Something I’ve heard far too little about is going after a QB is free agency. Here is my thinking for why we should go after one, well basically go after Flynn:
I don’t think we’re focusing enough on what NEEDS to be done in Free Agency to reach the magic $142.5 million dollar mark for this year’s salary cap. Well, more like $120.375 in salary and the other $22 odd million going to benefits, but you get the idea.
The league as a whole needs to use 95% of that figure this year, some $3.1 billion By next year the spending will be mandatory for each individual team, so there’s no real reason why Lerner cheap butt shouldn’t pull out his wallet this year and have H/H land us something in 2012 FA. He will have a difficult time spending the money next year if he doesn’t start this year.
Bottom line, quick and dirty: We will let Adams ($1.6 m.) Dawson (3.25 m.), A. Smith (640k) all go. The #4 pick will sign for around $5 m. and the #22 will go for about $2 m. This will leave us (assuming a D. Jackson resign and even a generous P. Hillis resign) at least $ 25 m. in cap room to play with…
The team is poised to have a breakout season if we could just pull together some important offensive pieces to the puzzle. (Let's ignore the Defensive needs for the moment for the sake of argument) The glaring deficiencies are QB, WR, and RT. (Colt apologetics hold off for a minute.) Looking at the NFL as a whole, this has become a QB driven league. The elite teams have elite QBs, end of discussion. H/H are not idiots, they know this fact, and they know that we need to do whatever we can do to find one.
Why go for a QB in FA?
Reason 1: H/H have a clear philosophy of building through the draft, we all get that. And for that reason I’m confident they will try to fill our offensive voids of WR and RT through this year’s draft. At both of these positions rookie players can have an immediate impact, which is a blatant necessity for whatever players we pick up in at least the first 2 rounds this April. QB’s have a much steeper learning curve and cannot make an immediate (and winning, Cam’s team was still 6-10) impact in this league. This is a simple fact.
Reason 2: H/H have never drafted or even groomed and elite QB. Favre and Hasselbeck were both FA or trade pick ups. McNabb was already on the roster when Heckert arrived. Holgrem has made comments time and again alluding to the fact that they are looking for this elusive franchise QB. He knows the immediate impact it would have on this tea. He knows the pressure it would take off our already good D in becoming another great AFC North D.
Reason 3: I’d rather take a QB with NFL experience and grooming then take a flyer on a QB that may or may not be elite and may or may not even fit a WCO system (RGIII). Nowhere else in this draft or the next are any prospects as promising… This is reason enough to at least consider a FA QB.
All this being said, there is only one real prospect for us this year. Well and one fantasy prospect. Here are the two options I see and the cases for them:
FA QB #1: Matt Flynn:
1. I can’t stress how important this is to H/H. Flynn already knows the West Coast offense, he know the lingo, he has been groomed in essentially the same system Shurmer is attempting to run; the learning curve will be minimal .
2. GB can’t afford to franchise tag him at the QB position ($18 mill., no way!) He will be an unrestricted FA
3. He has all the athletic tools to succeed in the WCO, athleticism, speed, good decision-making, exceptional grooming
4. He is an immediate upgrade over Colt, even if he is the next Matt Schaub (backup groomed into average/above average starter); we can win with that
5. There is no realistic FA QB’s on the horizon in 2013 if Colt is still a bust next year. (Flacco and Schaub are UFA next year, but they’ll likely get extensions this season).
6. He won’t come cheap, but won’t come that expensive either… think $10 m. range. We can certainly make him a great offer.
FA QB #2: Peyton Manning: (of course pending his return)
Qualifier: Let's be honest he'll never come to Cleveland at this point in his career to try and rebuild a franchise... but wouldn't it be cool... at least there's some factors going in our favor:
1. I don’t care what you say…on March 8, he is due a $28 m. signing bonus. New coach, new GM, new QB (Luck), have you heard Peyton’s comments this week?… all signs point to an exit. The new leadership can’t rebuild with both Manning and Luck on the roster, that is $50 m. in cap space tied up in one position, this is a business folks… and that’s bad business keeping on the roster in a rebuild
2. Peyton knows the WCO inside and out
3.We are supposedly getting an OC, but what if we don’t?… and Peyton fills this role on the field… him and Shurmer essentially splitting play calling duties… or even brining in the Colts OC who got just fired (Tom Moore) to help install that clearly effective system
4. Heck, we can afford whatever price he asks
5. With our D and Peyton at the helm (pick up a RT and WR or two)… we have an elite team that can compete with anyone…
6. Having Peyton for 3 years would be a Godsend, but also a stop-gap, during this period we now have additional time to groom a QB of the future, whomever that may be