Friday, 5 March 2010

How early free agency moves are shaping draft

By Rob Staton
Free agency hasn't exactly exploded into life this year - unsurprising due to the uncertainty surrounding a potential new CBA and the uncapped year making a lot of potential free agents RFA's. But there's been a few interesting moves that have already shaped how things may pan out in April's draft.

The Miami Dolphins have cut safety Gibril Wilson, a sign that they wish to make changes at the position. In my latest mock draft I suggested the Dolphins could potentially draft Earl Thomas (S, Texas) - a move which seems more likely today. Taking someone like Thomas in that situation would help due to his flexibility in coverage - important when you share a division with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Of course, this could prove to be 'freeing up space' for recently cut Antrel Rolle - but Thomas remains an even more realistic proposition today.

Of course the big news in Seattle was the departure of Nate Burleson for Detroit. I'm not surprised Burleson left, the Seahawks clearly didn't wish to pay a substantial contract worth numerous years for a receiver approaching 30 years of age. It's a nice fit for the Lions, who are seeking a complimentary receiver to the super Calvin Johnson and also another secondary weapon for cannon-armed Matt Stafford. It makes the Lions less likely to consider a wide out in the first 2-3 rounds and considering they missed out on Antonio Cromartie, a cornerback in round two becomes a possibility as projected in my latest mock.

So what about the Seahawks? It makes receiver a much greater need than people thought it would be 12 months ago. If Deion Branch is released as expected, it suddenly makes the receiving options: Houshmandzadeh, Butler, Obomanu. That's critical. Regular visitors to the blog last year will know how much I believed the Seahawks should have taken Michael Crabtree. That was in part due to Crabtree's extreme talent and what I believe to be elite potential. It was also with a situation like this in mind. Suddenly, having to spend one of those early picks on a receiver becomes a much stronger possibility. Dez Bryant at #6 or #14? Brandon LaFell, Damian Williams or Golden Tate at #40? It's a big need now and one that will have to be answered. Rest assured that reported talks with Arnaz Battle and Kelley Washington won't be the answer.

A lot of speculation is likely to appear suggesting the Seahawks will now trade for Denver's Brandon Marshall. This will be incredibly difficult. Denver are not in the mood to give away a talent like Marshall, even if they really do want to get him off the roster. From a bargaining position, the Seahawks would be shot. Knowing the great need for a wide out, the Broncos would have complete power in discussions. They'll ask for a first round pick. Seattle probably won't be willing to pay that considering the baggage that comes with Marshall. On paper though, it's a move that would suit both teams. Denver wouldn't be trading to a conference rival and Seattle would get one of the best players at his position - playing at his peak - to fill a need. I just don't think #40 is going to do it.

The Rams are supposedly close to bringing in A.J. Feeley. This will be another strong indicator that they intend to draft Sam Bradford. The Rams will sign a quarterback before the draft. The fact they're looking at back ups and stop gaps and not making a splash on a more long term solution is indicative of their intentions. Coughing up a second rounder for Michael Vick is one thing. Bringing in A.J. Feeley on the cheap is a sure fire sign that St. Louis are thinking QB first overall.


Steve in Spain said...

I find it hard to believe we'll release Branch under the circumstances, at least not without first securing a substitute.

Brando said...

Rob-How about Detroit trading for Corey Williams (a penetrating 3-Tech)and getting Vanden Bosch. They have obviously upgraded their Def line... do you think this will allow them to take Okung at #2? As I have already stated, this would mean that McCoy would very likely fall to us at #6. I know it is a lot of wishful thinking but it seems more likely today then ever before.

Brando said...

For instance, I could now see the first five picks like so:
#4-Clausen or Anthony Davis
#5-Dez Bryant or Berry

Charles said...

What do you think about us trading our 6th pick for their 11th pick? On the value chart that would equate to a 1st round pick worth of value, albeit a late first rounder. Another idea I had heard was that since Denver is moving to a power/man blocking scheme and are in need of a center, we could use Chris Spencer as part of a trade being that he was also a first round pick and might be of value to them. Not sure what that deal would have to include, but thought I'd throw it out as an idea.

Rob Staton said...

Brando - I will be stunned if the Lions pass on both Suh and McCoy. The moves they made won't significantly improve their line. I think it'll be a compliment to the stud DT. Okung is not worth the second overall pick.

Rob Staton said...

Charles - it's hard to project trades. I will say this though - I think better teams picking later in round one will be in a better position to trade for Marshall. The fact Seattle owns two first rounders and needs a wide out puts them in an awful bargaining position. Denver will demand their first round pick back. I doubt #40 will be enough to get him.

Ralphy said...

Brandon Marshall will be in Seattle tomorrow. The sixth choice in the draft seems like a lot for him. Don't you think Rob?

Anonymous said...

So drafting Dez Bryant with #6 or 14 makes more sense to you than trading giving up either for Brandon Marshall? If Seattle feels they need a playmaking receiver, which they do, they should value Marshall way higher than a guy who didnt even play football last year. It just wouldnt make any sense for Seattle to opt not to give up either first round pick for Marshall and then use one of those picks to draft Dez Bryant.

Ralphy said...

Sure it's worth it when he's on his best behavior. However it's rare that he is and when he isn't he can be a team cancer. He is also one strike away from a suspension. Look at this wrap sheet. Give me Dez over this!

Legal trouble
According to Orlando-Orange County public records (case 48-2004-MM-012392-O), on Halloween 2004, while a student at UCF, Marshall was arrested in Orlando on charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, refusal to obey, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.[54]
On January 1, 2007, Marshall was present at "The Shelter," a nightclub in Denver, Colorado, along with teammates Javon Walker and Darrent Williams. The trio was attending a birthday party held for and by Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin. As the players were leaving the club in a limousine, Williams was fatally shot in the neck after an unknown assailant opened fire on the vehicle. Willie Clark was later charged with the murder.[55] Walker has stated in interviews that the shooter was likely a nightclub patron whose motive was retaliation after being involved in an altercation with Marshall's cousin earlier that night.[56]
On March 26, 2007, Marshall was arrested in the Highlands Ranch suburb of Denver on suspicion of domestic violence after his girlfriend reported that following a domestic dispute, Marshall prevented a taxi she was in from leaving his house.[57] Charges from the incident were later dismissed on May 25, 2007, after Marshall completed anger management counseling.[58]
In the early morning of October 22, 2007, Marshall was arrested in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area at the intersection of 14th and Blake St. for driving under the influence of alcohol.[59] A trial was scheduled for September 16, but Marshall instead agreed to a plea bargain four days earlier; he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while ability impaired.[60] He was sentenced to one-year probation and 24 hours of community service.
On June 12, 2008, Marshall was ticketed for an illegal lane change, then found to be without his license and proof of insurance.[61] The case was eventually dropped as part of a plea bargain for the October 22, 2007 driving incident involving alcohol.[60]
According to an article published in the Rocky Mountain News on July 28, 2008, Douglas County deputies fielded "about 11" calls to Marshall's home since January 2006. The article stated that one call resulted in Marshall being arrested (the March 26, 2007 domestic dispute), and some did not involve him at all.[62]
A September 17, 2008 article on stated that the solicitor's office in Fulton County, Georgia filed misdemeanor battery charges on September 10 for an alleged incident on March 4, 2008, in Atlanta, Georgia. Marshall was booked on March 6, then released the next day after posting a $1,000 cash bond.[63] The case was assigned to Judge John Mather in Georgia state court.[64] On August 14, 2009, a jury in Atlanta found Marshall not guilty.[65]
On March 1, 2009, Marshall was arrested in Atlanta for disorderly conduct after allegedly being involved in a fight with his fiancee, Michi Nogami-Campbell. Marshall was released on a $300 bond.[66] The charges were dropped the following day.[67]

ChavaC said...

I realize Ruskell is long gone but I don't think that means we should go out trading 1st round picks for one of the biggest headaches in the NFL. If we can get Denver to give in and take the #40 and Branch, the risk/reward is right, but not for a top 16 pick.

And does taking Bryant at #6 or #14 really make sense over a starting LT or QB of the future (arguably the two most important positions in football)? I don't think he would really do much for us... do we need a third possession/YAC receiver? He's not a #1 type of guy who can strech the field and keep secondaries honest. In fact there aren't really any in this entire draft. I'd much rather take a LT/QB and snag a Damien Williams type in the second than blow an early pick on a skill position.

Brando said...

ChavaC- Agreed. I would even be willing to give up the #40 and the 4th rounder if they won't accept Branch but #6 is WAY to much and #14, while drastically better, is still too much.

Savage said...

I just cannot see any way that the Hawks would give up the #6 or #14 for Marshall. I think they will bring him in, see if they can get close on a contract and if they can, they'll call Denver and try to negotiate.

Just the fact that Marshall is close to getting long suspensions make him too big of a risk. I'd rather take Bryant at 6 or 14 then givbe up a guy who could get a long suspension. Bryant is an abvious character risk as well, but he comes to the NFL with a clean slate.

I could see some type of deal that gives Denver the 6 and we get their 11, but not straight up. #6, #40 and Branch for #11 and Marshall? Maybe Denver tosses in a 4th rounder too?

Mr. Chriss said...

Carlson and 40? I'd do it!

ChavaC said...

Wow, Pete's taking a look at a lot of guys. So far I see

Brandon Marshall, WR
Ben Watson, TE
Dawan Landry, SS
Arnaz Battle, WR
Ben Hamilton, G
Tyler Brayton, DE
Dwan Edwards, DE/DT
all comming to Seattle

and then
Kelley Washington, WR
Matt Ware, S
and Kampmann, DE
all have received interest. Looks like we're kicking a lot of tires.

Anonymous said...

Re: Marshall. Her's an idea lets bring in Pacman Jones.

Rob Staton said...

As much of a drama queen Marshall has been, he's nowhere near the plateau of Pacman Jones.

If the Seahawks can trade for Marshall using a 2nd and a 4th rounder, I think it'd be an interesting move. Gamble - yes. But a huge talent for a very reasonable price. Still - a lot of good value in round two and would be good options in round four.

Nano said...

Great post Rob, but I think we have more bargaining power than you claim. Marshall is a mosquito's dick away from a serious league suspension. He's show no ability whatsoever to stay out of trouble.

Part of Denver wanting to unload Marshall is the risk, not just that either party is happy with each other.

Nano said...

Rob, here's an outside the lines feature on Brandon Marshall.

Lots of he said/she said, but worth a watch. Might be good content for the site.

Nano said...

micah said...

I'm pretty excited about a possible b marshall trade. Imagine a receiving core of marshall as the big play threat, housh as the possession guy, and an improved butler as the slot guy, maybe used like eddie royal. Doesn't it seem like almost every game breaking wide receiver has some kind of drama thing. I think if we have strong leadership and guidence for him it will go a long way. Strong team leaders make a difference. Look at the Mariners.

Rob Staton said...

Very good point regarding the suspension. It wouldn't take much. I have to believe a large part of this 'meeting' today or tomorrow is the Seahawks getting to know Marshall, doing their homework and just seeing if they can trust the guy. Pretty hard to determine in two days, but they have to do what they can.

Nano said...

Rob: totally. I'd wager that the next contract he signs will contain some "prenuptial" rhetoric.

Kip Earlywine said...

Thanks Ralphy for posting the rap sheet. I was going to look it up out of due diligence, now I don't have to.

Yup, Marshall is a piece of work isn't he? But that didn't stop him on the field for Denver. He's a risk, but after really looking into the options, I feel he is the ONLY true #1 option for the Seahawks this offseason. That he happens to be the literal prototype of a Bates #1 WR makes him that much harder to say no to. I'd consider signing the sheet a mistake. That would cost us the #6 pick. Certainly, we should be able to acquire him for less than that. Boldin was had today for a 3rd and a 4th.

Nick said...

Redskins let Clifton get away. In talks with Pashos who is a RT. If they signed Clifton it would strongly suggest QB at #4. Now I'm not so sure. They could go OT there or maybe wait until #36.

Nick N.

Kelly said...

Is it possible that the Seahawks have worked out a tentative deal with Denver and they're bringing him in to interview him and work on a possible extension?

Vince Mulcahy said...

Marshall is a great player, but worth the #6? Hell no. We could get a similar framed guy at 40 without question. Yes they wouldn't have the same proven production and they would need time to adjust to NFL speed, but we would be a little more sure they wouldn't end up in court every couple of months!

Arrelious Benn, Brandon LaFell, Demaryius Thomas one of those guys will be available and I would much rather take a chance on them being a long term solution than Marshall who might has a chance to get suspended on every upcoming offense. Reciever is pretty deep this year and I think it is way too early to panic about our current roster of WR. If we were able to package other picks (or players) lets talk, but not at the cost of 6 or 14. Maybe 6 and Branch for 11 and Marshall?

nightwulf said...

"do we need a third possession/YAC receiver? He's not a #1 type of guy who can strech the field and keep secondaries honest."
Are we talking about the same Brandon Marshall here? 100+ catches with a 12yd+ average for EACH of the last 3 years? That's not #1 type production? And doing it on the Broncos? There ain't many in the NFL that've done better than that...
As far as the rap sheet goes, here's a translation:
Halloween 2004...Had likely had a bit (or more) to drink (it WAS halloween, after all) and got lippy with a cop. (if he'd actually HIT the cop, he'd have done time, end of story) The charges listed are pretty much boilerplate for when you annoy a cop enough that he wants to take you in to teach you a lesson/sleep it off...
Jan 1 2007: "was present" that's the only part that refers to him personally...the rest of the story deals with others.
Mar 26 2007 (3 months after he saw his friend gunned down) "prevented a taxi...from leaving" should also be noted that nowadays, you can get arrested for domestic abuse just for yelling at someone...They generally arrest someone in this situation to keep the two parties apart and allow them to cool down.
October 22 2007: Drunk driving...can't defend that at all...
June 12 2008 driving without paperwork...commonly goes away (as this did) when you show the judge that you did, in fact, posses the paperwork, just didn't have it with you at the time.
As for the last two, sounds like he fights with his GF a lot...
In short, it sounds like he could benefit from a change of scenery, a change of friends, and being single for a while.
Thanks to Ruskell, we've got a team of high character guys, who would likely help steer him along the right path...He's no where near as bad as Stevens was, let alone Pac Man...and on the field, he's a complete stud.
Another thing to remember...he's on record as saying that he hates the city of Denver...this isn't Denver...

ChavaC said...

Nightwulf, I completely agree with you that Marshall is a #1 type receiver. And I think that if you bring him in, not only will he produce but Housh will put up numbers closer similar to what he was doing with ochocinco. But that comment was about Dez Bryant, who I don't think projects as a #1. I don't really like anyone in this draft to fill that role, but I'm not a fan of trading away building block picks for a guy like Marshall. I won't deny he could help open the offense up, but what if he tries to play McDonalds flag football again? Or finally gets suspended big time? Or any of a hundred other stupid things I could see him doing? I would much rather attack receiver next year in the second or first (there are three good first round prospects in the 2011 draft class) and play an Obomanu this year.

Anonymous said...

You really don't think the Hawks would trade a first round pick to pick up Marshall? He's 26 and proven that he can play at an extremely high level in the NFL. That's a much safer pick then most first round picks, I don't care what kind of baggage he may come with. We need a play maker and he's it. I've even heard talk that we could give up #14 and still get a 3rd rounder and Marshall in return. I'm not seeing a downside.

nightwulf said...

Sorry, misunderstood you there...agree that there's risk with Marshall, but I'm thinking that if you give him a change of scenery, put him in a locker room full of stand up guys (like the Hawks) He may begin to pull his head out. And the upside would be HUGE...With great risk comes great reward...(last I heard, we were not going to give him an offer sheet, but were going to work on a trade with Den. Branch and Hill straight up, f'rinstance?)