Washington Redskins: Hiring Jay Gruden as Head Coach 

It must be said that I'm a fan of new Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden, and I have previously praised the hire in this space.

I don't understand how hiring Jay Gruden is the riskiest move of the offseason in the author's opinion, while also being a good hire in the author's opinion.

But that doesn't mean that bringing on Gruden didn't represent a risk by general manager Bruce Allen.

Sure, it is a risk, but both articles mentioning Gruden were the author's opinion. How can the author think Gruden was a smart choice and will succeed, while also thinking his hire was the biggest risk of the offseason? That is unless the Redskins didn't really make a risky move in hiring Gruden. These two opinions don't have to be mutually exclusive, but it seems to me if the author likes Gruden, then he doesn't think the move to hire him was the riskiest move of the Redskins offseason.

But we do know that, despite feelings one way or the other concerning his potential success, Gruden was a risky hire.

It was a risky hire, unless you listen to the author's previous opinion were he stated it was "a terrific hire" and Gruden is "capable of getting the best out of Griffin and returning the Redskins to the playoff chase." Doesn't sound that risky to me. 


Chris said...

I will admit that Bleacher Report has improved but the writing still leaves much to be desired. I was annoyed by the writer criticizing teams for not getting "top-notch" talent. What exactly is his standard for top notch? Like for example the Panthers. If they had been in the running for DeSean Jackson would the writer have considered that top notch and then had no problem with who Carolina got at WR? Of course he probably still would have considered DeSean a risky move based on those alleged gang ties and his occasional lack of effort.

Armchair analysis is one of my major pet peeves in sports writing or sports talk in general. Guys always bash teams for not getting "top notch guys" without considering that there isn't always Superstar talent ready available on the free agent market and even if it is it's gonna cost a ton of money and cap room that the team may not have.

Snarf said...

Bleacher Report has one of the better sports apps out there, but it's like they skipped the line from small blog to major content supplier and had to fill in the massive void of content with this sort of crap.

You didn't touch on the Ravens suggestion of "Baltimore Ravens: Not Acquiring a Viable RB to Push Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce," which is probably one of the more reasonable items, but still not very strong analysis. The drafted Lorenzo Taliaferro in the 4th round, which the writer scoffs at, "It's possible that Taliaferro could set the world on fire, but wouldn't it have been smarter to add a more reliable player in either the draft or free agency?" They also brought in Justin Forsett, ostensibly to be the third down RB while Rice is suspended. He had some success with Kubiak in Houston. What were the Ravens supposed to do? Get a Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno or MJD and tell them that they would be a backup to Rice unless he falters? Doesn't seem like the best use of money for a team that has a lot of other guys to extend/sign.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, that's what I don't understand either. Was there top-notch talent out on the receiving market I just wasn't aware of? If the Panthers got Jackson, that's a pretty risky move to pay him as much money as he got paid by the Redskins and then expect him to be your #1 WR surrounded by guys like Avant, Cotchery...though if the Panthers had signed Jackson they would have had no money to sign Avant or Cotchery, but that's beside the point.

I don't think enough armchair analysts take a team's cap space into account. The Panthers missed on Nicks because they weren't willing to pay him or give him a 2 year deal. They had no money to do so.

Snarf, I was going to touch on that one and I probably should have. The fact they drafted a RB sort of disproves his idea. Good point. What viable RB should have been signed? What veteran (and what is "viable") will sign with the Ravens knowing he will be the potentially 3rd RB off the bench? Chris Ivory? A guy who will be the 3rd RB probably isn't a viable option.

Anonymous said...

I would have bet a zillion dollars that "Didn't change their name" was the Redskins entry.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's a good guess. It was hiring Jay Gruden as their head coach.