NFL Offseason Transactions Ending 04/04/09
Total Pro Sports – Forgive me if this post doesn’t delve into the far reaching effects of Chad Mustard’s retirement, because this week one player dominated the headlines; Jay Cutler.
The most disgruntled part of this deal has to be the Denver Bronco fans. Yes you have two first round picks, but one of those has to be used on getting Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman both serious downgrades (at least in 2009) from Cutler – even if you sat them a year, Kyle Orton won’t offer anything near the level Cutler would have. I liked Orton the first half of last year from a conservative run first game manager standpoint, but after rushing back too early from a mid season ankle injury his play fell away badly and he slipped into the coma of mediocrity that many Chicago QBs find themselves in. He lacks the arm of Cutler and is a statue in the pocket, but he fits the mold of what Josh McDaniels wants his offense to do; coordinating for Tom Brady and Matt Cassel has taught McDaniels that you don’t need a huge arm for success, instead basing your offense around slants and screens whilst keeping the defence honest with the persistent threat of the deep ball. I don’t really understand McDaniels’ unwavering attempts to force his strategy into Denver like a square peg in a round hole. I’ve heard Eddie Royal is his Wes Welker, but I still don’t see how this offense caters to a top 10 receiver in Brandon Marshall; Marshall lacks top end speed so you use his big frame to cause trouble in the middle of the field, but his routes aren’t sharp enough to play the slant routes McDaniels may ask of him. I’m not saying this kills Marshall but it certainly won’t be utilising him in his best role. You also fear for Orton due to the lack of a coherent run game to lean on; he’ll be blessed with a talented TE like he was in Chicago, but Denver lack an every down back that can catch ball and go between the tackles. Instead, Denver will employ 19 running backs at a time: Hillis and Buckhalter receiving, Lamont Jordan between the tackles, Selvin Young when Jordan inevitably gets injured. In other words: a mess.
As far as the Bears, I think they’ll be pleased and their fans ecstatic. There aren’t too many young franchise QBs out there (Rivers, Roethlisberger, Rodgers and Cutler are about it), so Chicago will be delighted to have one. Cutler will plug in and be productive from 2009 onwards no problem at all, with his cannon arm suiting the vertical passing offense Chicago employs. The price they paid – Orton, a 2009 first round, a 2009 third round and a 2010 first round – was a steep one; I’m not saying they overpaid, but they certainly didn’t steal Cutler for nothing. And at the end of the day the money, interest and hype that Cutler brings far outweighs that of Eben Britton or Larry English.
As far as the draft, if Denver targets a QB, I think they’re actually worse off than before despite adding a first round pick. They have to trade up since they can’t guarantee Freeman getting past the Jets and falling to them at 18, and they can’t guarantee Sanchez getting past San Francisco to them at 12. McDaniels is going to fall in love with the pro-style offense Sanchez runs in USC and I think that’s who he targets, so he has to move ahead of San Francisco. If Green Bay wants Everette Brown or BJ Raji they can’t move from 9 and go behind San Francisco and the Bills, leaving Jacksonville to start a lucrative bidding war for their 8 pick; they can still get any corner they want between 10 and 15 and would secure at least an extra third from Denver, San Francisco or the Bucs. If Denver ship their 12 pick for a QB inferior to Cutler, and draft a 3-4 defensive player who is worse than who they would of drafted at 12 (Tyson Jackson and BJ Raji will both be gone), how has this trade helped them this year? Denver can still stick with Orton and go defence, defence with the 12 and 18 pick which of course upgrades them no end, but I just think the lure of Sanchez may be too much for Josh McDaniels to resist. It looks like Chicago were targeting Eben Britton so when they traded away their first they scrambled for an elite left tackle, with Orlando Pace installed they can move Chris Williams over to RT – a much better fit for him. My concern would be how they address both their meagre pass rush and their lack of possession receiver with just a second round pick. They can’t have Hakeem Nicks AND 3-4 defensive end Jarron Gilbert.
Bottom line the Broncos should never have got themselves in this position and Josh McDaniels is probably, and deservedly, getting absolutely blasted by owner Pat Bowlen for this whole fiasco.