In this week’s episode, Chris breaks down the key free agents for every NFC team and discusses how these crucial decisions will impact the draft strategy for each franchise. Dallas dominates the NFC East conversation with its trio of high-impact free agents, but New York, Washington and Philadelphia have a couple of notable players no longer under contract. Pretty much every team other than the Falcons has questions at quarterback in the NFC South. The Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers all could have new starters in 2020. Most of the NFC West teams have a few important players that could hit the open market. Chicago has very few notable free agents, but will likely be aggressive anyway. Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit have several players they will be focused on bringing back. Catch up on all the major pending free agents ahead of the scouting combine! Listen to the latest episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. https://anchor.fm/theaftermath
Well NFL trade season is off and running with Marcus Peters headed to Baltimore from Los Angeles and Jalen Ramsey taking his place in Los Angeles coming from Jacksonville. Those weren’t even the only trades the Rams were involved in on Tuesday, as they acquired Austin Corbett from the Browns. With all the wheeling and dealing already underway, I’ve got to jump in on the action. As I noted in Week 7’s NFL Power Rankings, there is no question this week of NFL action will be the deciding factor for a lot of teams on the fringe. Let’s start talking about some moves that should happen in the next week before the October 29th trade deadline.
Carolina Panthers trade QB Cam Newton Tennessee Titans trade 2020 2nd round pick, 2021 2nd round pick, CB Adoree’ Jackson
Let’s start with a bang. Cam Newton is a former MVP in this league and has played in a Super Bowl. Still, it might be time for the Panthers to think about moving on from the 30-year-old signal caller. For one, Newton has not been able to stay on the field the past two seasons. Even when he has been available, he has struggled mightily. Carolina has some capable options in Kyle Allen and 2019 third-round selection Will Grier. So far this year, the Panthers are undefeated with Allen under center (4-0) and winless (0-2) with Newton. I will admit that Allen has a very small sample size, but he has shown flashes of real potential. Some fans might be miffed at not getting a first rounder for Newton, but his injury history could make that tricky. Getting more draft capital is nice, but so is adding Adoree’ Jackson. The third-year corner has been losing favor in Tennessee, playing just 52 percent of his team’s defensive snaps on Sunday. At 24, Jackson still has plenty of time to develop. Carolina could use some depth at corner back to help them right away, so this is not just simply a long-term move.
On the Tennessee side of this, I know this team seems content to just win with a grinding defense and a couple of playmakers, but this team needs a better short-term solution at quarterback than Ryan Tannehill. Marcus Mariota is done and while Tannehill is fine as a replacement starter, he is not good enough to lead this team to the playoffs. He takes care of the football for the most part, but the Titans need more playmaking ability from the quarterback position. Getting Newton would be a huge development for the offense. He is a more dynamic player, with the ability to change the game as a passer or a runner. Honestly, he is exactly what the Titans thought they were getting when they drafted Mariota. Assuming Newton can get healthy, he should be well-positioned to lead an offense that boasts a good group of running backs and a bunch of young pass catchers. If Newton does go down for a game, Tannehill can step in as well. Tennessee has the cap space to absorb Newton’s contract and could move on from him as early as this offseason if it doesn’t work out. It would not prohibit the Titans from drafting a quarterback in the first round this year either, but given that they do not seem positioned to grab one of the top passers, getting Newton gives them some other options.
Don’t look now but the Buffalo Bills are 5-1 and seem headed for the postseason. It hasn’t been pretty most of the way and part of that is the offense’s inability to get into a rhythm. Buffalo’s defense is championship caliber, arguably the best in the NFL, but the offense has been pedestrian at best. To help remedy that, the Bills acquire the 31-year-old A.J. Green. With John Brown and Cole Beasley, Buffalo has a couple of good complements to a top-tier receiver. Green would immediately take over as the top option for Josh Allen to target. It would give this offense a legitimate big-play threat and also a reliable outlet when Allen is under pressure. Given how close the Bills were to knocking off the Patriots earlier this year, this move could be what pushes them into the realm of winning a division title. Green projects as a one-year rental for now with his contract expiring after the season, but that is a risk worth taking.
For Cincinnati, it is time to move on from your franchise receiver. This team is about to begin a major overhaul with Andy Dalton clearly on the way out and possibly the worst offensive line in the league. Flipping Green, who is likely going to leave in the offseason anyway, for a pair of picks seems like the best move to set up the Bengals for long-term success. His return to action this year is not going to make up for the awful start to the year this group has had. Green carries a lot of value right now for a contender, and at 0-7, Cincy is very far from being in that conversation.
Washington is being about as stubborn and ridiculous as I’ve seen an NFL franchise act. Rather than trading Trent Williams at the deadline, they are saying they want to trade him after the season is over. Just a reminder, Williams is holding out and Washington has way more leverage trading to a team in need of immediate help midseason than during the offseason. I’m focusing on what should happen, not what will happen. Bruce Allen should absolutely cash in on his disgruntled left tackle before the deadline. At 31, there is not going to be a much larger trade market for him in the offseason. Getting a second round pick and a late pick next year is a decent haul for a player who has no interest in being on your roster and carries a large cap hit. Saying you plan to trade him in the offseason feels like showing your hand as well. There is no chance Washington lands a Jalen Ramsey-type haul either. Regardless, Washington would be smart to capitalize on the pressing need a team will have at tackle.
One such team in this case would definitely be Cleveland. After re-signing Cam Robinson this offseason, it is clear the Browns need a bit more help protecting Baker Mayfield. After trading away former Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zietler for Olivier Vernon, nothing was ever done to replace him. The former former overall pick from Oklahoma has suffered 16 sacks in just six games this season. He has been hit way more than last year and has spent chunks of games running for his life. Robinson could bump inside as well in an effort to revitalize the offensive line. Williams would be a significant upgrade. Even though he projects as a shorter term solution rather than a long one, he probably still has a few good years left in him. After all, Jason Peters is still going at 37. Eventually, Cleveland will have to pay Baker Mayfield. In the meantime, load up on talent around him to give yourself a championship window with a quarterback on a rookie contract.
Emmanuel Sanders might be one of, if not Denver’s best offensive player, but at 32 years old with a team beginning to turn things over to a younger group, it is time to move on. Sanders is in a contract year, so this would be a one-year rental for the 49ers, but given that there are a few other teams that could use some help at receiver, specifically the Bears and Patriots, they will have to give up at least a fourth-round selection to ensure he arrives in the Bay Area. With Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already on the roster as second-year pros, the Broncos won’t be stranding their offense completely for the future. Given that this is a loaded wide receiver class coming up as well, the front office could easily find some additional help in the 2020 draft. They also add Solomon Thomas. The 2017 third overall pick has not panned out in San Francisco and has yet to play 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a given game. He would provide the Broncos with a situational rusher that also provides some defensive line depth. In his limited time on the field, Thomas does have a pair of sacks this year. He won’t make a huge difference, but he could prove to be a useful piece.
For the 49ers, this fills a clear need. Through their first six games, Jimmy Garoppolo has been throwing to the collection of Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis and 2019 second round pick Deebo Samuel on the outside. George Kittle is one of the top tight ends in the league, but adding a proven receiver like Sanders could help open up the offense a bit more. After all, Kittle is the only receiver to eclipse 200 yards so far this season. Given the investment in both Samuel and Jalen Hurd, who is on injured reserve, San Francisco should have no problem making a short-term addition before turning it over to the young draft picks. This defense looks ready for a championship run, now it is time for the 49ers to bring their offense closer to that level.
Denver Broncos trade CB Chris Harris Jr. Philadelphia Eagles trade 2020 3rd round pick
Wow this secondary needs loads of help. The backend of the defense was not supposed to be a strength, but it also wasn’t supposed to be this big of a weakness. Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills have both really struggled. Avonte Maddox is still out and while Ronald Darby is finally back from injury, this group needs a boost. Enter Chris Harris Jr., who would not only raise the level of play, but also bring some swagger to this secondary. Rumors have been swirling for a while now about the 30-year-old corner leaving Denver. Philly has more than enough space to absorb his cap hit and parting with a third-round pick seems like a no-brainer for a team that has its eyes set on returning to the postseason.
For Denver, the fire sale continues. Harris has been a good player for the Broncos, but he is nearing the end of his career and on an expiring contract. Netting a third round pick in the 2020 draft is nice compensation for a player they likely would’ve let walk in free agency. It essentially just means Denver receives it’s compensatory pick a year earlier. After an embarrassing showing on Thursday night, it’s time for John Elway to start looking to build for next year and amass draft capital to find some future contributors on this roster.
New York Jets trade DL Leonard Williams Baltimore Ravens trade 2020 3rd round pick, 2021 5th round pick
The Baltimore Ravens find themselves in an interesting place six weeks into the 2019 NFL season. After watching the Browns faceplant out of the gates, coupled with quarterback injuries in Pittsburgh, the Ravens comfortably hold the division lead. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a lot of season left, but this feels like a team that could try to take advantage of a struggling division and start planning for the postseason. One major area of need is at pass rusher. I don’t think the front office is in swing for the fences mode, but they could try to add a quality contributor in the final year of his contract. Leonard Williams fits that bill nicely. Williams is not a pure edge rusher, but he might fit well into Baltimore’s defense scheme. He has enough speed to play outside and enough power to kick inside as well. He is far from a prolific pass rusher, just 17 sacks in his previous four years, without one yet in 2019. I have a feeling though that a change of scenery could see Williams turn into a player who generate six to eight sacks per year and contributes to building a strong culture. That’s something this Ravens team could use, with just 12 sacks so far this season.
Over in New York, this is a team under new management with Joe Douglas taking over for Mike McCagnan late in the offseason. Williams was not a player he drafted and general managers have a tendency to want “their guys” on the roster. Additionally, this is the final year of Williams’ deal. The Jets would likely land a compensatory pick if he walked in free agency, which they can recoup here and add an additional late-round pick to make trading him worth it. New York is desperately in need of pass rushers, but given the signings and draft picks it has made along the defensive line in recent years and Williams’ general lack of production in this scheme, it seems safe to say its time to move on. This will give Douglas some immediately draft capital to start reshaping the roster.
Terrell Suggs is one of the most dominant pass rushers of the past 15 seasons. He had 132.5 sacks in 16 seasons for Baltimore. He is up to five already this season with the Cardinals. While Arizona seems like it is heading in the right direction, there is no question that Suggs is a luxury they don’t really need right now. He is 37 and on a one-year deal in the desert. With a number of contenders in need of some pass rushing help, Arizona should look to turn the still productive veteran into a late pick.
Kansas City needs all kinds of help right now defensively. It finally put together a great showing on Thursday night against Denver, but that feels more like an aberration than a sign of things to come. Adding a rotational pass rusher who has lots of big game experience could be transformative for the Chiefs. Suggs has played in and won the games that Kansas City wants to win this year as a part of the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl team. Even though he slowing down, Suggs posted seven sacks last year and seems on pace to at least match that this season. This seems like a logical one-year rental for the Chiefs.
There have been few careers as wonky as Vic Beasley’s in Atlanta. After an uninspiring rookie season, the former Clemson edge rusher led the league with 15.5 sacks in 2016, earning himself a 1st-team All-Pro nod. Beasley hasn’t been able to get over the five sack mark in the two seasons since. With the Falcons spiraling, they have already voiced hopes of trading away their former first round pick. Moving on from Beasley, who is a free agent after the season, makes a ton of sense for the front office.
If there is a team that has shown they are willing to take fliers on players who have flashed talent, but struggled with consistency, it would be Seattle. The Seahawks also desperately need pass rushing help entering the weekend averaging just two sacks per game. Beasley has not been very productive this year, with just 1.5 sacks so far. At just 27 years old though, he is worth it, especially for a conditional late-round pick. There are a lot of similarities between the Atlanta defense and the Seattle one because that is where coach Dan Quinn came from when taking the top job for the Falcons. Few other teams are going to be willing to part with potential pass rushers, especially with Terrell Suggs playing for a division rival, so the Seahawks will make do with what they’ve got here.
Miami Dolphins trade WR Albert Wilson Chicago Bears trade 2020 6th round pick
Chicago needs a major boost on offense. This offense already has plenty of speed with Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen, but the Bears could desperately use another explosive playmaker. Mitch Trubisky threw the ball 54 times for just 251 yards on Sunday, which is a microcosm of this unit in 2019. Trubisky on the season is averaging a woeful 5.5 yards per attempt. With Chicago likely to get outbid for the top receivers on the market, Albert Wilson seems like a solid option to help this offense’s efficiency. He seems like the type of player Matt Nagy would be able to integrate into his system quickly to maximize his skill set. His is withering away on a Dolphins team determined to land a top-three pick. He will not solve all of Chicago’s issues on that side of the ball, but he would provide another veteran pass catcher at an affordable price. If he doesn’t work out, the Bears can cut the 27-year-old with just $1.3 million in dead money.
On the Miami end of things, moving on from a player who has been hurt a lot for another late pick always seems logical when you are 0-6. Wilson is not going to make a difference for this team in the long-term and is barely doing enough right now as it is. Part of that is because he is trapped in a floundering offense. The Dolphins might not acknowledge they are tanking, but it really doesn’t look much like they are trying to win. At this point, the more draft capital, the better for this front office.
Washington trades TE Vernon Davis Seattle Seahawks trade 2020 7th round pick
Russell Wilson could use a short term upgrade at tight end. With Will Dissley done for the season after the best start to a year in his short career, Seattle has a big need at the position. Luke Wilson is valuable, but he is not a reliable pass catcher. Nabbing Vernon Davis for a 7th round pick would be a great move to aid the offense. Davis might turn 36 in January, but he has shown flashes that he still has something left in the tank on a terrible Washington team. He would immediately offer the Seahawks another pass catcher capable of picking up some third downs and making plays in the red zone. It is the type of move you make to bolster a team capable of making a deep playoff run.
For Washington, this is just another player that has more value elsewhere. Davis still clearly has a role to play in the nation’s capital, but he is far from the only option the offense has at tight end with Jeremey Sprinkle and Jordan Reed, if the latter ever gets healthy. Picking up another draft pick for this year doesn’t hurt the rebuilding process that is undoubtedly needed. Put it this way, Vernon Davis probably won’t be in the NFL anymore by the time Washington is ready to compete for a division title again, so send him elsewhere and get something in return.
1. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-0
It wasn’t always pretty, but the reigning champs remain on top with a win over Atlanta. Philly benefits from an extra few days rest ahead of a matchup with the upstart Bucs. Alshon Jeffery could be back. This is an Eagles team that is going to get better as the year rolls on.
2. New England Patriots: 1-0
No sign whatsoever that Tom Brady is feeling the effects of time in the win over the Texans. He connected on three touchdown passes to lead New England past Houston. Rob Gronkowski looks like he is ready to carry the load as well. The much-anticipated rematch from last year’s AFC Championship game awaits as the Patriots head to Jacksonville.
3. Minnesota Vikings: 1-0
The Vikings toughed out a win over the 49ers to deliver on much of the offseason hype surrounding the team. Kirk Cousins was sharp in his debut. Dalvin Cook looked strong in his return from injury. The defense delivered in big moments. Minnesota is still settling in, but already looks good.
4. Los Angeles Rams: 1-0
The kings of the offseason took care of business in the season opener in Oakland. It wasn’t a dominating performance, but players like Marcus Peters are already starting to pay dividends. Todd Gurley also seems set to defend his OPOY award. This team could be the best in the NFL by season’s end.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-0
That was ugly. The Jaguars did not quite seem like the polished machine that reached the AFC title game a year ago. Instead, Blake Bortles missed some open receivers, Leonard Fournette left with a hamstring issue and the defense got burned by Saquon Barkley for a massive touchdown run. That defense is still one of the best in the league, but Jacksonville showed some weaknesses in the first game of the new campaign.
6. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-0
Patrick Mahomes punctuated his arrival to the NFL with a stellar performance. Tyreek Hill is still running away from Charger defenders. Kansas City looks like it will certainly be back in the playoff hunt in 2018 and made an early statement against its division rival.
7. Green Bay Packers: 1-0
For Packers fans, that was both terrifying and amazing. Aaron Rodgers returned to lead one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history against the Bears. The win was great. The fact Green Bay ever found itself in that position in the first place is concerning. With Rodgers a bit banged up and the Vikings coming to town this week, Mike McCarthy has a lot to figure out.
8. Atlanta Falcons: 1-0
It was eerily familiar to the playoff loss that ended the previous season for Atlanta. Steve Sarkisian showed once again that he is the worst offensive coordinator in the NFL inside the 10-yard line. The Falcons defense showed up, as did Julio Jones, but the performance left a lot to be desired.
9. Baltimore Ravens: 1-0
Through one week of NFL action, the Baltimore Ravens boast the best scoring margin in the league. Jim Harbaugh’s crew demolished the Bills 47-3. It honestly could have been more. The only critique was a paltry ground attack, but it gives the Ravens something to work on going forward.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: 0-0-1
It wasn’t a loss, but it sure felt like one for the Steelers after blowing a 14-point second half lead and giving the Browns multiple chances to win. Pittsburgh was downright sloppy, committing five turnovers in the tie. The bright side: James Conner made it easy to forget that Bell guy is holding out.
11. Washington: 1-0
Effective and efficient. Those two words describe this new-look Washington team well. Alex Smith looked comfortable. Adrian Peterson showed he’s still got what it takes. The defense gave very little for the Cardinals to build on. All around a good win to open the season.
12. Chicago Bears: 0-1
The loss was agonizing, no question. However, there are a lot of positives from the game. Kahlil Mack came exactly as advertised. Mitchell Trubisky showed signs of improvement from last year. The running game was solid. Chicago just needs to play two halves of football now, instead of one.
13. Denver Broncos: 1-0
A massive overhaul for Denver saw them cut ties with former first round pick Paxton Lynch, sign Case Keenum and revamp the running back position. The first impression of the new team is a good one. It wasn’t a convincing win, but it did enough to show the Broncos made some solid signings in the offseason.
14. San Francisco 49ers: 0-1
Jimmy Garappolo finally lost a game he started as San Francisco fell to Minnesota. The franchise quarterback tossed three interceptions, including the game-clinching one in the final two minutes. The truth is, the 49ers are still building. Patience is going to be required.
15. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-0
Cincinnati’s victory over Indianapolis was a bit closer than the scoreline indicated. The Colts were driving late before a fumble recovery brought back for a touchdown sealed the deal. The Bengals showed flashes of greatness on offense. If the defense can pick it up, this team could challenge for a return to the postseason.
16. New York Giants: 0-1
It was not the start to Pat Shumer’s career Giants’ fans wanted, but there were certainly positives. Odell Beckham Jr. is back and balled out against a talented Jaguars secondary. First round pick Saquon Barkley showed his explosiveness to mask what was an otherwise disappointing debut. The defense frustrated Blake Bortles. The offense on the whole was simply not good enough.
17. Carolina Panthers: 1-0
Carolina starts off the season with a win, but it did not do much to indicate if this team has any sort of identity. The offense managed to do just enough to get the win. The defense got after Dak Prescott. There is plenty to build on, but the Panthers did not inspire confidence.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-0
I don’t know if anyone predicted Ryan Fitzpatrick to light up the NFL with the Buccaneers, but he did exactly that. FitzMagic shredded the Saints defense with five total touchdowns en route to a victory. Tampa struggled mightily on defense, almost allowing New Orleans to make a comeback, but the Bucs are happy to have a win.
19. San Diego Chargers: 0-1
The Chargers failed to capitalize on chances against the Chiefs and looked outmatched on defense. Without Joey Bosa, the pass rush was ineffective and Patrick Mahomes had a field day. Despite a number of dropped passes, the offense had a solid showing. Los Angeles will need to play a much more complete game though to earn a win.
20. New York Jets: 1-0
Possibly the most shocking result of Week 1 was the Jets dismantling the Lions. New York tied Tampa Bay for the most points scored this week and picked off Matt Stafford four times. So why not higher on the list? Despite the lopsided scoreline, this is still a young team with a lot to prove. A win over Miami next week would do a lot to show this wasn’t a fluke. It finally seems like New York has found its franchise quarterback though.
21. New Orleans Saints: 0-1
Maybe the defense hadn’t improved as much as we all thought. The Saints gave up a whopping 48 points to the Buccaneers. It was a pathetic showing that marred an impressive offensive performance. New Orleans will have a lot to work on this week in practice.
22. Miami Dolphins: 1-0
In easily the longest contest of the weekend, Miami outlasted Tennessee in a weather-delayed mess. Ryan Tannehill returned for the Dolphins and had his ups and downs. Kenny Stills had a massive day and the ground game looked reliable. The run defense bottled up Derrick Henry, but had little answer for Dion Lewis. We will get a better sense for Miami when it takes on the Jets.
23. Dallas Cowboys: 0-1
What happened to the Cowboys offense? Two years ago, Dallas was the talk of the town, with two stud rookies and a deep receiving core. Now, America’s team is lacking playmakers and that once great offensive line is in shambles. Surprisingly, the defense was a bright spot, only conceding 16 points. The Cowboys face the Giants this week needing to play a lot better to avoid dropping to 0-2.
24. Indianapolis Colts: 0-1
Andrew Luck seems like he is finally back to his old self. Unfortunately, so does the Colts defense. Indy is waiting on someone to emerge from the crowded backfield it currently boasts, but showed signs of being competitive against the Bengals. Late mistakes ended a comeback bid, but there is still plenty of promise.
25. Houston Texans: 0-1
It was not the welcome back party Deshaun Watson had hoped for as he had a rather uneven performance in a loss to New England. The Texans did not nearly pressure Tom Brady enough, a major problem for a team that is supposedly loaded with defensive talent.
26. Seattle Seahawks: 0-1
This might seem a little harsh considering the Seahawks only lost by three on the road, but if not for a poor start from Case Keenum, Seattle might have been blown out. The Seahawks did not run the ball well and Russell Wilson was constantly harassed. The defense allowed almost 500 yards as well. On top of all of that, it appears Doug Baldwin will miss extended time with a knee injury.
27. Tennessee Titans: 0-1
It is tough to rally from behind following multiple weather delays, but the Titans seem to have taken a major step back from last season. Marcus Mariota struggled before leaving with an injury. Derrick Henry was wholly ineffective. The defense could not contain a Dolphins offense missing one of its top receivers. Tennessee looked nothing like the team that won a playoff game just a year ago.
28. Cleveland Browns: 0-0-1
Not quite a win, but Cleveland will take it as the Browns avoid losing their season opener for the first time since 2004. It was an impressive second-half surge from Cleveland, but there are some major concerns already. Tyrod Taylor looked awful passing the ball in some tough weather and the running game failed to ever get going. That defense seems as if it is the real deal though, with five forced turnovers.
29. Oakland Raiders: 0-1
Despite the energy created by John Gruden’s return, the Raiders fell flat against LA. The Rams bulldozed Oakland in the second half. Derek Carr showed flashes of greatness, but threw three interceptions, including two costly ones in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Gruden is still figuring out what he has in Oakland, but with no pass rush and an offense that failed to get much production out of its wide receivers, this team does not look like a contender.
30. Detroit Lions: 0-1
That might have been the worst start to the season the Lions could have imagined. Matt Stafford threw four picks and left the game battered. The Lions allowed defense and special teams scores as well in a full-scale meltdown. There is a lot of talent on this team, but it is clear new coach Matt Patricia is not sure how to maximize it yet.
31. Arizona Cardinals: 0-1
It seemed like things were looking up for the Cardinals after signing Sam Bradford and getting David Johnson back from injury. Only the Bills had fewer total yards than Arizona and Washington finished with the sixth most yards in the league. Johnson finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. The Cardinals could be looking at a season in the NFC West cellar.
32. Buffalo Bills: 0-1
Watching Buffalo play on Sunday, it is hard to remember this team was in the playoffs just a year ago. Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen combined for the worst passer rating in the league. Peterman actually posted a 0.9 Total QBR, which is one of the worst ratings in the history of the stat. Sean McDermott essentially has to start fresh this week, with basically nothing to build on against the Ravens.
The Eagles are shocked that after trading up for the second overall pick to take a quarterback, signing Chase Daniel to a reasonably large contract for his stature and failing to pay him, Sam Bradford would like to leave Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly brought Bradford to the City of Brotherly love and now that Kelly is in San Francisco, the Eagles want to head in a different direction. Bradford is injury prone and did not have a great season last year. Yet for some reason they resigned him. Now he is demanding a trade.
For Bradford, this makes sense. He has no desire to be a back up or have a time clock set on how much longer he could stay with the team. He clearly doesn’t like the idea of having his replacement waiting in the wings. It doesn’t reflect very well on his personality, but you have to understand him wanting to skip town.
Let’s break down the teams that could try to negotiate a trade for Bradford.
New York Jets Probability: High Bradford is probably a step backwards from having Ryan Fitzpatrick, with the latter having played in the system last year and knowing the team, but Bradford would fill a need. If the Jets are unsuccessful in signing Fitzpatrick, trading for Bradford might be the next best option. Bradford would have the chance to compete with Geno Smith for the starting role. Bradford’s short contract also allows the Jets to move on from him fairly quickly. The likelihood is Bradford is no one’s long term solution at quarterback.
San Francisco 49ers Probability: Medium Well, as I mentioned before, Bradford does have some ties to new San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers currently have a couple of quarterbacks on their roster, but rumor has it that Colin Kaepernick wants a change in scenery and Blaine Gabbert likely isn’t the quarterback San Francisco wants to invest its future in. Bringing in Bradford would give someone for Gabbert to compete with and allow the 49ers to move on from Kaepernick. Again, it does not solve the long term quarterback issue, but it certainly makes the present a bit better.
Denver Broncos Probability: High John Elway already traded for one Eagles quarterback this offseason, why not another? This trade probably won’t happen if only because Denver does not have the money or doesn’t want another Philly castoff, but from the standpoint of filling a need, it makes a lot of sense. Bradford could fit well into a run-heavy scheme and he would not be required to put up huge numbers with the defense he would have in Denver. The Broncos are a team that has a championship-caliber roster, minus the quarterback. Bradford might be just good enough to keep Denver’s hopes of repeating alive.
New Orleans Saints Probability: Low This one might sound a little bizarre, but hear me out. The Saints have Drew Brees under contract through this season and then he becomes a free agent. His cap figure is currently the highest in the NFL, so New Orleans would probably like to find a cheaper option. Enter Bradford in 2017. He spends a year on the bench, learning the system and the personnel before taking over as the starter. The Saints do have last year’s third round pick Garrett Grayson on the roster still, but if New Orleans isn’t sold on him, Bradford would be a good option. He would need to take a pay cut this year to make it work, but long term, this might be a good solution for Bradford.
Buffalo Bills Probability: Low These two teams already have a good relationship after working out a major deal last year to swap Kiko Alonso and LeSean McCoy. Maybe they will pull off another deal. No one is sure if Tyrod Taylor is the long term answer at quarterback. He and E.J Manuel are set to be free agents after next season. That could open the door again for a situation similar to what could happen in New Orleans. Bradford would be able to learn the system and compete with Taylor for the starting job. If he doesn’t get it, then he could take over the following season.
The Eagles have been the most scrutinized team in the NFL since Chip Kelly arrived in Philly from the Pacific Northwest. He brought with him a college style of coaching and a new offense that many assumed could not work at the professional level. He has burned more than his fair share of bridges as well with many of his now former players.
For better or worse, Chip has completely changed the landscape of the NFL in his three years as head coach. But what if he had never left? What if Kelly had decided to stay out at Oregon and run his fast-paced offense? That is exactly what we are going to talk about right now.
Well first thing is first, the Eagles need a new coach when Andy Reid is fired following the 2012 season. So Philly brings in current Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer was tabbed by Minnesota in 2014 but because he is still a coordinator in Cincy in 2013, the Eagles snap him up instead.
The team approach for Philly completely changes. Zimmer brings in a defensive presence to an Eagles team that desperately needed it. Philadelphia had ranked tied for 29th in the league in 2012 for scoring defense. Needless to say, Zimmer would look to bring in some fresh faces. Needing a solid defensive end, Philly targets Michael Bennett from the Bengals in offseason and avoids letting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walk away.
Already the defense looks better and some very important things happen for the Eagles offense. Zimmer never isolates DeSean Jackson so he stays and there is no push a year later for Jeremy Maclin or LeSean McCoy to leave. Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis never feel unwelcome either. Philly keeps together their core together instead.
2013 proves to be an excellent year for Philly as they once again capture the NFC East crown, but this time, Zimmer gets a playoff win against New Orleans, as his defense finds a way to limit Drew Brees on the road. The Eagles travel to Carolina the following week and pick up a big victory against the favored Panthers. Philly runs into a buzz saw in the form of Seattle in the NFC Championship game though and sit at home as the Seahawks blow out the Broncos. Overall though, it is a very positive start to the Zimmer era in Philly.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, the Ducks enter the season as a team with major National Title aspirations again but have a legitimate chance of getting the job done with Kelly at the helm. He and sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota manage to go the whole season with just one loss, a blowout defeat against Arizona. Kelly calling the shots proves to be enough for Oregon to beat Stanford and hold onto their title aspirations much longer. Instead of finishing 10th in the standings, the Ducks finish fifth and earn a spot in the 2014 Rose Bowl in place of Stanford.
Zimmer continue to prepare his team for a very important 2014 campaign though over in Philadelphia. His core of McCoy, Jackson, Maclin and rookie Jordan Matthews pace the offense and make life easy on Nick Foles. The defense, led by Michael Bennett, Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and rookie Bradley Roby, proves to do enough for Philly to make the playoffs in 2014 instead of just missing out. The team moves forward mainly due to avoiding a late season loss to Washington.
The Eagles enter the postseason with a matchup against Dallas on the horizon. The Cowboys split the regular season series with Philly but they lost at home then and they do again here. That mean Philly travels to Seattle for the divisional round and for the second straight year, the Eagles fall against the Seahawks in the playoffs.
Checking back in on the West Coast, Marcus Mariota is tipped to be the Heismann winner with Kelly at the helm. Oregon is coming off a Rose Bowl win and looks to be a lock for the College Football playoff. They finish the season with just one loss for the second consecutive year under Kelly, the loss once again coming against rival Arizona. Mariota bolsters his draft stock in his junior season and takes home the Heismann Trophy by a landslide. Oregon still ends up in the National Title game, still against Ohio State. The game ends a lot closer this time around but still in an Ohio State win.
The 2015 NFL draft rolls around and after his transcendent performance under Kelly at Oregon, Mariota leapfrogs Jameis Winston in the predraft build up. Mariota goes number one overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee is left to take Winston second.
Later on in the first round, selecting after the would’ve this year, the Eagles instead take Arizona State safety Damarious Randall to bolster the secondary then draft the troubled Randy Gregory in the second round. Now, Zimmer has all of the pieces he wants to play with on defense and Philly enters the season as an early season favorite to win the NFC instead of a team with dozens of questions surrounding it.
McCoy never winds up in Buffalo, Maclin never joins Andy Reid in Kansas City. DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews never join during the offseason. Instead, Mathews heads to Tennesee to help the rebuilding Titans. Murray takes his talent (or lack there of) to Baltimore.
Who would’ve thought that the NFL would change this much just because Chip Kelly decided to stay at Oregon.