Four Downs

Offseason analysis of the NFL, division by division

Four Downs: NFC North

by Ned Macey

Chicago Bears

For a Super Bowl team with sufficient cap room, Chicago has faced major upheaval. The defensive coordinator was not retained. The head coach had protracted contract negotiations which his agent took public. The Pro Bowl linebacker received the franchise tag and is now threatening to never play for the team again. The starting running back, arguably Chicago's most valuable offensive player, was traded away for an exchange of slots in the second round of the draft.

The first story was covered in the last NFC North Four Downs. The second one requires little comment other than to say Lovie Smith clearly deserved the raise. The Lance Briggs situation is more difficult. He is an outstanding player who is incredulous that he is not cashing in on this wild market. The Bears have the right to franchise him and have exercised it. Briggs then has the right to be upset and threaten a holdout to force the Bears into giving him a long-term contract. Until he signs the tender, he is not under contract and cannot be fined for not reporting.

The question on everyone's mind is why the Bears seem unwilling to dish out a long-term deal. They have plenty of cap space, and the power of the franchise tag should mean that Briggs gets less than full market value. He has never missed a game and is in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. If any long-term contract for a linebacker makes sense, it would be an extension to Briggs. Based on our defensive statistics, he had the highest stop rate (stopping plays short of offensive success) among linebackers that were in on at least 15 percent of defensive plays.

Maybe Briggs is asking for the moon, but in a free agent climate where Leonard Davis got the equivalent of a small island nation, the moon might not be too much to pay. The biggest mistake in an escalating market is overpaying for replaceable commodities. The second biggest mistake is letting go unique difference-makers because you refuse to pay market value.

The Bears took their other unhappy performer, Thomas Jones, and shipped him to the Jets along with the 63rd pick in the draft for the 37th pick. In a world where all second-rounders are often treated equally, it seemed like a low return for a 1,200-yard rusher. The truth, however, is that not all second-round picks are created equal. Research shows that the most valuable picks on a cost basis in the entire draft may be those at the early stages of the second round, with the single best pick based on value per dollar being the 43rd. The Bears also now have the luxury of two picks in the 30s, enabling them to move up if they spy a player they really want.

On the football field, the loss of Jones will be of little consequence provided Cedric Benson stays healthy. The veteran will be 29 this year, and Benson proved down the stretch that he can provide similar production to Jones. The question is: how likely is the former first-round pick to stay healthy? He battled injuries throughout his rookie season and suffered a knee injury in the Super Bowl. In his favor, he has a clean prognosis for the upcoming season and was a workhorse in college.

This move was probably wise for 2008, but it remains to see how it will impact 2007. Adrian Peterson should see an increased role as a third-down back, a spot in which he should excel. But if Benson should falter, Peterson may be exposed as an every down back.

Free Agency Recap

The Bears have signed as many free agents as the Miami Sharks. Safety Todd Johnson and defensive tackle Alfonso Boone have signed with St. Louis and Kansas City respectively. Ian Scott has yet to sign but appears headed elsewhere, although the Bears may make a late play for him.

Chicago did acquire Adam Archuleta in a trade with Washington. The Bears gave up only a sixth-round pick and renegotiated a contract with only $5 million in guarantees. That seems reasonable on the hope that the safety can recapture the form he showed when playing for Lovie Smith in St. Louis. Archuleta was a disaster in Washington, but so was Jeremiah Trotter. Some players perform better in certain systems. This minimal gamble was worth taking by the Bears.

Draft Needs

The Bears have two primary needs as they approach the draft: defensive tackles and offensive linemen. Tank Johnson was recently sentenced to four months in jail. The Jamal Lewis training regimen is not recommended, and the NFL may hand out additional penalties. With the departure of Boone and perhaps Scott, the Bears can only rely on Tommie Harris. They also have second-year tackle Dusty Dvoracek, who was injured last year, but the defensive tackle position must be addressed. The Bears are also a little long in the tooth on the offensive line, and right guard Ruben Brown is still an unsigned free agent.

The draft is still over a month away, so precise names are a little difficult to project. The Bears are in a tricky spot, balancing winning now with staying consistently competitive. Defensive tackle Tank Tyler out of North Carolina St. will likely be available, but presumably the Bears have had enough Tanks.

Looking down the road, they may also need to add an outside linebacker because of the Briggs situation. Many writers have them considering a tight end, but Desmond Clark was highly productive a season ago. Also, Mark Bradley's development could forestall finding a replacement for Muhsin Muhammad. Therefore, despite the defensive nature of the team, the draft could be defense-heavy with offensive linemen sprinkled in.

Detroit Lions

The Lions made headlines not through acquisitions but by shipping Dre' Bly to the Denver Broncos. The increasing salary cap space of teams has led to an increase in player-for-player trades, and this trade provided not draft picks but tackle George Foster and running back Tatum Bell. Under the theory that the team that got the better player won the trade, the Broncos clearly came out winners. The Lions switched to the Tampa-2 last season, but Bly remained much more likely to cover opposing number one receivers than the average top cornerback. He did not have the year he did in 2005, but our game charting data indicates he was by far the Lions' best hope at controlling top receivers.

Foster does represent an upgrade on the offensive line and will likely be installed at right tackle. He was too big for the Denver offensive line, but Mike Martz has never feared big tackles.

Bell's acquisition is a hint that the Lions are worried about the recovery of Kevin Jones from his Lisfranc injury. Bell is a solid but unspectacular player. The Lions claim to be intrigued with his possibilities as a receiver, but he has provided nothing as a receiver in Denver. Of course, Kevin Jones never was known as a receiver either before Mike Martz came to town. Making Bell the centerpiece of the trade indicates that Matt Millen missed the memo revealing that non-elite running backs are not extremely valuable.

Free Agent Moves

The Lions have made some interesting tinkers that should help them add the solitary win they need to get into the playoffs. What's that? They were 3-13 with the sixth worst DVOA in football? Well, then, the Lions have just made some interesting tinkers.

The Lions targeted two players when free agency opened, Dewayne White and Kevin Curtis. They went one for two, which is the closest to .500 they have been in the Millen era. White was a reserve defensive end who played under Rod Marinelli in Tampa Bay. White is the type of player teams should target in free agency. He is young, athletic, and provides upside. Of course, this market dictated that this usual mid-level signing cost the Lions $29 million over five years. He immediately becomes the Lions' best defensive end, which tells us much more about Detroit than it does about White.

Detroit struck out on Curtis and instead settled for his twin, Shaun McDonald. The two were drafted in the third and fourth round of the 2003 draft, and have served as third and fourth receivers for the Rams behind Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Curtis parlayed his status as the third receiver into a $32 million contract in Philadelphia. McDonald got less than $3 million. The truth is that Curtis is not that much better, and we must remember that both were well ahead of Mike Furrey on the depth chart in St. Louis. Furrey only led the NFC in receptions in his first season in Detroit. No word on when Dane Looker will be joining the Lions.

Other additions include cornerback Travis Fisher from St. Louis and running back T.J. Duckett from Washington. Fisher will battle for a starting role with the other mediocre cornerbacks the Lions have retained. Duckett is the presumptive short yardage back. The Lions were horrendous in power situations a year ago, so it was a hole to be filled.

Departing Detroit is a myriad of disappointing and/or aging players. Terrence Holt has bolted to Arizona, leaving the safety position for Daniel Bullocks. Marcus Pollard was released and headed to Seattle. Fan favorite Cory Schlesinger signed with Miami.

Draft Preview

The Lions have a bevy of needs as they approach the draft, allowing them to apply the Best Player Available Strategy in almost every round. They are weak at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, offensive line, wide receiver, and tight end. Those positions not mentioned above are often manned by aging players such as quarterback Jon Kitna or safety Kenoy Kennedy, spots where a good team would be looking for a long-term replacement. The Lions, sadly, have no such luxury.

The second pick in the draft is potentially extremely valuable because presumptive best overall player Calvin Johnson will likely be available. The Lions should not fear drafting a wide receiver just because they have failed in the first round so many times before. The real reason they should avoid Johnson is because with so many other needs they should trade down, even if they do not get fair value. A player like Gaines Adams fills a much larger need and additional picks later can build depth.

In later rounds, the Lions desperately need linebackers. They have nobody fit to play in the middle of the Tampa-2, and they do not really have anyone fit to play on the weak side. Alex Lewis was retained, but while decent in coverage, he is a limited player overall.

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay management insists there is nothing to the rumored Aaron Rodgers for Randy Moss trade despite numerous reports to the contrary. As self-described "outsiders" we have no information to confirm or deny that report, but we can take a look at whether such a trade makes sense.

From 1998-2003, Randy Moss was a game-breaking receiver who forced defenses to account for him unlike any other active receiver. The 2004 season saw him battle injuries throughout. He was traded to Oakland that off-season and had an underwhelming season in 2005 before an embarrassing season in 2006. The assumption is that the bad situation in Oakland was the cause of his problems, but are there other reasons to be concerned?

Similarity scores are a tool used to compare people to other players who posted similar numbers over a given time period. A quick glance at Moss' three-year similarity profile is very alarming. (Only yards are listed, but similarity scores also compare catches, touchdowns, and average yards per catch.)

Name Years Yards Yr 1-3 Age +1 G+1 Rec +1 Yds+1
Randy Moss 2004-06 767, 1005, 553 30 ??? ??? ???
Drew Pearson 1978-80 714, 1026, 568 30 16 38 614
Sam McCullum 1979-81 739, 874, 567 30 11* 21* 233*
James Jett 1997-99 804, 882, 552 30 11 20 356
Freddie Solomon 1980-82 658, 969, 574* 30 13 31 662
Ernie Jones 1990-92 724, 957, 559 29 10 5 56
Nat Moore 1978-80 645, 840, 564 30 13 26 452
Andre Rison 1996-98 593, 1092, 542 32 15 21 218
Webster Slaughter 1990-92 847, 906, 486 29 14 77 904
Antonio Freeman 2000-02 912, 818, 600 31 15 14 141
Ernest Givins 1992-94 787, 887, 521 31 9 29 280
Earnest Gray 1982-84 757*, 1139, 529 28 5 3 22
*(Pro-rated for strike)

The names on the left are acceptable if not overly impressive. More than half had over 7,000 receiving yards in their careers. The numbers on the right represent the next season after the similar three-year stretch. Only one receiver had more than 700 yards. Some of these guys had another good season or two in them, but nobody hit 1,000 yards again.

Moss is a different animal because his peak was higher even than that of Rison or Freeman. The other assumption is that Oakland was too dysfunctional and/or Moss just did not care when he was there. Of course, both Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel had success there the past two seasons. How much of that was attributable to attention paid to Moss is impossible to discern.

The truth is that Moss is 30 years old, and he always relied heavily on his speed to get open. He is not the physical receiver that Terrell Owens is or the master route-runner that Marvin Harrison is. As such, he is not likely to age gracefully, even if freed from Oakland.

A properly motivated Moss is still a valuable commodity for an offense, but whoever acquires him should realize that they are not likely getting that superstar from Minnesota. As such, the rumored trade for Rodgers can only be evaluated based on what is known about the young quarterback. If he is the quarterback of the future, then the Packers should hold on to him. If they think he is limited after watching him in practice for two years, then by all means ship him to Oakland.

The Packers are in a win-now mode, but when Favre, Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver and Chad Clifton all ride off into the sunset, they will need competent players to mold with the young talent like A.J. Hawk, Aaron Kampman, and Greg Jennings. If Rodgers is a crucial part of that future, the Packers should not give him up for an aging deep threat.

Free Agent Moves

The Ahman Green era came to an end when Green signed with Houston. The acquisition of Green spearheaded a nice run by the Packers earlier this decade, when a dominant running game helped the Packers be a consistent playoff team. Green's decline along with decimation of the offensive line is what led to the two consecutive playoff misses for Green Bay. The Packers acted prudently in not matching the offer for the 30-year-old running back, but he will be missed.

More tears should be shed for the release of William Henderson. A member of the 1996 Super Bowl champion team, Henderson has blocked for Dorsey Levens, Darick Holmes, Edgar Bennett, Green, Najeh Davenport, Samkon Gado, and every other running back in Green Bay since 1995. Losing Henderson and Schlesinger the same year will make the NFC North a little less fun to watch next year.

The only addition the Packers have made is signing Frank Walker. Adding cornerback depth is a good move, and Walker should compete for the playing time in nickel situations.

Draft Preview

The Packers select 16th in the draft, making it near impossible to predict what they will do with the pick. They have a gaping hole at running back that could easily be filled by Marshawn Lynch. If Lynch is gone, the Packers can wait comfortably until the second round to add a running back. Adding a player like Antonio Pittman in the second would be a solid move.

Assuming Brett Favre is desperate for a new toy, the Packers could go after tight end Greg Olsen. Bubba Franks has lost all effectiveness, and David Martin signed with Miami. The Packers could also use safety help with someone like Reggie Nelson. Later in the draft, the Packers could stand to beef up the interior of their defensive line, add cornerback and receiver depth, and maybe add a fullback.

Minnesota Vikings

Open auditions for the Vikings quarterback and wide receiver position will be held at their training camp facility in Mankato on July 25-26. Inspired by the movie Invincible, the Vikings have decided to take things to the next level by holding open tryouts for the team's most high profile positions.

While the above is obviously fiction, is there another explanation for the Vikings' absolute lack of effort to field a professional passing offense? They brought several wide receivers in for visits, including Curtis, but they have only signed Bobby Wade.

The Matt Schaub-to-Houston trade at least reopens the possibility of David Carr coming to Minnesota. He would be a reasonable solution, and the Vikings' only competition would be from Miami (who is reportedly interested in Trent Green). Pity David Carr. He gets his fundamentals ruined by a miserable line in Houston, and now he might be headed to a team that is starting Troy Williamson and Bobby Wade at receiver.

The Vikings should move quickly to acquire Carr, even possibly sending a late-round pick. Tarvaris Jackson may or may not emerge as a top-shelf quarterback, but he looked very raw a season ago and would likely struggle with such a mediocre receiving corps.

Free Agent Moves

Like their NFC North brethren, the Vikings have been pretty quiet in the early stages of free agency. Besides the aforementioned Wade, the Vikings have added tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu. They also signed Drew Henson, but he has proven not to be a future starter. Needless to say, these moves are only fiddling on the fringes.

The Vikings are hoping to improve with addition by subtraction. They jettisoned Brad Johnson and Fred Smoot and let Napoleon Harris walk to open up a position for Chad Greenway. Jermaine Wiggins was released as well, as he lacked the athleticism Brad Childress wants in a tight end. None of these departures is crippling, but since they have done little to replace them, it is hard to see how the Vikings are possibly better today than they were at the end of the season.

Draft Preview

One major way to get better is through the draft. With the seventh pick, the Vikings could add a high-impact player. The two stud quarterbacks will likely be gone, although the Vikings would have to consider Quinn if he dropped. Many projections have them going after Ted Ginn. The Vikings may perhaps be a bit wary of going after a speedy receiver with the seventh pick given former seventh pick Williamson's slow development. The similar skill set of the two players is also troubling, and the Vikings would be better served adding more of a possession receiver in the second round.

The Vikings are desperate to add a pass rushing defensive end but face some of the same pressure as Detroit not to draft a wide receiver. Erasmus James and Kenechi Udeze were taken in the first round in 2004 and 2005 respectively. James returns from an injury this season, but he is not exactly a sack machine when healthy. Finding this year's Mark Anderson could make the Vikings a dominant defense. If I knew who that was, I would be employed by an NFL front office. They could also go after Gaines Adams in the first round and spend later picks building offensive line and secondary depth.

Next Tuesday: NFC West by Doug Farrar


88 comments, Last at 11 Apr 2007, 6:28pm

1 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Karl Cuba // Mar 22, 2007 - 1:31pm

The Briggs situation is probably also influenced by Drew Rosenhouse being the agent for Briggs AND Tommy Harris. Angelo doesn't wnat to let Rosenhouse dictate terms to him.

There have also been rumours of Bears players telling free agents not to come to Chicago. This is probably something to do with Harris, Briggs, Vasher, Tillman, Berian, Grossman and Bradley all realising that their initial contracts are coming to an end and them knowing that the Bears' honey pot is only so big.

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2 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 22, 2007 - 2:15pm

Briggs is home grown talent that has done everything asked of him and then some. Pay the man.

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3 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 22, 2007 - 2:33pm

I was also interested in seeing Henson go to Minny. Good write ups by Ned Macey.

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4 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by justanothersteve // Mar 22, 2007 - 2:44pm

Nice Dane Looker reference.

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5 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Sam // Mar 22, 2007 - 3:00pm

Is Shiancoe the bastard who played for the Giants last year and broke Donovin Darius' leg on Monday Night Football on an illegal block in the open field (behind the refs) during an interception return? Because the Jaguars don't play the Vikings this season, and I was really hoping to see Darius deliver a season-ending hit to the piece of crap.

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6 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by houlie4 // Mar 22, 2007 - 3:32pm

Re: # 5, Darius does have experience in that department. See Ferguson, Robert in 2004.

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7 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Pacifist Viking // Mar 22, 2007 - 3:53pm

When the Vikes signed Jermaine Wiggins, he had never had more than 16 catches in a season (though he had 10 in a single playoff game). He went on to lead the team in receptions twice. I don't know if Shiancoe is expected to do that, but he may turn out to be more important to the Vikings than a fringe addition.

The Vikes needed a new direction at TE. Wiggins might have had a lot of receptions, but in the last two seasons he averaged 8.2 and 8.4 yards per catch (his career average is around 9). Good TEs in the league are usually averaging 11 yards per catch or more. Wiggins might have been a solid player, but I think there's a lot of backup TEs in the league that could catch the ball consistently when thrown to but only average around 8 yards a catch.

(Of course, Shiancoe has a career average of around 7 yards a catch--with a small sample size. He was pretty un-utilized and so I'm pretty sure he can do better than that if featured).

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8 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Benjamin // Mar 22, 2007 - 3:55pm

Just want to point out that you gave Detroit too much credit. They finished 3-13 not 4-12

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9 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by ammek // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:03pm

"The Packers are in a win-now mode" says Ned.

Well, that's the problem. They are and they aren't. No-one seriously thinks they'll go far this year with no RB, TE, second WR, depth on the OL, etc. Yet the rebuilding project can't be official until Favre takes up full-time lawnmowing/membership of Kiln Golf Club/(insert folksy post-retirement activity here).

Free agents have figured this out, which is one reason why the Packers haven't signed any.

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10 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Phil // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:13pm

RE: #9
Maybe have the boys over for crawfish?

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11 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by MJK // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:23pm

I watched Wiggins a lot when he played in New England. Granted, it's been a few years, but I liked him a lot then. He's essentially a slightly more athletic version of Christian Fauria. He'll catch the ball if you get it anywhere near him, but he'll probably immediately fall down and not get many YAC. He's not athletic enough to beat a safety, but is quite good at finding what the defense gives him as a hole in the zone. Basically, he's a great 2nd TE to have on the roster, but is not a difference maker.

I wonder if losing him will hurt the Vikings more than they figure.

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12 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Matt Millen // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:27pm

Wait a minute, I thought Tatum Bell was the guy who popularized the mile-high salute? Dammit!

Actually, I intend to split George Foster out wide to the left side.

We don't call it the Tampa-2. Our genius defensive scheme is called the "Let Mike Martz put up points fast and hope Brett Favre throws it to our mediocre and exhausted corners."

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13 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by ABW // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:29pm

Re: 11

Speaking of Jermain Wiggins' time in NE, does he still do the thing where he tries to jump over any would-be tacklers? Watching him try and fail to vault over tacklers is my primary memory of him(to be fair, my other memory of him is converting some pretty key first downs). He had pretty good hops for a guy that big, but nobody that big can jump over much. I always wondered why he didn't just try and bowl guys over.

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14 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by huh // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:33pm

what's the deal with tommie harris injury? does he have a clean slate?

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15 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by beedubyuh // Mar 22, 2007 - 4:53pm

RE: 14

Per the Bears website (I was perusing it just yesterday), Tommie Harris is expected to be able to participate in all off-season activities with no limitations. So I guess he's healing up just fine.

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16 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by beedubyuh // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:02pm

I was talking about the Briggs situation with my girlfriend the other day (I know...she's a lucky girl) when she said, "If he goes, couldn't they just move Urlacher to his position? They already pay HIM a lot of money, don't they?" I didn't have a good answer to that, actually. Urlacher originally started out as a OLB and struggled, not finding his groove until being moved inside. But that was a long time ago and under a different scheme/coach. I gotta say, she may have a point, why wouldn't the Bears do that, assuming Briggs is gone and the WLB is still the most important position in Lovie's scheme?

I still think Briggs is gonna play this year, though, he'll just wait as long as possible before signing the offer sheet and reporting.

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17 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Marko // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:15pm

14: Reportedly, Tommie Harris will be OK this year. The injury supposedly was not as bad as first feared (i.e., the hamstring wasn't torn), although it still required surgery.

As for Briggs, it's not that the Bears are unwilling to dish out a long-term deal. They offered him a long-term deal last year. The problem is that they apparently feel he is asking for far too much money, and they don't want to tie up such a large percentage of their salary cap in one position. You may have heard of another linebacker on the Bears with a lucrative long-term contract named Brian Urlacher.

I also suspect the Bears feel that Briggs is somewhat of a product of their system, rather than being a "special" player, and that therefore Briggs can be adequately replaced by someone else on their roster (Jamar Williams?) or that they find in the draft. (Their GM, Jerry Angelo, frequently talks about "special" players. Urlacher obviously is one, as is Tommie Harris. The Bears drafted Cedric Benson because they thought he was special, and they never thought Thomas Jones was.) If they lose Briggs, they better be right about adequately replacing him.

As Karl Cuba points out above, the situation obviously is influenced by Briggs' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The Bears supposedly have had a good relationship with Rosenhaus in the past. One of his other clients on the Bears is Adewale Ogunleye, and the Bears signed him to a big long-term contract in 2004 in connection with acquiring him from the Dolphins via trade. I believe that when Ogunleye was acquired, he was the only Bear represented by Rosenhaus. Many other Bears later became Rosenhaus clients, including Briggs, Thomas Jones (now departed, partially due to his contract situation) and Tommie Harris.

Another thing that Karl Cuba mentioned is the number of Bears whose contracts will be up in the next few years. If I recall correctly, Tommie Harris, Vasher, Tillman, Berrian and Grossman all have just one year left on their contracts. Assuming he is healthy, the Bears definitely plan to/need to sign Tommie Harris to an extension, and I'm sure they want to sign Berrian as well. If Rex performs reasonably well next year, they'll extend his contract, and I think they will try to extend Vasher and/or Tillman (but perhaps not both). I think if they had to choose between those two, they would choose Tillman. But the point is that there is only so much room available under the salary cap, and the more they spend on Briggs, the less that is available for the others.

As for Cedric Benson, a nitpick: He didn't battle "injuries throughout his rookie season." He had one injury, a sprained knee, that kept him out of 6 games, if I recall correctly. His lack of production his rookie year was more due to falling behind after his lengthy holdout than battling injuries. He did have an injury (a separated shoulder) in training camp this year that forced him to miss all of preseason, but he didn't miss any regular season games due to injury this year.

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18 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Erasmus // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:19pm

WR is a need for the Lions? We have a Pro Bowler, a guy who led the NFC in receiving last year, and signed a guy who was higher on the depth chart then Mike Williams who is entering the legendary 3rd year for a WR (Ok the last one is a joke....)

The Lions are probably going to trade down. All rumors point that way (even as far as a double trade down). I am sure Millen will be stupid regardless of what he does.

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19 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by dbt // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:39pm

Not only did he only have one injury his rookie season, but if you watch the film of it (I'll check youtube) it looked like the kind of thing that would knock a guy out for a year and a half.

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20 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by dbt // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:40pm

(#19 refers to cedric benson, if that wasn't obvious. sorry.)

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21 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Marko // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:56pm

Yeah, dbt, that injury to Benson his rookie season looked a lot worse than it was (just a sprained MCL).

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22 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Theo, Netherlands // Mar 22, 2007 - 5:57pm

Randy Moss was a freak and the guy who was, stattechnicaly speaking, on Jerry Rice pace in his first years.
I seriously miss that guy. Why doesn't he move to some team with an offense and become Randy Moss again.

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23 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by brasilbear // Mar 22, 2007 - 6:06pm

The Bears have made a few head scratching moves this off season, but having just gone to the Super Bowl I think the front office gets the benefit of the doubt.

I believe that RBs and LBs can be replaced, but I can see why my fellow fans are sweating a little.

I see another DT in the draft, along with a S/CB (someone to replace M.Brown, and a CB to groom to replace Tillman/Vasher.) I don't see a TE or WR. I do hope to see C/G/T at some point.

Benson will have 1300 yards with 8-10 TDs this year. Grossman will still be Good/Bad and we will see Orton at some point. Ugh.

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24 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 22, 2007 - 6:24pm

What about the Redskins signing the highest paid safety in human history... He losses his starting job and by the end of the year is reduced to only playing on the punt team in coverage. Then they trade him to the Bears for a 6th rounder. I'm still waiting for Pat to explain the salary cap implications on this one.

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25 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 22, 2007 - 6:27pm

#19, 21 - dbt, marko

That hit by Sopoaga on Benson nearly broke my heart. I had spent an awful lot of money (at a time when I wasn't earning all that much) flying accross the atlantic to stay with my brother and go and watch that game. It was the first time I had ever seen my beloved Bears. I wasn't too bothered about it being seriously windy as it meant I would get to watch a lot of Benson in his first start. Then wham, I was sat behind the end zone at that end of the field and the hit looked pretty vicious. Sopoaga just flew through the line and just crumpled Benson, they showed it on the jumbotron and it just looked even worse.
It was the first time I had seen them play and the fourth pick in the draft was lying on the field broken, I was totally gutted. It has turned out OK though.

Then Parrish who had been one of my favorite players when he had been a Bear got his leg broken. But I did get to watch Vasher make the longest play in NFL history, woo hoo.

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26 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 22, 2007 - 6:36pm


The Skins paid AA $500k of his $5m guaranteed bonus that he was due. The Bears then signed him to a new deal with $4.5m guaranteed over three years, $8m total. Cap wise I would expect it to run at 2.2, 2.2, 3.8 or there abouts.

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27 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Marko // Mar 22, 2007 - 6:47pm

James C: Seeing Vasher's play in person must have been great. I'm sure the fans were going crazy. And you also got to see Gould's comical missed field goal, courtesy of an incredible gust of wind.

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28 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 22, 2007 - 7:07pm

The missed field goal was pure comedy, it nearly ended up off the field. As soon as Vasher started running you could see he had a shot, the Bears had all drifted over toward the sideline and were so much faster. By the time he got to mid-field he had a huge convoy of orange jerseys and I was bouncing up and down in my seat. I was only a few rows back in the endzone he was running to so I had a great view.

It was so windy that pouring beers turned into a watersport for everyone on your row, but I loved it and will be going back this year. I might try to get to Lambeau field as I hear it is supposed to be a great atmostphere (all the better to see the Bears winning in) anyone been who can comment?

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29 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by MFurtek // Mar 22, 2007 - 9:20pm

Re: James C / Chris
Additionally, Washington is going to use one of those June 1 deferral rules on Archuleta, thus he'll count 2.4M against Washington's cap in dead money this year, and I think 2.4M in dead money next year.

Also, Archuleta will suck in Chicago... if he is in the game instant audible to the TE (if only life was like Madden).

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30 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by MFurtek // Mar 22, 2007 - 9:52pm

Re: 13
Sean Taylor jacked up a hurdling Wiggins during MNF... but yes, that is his trademark move.

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31 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Karl Cuba // Mar 22, 2007 - 10:03pm

16 beedubyuh: The Bears play the Tampa 2 slightly differently to most of the Cover 2 sides, partly because of Urlacher and also due to their confidence in Vazher and Tillman. They live to drop Urlacher to the deep middle, creating a cover 3(wouldn't you? he's 6-4 and jumps like a flea) and they also blitz more than other cover 2 sides. As a result of this the will linebacker is a little less of a priority than it has been for Tampa. The Bucs used to play a lot more 2-over man than many people realised, and Brooks was perfect for picking up Z receivers that came in motion. This allowed the Bucs to totally disguise their play call resulting in confused Qbs. Confused quarterbacks screw up, hence their success. I found it quite illuminating that the one question that Monte Kiffin refused to answer was the percentage of man or zone coverage the Bucs played (because it was much closer to 50:50 than was widely thought). That Briggs is not that sort of player might be why the Bears have shown some ambivalence towards him. However, if he leaves they'll really miss him in run defense.

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32 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Harris // Mar 22, 2007 - 10:23pm

The Lions targeted two players when free agency opened, Dewayne White and Kevin Curtis. They went one for two, which is the closest to .500 they have been in the Millen era.

Well played, sir.

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33 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Register Allocation // Mar 22, 2007 - 10:54pm

The assumption is that the bad situation [with Randy Moss] in Oakland was the cause of his problems
By whom? Doesn't anyone remember this incident, that earned Moss a night in a Minnesota jail?!

Seems to me that Moss has to be regarded as a high-maintainence, very high risk aquisition. Sorta like Terell Owens, but with less of an up-side.

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34 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Tally // Mar 22, 2007 - 11:33pm

So much for the Marshall Faulk to the Lions rumors, too.

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35 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Will Allen // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:08am

The Bears are quite likely going to see some fall off on defense. They have Grossman and Orton to play quarterback. Ick.

The Vikings have no reason to be confident that they will even approach replacement production at qb and receiver. Yuck.

The Packers actually are at least a little intriguing, but they have real question marks. A qualified "ehhh".

The Lions have Matt Millen. Auughhhh!!!!

I guess I'll pick the Packers in an upset, but good gravy, this division might set back football 50 years.

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36 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Marko // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:26am

Since the Lions' last NFL Championship was 50 years ago, Lions fans probably would be happy with that.

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37 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James, London // Mar 23, 2007 - 7:22am

Looking at this division, you understand why Brett Farve refuses to quit. And can anyone explain why Bubba Franks is still a Packer?

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38 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 23, 2007 - 8:56am

31- I also noticed the Bucs played a lot of man and you couldn't just count on them to play cover 2 every play like the media makes it out to be.

One of the most famous Bucs plays would be that Rhonde Barber pick 6 from Mcnabb in the NFC championship game in Philly. Mcnabb tried to throw the hot route to the receiver but Barber knew he was going there and jumped the route.

29- Damn, thats a lot of dead money for the DEADSKINS to pay for Atheir mistake in Archuelta. Kudos to the Bears for giving him a more manageable contract.

They were talking about some of the Jemarcus Russell to the Redskins rumors here in washington the past couple of days but I think they key word is "rumor".

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39 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Frank // Mar 23, 2007 - 9:22am

re Briggs and Rosenhaus

Rosenhaus advised Briggs to keep quiet and just play this year out. It was Briggs that decided, against Rosenhaus' advice, to make a stink in the media.

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40 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 23, 2007 - 9:25am

Next question

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41 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by bengt // Mar 23, 2007 - 9:35am

Those flyover advertisement links sure are annoying, but I have to admit that I spy on every mention of a ' right guard' in an FO article whether someone wants me to buy their deodorant.

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42 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by ammek // Mar 23, 2007 - 10:15am

37: Franks is still a Packer because...

- he has a substantial cap number

- he isn't worse than Donald Lee

- he's still a decent blocker

- Daniel Graham didn't return Ted Thompson's calls

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43 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by BadgerT1000 // Mar 23, 2007 - 10:53am


Decent blocker? No. What was highlighted in multiple articles by Bob McGinn and other Packer beat writers is that Franks was getting DESTROYED by sub-par defensive players. He was a turnstile out there which completely eliminates any value Franks once had.

Franks was once capable of locking up defensive ends one on one. Now he can't even get in the way. It was sad to see him struggle in EVERY facet of the game. He can't run. He was dropping easy passes. Can't block.

Franks 2006 season was by far the worst all-around season I have seen a regular player endure in my football watching history.

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44 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 23, 2007 - 11:56am

So do the Packers go after Olsen at TE, M. Lynch at RB, a WR, or go after some defensive talent?

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45 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 23, 2007 - 12:12pm

MFurtek #29

Is it possible to use the deferred cap hit stuff on trades, I understood it only to apply to players who were cut. I could be wrong on this one though.

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46 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by mawbrew // Mar 23, 2007 - 12:16pm

Re: 24

I can't figure out why the Bears were willing to pick up so much of the bonus $$ due to Archeletta. The guy obviously had no value to the Redskins, I don't know why they weren't able to stiff the 'skins for the bonus money. There could not have been competition from other teams willing to pay him the bonus (could there?).

Seeing the Bears waste this money has really got to piss off Briggs.

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47 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Pete // Mar 23, 2007 - 1:11pm

I wish I knew the details of the Archeletta deal. It seems strange they would pay such a big signing bonus when they are holding off on paying Lance Briggs. Can AA play WLB? I think he can play better than he did in Washington and the price may have been OK.

I think Lance Briggs is making a mistake making such a stink. If he played it right he might earn a good bit of money and make the big signing bonus next year. With his complaints he is hurting his value in the press. It is a shame Chicago does not seem to be able to bring him back, but I respect how they stick to their long term plan.

Of course, agents must not hate Franchise Player agreements. 10% of Top 5 player's yearly pay for almost no work. What Franchise Player could not sign those terms by himself? Could a player do that? If so, why not show your frustration with the agent and fire him?

I think Randy Moss is history. He has lost his drive to play, especially on Run plays and if he is not the primary receiver. The Packers could do better, but I don't think they have been the same since losing Ron Wolf in the front office.

Detroit should try to trade down to get more value from their situation. Calvin Johnson may be the best choice for the first or second pick, but they have so many pressing needs to fill. I think Detroit has some decent players, but they are suffering from lack of (good) continuity. See Indianapolis with Tom Moore and Howard Mudd both coaching many of the same players for 9 years.

I have a feeling the Vikings are about 5 players from competing for a playoff spot, but those tend to be the skill positions (QB, RB, WR1 & WR2, CB) that command top dollar.

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48 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Shooter // Mar 23, 2007 - 1:30pm

1 / 17 - Key Bears' players and their contract status:

Player: Contract Expiration:
Bradley 2009
Harris 2008
Grossman 2007 (and then "He Gone")
Vasher 2007
Tillman 2007
Berrian 2007

Jerry Angelo does have a dilemma on his hands. Core players are coming up for contract renewal and he has to prioritize. Harris is a no brainer and then it's challenging. JA is essentially gambling that Jamar Williams or another draft pick this spring can replace Briggs. I'm not so sure that Briggs is a product of the system, as he is just a great player. Either way, Angelo is content placing the franchise tag on him (which is the logical move).

As an aside, I can't wait until Grossman is an UFA after the 2007 season. My fear is that he plays marginally well (Good/Bad Grossman) and that they sign him for a 3-yr. extention (a la Carr).

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49 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 23, 2007 - 2:09pm

46, mawbrew

I was thinking about the numbers that I put up before and I may be a little off. I would be suprised if the Bears just gave AA $4.5m in a signing bonus, it is more likely to be split up into a series of signing bonuses and roster bonuses paid over the first and second years of a deal. I don't know how this will appear on the page but here goes.

YR 1 2 3
SBO 2.
RBO .5 2.
SAL 1. 1. 1.6
CAP 1.67 2.67 3.27

The roster bonus due in the second year is probably able to be prorated over the last year or not to give the Bears a bit of flexibility under the cap.

As to why the Bears were happy to give a contract worth that much money, I guess Smith is confident that he is worth it and there is little point trading for a guy and not giving him the money that he thinks he is worth (see Eagles and TO).

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50 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by PackerNation // Mar 23, 2007 - 2:11pm

Thank you for that information. I have spent a significant time trying to find another example of a 30+ year old QB, and a 30+ year old WR, both coming off two bad seasons, magically rejuvenating each other.

I haven't been able to find a single example. I'm beginning to believe it's never happened.

"He's unlikely to age gracefully". Very much what I think. These people who are trying to compare him to Rice and Harrison when it comes to longevity are off target, IMO.

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51 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 23, 2007 - 2:16pm

YR ___1_____2_____3

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52 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by ammek // Mar 23, 2007 - 2:31pm

I agree that Franks had an awful 2006. But Mike McCarthy has said part of the reason was the way he was used. In the few GB games I saw before December, Franks' blocking was defendable, except when McCarthy decided to put him one-on-one with the likes of Jason Taylor on third down. In December, I'll admit, he was dire.

More than anything, he looked fed up and bored. For a player reputed to be a hard worker, that's odd.

I'd say Ahmad Carroll's 2004 and one of Darrell Thompson's late-Infante years were worse. Plus I watched eight Lions games last year, which probably helped me to relativize.

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53 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by mawbrew // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:00pm

Re: 49

To me, it's not that Acheletta is getting too much money, it's who he's getting it from. The Bears agreeing to pick up $4.5 million of the Washington guaranteed $, just doesn't make sense. They really bailed Washington out. I've got to believe Chicago could have done the same deal (6th round pick) without picking up any of the 'skins debt.

Heck, Washington should have given the Bear's a 4th rounder just for clearing the cap space for them.

Whether the money is paid as signing or roster bonus really doesn't matter to me. The key is that it's guaranteed.

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54 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Jin // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:27pm

#47: Vikes need QB, WR1, WR2, Pass rushing DE, RG, RT (some of these positions depend how our young players turn out). But we are good at CB, just need depth.

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55 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by dryheat // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:41pm

#44, that was my question when attempting a mock draft. Clear needs at all three positions. Ultimately, I had the Pack and the Pats trading their first two picks, and the Packers getting Marshawn and Sidney Rice(Cincinnati having snagged Olson in between). The Patriots moved up to draft Carriker and took Josh Wilson in the second.

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56 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by sam // Mar 23, 2007 - 3:42pm

Darius at least paid for his hit (ejected, which was ridiculous and would not have been on a neutral site or at home, but since it was the legendary packers at lambeau field and the pack lost, guess they had to do something... and he was fined 75,000). Mike Sherman said it was a cheap shot, but Ferguson denied that it was. If you watch the play in real time, it's pretty obvious to any neutral observer that Darius' intent was not to clothesline him. At full speed, sometimes severe contact happens.

Shiancoe's hit was illegal, and poor officiating mechanics led to it not being caught by the refs. The hit was hard enough to break his leg. It was delivered near the knee, from behind. It looked pretty obvious in real time and on replay that it was intentional.

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57 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 23, 2007 - 4:01pm


I suspect that if the Skins had been willing to swallow more of the bonus money they might have gotten more than pick 190 (which will be pick 200+ by the time compensatory selections are doled out). From what I have read about AA's contract with the Skins any trade would have been contingent upon the Bears agreeing to give AA guaranteed money (this I am sure you know) to aleviate the skins obligations to AA which involved guaranteeing him $5.13m over four years. Otherwise there isn't a lot of point in trading him, they might have well have kept him as a special teams player. If the Bears had signed AA as a free agent following his release from the Redskins they would have had to give him at least one third of his contract in bonus money anyway (say $3m). In reality they guaranteed $4,5m. I think the reason that the Bears were OK with this is because Smith has coached him before and knows exactly what he is getting. Smith and Angelo must therefore have seen less risk than with a player that they are unfamiliar with.

I think the reason they had to give a 6th is because the Bear's 7th is the second to last pick in the draft (again before compensatory picks) and is consequently worth nothing.

I see what you mean about the Bears swallowing 90% of the guarantee, but his agent would have wanted $4m or so guaranteed or a longer deal or both on the open market. That would leave the Bears taking $.5 to $1m of the guaranteed money which isn't so bad.

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58 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by TomC // Mar 23, 2007 - 4:34pm

#29 = Skins fan sour grapes. Unless you can document that you thought he sucked *before* Washington got him.

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59 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 23, 2007 - 4:41pm

So do the Deadskins still get some dead cap money?

55- Interesting mock draft. Do you think the Pats would still go after Carriker with Wilfork in the middle and Seymour and Warren at DT/DE?

If it comes down to Lynch and Olsen, who do you think they go after? The west coast offense is very running back friendly and the Pack has already had success with multiple RB's last year. Maybe they take Olsen and invest in a RB later. Tight ends are very valued in that west coast offense and Favre had a lot of success early on with Chewy and some of the other guys ( especially in the red zone).

Unless Lynch is well above average, ( and it is very unlikey a WR not named Johnson will make an immediate big impact) you could make a strong argument that the pass catching tight end over the middle of the field would open up that offense more than a WR or RB.

The pack went defense in the first round last year ( Hawk), and with this appearing to be Favres last year, maybe they give him that toy over the middle of the field. I guess it also depends on how fungible the GM believes a RB is.

Or they could always do something like Lynch in round 1, and Zack Miller later on or Maybe Olsen in round 1, and Tony Hunt or Lorenzo Booker later on.

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60 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Zac // Mar 23, 2007 - 4:53pm

sam, if they fined him, it was obviously more than bad luck.

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61 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by John // Mar 23, 2007 - 4:56pm

Re: 44 I hope they draft Reggie Nelson. Favre is going to retire after this year (maybe?) and the only way for them to be a good team while they inevitably struggle for somewhere between the next 5 to 50 years while they look another good QB will be a solid defense. Nelson as FS and Collins at SS should, at least in theory, help keep the GB from giving up such ungodly numbers of huge pass plays.

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62 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 23, 2007 - 5:13pm

The Skins will still end up with $4.8m in dead money. The question is whether it all hits this year or whether half of it can be pushed into next year. The answer depends on whether the rule that allows released players' cap hit to be pro-rated applies to traded players.

Answers on a postcard.

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63 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by MFurtek // Mar 24, 2007 - 12:52am

I didn't think he had a stellar 2005. I wasn't thrilled with his signing. Watching the guy the whole season, he s-u-c-k-e-d SUCKED! What makes you think he'll improve?

So the question is and has always been, why did they sign Archuleta and let Ryan Clark go? Who was a rock in the secondary in 2005.

It looks like Ryan Clark might be out if Archuleta comes in. I really like Clark, and hope they can keep him and sign Archuleta.

I’m least sold on the Archuleta signing, but 3/4 ain’t bad. (In reference to Carter, ARE, and Lloyd.)

As a Bears fan I am glad that Mr Snyder stepped up and overpaid for ARE and Archuleta, it meant that the Bears wont. - James C

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64 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 24, 2007 - 8:36am

I don't think that the the Bears have overpayed for Archuleta, it seems to be reasonable compensation. To be perfectly honest I was/am unsure as to how good a player Archuleta is - I always used to bring up the play where the QB threw the ball right at him, he tried to catch it and it smacked him in the facemask, it was comically bad - but I do trust that Smith knows what he is getting having coached him before. Lovie Smith has proved (to me at least) that he can coach defense, although this may be one of those mistakes coaches make where they think they know better than everyone else, and get proved wrong. We will have to wait and see.

The thread you have lifted me from was mainly about Randle-El who would have contributed very little in Chicago last year other than the fact that we probably wouldn't have drafted Hester. The main impetus of my argument is that I never wanted the Bears to get ARE. I threw out AA as another example of how Snyder had 'won' over another team in the offseason.

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65 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by TomC // Mar 24, 2007 - 12:14pm

Matthew -

I will fully admit that:

1) I don't have a shred of firsthand evidence on which to base an opinion of Archuleta.

2) I'm a Bears fan, and so I really hope he doesn't suck.

But enough people that I respect (particularly MDS -- see, e.g., "Every Free Agent Counts 12/29/05) told me he was a very productive player in Lovie's defense, so I'm going to just close my eyes and assume that last year had everything to do with schemes and hurt feelings and nothing to do with Archuleta suddenly becoming (or being exposed as) a lousy player.

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66 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Marko // Mar 24, 2007 - 1:51pm

I’m least sold on the Archuleta signing, but 3/4 ain’t bad. (In reference to Carter, ARE, and Lloyd.)"

So far, that looks like 0/4 (or perhaps 1/4 if you think Carter was worth his contract) for the Redskins. Which is bad.

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67 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by James C // Mar 24, 2007 - 3:26pm

Overall I wuite like the Archuleta signing, it provides Angelo and Smith with a lot of flexibility both in terms of Xs and Os and who they can re-sign over the next two years.

I am assuming that the Bears will manage to re-up Harris, and probably Tillman. Those two would seem to be the most important players in the system.

If Briggs leaves it AA can be the second nickel backer, and would help bolster the run defense on first down. Briggs' replacement at WLB wouldn't need to have as good coverage skills (at least not right away), and should be easier to find.

If they can't afford to re-sign Vasher, Archuleta would play SS fulltime and Brown would move back to FS. This would allow Daniel Manning to move to RCB.

It covers most bases before the draft and will allow the Bears to make their decisions for the future during training camp when they will have a good idea what they have gotten out of the draft and whether Brown will be able to play at full speed.

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68 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Crushinator // Mar 24, 2007 - 4:16pm

I liked the Archuleta signing for the Bears - If just because it gives them depth and experience at a position that they've had some injury holes in the past couple years. They're not paying him too much to guarantee him a starting spot regardless also.

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69 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Shooter // Mar 24, 2007 - 6:26pm

#35 Will Allen - If the Bears do fall off, it will be bc of the O-line. They remain the hands down favorite to win the division. The rest of the division may set football back 50 years, but at least the Bears are competitive with the rest of the league.

Pack - Fortunate 3rd down defense last year and will likely revert. Too many skill position holes on offense
Vikes - No QB, WR1, WR2, WR3, DE1, CB, etc...
Lions - Total lack of talent.

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70 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Joe T // Mar 24, 2007 - 10:34pm

The Arch trade is good for the Bears - they give away their 6th round pick (which is essentially a 7th rounder) for depth (not a starter) at safety, and possibly outside linebacker.

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71 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Pat // Mar 24, 2007 - 10:41pm

Honestly, I don't know how people can't like the Archuleta trade on both sides. The Bears got a safety for a price which would be cheap for a backup, and the Redskins got out of a failed situation without too much pain, and even got a draft pick for it.

The fact that the Redskins were trading him to get out of the $5M option bonus is immaterial to the Bears. The Redskins could've just as easily declined Archuleta's option bonus, and then traded him, and they wouldn't've owed him anything this year. The fact that the Bears got the Redskins to pay $500K to Archuleta is, um, a bit surprising to me at all.

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72 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by MFurtek // Mar 24, 2007 - 11:53pm

I'm not giving up on Lloyd, ARE, or Carter. First the Redskins grossly underpaid for all of them. Second ARE was great as a punt returner when he wasn't dancing and not a bad receiver, except I don't get his signature celebration... Rainbow Man. Third, Carter came on near the end of the season and can be a valuable piece to the defense.

Lloyd had an ugly season that was indefensible... everything you would expect from a young WR catching passes from Brunell and a first time starting QB. Consensus among fans watching is that he's been getting open, but he is Mr. inconsistent... so I hope he stays as a 3rd WR deep threat.

So since I have to marginally defend those signings in an NFC North thread, I'd have to say that it's 1/4 they got half of ARE and half of Carter right... but things could turn next year... who the heck knows.

As for Archuleta, he could turn out to be like Rodney Harrison, cut by the Chargers... but I really don't know what role he could play other than weak-side dime defensive back... where he's keeping a RB in front of him... definately not deep safety, and not marking a TE.

Otherwise, I should wish the Bears luck, but can't stress how much he sucked in 2005. His signature moment aside from getting burned a ton was when in the Miraculous Idiot Kicker Blocked FG game. Everyone remembers that Romo hit Whitten , covered by Archuleta to set up that field go. Not many people remember they ran the same play the down before and Romo over-threw an as open Whitten. I don't think the NFC North is as TE heavy as the East though.

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73 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Fnor // Mar 26, 2007 - 10:59am

Pat: Probably part of the bargaining. I imagine Chicago wanted some money up front as part of the trade for parting with their draft pick.

Also, cute little derogatory nicknames for other teams and insightful football analysis are mutually exclusive.

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74 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 26, 2007 - 11:04am

The problem with the Redskins signings last year is they signed 4 role players but gave them top notch dollar.

- Archuleta was given the richest deal for any safety in the history of the game, but he's a role player.
- ARE is often refered to as a "slot WR" a #3 receiver, and a return man, however he was paid like a top pass catcher.
- BLoyd can make the spectacular catch, but can he always get open and make the routine ones? He started off REAL slow and right around that time I saw him on a local news channel showing off his brand new Hummer and it's sound system. ERRR, shouldn't you be more focused on your job?
- Carter was brought in to be " the man", but he's also more of a role player. He isn't that stud DE that commands a double team. He can be a valued contributer, but he isn't a solution to your miserable pass rush woes.

So washington overpays for a few role players that are supposed to "cure" their problems, meanwhile they don't have the draft picks to go along with those guys.

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75 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by beedubyuh // Mar 26, 2007 - 11:10am

Adding to the list of savy off-season moves by the Bears: Anthony Adams has been signed for 4 years to add DT depth. I liked this guy coming out of Penn State. He is a good fit for Lovie's scheme as Tommie Harris' backup.

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76 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Just Saying // Mar 26, 2007 - 11:16am

The Lions have no one to play WLB? Are you kidding me?

They only have Ernie Sims, who was phenominal there in his rookie season.

It's the other 2 positions that need filling in the linebacking core, especially a Tampa-2 MLB with speed. If we trade down in the draft, it seems like Patrick Willis would have to be the pick to fill the biggest need on the team.

Then they'd have to look to trade back up (a move in which Millen has been successful twice with -- Shaun Rogers and Kevin Jones), in order to pick up a much needed CB and/or DE.

CB, DE, and MLB are the three needs for the Lions.

WR is pretty much fine, returning Roy and Furrey and adding a slot presence in MacDonald.

TE is fine with the great play of Campbell last year, the solid backup in Fitzsimmons, and Martz's seldom use of TEs.

And the OL, for the first time in Millen's tenure, may even be fine, if Woody and Mutilalo are healthy and in shape. No one questions Backus and Raiola, and Foster didn't work in Denver mainly due to his size, a problem you already noted. Even the backups seem fine.

Needs for Lions:
MLB, DE, CB, SLB....and, later in the draft, WR, S.

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77 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Joe T // Mar 26, 2007 - 11:16am

#74 - I don't see the need in B Lloyd being the deep threat for WAS, since Moss has typically been great at getting open deep. The Skins need more of a possession receiver for a #2, and I think they realized that later in the season with ARE. I don't know the stats but I recall ARE getting a lot more balls his way than Lloyd. Hell, I recall Patten getting more snags, and he was supposed to be the #2 possession guy two years ago.

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78 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 26, 2007 - 2:18pm

The skins were running a "horizontal" passing attack last year. Brunell or Campbell would drop back and throw most of their passes 10 yards deep or shorter. With their WR core of short, agile, fast guys, I guess they were hoping they could throw a 5 yard pass to Moss and he makes a move and takes it the distance ( it happened sometimes but not enough).

The fans in washington were screaming to run a more vertical passing attack. The way they ran the offense was very low risk ( but also low reward).

It's not like Al Saunders hasn't run a vertical passing attack before.

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79 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Gonzo // Mar 26, 2007 - 8:28pm

If I may be so bold, allow me to ask the same question I've e-mailed numerous Twin Cities media members this year without a response.

Who, exactly, were these stud free agents that the Vikings were supposed to sign to make themselves markedly better?

The two positions the Vikings were weakest at going into the off-season were WR and DE. Every single potential FA DE worth their salt got franchised. . .Dwight Freeney, Charles Grant, Justin Smith, etc. DeWayne White got a big payday from Detroit after being largely worthless for 4 years in the NFL. . .Patrick Kerney got big money from Seattle despite damn near having an arm fall off in each of the last two seasons. Had the Vikings signed either one of those guys for the money they received, we'd be hearing about how the Vikings overpaid for them.

And the WR class was even worse. . .the only guy out there that I thought was worth a damn was Drew Bennett, and he signed with the first team he met with. Nothing Minnesota could do there. I don't hate the Wade acquisition, but he's not a huge difference maker. . .and I'm glad we didn't give twice what Wade was given to Kevin Curtis. Lord knows we'd be hearing about that, too.

Seriously. . .the reason the NFC North teams have all been relatively quiet in FA and/or have a ton of money left over is because there's not a damn thing worth spending all their money on. . .particularly in Minnesota's case, since they took care of extending most of their key guys before the end of the '06 season.

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80 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Sandman // Mar 27, 2007 - 9:34am

I don't know if anyone is still reading this thread, but ESPN is reporting that Rosenhaus is about to get the Skins to make an offer for Briggs. The offer would be trading first round picks -- #6 for #31.

My admittedly unstudied opinion is that this is a trade the Bears should do, but given the short life-cycle of a top defense, is it possible they're better hanging onto him this year despite what I think is a pretty good value trade? (Note: this all assumes that a long-term contract is no longer a possibility.)

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81 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by AmbientDonkey // Mar 27, 2007 - 12:22pm

I wouldn't make a pick-swapping trade in the bears position. If the Skins wanted to give the Bears the #6 for Briggs I would do the deal. To me, the reported terms look like a losing proposition for both teams.

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82 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Kal // Mar 27, 2007 - 12:38pm

I think that it's a crap decision. The Bears should have fixed this with Briggs a long time ago. If the best they can do is trade up when they don't need to, they don't want anyone special in the draft, and they'll be losing their best defensive player in the most important position in the tampa 2...they're idiots.

Stupid move.

Don't understand it from the Redskins perspective either; LB is the one position that they have strong depth at. But then again, if you have a chance to get someone like Briggs for pennies on the dollar, I suppose you go for it.

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83 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by brasilbear // Mar 27, 2007 - 1:11pm

Until I read that the Redskins will be able to pay Briggs what the Chicago papers were reporting he wanted, it stays a rumor. The Redskins will only trade for him if they can sign him. How they will give him the 7 Million + huge signing bonus he wanted remains to be seen.

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84 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by zlionsfan // Mar 27, 2007 - 1:49pm

Just Saying, that's been the problem with the Lions for as long as I can remember. Every year, at best, they're an "if" team. The problem is that in the NFL, it's rare for all the ifs to hit at the same time.

I think they are better off multiplying their picks as much as possible and drafting BPA until they have an excess of talent at one position. Even at WR. If MacDonald does turn out to be a solid player in Detroit, and if Furrey can repeat 2006, that's three WRs, which means zero depth. Don't forget the QB-as-WR experiment last season. If we don't need TEs, we definitely need more WRs.

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85 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 27, 2007 - 5:02pm

It is supposed to be Briggs and the #31 pick to Washington, with the Bears getting the #6 pick.

So would the Bears go after Alan Branch to keep their DL rich, and to pair with Tommy Harris ( look out stroud and henderson)?

How would washington address their pass rush needs? I'm guessing their starters would be Fletcher MIKE, Briggs and Washington SAM and WILL, with Mcentosh on the bench, and Holdman and the other bum kicked to the curb.

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86 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Shawn // Mar 29, 2007 - 4:00am

It seems crazy that no one is drawing any parallels between the Texans passing on Bush to draft Williams and the possibility of Detroit passing on Johnson to draft Adams. Except this situation is much, much worse. Bush was a great prospect, but a bigger, stronger, faster back in Adrian Peterson is available a year later. There won't be another Calvin Johnson. Combine that with the fact that Mario William was a significantly better prospect than Gaines Adams and the whole thing goes from a little crazy to flat out insane. The Lions have added a couple more quality OGs this week and it would be a lot sillier to pay both Backus and Joe Thomas franchise money for the same position than it would to draft another WR simply because of the Charles Rogers/Mike Williams fiasco. The Lions have holes at linebacker and CB, too, but CB isn't as crucial in the Cover 2 (or else they wouldn't have dumped Bly), and two Cover 2 tackling machines, Cato June and Kawika Mitchell signed for peanuts elsewhere, indicating the Lions were either comatose or aren't overly concerned about the LB spots.
Pundits always claim defense wins championships, but in the Super Bowl a great Cover 2 met a lousy Cover 2 and the lousy one was a legitimate 2 TD favorite (and won). Detroit would be better off following the Indy blue print than the Chicago one. Calvin Johnson is a faster, taller, more athletic version of Larry Fitzgerald (the probable #1 WR in the NFL next year). You could say he's TO, Randy, or Chad without the attitude, except his athleticism also dwarfs those guys. Ten years from now, nobody will care that Matt Millen bombed on Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, but if he passes on Calvin Johnson for Gaines Adams, they'll still be cursing him in Detroit fifty years from now.

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87 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by Chris // Mar 29, 2007 - 9:12am

shawn, I like your style.

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88 Re: Four Downs: NFC North

by ron bryant // Apr 11, 2007 - 6:28pm

what the lions need is a new g.m. matt millen must go. there is no hope in detroit as long as he stays. to bad you can't draft a g.m. don't the ford's realize that he is not the man for the job! look at the lions record during his tenure. where is wayne fonts when you need him. at least under him they consistantly made the playoffs. maybe he could be the new g.m. i'm just so frustrated with the lions. 51 years old and not one championship in my lifetime. no wonder barry left suddenly!!!

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