The season is over and the rumour mill has well and truly kicked in with trades, free agents and endless mock drafts. We’ve already seen a trade been agreed with Alex Smith leaving Kansas to take up the QB spot in Washington leaving, presumably, Kirk Cousins to seek out a new team in free agency. So I decided to create a list of some stuff I’ve heard, some stuff that makes sense but probably won’t happen and some stuff that is a little bit outlandish but hey, you never know!
Washington franchise tag Kirk Cousins
If this did happen it would cause a massive stir! Alex Smith is in bound and has agreed in principle to a new contract giving him $70m over four years. This means that Cousins is out the door following two years playing under the franchise tag. Doesn’t it?
Well, the Redskins might want to still try and get something back for their investment in Cousins over the last couple of years. If they were to franchise tag him it would mean that a team would have to offer draft picks or players (though I would expect it would be picks) as part of a trade to acquire his rights. Cousins is likely to be the most in demand player heading in to free agency so the opportunity to bypass what will be an auction for his services might be attractive to a team and might tempt them to part with what will likely need to a first round pick.
It is though, a pretty big risk for Washington to take as if there are no offers they’ll either need to swallow the cost of his tag (over $30m) or cut him anyway. It could also cause concern for Smith. Remember, nothing is technically official until the league season officially starts in March so whilst Kansas probably won’t pull the plug, Smith could turn down the new contract and leave Washington in limbo.
Any experienced QB to the Jaguars
All season the adage was that “the Jaguars could win the Super Bowl if they had a decent QB”. Well, the recency bias would point to Blake Bortles being alright and in fact I’ve written previously that his stats year on year have been on an upward trajectory. The problem with Bortles is his inconsistency. Brilliant, world beater one week and then next week he couldn’t complete a pass to save his life!
The Jaguars got to the conference championship game mainly off the back of what is an awesome defence, one of the best we’ve seen. What they need at the QB position is efficiency and a lack of turn overs. They don’t need fireworks, just hand the ball off to Fournette and make the odd pass here and there to keep the clock ticking and the sticks moving. That’s why it makes sense to bring in a veteran QB who is all about game management and efficiency. Could it be that they look to someone like Case Keenum to come in and solidify the position? He had a great year with the Vikings and rarely turned the ball over so would seem a good fit.
Seems logical but I think the Jags still favour the devil they know and providing Bortles doesn’t completely implode then he’ll probably still be under centre in Jacksonville come the start of next season.
Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas to the Raiders
It’s looking increasingly likely that the Seahawks are going to go through a transition and many of the older players will probably leave to free up cap space, bring in some fresh thoughts and most importantly, get the attitude out of the locker room!
Sherman is the biggest attitude of the bunch! Throughout the draft in 2017 there were rumours that the Seahawks were shopping him for the right trade option after he’d voiced his opinion one too many times. Now he’s recovering from a serious injury and even before then, there was talk of his decline. Couple that with his base salary of $11m in 2018 then the Seahawks may look to cash in.
His backfield partner in crime, Earl Thomas is still a class player and a key piece of the defence. However, increasingly it seems like he’s been scheming for a move out of Seattle. His talent though is not on the decline but again, 2018 is a contract year for him where he’ll earn a base salary of $8.5m.
That’s $19.5m that the Seahawks could get back in cap space and add to their existing $14m to help them reload for 2018. The other thing they could do with is more draft picks. Who can they shop these two? Chances are they won’t go as a package but if they did then the Raiders could be an interesting option. They had a bad 2018 with their defensive backs coming in for ridicule for their lack of interceptions. Couple the attitude of these two with that of newly appointed coach Jon Gruden and that could create some fireworks!
Jimmy Graham to the Patriots
Jimmy Graham has not been the player he was in New Orleans. He has had a quietly good season though with ten touchdown catches (second highest in the league after DeAndre Hopkins) and is very likely to enter free agency.
New England have the best tight end in the league in Rob Gronkowski and no one is going to supplant him but it’s no secret that Belichick likes to play with a two tight end set. He traded for Dwayne Allen in the summer, but he’s not really done anything. So why not bring in Graham to play alongside Gronk? Chances are Graham isn’t going to be looking for big money at his age and the prospect of a Super Bowl ring and receiving passes from Tom Brady might just do it.
It wouldn’t be fair though would it?!
AJ Green to the 49ers
There have been very quiet rumours of AJ Green wanting out of Cincinnati. But those rumours are that he’s getting fed up playing for a franchise that isn’t going anywhere and with Marvin Lewis staying put, looking like it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Green has a get out on his contract at the end of 2018 so unless the Bengals franchise tag him, he could walk then. So now might be a good opportunity to shop him. Step up John Lynch and the 49ers.
Lynch has shown he’s not afraid to do a bit of wheeling and dealing with trade picks but Green won’t be cheap. Chances are it would be a second pick plus change to get one of the top receivers in the league but I’m sure that he’d enjoy catching passes from Jimmy G in the Californian sun!
Sheldon Richardson to the Texans
JJ Watt on one side. Clowney on the other. Could you imagine a better landing spit for a defensive tackle? Seattle paid a fairly high price to get Richardson from the Jets and whilst he’s not had the worst season, but he’s not exactly lived up to the hype. As per Sherman and Thomas, he’s also another big voice in the locker room which they might want to clear out.
With his average season in 2017 his salary asks might not be exorbitant, so he could stay in Seattle but if he did leave a nice landing spot could be Houston. He would add to an already impressive defensive front and would terrorise QBs in the AFC South. With the Jaguars ripping up the AFC with a dominant defence the Texans could follow suit by employing one of the best defensive tackles entering free agency.
Buffalo trade their two first rounders to get a top ten draft pick
Cleveland and Buffalo both have two picks in the first round of the draft. The difference is, Cleveland’s are in the top five and Buffalo don’t pick until the 20s. The front office in Buffalo, more notably the ownership, have never been in love with Tyrod Taylor despite him doing a decent job. It looks increasingly likely that they won’t be employing him in 2018. With that in mind they need a QB.
They could go in to free agency and try and pick up whoever is available and battle it out with other QB needy teams. But I think this ownership would be up for drafting a young hope and to do that, they probably need to move up in the draft. The highest place they could probably get to is the 3rd pick currently owned by the Colts. The Colts have got a lot of needs so could very well switch their one draft pick for Buffalo’s two. Then anywhere from seven backwards could be up for grabs. Tampa are 7th, then Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland and Miami at 11. The top four QB prospects though could be all gone by the time Tampa pick so it’s either Indianapolis’ 3rd pick or try and persuade Cleveland to trade their 4th pick before both Denver and the New York Jets pick.