NFL Offseason Transactions Ending 03/07/09

Total Pro Sports – Who’s In

Unless your name is Scott Pioli, you’re probably a very nervous Chiefs fan right now. This week saw Matt Cassel swap New England for Kansas City, but also saw Denver implode, Detroit and Tampa left standing and the much hated Patriots demonize themselves further.

Here is an attempt at creating some sort of time line: Denver QB coach Jeremy Bates leaves for USC, Cutler wants out so Denver call Tampa. If Cutler goes, former Patriot now Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels wants his boy Cassel. A three way deal is setup which sees a first round pick to New England from Tampa, Cutler to Tampa and Cassel to Denver. The same three way deal is setup with Detroit instead of Tampa. Somewhere someone panics – my money’s on Cutler – and the two deals on the table stall. New England trade Cassel to the Chiefs. Complicated much? I’m not really buying the whole ‘Belichick deliberately tried to screw McDaniels for leaving his fold’ story, Cutler’s innocent victim act isn’t washing either and despite the protests I still think Denver are shopping Cutler about. As for Kansas, a player who has one season since high school in a high powered offense is, to put it lightly, a risk. I understand you want to transition from the unsustainable Thigpen spread offense, but why risk it with Cassel when Sanchez is yours at 3? Best case scenario Cassel is Jason Campbell 2.0, worst case he’s next year’s Derek Anderson – I would be nervous.

Last week also saw the Giants very quietly assert themselves atop of next year’s power rankings. Chris Canty adds depth to the line at either defensive end or tackle, whilst Michael Boley is a cheap young linebacker who has off the chart athletic ability and closing speed but is coming off a down season. The criticism you can level at him is his lack of physicality, but with Tuck, Cofield and the returning Umenyiora to focus on he isn’t getting double teamed and will often find himself with a free run at the quarterback. I really like this move and think Boley is going to make a name for himself in a system that suits his talents perfectly.

It was one in and one out for the Bengals, as TJ Houshmandzadeh returned to his north-west roots as a Seahawk and Laveranues Coles was brought in as his replacement. I think that Coles could be an efficient number two if Marvin Lewis has resurrected Chad Johnson, but relying on Coles as Palmer’s primary target is a step down from Houshmandzadeh however you want to spin it. I also think it backs the Bengals into a corner, forcing them to draft a receiver inside the first four rounds. As for Seattle’s offseason plans nothing much changes; even though they filled one of their problems positions they will likely move for Crabtree anyway.

I also like the Earnest Graham/Derrick Ward partnership that I hope the Bucs cultivate. Graham between the tackles and Ward catching balls out of the backfield will offer much needed support for whoever starts under center on opening day, since in all likelihood that QB won’t have much NFL experience. Hopefully head coach Raheem Morris doesn’t ask Ward to play every down, since he’s the prototypical change of pace back and I’d have durability concerns if he was to carry the ball 30 times a game.

The Jets’ Rex Ryan continued his Raven import policy with the promising Jim Leonhard, whilst the Ravens signed center Matt Birk. Since Birk isn’t the player he used to be he’ll adopt the leader role, but does a big new voice in the Ray Lewis locker room end in friction?

Who’s Out

Terrell Owens: 3 teams, 3 acrimonious endings. If it doesn’t work in Jerry Jones’ Dallas then where will it work Terrell? His best shot at the Superbowl was with the Cowboys, since I doubt any other contenders (New England, Pittsburgh, Giants, Carolina) would take him on board. As for the Cowboys, Roy E Williams will be glad to get himself on the opposite side of Jason Witten. As a split end he will face more man coverage than zone, and can use his freak physical ability instead of relying on his weak route running. As for the unemployed Roy Williams; he can make big hits for You Tube but is nowhere in coverage, meaning the Cowboys will be glad to see the back of him.

3 to Watch…

1)  Terrell Owens – Obviously he’s the big story next week, since someone will like his talent more than they dislike his attitude. I know I mentioned the Redskins as a suitor a few weeks ago, but with the Haynesworth deal I doubt this happens. Likely new home: Raiders or Broncos. Long shot: 49ers or Texans.

2)  The Rams to trade either Orlando Pace or Tory Holt. Depending on who goes, Jason Smith or Michael Crabtree will be their selection.

3)  More rumblings from Miami along the lines of “our starting QB will be called Chad. Henne or Pennington is our prerogative”.