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2019 Free Agency Thread

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So, we are starting to look forward to next season after the Jimmy G injury, and I thought it was a good time to bring up next years free agent class. While not all of these guys will be available come next season, I thought it was important to start up a list that we can update throughout the season. Right now, I'm focusing on the areas that I think that we can use improvements at, especially since we can count on the draft to fix all of the problems we have. 

2019 estimated cap space

We currently have about 33-40 million in cap space for 2018 per spotrac and OTC, which should roll over plus about 66 million in cap space for next year, assuming that the cap goes up about 10 million as it has the last few years and maxes out the cap at 187 million. 

So at the current point in time, I'd estimate we have about 106 million in cap space. 

Team Free Agents

  1. Jimmy Ward - Too many injuries in his career, simply can't be counted on. While he has nice versatility, he's not particularly good at any one of the positions he can play. Verdict: let him walk. 
  2. Robbie Gould - He's been a machine since we signed him (despite the random PAT miss yesterday). He's 37, which is somewhat getting up there, but certainly not too old to continue to kick. Verdict: We sign Gould to a solid 2 year deal for a kicker. I'd say the chances of him coming back are about 9/10. 
  3. Kyle Nelson - The team's veteran long snapper, he's been steady and consistent and I can't remember the last time we had an errant snap. His cost is nominal. He's 32, almost 33 years old, so we are certainly going to get to a point where competition is brought in to minimize the cost of the position, but I think he's almost a lock to re-sign. Verdict: We sign Nelson to a 3 year deal worth about 3 million total. Chances of him coming back are about 9/10, though I do think "real" competition will be brought in either next year or the year after. 
  4. Mike Person - Through 3 games, he's actually been okay. Despite being a Baalke draft pick, he's also a Shanny guy and has followed him through two stops. He's 30 years old, so age really shouldn't be an issue. Verdict: I think we probably re-sign him, and to be honest, I think it's a bigger contract than most expect unless we flat out decide we want to get better. If his play continues as is, don't be surprised if he turns a league minimum salary this year into a 3 year deal worth about 12-14 million next off season.  
  5. Mark Nzeocha -  Yeah, I guess technically he's a starter, but he's 28 already and at this point seems rather capped at what he's going to bring to the team, which is more or less just a depth guy that is forced to start. PIta is still around and perhaps next year will be the year he finally shows a little something at SAM. Verdict: I'd probably let him walk. I see no reason to bring him back given the lack of any real ceiling at this point. I'd rather just go younger and cheaper at the SAM position with someone who may have a higher ceiling. 
  6. Alfred Morris - He's showing that he still has a little left in the tank, and he does bring a running style that Breida and McKinnon don't have. The problem is the same that it was this year pre-McKinnon injury, roster construction. Morris doesn't add anything to special teams, while Mostert is one of the best special teams aces in the league in my opinion. So it seems unlikely that he would be made active on gamedays. Of course, that doesn't mean we won't re-sign him, particularly if he's cheap, which he appears to be. Verdict: I'm thinking this is a slow re-sign process, but eventually he gets another 1 year deal or something on the cheap. Likelihood that he's back: 5/10. Honestly, have no idea. Can see it go either way to be honest, so 50/50 seems reasonable. 
  7. Antone Exum- He's really only on the team when injuries pile up, and we seem to cut and re-sign him. My guess is that probably continues next season at best for him. If we are in trouble and need the bodies, he's probably a guy we bring in. 
  8. Bradley Pinion- I'm sort of up in the air on this one. I do view the competition between he and Locke this year as having been legit, so I think that there's a chance that he's not back,  but my guess is that we re-sign him and then it's a potential competition again at some point. 
  9. Raheem Mostert (RFA) - Unfortunately, while he is a restricted free agent, it's very unlikely that he's going to get a tender, which at least opens him up to be poached by a team, so it's something that we need to account for. The restricted free agent tender at a 2nd round level is going to be about 3 million, and I don't think that there's anyway we are giving that to a special teams ace. Since Mostert was undrafted, that essentially means original round tender and free game for anyone, but we'll have the option to match if we want if we do put the tender on.  It should be noted that Spotrac lists him as an unrestricted free agent, while OTC lists him as a restricted free agent. I'm not sure which is accurate, though I'm inclined to go with OTC since in 2016 he only played 3 games and in 15/17 had 11 games each. I don't think he's accrued enough full seasons to be an unrestricted free agent) 

Possible / likely cuts: 

  1. Garry Gilliam - Any thoughts on cutting someone should absolutely start here. It's not that Gilliam is bad or anything, but next year he has a cap hit of five million. For a swing tackle. That's just insane. Given that we just acquired Shon Coleman, who is under contract next year at a paltry 700K and likely is giving comparable play (he was a 16 game starter last year after all, even if it was a not so great one), I don't see why you are carrying Gilliam next year at that cost. Especially as a back up. 
  2. Cassius Marsh - I know, I know. I'm trying to break @oldman9er's heart. But I expect at least one, possibly two new edge guys on the team next year along with the healthy return of Street, plus we already added Daeshon Hall, who is a young guy, and Pita is still kicking around on the PS, as a potential SAM and maybe one day LEO. Marsh carries a 4.2 million dollar cap hit with no dead money. He's a good depth guy to have, and he's not the worst edge guy on the roster, but he's also not a guy you have to pay 4 million to. 
  3. Brock Coyle -The contract we gave him was pretty silly to begin with, and while he doesn't save us a bunch of money or anything, a fully healthy linebacking corps of Foster, Smith, Warner, Lee really leaves no place for him. He and Lee basically serve the same function as really bad linebackers you never want to play unless you have to, but special team helpers. Coyle saves us 1.8 million against the cap while Lee is an ERFA,  all but guaranteeing he will be back at around a price point of 650K rather than the 3.2 of Coyle. 
  4. Earl Mitchell - Mitchell will have a bit of dead money on his deal still but will save the team 3 million in cap space. The fact of the matter is, DJ Jones probably needs to be starting this year, much less waiting another year, but the time is right. Mitchell plays about 40% of the snaps, while quietly, DJ Jones has played in almost 25%. So we are getting him on the field, hopefully slowly going through the transition. Mitchell will be 32 next year, so I'm not expecting him to get better and there are some younger NT we could go for, even if they cost a little more. 
  5. Garrett Celek- I feel like this is the least likely out of the potential cuts. Only saves us about 2 million in space, and unless we target a tight end in the draft or free agency, I don't think both Wick and Dwelley would get good enough to push him off the roster, though I did think Wick looked pretty solid this off season. 
  6. Joshua Garnett - I thought he was pretty solid in the preseason, but getting banged up again pretty much the moment he came into the game in week 1? This after the training camp injury that seemed to annoy Kyle as well? I don't know, just feels like maybe the staff aren't his biggest fans. 

**I find it unlikely that Garcon is cut after this season. The cap savings are highly nominal (about 1 million), so I don't view the team in any hurry to get rid of him at this point, even if we are not getting all we thought we were going to get when we signed him. 

Team Needs:

The top three are probably my primary area of focus, with the remainder sort of being wherever

  1. Pass Rusher - This should go without saying. Its one of the three most important aspects of football, and we are terrible at it. We have no edge rush to speak of, and it's going to prevent the defense from ever being anything more than average if we can't get to the quarterback more frequently. Can include both LEO and SAM here. 
  2. Safety - Depth is an issue given Exum isn't very good and is a free agent, and I don't see why Ward would be brought back at this point in time. Colbert has regressed so far, and if the season continues as such, I don't think that you simply award him the starting spot heading into next season. Tartt has proven to be competent back there, if slightly inconsistent when he's on the field, but he should be the starter heading into next season. 
  3. Outside Cornerback - Spoon obviously has been up and down this season, and like Colbert, if his season continues to be a struggle, I don't think that you automatically award him a starting cornerback spot next year. Richard Sherman is 31 years old, and after a ruptured achilles last year, is now dealing with a calf strain. His ending could absolutely be coming soon, so I think it's important to be looking at a successor. We have no idea what we have in Moore - that's an undefinable experiment at the current point in time. Reed / Williams will be fine at the slot position. 
  4. Back up quarterback - I add this only because we are going to get a real good look at CJ now. If he looks bad, and there hasn't been any progression, then we need to start considering superior back up quarterback options moving forward, particularly if we don't want to be in a packers situation last year where Brett Hundley was clearly not an NFL quarterback and it completely torpedoed any playoff hopes. 
  5. Wide receiver - The depth is solid, but how good is it? We lack a guy who can make the tough catches if Garcon is not going to be that guy. Bourne flashes here and there, but what's his ceiling? What about Trent Taylor, who has really struggled getting off the line this year? This could easily be an area to target for depth or a niche role within the offense, and free agency is perfect for that. 
  6. Offensive line - I do think that Person is coming back, and while I like Mags' versatility, I once again have no idea how good that guy is. What about Garnett? No idea. I think we will likely roll with Staley / McG / Coleman  at the tackle spots unless Coleman is really, really bad, so I'm still looking specifically within the interior offensive line. 
  7. Tight End - This really isn't a need in the strictest sense. Kittle is very good, and while his ceiling may be limited because of the drops, he's easily a good starting tight end. Celek fills his roll as well as he can, and I still view him as a competent #2 tight end in the league, but he's not exactly a stud receiver. He's getting a little long in the tooth, and it's unlikely that he's going to get better. 

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Quarterback

Again, this is largely based on what happens with CJ throughout the year. If he shows that he's a competent quarterback and solid back up, then there is no need to dig into this position for the most part. If he struggles considerably, then I think looking at a backup isn't the worst idea ever, particularly as the roster rounds out and improves and we become legitimate playoff contenders. You don't want a season to get flushed because Jimmy has to miss 4-5 weeks at some point due to an injury.  This is a position I like to get through free agency rather than drafting a mid round rookie. 

  • Teddy BridgewaterI think Bridgewater's goal will be to be a starter next year, and I wouldn't be surprised if he took a discounted rate to do so. A team like Dallas should definitely be looking into him as a replacement and competition for Dak, who is absolutely dreadful. There are some other teams that could be interested in him as a potential starter as well (Denver, depending on how Keenum goes the rest of the season). But if there are once again no real starting spots available around the league, I think Teddy would be an excellent addition as a back up quarterback.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick -  The career backup and spot starter is once again showing that he can get the job done when called upon. He's super long in the tooth (will be 37 next year), but obviously he's been getting the job done more than well enough for a back up quarterback. Sure, Fitzmagic is a roller coaster, but as a back up, he's really top notch. You may get good Fitzmagic, may get bad, but that's pretty standard for a back up quarterback, and his good is actually starting NFL quarterback quality, you just can't count on it showing up consistently enough. 
  • Tyrod Taylor - He's pretty abysmal as a starter, but as a back up, you could do worse. He severely limits your game planning overall, but he's careful with the football and if you have a solid team around him, can do just enough to make sure that your season isn't screwed over the short term. Think he's certainly looking at back up quarterback gigs nest year. 
  • Trevor Siemian -  He's got some starting experience, and currently backing up Cousins in Minnesota, I believe. He's had a couple of good games in his career. 

**Other notable free agents: RG3, Josh McCown

Running back

I find it unlikely that we are going to cut bait with McKinnon after one year in which he was unable to play. His cap hit next year is only 4.25 million, so that's hardly a back breaker either. With Breida already in the fold and looking like a solid NFL running back, I find it unlikely that we look this route in free agency with the possible exception of bringing back Morris, though there are some nice players scheduled to be available. Mostert is the other running back on the roster and while he could be gone after the year, my hope is that we work out an extension for the next couple of years. 

  • Le'veon Bell -  Obviously, his season is pretty much shot right now as he refuses to sign the tender. He's going to hit the market next year as I think that the relationship between he and the Steelers is toast. The only way he isn't on the market next year is if he signs his tender, gets traded, and then the team who acquires him works out an extension in that small window before free agency begins This seems unlikely. Bell is the only "big name" running back option that would make any sort of sense as he is the only one that is probably worth giving up McKinnon for,  and I don't find it a highly realistic possibility at all. With possibly an entire year off, and the previous workload, encroaching age (27 next year), and the contract demands, I think he probably ends up elsewhere. 

**Other notable big name RB free agents: Marshawn Lynch, Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, Tevin Coleman, Ajayi. Lynch and Peterson are long in the tooth, and while they have shown that they can still be effective, they're probably not a fit, and at best, i think if you dip into the running back market, you're looking for a niche role player next year. Neither of those guys is probably willing to settle for that at the current point in time. They'd probably rather not sign anywhere and wait for an injury rather than sign as a role player. Coleman would be a great fit for this offense, and obviously Shanny knows him well. He's also the superior player overall to McKinnon in my opinion. That being said, I dn't think it's enough of an upgrade to be considered much more than a lateral move to dump McKinnon and go after him. Ingram is a good running back, but again, I don't see us dipping into this well unless the running back is a clear upgrade and  fits what we want. I feel similarly about Ajayi, as that doesn't seem like an ideal match. 

**Notable role player free agents - Morris,  Murray, Powell, CJ Anderson, Sproles, Martin, Yeldon, Abdullah, Buck Allen, Alex Collins, Ty Montgomery, Richard, Barber. There are some quality players in here, but for guys like Allen, Sproles, Powell, Richard and Montgomery, there's probably too much overlap with what we currently have. Anderson, Morris, Collins, Yeldon could all make some senese, but given the familiarity of Morris and Shanny, I feel like that is the most likely pairing, particularly at a cheap price point. 

Wide Receiver

Lots of slot guys available, which isn't an automatic no for me, and a lot of deep burners available, which I'm sort of meh on. 

  • The slot guys (Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, Cole Beasley, Randall Cobb, Ryan Grant) - Lets be honest, Fitz probably retires or sticks with the Cardinals. Beasley isn't an upgrade that I would want to try out against Taylor / James, same for Ryan Grant (though I do view Grant as being underrated). Cobb is an interesting guy, but he's not a typical tough catches guy in my opinion. The one worth noting here is probably Golden Tate, who I still think plays at a high level and makes some tough catches. He's a clear upgrade on our current slot receivers, and combining him with Garcon  and Goodwin with Pettis backing up each receiver position is kind of nice. 
  • The Big bodies (Benjamin, Funchess, Marshall, Michael Floyd)- I think Funchess probably re-signs with  Carolina. I was never a fan of Benjamin coming out, due in part because he dropped too many passes. That has continued in the NFL. Given that he is wasting away in Buffalo, I actually wouldn't be surprised if his market is very tepid and he signs cheaper than expected. Depending on how cheap, he is the type of niche role player that would fit in with the team, so it's someone I would keep an eye on.  Marshall is on year to year territory, and with the limited upside. Really don't have an interest there. Floyd's career is largely done. 
  • The deep burners (Josh Gordon, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Robbie Anderson) -  Brown is a better receiver than he's given credit for, but I think too much overlap with Goodwi n in their roles. Bryant is still possibly facing that suspension as I understand it. Gordon has the upside, but he's largely been living on reputation from one great season 5 years ago. Certainly not giving him a big contract, but he's probably the only one I have interest in adding out of these guys. Anderson has off the field issues and again, has a very specific role that I don't think we need. 

**Other "notables" - Jermaine Kearse, Quincy Enunwa, Chris Hogan, Tyrell Williams. Sort of meh. Given that every receiver on the Jets is a free agent (Pryor too), seems like Enunwa is nearly a lock to be re-signed. Kearse has fallen off. There was a time when he was a solid guy and could make some of those tough catches, but at this point, I don't know that he's any sort of upgrade I would want to try out. Hogan is already 30 and I think he's one of those guys who has benefited considerably from playing with the Pats and I wouldn't expect him to play as well elsewhere. Williams is interesting, but I don't know if he's what we need. Should be noted that Geronimo Allison is a restricted free agent and he would be an interesting add, but my guess is that Green Bay slaps a second round tender on him. 

Offensive Tackle

This is pretty much a dead market for us.  The mix is such that I wouldn't sign any of the guys who would best fit as a swing tackle over Coleman / Giliiam, and the guys that would be an improvement will probably have starting options on the open market.

  • The likely starters (Trent Brown, Jared Veldheer, Bobby Massie, Jordan Mills, Ju'wuan James) - If Massie, Brown and Veldheer hit the open market they will certainly have starting options available, which pretty much rules us out. Veldheer is older and injury prone, but has started the season out well enough. Mills would be the interesting guy because I think he's a great swing tackle (someone who won't destroy you if he's forced to play, but may not necessarily want him as the full time starter), however some lines are so awful that I think there's a good chance he gets the opportunity to start somewhere. 
  • The backups (Ereck Flowers, Greg Robinson, Cedric Ogbuehi, Ty Sambrailo) - Those are some pretty bad options. None are good enough to make me want to peel off Coleman at 700K and pay more to be honest. 

Interior Offensive line

This will depend largely on what we decide to do with Person, as like I said in the initial post, it wouldn't shock me at all if we extended him. That being said, we should be in no hurry to re-sign him. I don't think his market is going to be super robust, and he's not good enough to make me lament being wrong if it is bigger than I think and we lose out on him. There are certainly a couple of very interesting guys that I could see us targeting on the interior. 

  • The Targets (Ali Marpet, Andy Levitre, Quinton Spain)- Marpet is the guy you want if you're going to shoot for the moon. I don't know how Tampa lets him walk, but after shelling out for Ryan Jensen this year, and a possible quarterback extension looming, I suppose it can happen. I don't know if he will reset the Guard market like Norwell, but I have to believe that he will get something comparable to that deal. He can play  both guard and center and plays both at a high level. The kid is a stud on the line, and he'll have the price tag to provide it. Spain has been a very solid guard for Tennessee, and he's still fairly young. The biggest question for him would be whether or not he's a great fit for the scheme. Levitre isn't so much a guy I want to target, but it makes a lot of sense if we do. After bombing out after buffalo, he's had a nice second wind in Atlanta, and has been a competent guard. He also has familiarity with Shanny's scheme and know he can play it. He's a little older, but that just means he's probably looking at 2 year deal. He may be a guy we target as a possible upgrade to Person without breaking the bank, and given he has experience with Shanny, I have to think he'd be a guy that we look at.  **edit - Marpet signed a 5 year extension with the bucs 10/09
  • The others (Mike Iupati, Rodger Saffold, James Carpenter)- Saffold would probably be the best of this bunch, but up and down / inconsistent play, being slightly older and having missed time over various seasons due to injury kind of limits the appeal. Iupati has all that plus he's probably not a great fit and honestly, I just don't know how good he is any more. Carpenter hasn't been good in a while, and doesn't provide the versatility that I want in a back up. 

**I excluded both Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse from these despite both being pretty good offensive linemen. I believe that they have both largely been center exclusive and with the Richburg deal, I don't see us shelling out major money for guys who are good centers but are unknown quantities at guard. 

Tight End

Again, I don't think that we are targeting greatness here. Potentially an upgrade on Celek? Sure. But Kittle has it locked down on the starter spot. 

  • The starters who could have cold markets allowing us to get lucky (Tyler Eifert, Delanie Walker) - Walker is older and now coming off a dislocated ankle that ended his season. However, through last year he was still proving to be a quality tight end, and he also is a strong blocker. Eifert would be perfect as a TE2, he has the actual upside and talent of a quality TE1, you could limit his snaps, and you don't have to worry about the injury history so much since you're not relying on him as a starter. That being said, Eifert has performed well this year in just over 50% of the snaps, and I expect him to be re-signed. Given the struggles in Tennessee to replace Walker, I think that they are definitely not ready to move on, and I would suspect a 1-2 year deal to re-sign Walker with the Titans. 
  • The rest - (Benjamin Watson, Jesse James, Jeff Huerman, Jared Cook, Maxx Williams) - A lot of meh, here. James is a competent TE2 who has displayed some big game ability, but he's also been inconsistent throughout his career. Watson is Mr Steady Eddy in the receiving game, but he's very old, and he's a downgrade in the blocking game. Cook is wildly inconsistent and offers nothing as a blocker. Huerman could be intriguing given his age, but I think this is probably a lateral move. May be a good guy to bring in as competition for Celek and let the winner roll on. Williams has failed to live up to his draft status, and has struggled to stay in the lineup consistently for Baltimore, which is saying something considering they haven't exactly had great tight ends there. I think he's probably a downgrade from Celek. 

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Interior Defensive line

Okay, there's really no reason for us to dip at the market in the current point in time. This is a position we probably have too many people at since Buckner, Thomas, Armstead, Day, Mitchell, Jones are all still under contract along with other depth guys. That being said, I'll kind of give an overview of what will be out there. 

  • The Studs (Suh and Richardson) - Suh is aging, but still rather dominant. He's not the pass rusher he once was, but still eats up massive space and stops the run as well as anyone. He would help make that defensive line terrifying, but at the same time, we know that Suh likes his money, and I don't think he's coming at a discount. Sheldon is younger, and has been very disruptive since leaving the jets, but he's also not the pass rusher he used to be (or isn't being asked to be that pass rusher) and quite frankly, we would be signing him to play the nose, which he probably a little undersized for. There's no reason to sign him as a 3-tech. Both guys are going to get paaaaaaaaaaaaaaid. I doubt that we see either of them here) 
  •  
  • Potential younger upgrades on Mitchell (Danny Shelton, Hankins, Grady Jarrett) -I thought Jarrett has signed an extension in Atlanta, but I guess I was wrong? Anyway, Shelton is pretty good at what he does, which is stuff the run and basically be a nose tackle in the truest sense. He's only 26. Jarrett can be a wrecking crew on the interior, but may be a little on the lighter side as a true NT (right around 300), though we have made undersized NTs work before in the 3-4 under Fangio. If we want to get younger and maybe improve on Mitchell, but don't quite trust Jones yet, this is probably the group I'm looking at. In particular, I'd be looking at Shelton, who's play style and position tends to lead to pretty frigid markets (see Hankins this year, Poe the year before, Benny Logan, etc etc). Jarett will probably get a nice deal (at least more than we want to pay for the role he'd have on the team), and honestly, if we wanted Hankins, we could have had him super cheap this year. 
  •  
  • The Aging lateral moves (Ngata, Logan, Kyle Williams) - Logan is a bit younger than Mitchell, but still, at 29/30, is heading into his twilight years. Williams is 34, hasn't played a true NT role in a few years. Ngata is in his mid 30's and basically is what we have in Mitchell. There's no real reason to dump Mitchell for Ngata. 

EDGE

So now we hit the most relevant position for us, the EDGE player. We need a ton of help on the edge, that's for sure, and there are a ton of intriguing options to choose from, though I suspect that quite a few of these guys don't hit the market. I'm actually going to go a little in depth on each one of these players. 

  • The Elite (Demarcus Lawrence) - Let's just get this out of the way, there's no way in hell that Lawrence hits the market. Assuming a cap of around 187M next year, the Cowboys will have nearly 80 million in space (about 77) with their 10m roll over from this year. Even if an extension can't be worked out, there's no way that the team doesn't tag him a second year in a row as they can easily absorb a 21m cap hit (it should be around that amount) for one year. But, if for some reason Jerry brainfarts and gets to the market, he's the guy you target. 
  •  
  • The guys likely to get big money or the Franchise Tag (Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark)

Honestly, we probably could have made a play for Dee Ford this year and gotten him on the cheap from the Chiefs. But alas, a missed opportunity. That being said, Ford is having an absolutely monster season for the Chiefs, rebounding incredibly well from his injury plagued 2017. In 2016, Ford also managed double digit sacks, so I think his pass rushing is legit. He has some injury concerns (back injuries always worry me for pass rushers), but he's primed for a big payday. Given the fact that (surprisingly) entering his age 28 season next year, I think that there is no doubt that he's going for the pick paycheck on this one, since it will likely be the only major deal he gets in his career. Money is probably going to be the prime motivating factor. I don't know what the Chiefs will do here - they are out of the Dorsey constructed cap hell and enter next season with roughly a little over 50 million in space but a lot of issues defensively, particularly in the secondary. Theoretically, they can sign Ford and go after Thomas if they want, though I don't know if they will do that until they get a clearer understanding on what's going on with Berry. A tag on Ford at 18-19 million seems a little impractical, though I suppose it's possible. They have a couple of other important free agents as well - Morse is a very solid center, and one of the reasons Mahomes has been so good this year is that the line has kept him well protected. Butker has proven to be one of the better kickers in the NFL, and they should really get him locked up. Sherman / Conley / Ware are depth pieces they may be able to live without, however may want to re-sign as well.  It's realistic that Ford hits the market this year, but also realistic that the Chiefs keep him.  For that reason, Ford is probably the most intriguing option on the table in this grouping. 

For Clowney, it's a much more interesting scenario. Clowney may be the better overall player to Ford as he is highly disruptive against the run, finishing second in tackles for loss last year with over 20, and currently 8th in the league with 6 so far this year. But as a pass rusher, he's been a little  underwhelming. He maxed out last year at 9.5 sacks, so he's never hit double digits, and currently sits at 2.5 through 5 weeks (I do believe he missed a game this year though, so really 2.5 through 4). His pace right now would put him at around 10 sacks if he had played the entire season. He's also had injury concerns throughout his career, with last season being the only year he's managed to play every game (and like I said, he's already missed a game this year). That being said, there is no way in hell he hits the market. The Texans will have well over 100 million in space next year, and they are slow playing the extension because they can. They don't need to wrap up the extension because there's no doubt that they are going to tag him if they can't work one out. 

Frank Clark has been pretty good at getting the quarterback the last two years, notching 9 and 10 sacks respectively. Probably not a name that everyone thinks about right away, but he certainly deserves consideration as one of the better pass rushers in the league.   He currently has 3 through 5 games this year, so he's very much in line for a repeat performance over his previous years figures, and these numbers are also legit, as he was top 10 in generating quarterback pressures last year as well. My guess is that if they can't work out the deal with Clark, they are going to tag him rather than tag Thomas (especially given the tag on Thomas would make that situation even more toxic), and the Seahawks have the money to do it with about 65 million estimated in cap space. I don't expect him to actually hit the market. 

  • The dangerous mixed bag (Dante Fowler

Oh man, where to start with this dude. Okay, so I'll start this off by saying there's no doubt he's on the market unless the Jags trade him this year at the deadline and he signs an extension with the team that trades for him. He's a back up with a hefty price tag on a team that has cap issues next season. Secondarily, any team that gives him a big money, long term deal is asking for trouble. 

Now lets head into the positives. He's a former top 3 overall pick, is only 25, and had 8.5 sacks last season. There's certainly potential here to get a very solid pass rusher. He flashed some consistency last year with 5 of his sacks in the first 7 games. 

Now lets head into why this is a dangerous signing and very much a mixed bag. One, dude's character is highly suspect. He's had multiple run ins with the law, was suspended the first week this year as well, so he doesn't appear to be learning from his mistakes. Two, I don't know what to make of his sack numbers. The fact of the matter is, he plays on the most stacked defense in the NFL last year and it's a little easier to generate sacks when teams have to be so consumed by that defensive front. Calais Campbell. Ngouke. Malik Jackson. This isn't a guy that is fighting through a tackle and having to worry about being chipped. It's a huge jump from being this complimentary piece on a stacked defense to being the focal point of a defensive pass rush. That's not to discount what he did last year either - I mean, it's not like you can throw Cassius Marsh into that Jags defense and he's suddenly an 8 sack guy, so this dude has talent, it's there. Are you getting a legit pass rusher who can help lead a defense, or are you getting a dude who benefited considerably from the offense having to focus its attention in so many different directions in a part time role specifically designed to maximize his value? He hasn't been otherworldly so far this year, and it should be noted that his snap rates have gone down somewhat from the first two years prior, though this could have been an instance of slowly bringing him back in as his last two games his snap counts have jumped back into the 40's (his first two games in the season he was in the 20's, which is a pretty big flag). 

Lastly, what's it going to take for us to sign him? Because I'm nowhere close to certain that this is a guy who solves a pass rushing problem. Complimentary piece that can help? Absolutely, I can see that. There aren't any real recent comps to generate for a possible contract on him. I have a really hard time seeing a team offer him a legit long term deal (5/6 years), so I have to imagine he's looking at about that three year market (which is really a 2 year deal). I'm going to estimate something like 3/30? I don't think that's unreasonable. Trent Murphy got 3 / 22.5 coming off the injury with a similar sack production. But coming off the injury that certainly depressed his market some. I think if you're looking 3/30, that's a reasonable risk to take on him. Depending on structure, that could also be broken down to nothing more than a 1 year deal if he's a complete flop or runs into trouble again. Anything higher / longer than that, I'd have to give real thought too. I'm just not sold on his on-field play enough to overcome the limitations (he's basically just a pass rusher) and character issues. I don't get the total love that he seems to get...I'm interested, but I don't love the guy. 

  • The Aging Potential Targets, AKA: The guys you sign and pair with a first round edge rusher (Ziggy Ansah, Brandon Graham) 

I said in another thread that one thing I would like to do is grab an edge through free agency and double dip that guy with a first round edge rusher. These are the optimal targets for that plan. Guys you can limit snaps for, should have reasonable contracts, and get really nice production from. 

This year, a lot of people in this forum wanted Ansah. I was not one of them. For a couple of reasons. One, I haven't been enamored with his pass rushing record. I'm on record as saying several times that I thought box score scouting his total sacks was bad, as he wasn't as good as the double digit sack total alluded to. Two, I also had issues with his recurring injuries, which are probably the worst you can have as a pass rusher - back and knee issues.I wanted no part of a long term deal at something ridiculous like 16/ 17 million per season. And wouldn't you know it, thus far into the season, he's managed a whopping 1 game played, though he did manage a sack in this game. Now the circumstances are different, and Ziggy potentially becomes an intriguing option. He will be 30 years old, so age is not working in his favor, and missing more games just reinforces the doubts that people should have had from the start. There's no way he's tagged again at that cap hit, so unless the Lions give him an extension, which I have to feel is unlikely given he can't get on the field, he should hit the market once more, though I think Detroit will still very much be in the running for his services. We have a tie to him through Mayhew, so I think we will have interest. At this point, his value on a long term deal has to be somewhat low, and it may be in his best interest to take a one year prove it deal (which would largely be fully guaranteed for him). Do I have interest in Ziggy at 1 year 10-12 million? Yes, I think I do. We can play him in a largely rotational role (and not have him be overpaid) to limit the potential for injury, and try to maximize what we actually get on the field. A line of AA / Buck / Mitchell or Jones / Thomas on run downs is solid. A line of Ziggy / Buck / Thomas or AA / Rookie first round pick could have some really solid potential in the pass rush department. 

Brandon Graham - He's 31 years old, but he's got a game that should age pretty well to be honest because of how well rounded he is. He's still a disruptive freak on the line. Last year he hit a career high in sacks at 9.5, but he was on a stacked defensive front and I'd consider that more of an outlier and not expect that moving forward. He just picked up his first sack of the season this week against Minnesota, and largely has been a 5-7 sack guy throughout his career. That's absolutely okay - raw sack numbers have never been the greatness that is Brandon Graham. I think the Eagles want to bring him back, I just don't know how they can. Right now, next year they are projected to be about 18.5 million over the cap. Getting under that really isn't a problem - Nick Foles will be cut or traded, and that immediately saves 18.8 to get them back into the positive. But they need money to sign rookies, and of course they would need money to sign Graham. Michael Bennett will almost surely be gone, which would save 7million. Chris long can probably go at 4 million, but then you're doing some damage to that defensive line. Jason Peters probably has to be gone  at his cap hit and with the drafting of Jordan Mailata, they are hoping that they have their OT of the future. May be that they turn it over to him next year. So there are certainly option (and they can still rescind the option year of Algholor). I'd also expect some sort of extension for Kelce. 

But if Graham hits the market, he should be a guy that we look into. Creates all sorts of havoc on the line, and despite the pedestrian sack numbers, still grades out as one of the best in football. He's just a complete player who's mere presence and disruption on the field could open opportunities for other players. Whether we could land him would depend quite a bit with what he wants. Does he want to continue trying to win, or does he want a payday? Because the Eagles give him one, but I don't think that they are giving him 15 million a season (I think despite playing different positions, a contract similar to the one Atkins received is a reasonable comp). 

  • The very old, guys it'd be weird to see on another team (Cameron Wake, Terrell Suggs) 

Suggs, amazingly, has 3.5 sacks this year and continues to play at a high level. I have no idea what that dude eats, but it's working. Wake doesn't have the sack totals, but still plays well in limited snaps for the Dolphins and had 10.5 sacks as recently as last year.  It would be really weird to see either of these guys on another team, and the cliff can come at any moment, but I think you have to have some interest in either of those guys if they hit the market, as they are both showing that they can still do it. Obviously, you would still be pairing both of these guys with a first round rookie edge rusher. And their contracts probably aren't going to be more than one year deals. Unelss their respective teams want to move on, I'd be a little surprised if they opted to go elsewhere. 

SAM

I wasn't really sure what to do with the SAM spot, or how to incorporate it into this write up. The fact of the matter is, there's no reason for us to go after the linebacker position in free agency. Foster and Warner are locked in as young players starting at WILL and MIKE, and with no real reason to cut Smith, and Lee being an ERFA with no reason not to bring back, not to mention Coyle still under contract (though he should be cut in my opinion), there's really nothing there roster wise outside of potential PS spots. That only leaves the SAM spot, which is can be utilized in several different ways (want more of a pass rusher, someone better at holding the edge, etc) but the fact that our SAM is only on the field for about 25% of the snaps, I don't know that it's a position you really are going to tackle in free agency. The big names (Anthony Barr, for example) aren't really an option since we aren't paying that kind of money for a guy who plays a quarter of the snaps. So I'm keeping this pretty limited..in fact, just one player. 

  • The possible targets? (Kyle Emanuel)

Honestly, there's not much I see in free agency that would be an ideal match for picking up a SAM. Emanuel does make a lot of sense given he has familiarity with the scheme under gus bradley, and isn't the type of player you shell out a big contract for, obviously, which means he makes a certain degree of sense for a guy that is on the field 25% of the time. The good new is that he can hold the edge on the strong side, and he's actually not an ineffective pass rusher for the most part. That being said, he's a nightmare in coverage. 

**I think that there's a real good chance that Bruce Irvin will be released from the Raiders. It may benefit him (and us) to slide back into his old position in Seattle as the SAM linebacker. If he's cut, I think his price tag is very low. I don't love the player, but something to keep in  mind.  

WILL and MIKE

Honestly, not really going to get into this. Unless Foster brainfarts off the field and ends up cut, there's just no reason to even really look here as I mentioned above. At best we have a roster spot available for special teams. 

Cornerback

Corner is absolutely something that we should look into after the season. Sherman seems to be back to his old self, but given his age, I'm not sure we count on that production continuing, and I''m going to be concerned about him potentially running into recurring issues. Nobody should be giving up on Spoon at this point, but I don't think that you can guarantee him a starting spot, and a legitimately talented cornerback should be brought in to compete, especially since you can never have enough talented corners in this pass happy league. There is no telling what we have in Moore, and we can't just assume that he's going to be a solid cornerback. Mabin has been okay in limited snaps, but it's still Greg Mabin, and I'm not holding off on the chance of improving my team for the likes of Greg Mabin. Ward should be gone, but slot corner should largely still be covered by Williams and Reed, who I hope gets moved back to the slot corner spot once we have a legit starting free safety with Colbert as the back up. Unfortunately, not a great market for cornerbacks this year. I'm not as good at evaluating the corners at as some of the people on this board, so anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. 

  • The questionable fits (Morris Claiborne, EJ Gaines) - The reason I list these guys as questionable fits is mainly because, and for those who know, please correct me if I'm wrong, Claiborne is considered better in man coverage than zone, and while Gaines is an excellent zone corner, certainly doesn't fit the physical traits we want from our corners. That being said, I think either of these guys helps the team out considerably. Claiborne isn't exactly young at this point (29), so you may not see much value at the end of the contract, but his play the last couple of years, including this one, should wash away the bad taste that the first few years of his career put into everyone's mouth. All Gaines does is play the position well, and while he's younger than Claiborne, he comes with more injury risk. For some reason, his market was ungodly cold this off season, and he settled for a ridiculous one year deal from Cleveland for like 1 million, which is absurd given his talent. Why we weren't in on that I have no idea. Neither is a great ballhawk, so creating turnovers would not be something either brings to the table. Neither of these players' teams would have money issues bringing these guys back, though obviously neither is probably going to warrant a franchise tag, so it's possible they hit the market. 
  •  
  • The Questionable talent (Pierre Desir, Rashaan Melvin) - Melvin and Desir are 28 and 29 respectively, so neither is a spring chicken. Both have more bad plays than good at this point, but both certainly are what we would like physically. Melvin was a terrible corner for pretty much his entire career until he turned it around last year, though I think the fear of being a one hit wonder really limited his market. I think he scared people. I haven't been watching the Raiders this year, because why would I do that to myself when I have to watch the niners, but PFF grades him out as a pretty pedestrian cornerback so far this season, though that's not the worst thing ever. It's a little more troubling because I'm assuming that he's lined up on 2's and 3's with Conley on the opposing team's number 1. Desir was a guy I know that a lot of people liked coming out of college as a prospect, and I know that a few people wanted to claim him off waivers when he went on it last year, so he's been a guy that's been on the radar for a lot of 49er fans in this forum for a while. He played pretty well last year before an injury knocked him out for the season. He signed a cheap 1 year deal to return to the colts, is once again starting with steadily improving snap counts (75, 79, 89, 100%) and once again playing. Desir seems like a guy who has found his game to some extent, and may be a bargain if this is his play level. Certainly a guy that I would want us to take a look at.
  •  
  • The Ronald Darby and Bradley Roby tier aka, I didn't have a nickname for this group to pair them together (Bradley Roby, Ronald Darby) - These guys are at least known with regards to their exploits at the position. Darby is probably the best with regards to ball skills out of all the corners available. Roby has very active hands and is good about getting in the way of passes, but he's never developed real ball instincts to create the turnovers. Roby is very athletically gifted, but still a sucker to bite hard on double moves. Darby has been up and down throughout a lot of his career. Both have been somewhat inconsistent to be honest. Neither would be a bad signing. 
  •  
  • The Old Guys (Brent Grimes, DRC, Pacman Jones) - There's nobody on this list that I think I'd like to sign even on a one year deal. Grimes, after an underappreciated career, appears done. Pacman is still making some plays here and there, but isn't excelling, as you would expect. DRC probably is done as an outside corner. 
  •  
  • The Everyone forgot how good this guy is because he hasn't been healthy in like...well, pretty much ever (Jason Verrett) - I absolutely loved Verrett coming out of TCU, and I was convinced that he had the skillset of a top 10 pick and would be a stud corner. It was just his height that made teams wary. In his second season, Verrett showed that he was a very good cornerback. The problem? It was the most games he's ever played in a season...and he still only played 14. Verrett's career has been completely marred by injuries, as he has suffered season ending injuries in 4 of his 5 years as a professional. At this point, he hasn't been healthy in so long that you have no idea what he would actually produce on the field either. Verrett is strictly looking at a one year flier deal on the cheap to try and rebuild his value, and I have no problems with that team being us. Now granted, I would sign him and another player, refusing to put all my eggs in the basket of him staying healthy, and yes, I know that he is small and doesn't fit our height profile, but one of my biggest complaints about this regime has been how they over value the scheme fit. Signing Verrett has no down side and quite a bit of upside. Just give it a shot and see what pans out. Verrett is pure talent, all other things be damned. And sure, it's like 95% that he gets hurt again, or he's not the same player he once was, but that upside he possesses is absolutely worth it. 

Safety

Colbert has been a trainwreck. Tartt has been up and down, and while the inconsistency is maddening, I haven't seen enough on the negative side for me to really question his standing moving forward. Colbert? Yeah no. He needs to be in a backup role, continue to learn how to play the position again and start over. He's all over the place and undisciplined, which is a crippling defect in a zone based scheme. He's very good on special teams, and we know that he has the upside of a competent safety, so I still think he was a very good pick, but we need to reset the position. 

  • Just go get this guy, period  (Earl Thomas) - Two season ending leg fractures have not deterred me from the idea of getting Thomas. In fact, I'm still not opposed to asking Seattle for permission to negotiate an extension with Thomas and then giving them like a third rounder for him if we can. The competition for Thomas' services will be fierce, and while I don't love our chances of acquiring him, this is absolutely the type of guy I would overpay.I'm tired of overpaying for marginal free agents to get them to come here and then having them be exactly what they were before. Overpay for greatness. As funny as the Juice Check Contract can be, he's a great fullback, and nobody is lamenting that contract. Because he's great at what he does and that largely makes it worth it. I believe that currently, Eric Berry leads the NFL in highest average salary for a safety at 13m/yr. I have no problem giving Earl 14m or slightly more over 5 years with 40-50% guaranteed. Age does not bother me. He's 30 years old next year, and truly great safeties have shown an ability to play well into their mid 30's. The injuries aren't tendon or soft tissue related. 

 

  • Plan B (Landon Collins, Lemarcus Joyner, Haha Clinton Dix) - Landon of course isn't a match for what we want, but I have to put him somewhere because he's a noteworthy player who's currently going to be a free agent and if we signed him, you put him in the best position to succeed, which means maybe flipping to a two high safety look more often, or utilizing Tartt in more of a single high look, which could be bad. That being said, I have no idea why he hasn't already been signed to an extension, and I can't imagine that there's any way he actually does hit the market with the franchise tag available. Joyner is more in line with what we are looking for from a play standpoint, but his overall play can be a little up and down I think. Clearly he has a height disadvantage, but he knows his role very well. I'm not sure what happens with him next year - the Rams have him on the tag this year, and they've already shown with Trumaine in the past that they aren't afraid to tag someone twice. With about 35 million in space available for next year, they have the capacity to franchise him or sign him to an extension, but with Goff due soon, an extension may be the secondary plan. The same can be said about the Packers, who have 45 million in space and no reason no to re-sign Clinton Dix. 

 

  • The guys hoping for a better market (Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid) - Vaccaro probably fills the role of Colbert replacement, but he doesn't necessarily inspire confidence. His play has been massively up and down throughout his career. He's an improvement over the current version of Colbert we are getting though. Reid has played some free safety, some strong safety, and some linebacker. Obviously, we had interest in bringing him back at various points throughout the season, and are one of the most sympathetic teams to the kneeling. A lot of us wish that we had re-signed him, though pairing him with Tartt does leave us a little exposed. Still, I loved the three safety look that we could use with him in the fold, and his underneath work last year in coverage was phenomenal. 

 

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I was actually just thinking about this. With the lack of high-profile free agents set to hit the market next year, our large amount of cap space, and premium picks (presumably), we're setting ourselves up for an offseason full of additions and very little subtractions. This season is going to suck balls to get through, but we're going to have some really nice assets to acquire premium talent. 

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3 minutes ago, NinerNation21 said:

I was actually just thinking about this. With the lack of high-profile free agents set to hit the market next year, our large amount of cap space, and premium picks (presumably), we're setting ourselves up for an offseason full of additions and very little subtractions. This season is going to suck balls to get through, but we're going to have some really nice assets to acquire premium talent. 

Yeah, I don't expect all these guys to hit market (working on the write ups) but right now the market is certainly interesting to say the least

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10 minutes ago, Forge said:

Yeah, I don't expect all these guys to hit market (working on the write ups) but right now the market is certainly interesting to say the least

Even if we didn't sign any of our soon-to-be free agents (with the exception of Robbie Gould), they're all easily replaceable. I too think we will retain a few of these guys, but none of them are going to break the bank nor prevent the Niners from finding capable upgrades for competition. Luckily, this lost season isn't going to hurt the future too much because it's not like we have key players that we can't retain at the end of the season. All of our prime talent is young and locked up for the next couple of years.

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I kind of hope Earl sits out the whole year and we sign him. I would actually put my top needs and things we really need to look at:

 

1. LEO

2. FS

3. Swing tackle and Heir to Staley’s departure

4. Nickel CB

5. Outside Corner

6. IOL

 

if Akhello does turn it around though, that’s huge. Really hope the DBs we draft show something this year 

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I know I'm in the minority both here and with the niners brass at least at the time but I always liked Delanie Walker more than Vernon. He was a much more of a natural pass catcher as well as a better blocker imo. Just didn't have his speed.

I guess as far as free agents go I hope that we upgrade the guard positions or at least one of them during free agency. Tyrell Williams looks interesting to me at receiver as well. I could be wrong but I doubt we pick up a backup journeyman QB, I think Shanny is more interested in developing his own guys.  

Edited by Ftn49

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1 hour ago, Ftn49 said:

I know I'm in the minority both here and with the niners brass at least at the time but I always liked Delanie Walker more than Vernon. He was a much more of a natural pass catcher as well as a better blocker imo. Just didn't have his speed.

I guess as far as free agents go I hope that we upgrade the guard positions or at least one of them during free agency. Tyrell Williams looks interesting to me at receiver as well. I could be wrong but I doubt we pick up a backup journeyman QB, I think Shanny is more interested in developing his own guys.  

Eh, this is debatable. I mean, a brick is a more natural pass catcher than VD, but Walker did not have good hands while he was here. He suffered similar drop issues which everyone seems to forget now. Also, VD was one of the best straight up blocking tight ends in football for years. I'd say that the strength of Walker's blocking actually came from the blocking scheme as we would line him up in various positions and then do things like crack back with him. Inline blocking, however, VD was very good at that. It wasn't atypical of him in the early years to hold his own against pass rushing defensive ends. 

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1 hour ago, Forge said:

Eh, this is debatable. I mean, a brick is a more natural pass catcher than VD, but Walker did not have good hands while he was here. He suffered similar drop issues which everyone seems to forget now. Also, VD was one of the best straight up blocking tight ends in football for years. I'd say that the strength of Walker's blocking actually came from the blocking scheme as we would line him up in various positions and then do things like crack back with him. Inline blocking, however, VD was very good at that. It wasn't atypical of him in the early years to hold his own against pass rushing defensive ends. 

Everything is debatable I guess. I don't know if I ever saw Vernon catch the ball with his hands though, at least the vast majority were body catches (that I remember). I don't live locally though so for several years me catching games were hit and miss. Thank goodness I got Direct TV again.

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40 minutes ago, Ftn49 said:

Everything is debatable I guess. I don't know if I ever saw Vernon catch the ball with his hands though, at least the vast majority were body catches (that I remember). I don't live locally though so for several years me catching games were hit and miss. Thank goodness I got Direct TV again.

Oh he certainly never caught the ball with his hands, that's for sure. But walker just wasn't the most sure handed guy either. That's how we like our tight ends in 49erland...guys who can't catch lol (seriously, the last sure handed tight end we had was probably Eric Johnson....). Its kind of like saying that Mike Zimmer is better at clock management then Andy Reid

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On 9/27/2018 at 9:10 AM, John232 said:

I kind of hope Earl sits out the whole year and we sign him. I would actually put my top needs and things we really need to look at:

 

1. LEO

2. FS

3. Swing tackle and Heir to Staley’s departure

4. Nickel CB

5. Outside Corner

6. IOL

 

if Akhello does turn it around though, that’s huge. Really hope the DBs we draft show something this year 

The more I watch Max Scharping, the more I want him to be that guy if he's there in rounds 2/3 ( I don't think there's any way he falls to round 3 given the position, but I'm definitely not opposed to going this route in round 2 with Staley being so long in the tooth). Staley and McG are good for next year, so I don't think that we need to go the tackle route in free agency. But Scharping is a guy I'm really digging more and more, especially with the work that he did on Burns this last week. Level of competition was a concern playing out of NIU, but Burns is a legit first round prospect and he's played a legit schedule so far and done well (Iowa, Utah, FSU). Technically, he's very sound. Smart kid too. Great size (6'6" over 300), and he looks like he moves well. Look at this work he does here on Burns. So effortless and completely stonewalls him. Obviously, Burns won some reps as well, but I came away far more impressed with Scharping. 

 

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That was an iconic pass blocking clip if I have ever seen one! Scharping looks, well, sharp! 

 

 

Yep, I had to go there. Just could not resist.

:P

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Scharping did not play well against Iowa. I kept wondering why people were so high on him. Maybe it was just an off day...I haven't watched any of his other games.

Edited by struby3

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