Or take a knee and drink some water. After the last 2 days of free agency bonanza we probably deserve one. Let's also take our hats off to Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano. Maybe we should also thank Peyton Manning for keeping the eyes of the League off the Top (and only true #1) WR available on the market and the NFL's #1 left guard. We also made a signing at our weakest position of CB with an expensive deal for Eric Wright. Regardless Dominik & Schiano came out into free agency with a confidence and executed a great game plan.
Where we stand cap-space wise:
We have 49 players (not counting camp bodies who are signed under "futures" contracts) currently under contract (after jettisoning Faine) for a Cap cost of 128 Million. Given our rollover money (and subtracting the cost of draft picks) we have just about 11-12 million left under the cap.
However we do need to be careful, for the 2013 season we have 30 players under contract for 98 Million. Adding in draft picks along with contract incentive acceleration clauses and you could be looking at being at 35 players at 110 million without breaking a sweat. Then add in the 2013 draft picks and your looking at 40 players at or about 115 million. That's without re-signing or extending anyone which is unlikely. We do have a couple of so-far under-performers who could gives us some breathing room if released (RE: Quicny Black & Kellen Winslow) but that's a story for later.
What I draw from this:
A) Were done with "big signings" in Free Agency. The right player at an inexpensive price is do-able. They may even burn some more temporary cap space for this season (the rollover allowance) if the right player comes along. [For example, last year Stephen Tulloch was looking for 8 million a season and ended up at 1 year 4 million with Detroit when the market dried up.
B) We may wait until after June 15, that will be the second round of cap casualties (Teams can split the cap hit over two years).
C) Player Notes:
Kellen Winslow TE- I firmly believe were trying to move him, he has a big cap number (6.47 Million) , he does still have some value to teams and none of its guaranteed so we may get something from a team that won't risk free - agency.
Jeremy Trueblood RT - He's here for this season unless someone beats him out in camp. We did rush for 6.6 yards to the right so he can at least run block, his pass blocking is spotty though. I don't see anyway we bring him back though in 2013, that total above already excludes his 5 million a year and we won't bring him back at that price.
Aerilous Benn WR - Up front I have not heard this anywhere total conjecture. He's expendable now, Jackson & Williams are very easily leg up starters. Parker and Strougher will compete for the slot position. Briscoe is a situation receiver and a spot starter. If a team goes looking for a potential #2 Benn could be an option for them prior to the draft.
Positions Still of Need
#1 CB - If we don't have Talib (and no one can count on that unless you've bribed a jury - so please don't tell me you can - and certainly don't confess if you did)
#2 TE - If the team is seriously shopping Kellen Winslow, Luke Stocker & Chris Compton don't inspire me.
#3 and #5 MLB or OLB - I'm Pretty Confident Mason will shift to weakside linebacker, I feel a MLB who has experience at calling defensive adjustments will be freeing to Mason who can simply react. A strong side backer should come cheap (maybe Black can earn his money). Note: I can live with Mason in the middle if we have a playcaller at SS.
#4 RB - Change of Pace, even if you are Pro-Blount he's better served to have a change of pace guy.
#6 SS - Grimm could be upgraded especially with his health issues, would be an outstanding reserve and a special teams ace.
#7 Developmental RT - Unless you have a belief in Demarr Dotson...yeah no Trueblood in 2013 so someone to take his spot.
#9 Backup QB - When you play football with Josh Freeman's style injury is always a risk. Rudy Carpenter does not inspire confidence in me.
#10 Backup Center - We only have Zuttah
Winslow to Chicago
1) Read the Tampa's 2nd round & Kellen Winslow for Chicago's First Rounder (#19 overall) - I don't see that happening for that price. First we would have to want a player at that spot, I can see maybe one of the big 3 corners lasting to just there, Dont'a Hightower would be a slight reach but would be a very very interesting pick at that spot if we get a deal done before draft day it's something to keep an eye on. Possibly a runningback if we've fallen in love with one of those other than Richardson. BOTTOM LINE: To make this deal work your giving up a 3rd round draft choice in 2013 as well and probably a marginal offensive or defensive lineman.
2) If he goes elsewhere we won't do better than a 5th or 6th round selection.(Possibly a 4 during the draft if someone whiffs on a TE plan in the 2nd round (it's a small group of TE's)
In General: If we stay at #5 , and Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne are still there (high probability) we have a choice between best player available and biggest need. I don't think we can go wrong either way.
LaMichael James Round 3? - At the moment heck no.....too many teams are raising his stock I think he'll come back down some but he won't make it out of round 2.
David Lavonte - Ditto the LaMichael James comment, might still slip because he's undersized but it's less and less likely as the cream is rising to the top.
---Conjecture , I firmly believe were taking RB & CB in the first two rounds (though in either order). Simply put thats where the value is. 4 Very Good Backs (Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Doug Martin, LaMichael James) all should be gone before the end of the 2nd. 4 Very Good CB's after the Big 3 (Stephon Gilmore, Alfonzo Demand, Robinson, Dwight Bentley) all should be gone before the end of the 2nd round. At both CB & RB the value and talent drops pretty significantly after this second group.
The First Three of the draft : Luck , RGIII, Kalil - - - - - after that it gets interesting.
Tampa could trade out of the 5th spot if: (Draft Trade Scenarios)
(Most Probable If we Trade at all) Cleveland takes Tannehill - - - Jacksonville may want Blackmon enough to leapfrog the Rams
(Next Most Probable) Cleveland takes Blackmon, Miami& Seattle are not in possession of a starting QB. Tannehill has a good pro day....Seattle will move up as soon as possible (This deal probably makes at two first rounders). In which case Tampa can fall back for Kuechly or Kilpatrick. [For those counting on Flynn he currently has no offers for starting QB money, Green Bay couldn't trade him for even a 2nd or 3rd round pick- otherwise would have franchised him, ie. teams are thinking of him as a guy who can maybe compete if you have no other options]
(Most Dangerous) Minnesota takes Claiborne (only 10% or so chance) Cleveland takes Richardson, . Tampa trades back in a panic for less than they could otherwise get.
How good are we now: We were not as good as our 10 wins in 2010, not as wretched as our 4 in 2011; we still have more questions than answers we've answered two of those questions and I'm pretty sure will answer at least two more on draft day. We still have more work to do .....but I don't think anyone could look at the body of work we did , how well Dom held the line on cost , the talent he brought in, Schiano's presentation and conclude were anything other than MUCH BETTER than we were 48 hours ago.