I’ve been working a 12 hour shift at night as part of a training exercise. The worst part about working from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. is the television. As I was sitting around today and yesterday trying to find something to watch on TV relating to football while I surf NFL news sites and blogs, I found that the only two sports channels I have in my hotel room are ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN used to be my favorite network as a kid growing up and as such, I watched it religiously. These days, ESPN is closer to MTV than the ESPN of old in the sense that it only spends time focusing on iconic sports figures and franchises, such as the Yankees, the Cowboys, T.O., Brett Favre, and the current “it” team(s). Oh, and when I say spending time, I mean spends about 23.5 hours a day (no quality control is perfect, though; every once in a while the little guys sneak on the network).
The last two days have been especially brutal because a certain drama queen decided to retire. I don’t care whether Brett Favre is a great guy or Satan, or if he made a mistake by going to the Jets for a year. I just want him to go away. As I was in the process of loathing Jim Rome, Ed Werder, Chris Mortenson and everyone on NFL Live for dedicating ALL 30 minutes to inflating Favre’s head even more, something occurred to me. This could actually help the Texans immensely.
When Brett Favre strode into Manhattan and the city was abuzz with Super Bowl aspirations, former Jets coach Eric Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum saw that they had one too many QBs, so they decided to send the perennially injured Chad Pennington packing, who eventually found his way to divisional opponent Miami. That turned out not to be the best decision in the world as the Dolphins beat the Jets in Week 17 and in doing so, won the AFC East. The bigger issue now is that with Favre’s retirement, the number one QB on the Jets' depth chart is Kellen Clemons. By trading for Favre in the first place, the Jets showed that they didn’t believe enough in Clemons as a quarterback to make him the starter, so you have to assume the same is true today. Which means they need a new QB (yes, I can put 2 and 2 together, I know I’m special).
So how does this help us? Very simply, there is a shortage of starting caliber QBs available this year, both in the draft and free agency. In fact, there are more teams that need a QB than quality QB prospects. This is what we like to call a Seller’s Market because there is more demand than supply. The main thing that helps us is that several of the teams that need or desire a QB fall after the fifteenth pick of the draft, otherwise known as the Houston Texans first round selection.
Usually you get differing opinions from so-called draft experts, but one thing you see pretty unanimously this year is that there are only three QBs worth taking in the first round: Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. Many people believe that Detroit will make Stafford the number one overall pick because they can take him at one and then take another position of need later in the round, thanks to Jerry Jones giving them Dallas' first round selection. There are many differing opinions about Mark Sanchez’s selection, ranging from Seattle with the fourth overall pick, San Francisco with the tenth, and/or Washington with the thirteenth. Almost all mock drafts I’ve seen, however, have Sanchez being selected before us at 15, which I feel is realistic. So that leaves just Freeman for the Jets at 17. If one of those teams in the market for a QB decides that they can’t live without Freeman, this could be our ticket to trading down and receiving extra draft picks.
There are three different teams that I can envision trading with us to select Freeman. Using the same table as I did before, I will estimate the return for our pick and discuss what the pros and cons are for each below:
Tampa Bay – The team has a love/hate relationship with the aging Jeff Garcia, and there other option is Luke McCown and Brian Griese, ouch. I have also discussed the possibility of Tampa being in the market for a RB with their first pick, but I think the depth at RB is much greater than QB in this year’s draft and therefore allows Tampa to pick up a serviceable RB sometime after the first round. If we gave Tampa the 15th overall pick, we would likely receive the 19th and the 83rd overall picks, which constitute the Bucs' first and third round selections. At 19, all of the defensive players we would have been looking at with our pick would probably still be there because San Diego is likely to take either a RB or OL. If a QB is not available, the Jets desperately need help at CB or DE (but they are looking for a DE to fit a 3-4), and I think Chicago will take a WR, although the danger is that they need a DE as well (the 4-3 kind, unfortunately). I say if they make an offer, take it in a heartbeat.
Detroit – This may confuse you given not only the belief that they will take Stafford with the first pick, but also by the fact that I just said they would earlier in this post. I have read an interesting theory/opinion a couple different times that Detroit should take an OT with their 1st overall pick, and then use the pick they got from Dallas, which is the 20th, to pick Josh Freeman. If you think about it, it really does hold some water. How many QBs have been selected first overall and been total busts, and how many busts can you think of that were OTs? If they decide to follow this strategy, there is a decent chance they might trade with us to take Freeman at 15, who would probably still be the third and final QB left in the first round, because I don’t think Kansas City or Seattle would be able to pass on Stafford. The reason Detroit would be willing to give up extra picks, even though they need as much help as they can get, is because they’re playing with house money (i.e., Dallas draft picks), and they desperately need their QB of the future. They might be able to convince the fans that it was wise not to select a QB first overall, but they’ll have a riot if they don’t select a QB in the first round. If we took the deal, we would most likely get a very similar deal than we would have gotten with Tampa, although Rick Smith might be able to finagle a fifth round pick as well. We would have to contend with the same picks as I listed in the Tampa argument and the Bucs themselves, who would probably be looking at RB or WR here, but may be looking for an interior DL if they can’t sign Albert Haynesworth. If it’s the only offer we’re getting, I say take it, but I like the Tampa trade for the purpose of less risk, and I like the next one because of greater reward.
Minnesota – My God does this team need a QB. They very easily could have been a Super Bowl contender with a better signal caller last year. If they don’t get better play from that position this year, Brad Childress loses his job and he knows it. If we took the deal with Minnesota and gave them the 15th pick, we would almost definitely be looking at the 22nd, 86th, and 118th picks, which would mean not only an extra third round selection but a fourth rounder as well. The only other teams we would have to wait on not mentioned above would be Detroit and Philladelphia. The Eagles will probably take TE Brandon Pettigrew, and if Detroit is picking at 20, they’ll probably be looking for a LB to anchor their woeful defense. Even if we were looking at the same LB prospect as Detroit, I can’t think of one that would still be around at 20 that we absolutely couldn’t live without, especially for an extra fourth round pick. We really need a speed rushing DE, and LB value can always be found in the middle rounds of the draft. This is my favorite of all the prospective trades so far because I think it would allow Smith to take a chance in the second round knowing that he had a safety net of both two third and fourth round picks.
These are the three scenarios that I think are plausible involving teams trading up for the express purpose of drafting a QB. Tennessee is rumored to be eyeing Freeman as well, but I don’t think they would trade up to get him and I would hope that we wouldn’t trade with a divisional opponent to give them the player they really wanted anyway. That reminds me of the last reason why I like this strategy. What do the three teams I listed have in common? They’re all NFC teams, which means if Freeman turns out to be the real deal and is their franchise QB, he’ll only really be able to burn us in the Super Bowl. That’s the kind of problem I’m willing to deal with.