Four Downs: AFC East

Four Downs: AFC East
Four Downs: AFC East
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Andrew Healy

Each NFL team's offseason is filled with small moves and marginal personnel decisions. Sometimes, that series of small moves will build a winner. But a big, bold move always helps, by dramatically improving talent at an important position or changing the overall direction of the franchise. In the first series of Four Downs posts for the 2015 offseason, Football Outsiders goes division by division to suggest a bold move that each team could make to get better, either in the short or long term.

New England Patriots: Cut Vince Wilfork

As Pete Carroll decided whether to run or pass late in Super Bowl XLIX, he had little reason to fear Vince Wilfork and the Patriots’ short-yardage run defense. In 2014, the Patriots were the worst team in the league in Power Success, allowing opposing offenses to convert 22 of 27 runs (81 percent) in important short-yardage situations (third or fourth down with two yards or less to go and first- or second-and-goal from the two-yard-line or closer). Even the Patriots’ few stops came against the league’s worst running teams. Teams not ranking in the bottom quarter of the league in Football Outsiders' rushing DVOA ratings converted 16 of 17 chances (94 percent) against the Patriots’ run defense.

Just as that stat gives Seahawks fans reason to cringe, it should also not make Vince Wilfork’s agent happy. Cutting Wilfork before his $4 million roster bonus comes due on March 10 would save the Patriots $8.1 million on the 2015 salary cap. Because Wilfork’s contract has little dead money, only cutting Darrelle Revis would generate greater savings. The Patriots are currently over the cap and could reasonably ask themselves how much worse they could be against short-yardage runs without Wilfork than they were this season with him.

Moreover, Wilfork is entering his 12th season, an age around which defensive linemen’s production has dropped precipitously in the past. Even though Wilfork had some very strong games this year to go with some weaker ones―notably against the Ravens in the playoffs―he did not play up to his salary in 2014. The gap between salary and performance would likely grow even wider in 2015. Bill Belichick needs to return to his coldly rational ways and cut Wilfork should he refuse to accept a new, smaller contract.

Buffalo Bills: Trade Marcell Dareus for a 2016 first-round pick

Marcell Dareus’s dominant play earned him a spot on the 2014 All-Pro team, but EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton conspired to keep him and his defense out of the playoffs and off the national stage. Still, with Dareus maybe the most important reason that the Bills had the NFL’s second-ranked defense and top-ranked pass defense according to DVOA, his worth has never been higher. As Dareus enters the last season of his rookie contract―with the Bills already having huge dollars tied up in the defensive line―that makes this the perfect time for the Bills to trade him, probably to an NFC contender.

Nobody in recent years has shown better than the Bills that having a great defense is not enough in the NFL. The Bills had the 26th-ranked offense, continuing fifteen years of offensive futility. The last time the Bills had a top-ten offense, Bill Clinton was president and Frank Wycheck was throwing laterals to Kevin Dyson. Since 1999, the Bills have had a top-ten defense in DVOA seven times, but have not made a single playoff appearance.

There's no mystery here: to get the offensive improvement they need to finally return to the playoffs, the Bills need a quarterback. After last year’s Sammy Watkins trade, they are low on tickets to the quarterback lottery, having given up this year's first- and fourth-round picks in the deal. But trading Dareus for a 2016 draft pick rather than a 2015 one will get a higher selection in a draft that might be deeper on quarterback prospects.

Miami Dolphins: Trade Mike Wallace for a mid-round draft pick

As he desperately tried to keep his job in 2013, ex-Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland doled out a huge contract to wide receiver Mike Wallace. Devoting almost 10 percent of the salary cap to a one-dimensional vertical threat made particularly little sense for Miami, a team whose young quarterback is better throwing short than throwing long. In 2013, with Wallace, Ryan Tannehill ranked 31st (out of the 32 quarterbacks with the most attempts) in DVOA on deep passes (over 15 yards in the air). That same year, Tannehill was 11th on short passes. In 2014, Tannehill was 19th on deep passes and seventh on short ones. Under new coordinator Bill Lazor, the Dolphins did not even attempt to throw deep often. Tannehill threw deep on just 15 percent of his attempts in 2015, the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL.

In Miami, Wallace thus does not come close to creating enough value to make his salary worth paying. Rather than continuing to pay eight digits for a wide receiver who ranked 75th and then 19th in DVOA the last two years, Miami should look to unload Wallace for a Day 3 draft pick. Trading Wallace would give Miami $5.5 million in badly-needed cap relief for 2015 and get him off the books by 2016.

And Miami has a logical suitor in Seattle. Russell Wilson throws a great deep ball and must be dying to have a legitimate deep threat. Not to mention that Mike Wallace would team with Chris Matthews to make the NFL’s greatest ever news team at wide receiver.

New York Jets: Sign Darrelle Revis

This story will sound familiar:

  • Future Hall of Famer leaves long-suffering franchise for Florida.
  • Ill will develops between said franchise and said future HOFer over his exit.
  • Future HOFer wins championship with his sport’s most-hated team.
  • Finally, future HOFer returns to the franchise that drafted him and all is forgiven.

If the Patriots shy away from Darrelle Revis' $25 million cap hit for 2015, decline his option, and allow him to test the market, the Jets should do whatever is necessary to get him to take the last step of his LeBron-esque journey.

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Returning to the Jets would mean joining new head coach Todd Bowles, a creative defensive mind chomping at the bit to blitz in big moments. In a similar situation under Rex Ryan, Revis was the most important defensive player in football. Before the current Seahawks, the Revis and Ryan 2009-11 Jets were the last team to have a top-five defense three years in a row. Ryan’s blitz-heavy scheme and Revis were better together than they were apart. In his four seasons without Ryan, Revis has never played on a defense ranked higher than eighth in DVOA. In three Revis-less seasons, Ryan’s Jets defenses never ranked higher than ninth. As he did for Ryan, Revis would make it possible for Bowles to blitz more and to do so more effectively by operating without safety help.

Moreover, the Jets have the cap space they were lacking when then-GM John Idzik traded Revis away two years ago. According to, only three teams have more room than the Jets’ $49 million. Before they go to the draft to potentially fix their Hindenburg-sized quarterback problem, the Jets should make a big push to get Revis to bring his talents back to East Rutherford.

(This article originally appeared at Insider.)


64 comments, Last at 20 Feb 2015, 5:49pm

#1 by JonFrum // Feb 10, 2015 - 6:10pm

Cut Wilfork and replace him with whom? Easley proved nothing last season. I file this suggestion under the same category of most fire-the-coach talk - who are you replacing him with? Not that I have any confidence in Wilfork, but I do know that things can get worse as well as better.

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#3 by Anon Ymous // Feb 10, 2015 - 6:44pm

Agreed. I'm also noticing a lack of actual *analysis* in those numbers. How did Vince actually do on those short yardage plays? Did he beat a double only to see the RB find a gap outside? Or was he pushed aside and the runs went right through his spot? How many of those plays happened during the first month when NE was scuffling along? How many happened before Siliga returned and Branch was signed? Perhaps after Mayo and Jones went down as well?

Not saying Wilfork is worth $8mm, he certainly isn't, but he's better than the article insinuates. I have a hard time seeing he and the team refusing to find a comfortable compromise. Yes, NE has a history of moving on from players, but Vince is more Troy Brown/Faulk/Bruschi (all of whom were able to leave on their own terms) than he is Welker/Seymour/Mankins (all of whom had prior dust ups with Bill).

My largely uneducated guess as to the odds of Vince leaving are ~5%.

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#6 by mehllageman56 // Feb 10, 2015 - 10:02pm

Getting rid of Wilfork now would seem foolish given the Patriots circumstances. With Brady, they are in win now mode. At least two of the other teams will be relying heavily on the run game (Jets and Bills). I could understand moving on from Wilfork, but they must at least devote some more resources to their ability to stop the run on the defensive line.

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#38 by Bright Blue Shorts // Feb 11, 2015 - 2:32pm

Does "Win now mode" exist with the Pats under BB?

I could easily be wrong but I'd figure he is more confident that he can develop a new QB or adapt his team to play to the strengths of the one he has than mortgage the future.

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#22 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:16pm

Good points. With more space, I would have loved to add that context. The Patriots were 22nd overall on the larger sample of runs up the middle. Hard to isolate Wilfork, in particular, in the stats, but I think his performance was mixed. To me, PFF has him rated too highly. He lost at the line frequently in both the Baltimore game and the Super Bowl, but he was very good in some late regular-season games.

And he's likely to get worse. Having another OK or slightly better DT making a fourth the salary frees money to keep Revis and address other needs.

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#35 by Anon Ymous // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:47pm

Like most on the defense, Vince started the season slowly. I was impressed with him this year, particularly how he played after the bye, but much of that is due to lowered expectations coming back from injury.

I can say that Wilfork was better than he had been since at least 2012 and I hadn't heard that there was any risk of him being cut prior to the injury. Whether that means the situation is the same as if he had never been hurt remains to be seen, but I still expect him on the roster for 2015.

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#4 by dryheat // Feb 10, 2015 - 8:55pm

Yes, it would seem reducing/cutting Mayo would be the much more sensible option. They've won without him, he's missed most of the last two seasons, and has something like the 4th highest cap hit on the team.

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#10 by RickD // Feb 11, 2015 - 9:00am

Have to agree with this.

The Pats don't have a replacement for Wilfork. Cutting a player in a position with little depth makes no sense. OTOH, Mayo's contract is bigger than Wilfork's, he's missed most of the last two seasons, and Hightower and Collins have shown that they can play as the interior LB's.

I'm expecting to see renegotiation there.

As for cap space, that'll come when Revis's contract is re-done. (Or he becomes a free agent.)

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#23 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:19pm

Agreed on renegotiation with Mayo, but Wilfork's cap number for 2015 is actually bigger due to Mayo's bonus money being spread out. As for replacements, the Pats have had no problem finding adequate-to-good defensive tackles at reasonable prices in the past (e.g. T. Washington).

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#26 by dank067 // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:50pm

Over The Cap has Mayo at $10.3 million and Wilfork at $8.9 million against the cap for next year, but it does mention on his player page that Wilfork has some additional incentives in his contract—I don't think this is how incentives usually work, but did those perhaps bump up his cap number for next season? If so that would actually seem to make it more likely he would be cut...

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#18 by dank067 // Feb 11, 2015 - 11:45am

I'm sure they're doing everything they can to renegotiate with Wilfork regardless, but I don't think releasing Mayo works as an alternative because it doesn't necessarily save them a lot of money thanks to the dead money left on Mayo's contract. The speculation around cutting Wilfork is there less for football reasons than the fact that they are right up against the cap, they'd probably like to extend Revis, and dumping Wilfork is one of the easiest options to make it work.

They can probably fit everyone in next season if they want to, they could even release Mayo as a post-June 1 guy to kick some of that dead money into next year. Just a question of how much they value the win-now position they're in vs. future cap flexibility. Really though, not a bad problem to have coming off a championship!

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#20 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:05pm

We had some space limitations on this article, but it goes without saying that the Patriots would need to acquire at least one and maybe two DTs. With Easley coming back (and potentially improving), one might be enough.

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#2 by johonny // Feb 10, 2015 - 6:29pm

The major goal of Miami, Buffalo, and New York is to gain some sort of relevancy in the NFL again. The AFC east is irrelevant. The Pats always win this division. It isn't even a joke anymore. Seriously no one has outright beat the Patriots for the title since the Colts played in the AFC east (2000). Yeah the Pats have lost a few tie breakers using the cryptic NFL tie breaker since then and the Jets managed a nice playoff win a few millennia back to fool you into thinking the division was tightening up, but jeepers guys could one of these three teams not suck for a whole season and win the damn AFC east out right for once. Heck that last wild card is now 4 years long in the tooth. The Pats won 12 games three years running now. You have to search back to the distant 90s (early 90s for Miami and Buf) for their rivals to have done the same. Last season was a typical year in that the "rival" team that didn't suck most managed to not make the play offs anyways. Miami and Buf have an amazing nack the past 14 years of missing the play off when they do get into the top 5 in DVA. So isn't the goal for next season for these teams simply matter at all again at all in the NFL. Talent is nice, but these teams burn more talent than any other three NFL teams. Important December divisional game is not a dirty word guys in the AFC east, come on!

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#5 by mehllageman56 // Feb 10, 2015 - 9:59pm

No one in the entire AFC has been able to beat out the Patriots for 6 of those years, and the Pats came out as champions in 4 of them. I might add that the AFC East goes from playing the brutal AFC West to playing the AFC South. Whichever AFC division got to play the entire AFC South the last two years sent three teams to the playoffs. So one of the other AFC East teams will probably be making it next year.

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#7 by mehllageman56 // Feb 10, 2015 - 10:21pm

The entire Sign Revis part of the article sounds like more of a reason for him to sign with the Bills than anything else. The Jets must sign capable cornerbacks this offseason, but Cromartie and either Kareem Jackson or Maxwell seem like better fits for them simply because they need to sign two, as well as developing a younger starter. Revis is a great player, but he's not going to have the same effect as Lebron James does in the NBA.
As far as fixing their Hindenberg-sized quarterback problem, fixing that in this draft seems unlikely. If you disagree, I would suggest reading Matt Waldman's critique of Mariota, and every mock draft out there having the Buccaneers tabbing Winston. I'm not sure either of them would play better than Geno next year anyway, since he ended last year with a perfect passer rating. Looking at the list of the 50 NFL quarterbacks who have achieved a perfect passer rating is instructive. 7 of them never led their team to the playoffs. Shucking away a third year quarterback who did that in his last game seems so like the Jets that I'm worried they will do that, while most of the fanbase seems to want this.
Finally, trading Dareus seems like the same move the Jets pulled when they traded Revis two years ago. Perhaps the Bills would get more in a trade, but it's not a given they solve their quarterback problem, only weaken their defense. At least the Jets had doubts that Revis would stay, or that he would stay healthy.

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#12 by RickD // Feb 11, 2015 - 9:06am

The advice to trade Dareus is just silly. It smacks of "make an argument solely because everybody else thinks it's a bad idea."

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#15 by Mike B. In Va // Feb 11, 2015 - 10:30am

Agreed. A "tag and trade" Jerry Hughes article I could have run with, even though it's unlikely. This one? Nah.

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#25 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:36pm

Great point on Jets needing multiple CBs. And agreed that Revis and Ryan reuniting makes sense, too. On the QBs: If I'm the Jets, I want no piece of Winston and his 18 INTs even if he was available. Matt Waldman knows way more than I do, but man would I still grab Mariota in a heartbeat if he was there at #6. He strikes me as Aaron Rodgers a bit in not getting enough credit for his college success. Someone will get a huge bargain if he falls. If I was running the Jets, I'd be thrilled to get him.

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#33 by mehllageman56 // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:38pm

Mariota strikes me as a faster Geno Smith. His ball placement is about the same as Geno's, and Geno didn't have a strong running game to rely on, unlike Marcus. Both were very successful in non-pro style offense. It will take Mariota at least a year to be ready, possibly two. If Aaron Rodgers had started from day one, he would have struggled; he didn't look good in preseason or replacing Farve until his third year.
As far as bargains, the Jets currently have a starting quarterback who is being paid worse than many of the back-ups in the league. Occasionally he actually plays like a good starting quarterback, often not. If Williams or Gregory fall to 6, someone will be getting a better bargain than if Mariota fell to 6.

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#34 by mehllageman56 // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:42pm

I should have included this in the previous post, but if the Jets pass on Winston (unlikely, since the rumor is that Lovie Smith wants him), it will be because of his off field problems. Winston's interceptions issues are minor, since he played in a system that leads to more interceptions than the ones Geno Smith and Marcus Mariota played in. Winston needs to look off safeties more often (something that Geno doesn't do well, but Marcus does splendidly), but he also had more confidence to get the ball into tighter windows.

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#36 by dryheat // Feb 11, 2015 - 2:04pm

I just don't understand the idea that Mariota is worth a 1st round pick, let alone 1st oversll. I get the importance of a QB to the team's success...but I don't think he's good, let alone potentially great. I think Smith is the bettet prospect. Frankly, I think guys like Mettenberger, Glennon, and Mallett are better prospects. And I'm fully aware that I'm not as qualified a talent evaluator as guys like Mayock, let alone Chip Kelly. I just don't see what everybody else sees. I think he's a bust of epic proportions -- Vince Young or Chris Weinke caliber.

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#64 by chemical burn // Feb 20, 2015 - 5:49pm

Based on what I've seen, you're probably as good a talent evaluator as Chip Kelly. Or maybe better: after 2013, would you have signed Riley Cooper to a big new contract and cut DeSean Jackson? Would you have pushed to draft Lane Johnson and Marcus Smith in the first round? What are your feelings on Bradley Fletcher & Cary Williams: a reasonable starting CB duo?

But to your point, this is why I dread the Eagles moving up to get Mariota. It's my nightmare BECAUSE of Chip Kelly's talent evaluation thus far.

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#44 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 3:58pm

Just one thing to add: In addition to Mariota's great stats, he has all the intangible stuff down. That's hard to quantify and still very important. I am no college film maven, though, and so my thoughts on this are less-informed than some others' opinions.

One last thing: I found this breakdown of Mariota's throws pretty convincing that he can be effective throwing downfield:

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#8 by Karl Cuba // Feb 11, 2015 - 7:23am

I don't see a year market for Mike Wallace given his base salary is $10 million next year and $11.5 million for the following two years.

They will have to either release him or attempt to get him to agree to a substantial pay cut. I think the odds favour cutting him.

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#27 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:50pm

You might be right. Maybe they get a 6 or a 7, since they can cut him after the first year without any cap implications (the Dolphins taking the hit on the bonus). But if a team like Seattle doesn't but, they may have to cut him.

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#29 by Karl Cuba // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:04pm

How much cap room will Seattle have after giving Wilson a new deal and keeping Lynch happy? I would have thought they'd have some dead money from the Harvin debacle on their books too.

I might just be protesting because I want the niners to make a strong run at Wallace if he gets cut. Big armed qb, absolutely no speed at receiver. Wallace or Torrey Smith would really help to fix that.

I'd also like to thank you for chipping in with replies in the comments, it's always nice when the writers engage with the readers.

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#32 by justanothersteve // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:34pm

Along with the 49ers and Seahawks, there are several teams in need of a good speed WR. Panthers, Vikings, Browns, and Titans (the latter two have one, but they're head cases) all come to mind. I could see any of them giving up a lower pick if they have the cap space.

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#37 by Karl Cuba // Feb 11, 2015 - 2:30pm

I just don't see anyone wanting him on that contract, $10 million then two years at $12 million when he's worth about six, seven tops.

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#45 by justanothersteve // Feb 11, 2015 - 4:19pm

The Jags, Raiders, Browns, Jets, and Titans all have about $40 million or more expected cap space according to an article on CBS Sports website. The Jags will have over $60 million, need WRs (and pretty much everything else offense), and no FAs on their own team who would cost much to sign. The Raiders will have about $55 million, could have even more cap space by dumping MJD and Schaub, need WRs, have a history of spending money foolishly, and only Stefen Wisniewski as a must-resign FA. Both have young, strong-armed QBs. Either team could trade a 5th, try him for a year, and either get him to renegotiate after that or dump him if he doesn't work out.

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#47 by Karl Cuba // Feb 11, 2015 - 7:20pm

I can see where you're coming from but if you were running those teams wouldn't you want to (a) keep as many draft picks as possible and (b) use your cap room to acquire players on contracts that are sustainable in the long term?

If it were an $8 million per year deal then maybe but his contract is just absurd.

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#49 by Andrew Potter // Feb 12, 2015 - 2:58am

Isn't there also a salary floor? That money has to be spent -somewhere-.

Not saying it's worth spending it on Wallace, as I don't think it would be for all sorts of reasons, but if I remember correctly teams $60m under the cap need to spend a sizeable chunk of that to reach the minimum salary level. (And no, it's not worth a team like the Jaguars trading a draft pick for Wallace at that contract, even a fifth-rounder.)

I also think the Jaguars in particular need help on the line way more than they need help at receiver.

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#43 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 3:39pm

No problem. Particularly wanted to jump in this time since it would have been great to have space to talk about Wilfork in the bigger sample of all runs, Wallace's salary hit to an acquiring team, etc.

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#9 by allybhoy // Feb 11, 2015 - 8:45am

Smith's play at the end of the season has created a quandry for the Jets. But new regime means new start and if Mariota or Winston fall into their laps I can see them making the mistake of moving on from Smith too soon

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#14 by mehllageman56 // Feb 11, 2015 - 9:51am

We'll be able to tell the new regime is clueless if they cut or trade Geno before training camp. But his play at the end of last year allows the GM cover to trade down if Mariota or Winston are available. Another possibility that's been ignored by Jets fans and mock drafters is trading down to Atlanta or Cleveland if Leonard Williams or Randy Gregory fall to the sixth pick. Trading down to acquire more picks, including ones for 2016, is probably the best option for all of these teams but Buffalo.

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#51 by allybhoy // Feb 12, 2015 - 9:13am

Agreed, and its probably the best option. However, its more likely to happen if Williams was there rather than Gregory.

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#53 by mehllageman56 // Feb 12, 2015 - 11:59am

Absolutely, Williams is the best prospect in the draft. Teams may not be high on Shane Ray or Fowler, so Gregory's stock may cause a bidding war if he's available at 6.

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#11 by RickD // Feb 11, 2015 - 9:03am

Why on Earth would Revis sign with the Jets?? If he leaves the Pats, surely he'd go back to work with Rex in Buffalo.

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#13 by mehllageman56 // Feb 11, 2015 - 9:45am

Agree completely on Revis not signing with the Jets. His third and best option would be to sign with a contender with a younger quarterback, like the Colts.

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#16 by Mike B. In Va // Feb 11, 2015 - 10:31am

Yeah, I'd actually hate to see that happen - Buffalo has enough quality DBs that they don't need to spend the money on Revis - but I definitely see that as more likely than the Jets.

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#50 by Raiderfan // Feb 12, 2015 - 6:42am

Well, he left Rex to go to a bad team, for more money. So, thinking he would be willing to go to another bad team, if they make the most lucrative offer, seems reasonable to me.

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#58 by Led // Feb 13, 2015 - 11:14am

Yes, but he made clear he wasn't signing an extension for less than $16m per year and his agents worked out a long term deal with Tampa as part of the trade. If he were willing to accept $12-13m to stay in NY, he'd still be in NY. He chose Tampa for $16m.

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#59 by RickD // Feb 13, 2015 - 4:29pm

And one year in Tampa may have taught him a lesson about being completely mercenary.

I'd wager he was much happier playing for the Pats than he was for the Bucs. And the Jets aren't just a crappy team, they're the crappy team that got rid of him once already.

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#62 by Led // Feb 19, 2015 - 2:30pm

Oh, I think there's almost no chance Revis goes back to the Jets. But if you think he'll take less money to stay with the Patriots, you haven't paid attention to his entire career. Winning a ring isn't likely to make him less mercenary.

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#63 by GrandVezir // Feb 20, 2015 - 9:31am

Winning a ring isn't likely to make him less mercenary.

Probably not, but the Patriots are pretty good at cap magic.

Replace "take less money" with "agree to a restructuring that converts his $12.5M 2015 roster bonus to a signing bonus, adds money on top, and extends the contract to mitigate the cap hit," and that's something a mercenary might go for.

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#17 by D2K // Feb 11, 2015 - 11:06am

This may seem like a standard fan board type of comment, but Buffalo trading Dareus for a 1st round pick is lunacy, its even more ridiculous when the 1st round pick is two years out.


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#24 by mjb // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:24pm

The 2015 Draft is this upcoming draft, so the 2016 Draft would be next year not 2 years out.

And how would it be crazy to trade Dareus? As he is likely to ask to be paid like a premier player at his position, while the Bills are already over paying for Mario Williams, and Kyle Williams. So if they believe that they cannot resign Dareus, or rework any one else's contract I would not consider it crazy that they would trade him now.

Besides this article did lead with these being "bold" ideas. Not "Likely to happen" ideas.

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#39 by D2K // Feb 11, 2015 - 2:37pm

The Bills have plenty of room to re-sign Dareus and the guy DESERVES to be paid like a premier player at his position. This is the problem that the Bills have had for the better part of 15 years... not re-signing their home grown talent. The Bills dont have to pay a $20 + million dollar contract to a QB right now, or in the near future, so its ludicrous to think that Dareus cannot be re-signed.

There is an easy argument to be made that Dareus is the best interior DLineman in all of football and with the draft being nothing more than a crap shoot, even with the best front offices, you keep the proven stud over the unknown all day.

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#41 by dryheat // Feb 11, 2015 - 3:06pm

I don't know how you would choose to frame said argument, but in no way will it be easy.

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#55 by ChrisS // Feb 12, 2015 - 3:09pm

The problem with a trade for a pick in the 2016 draft is the uncertainty about exactly where it will be since there is a fairly large turnover in good/bad teams each year. Could be made a conditional pick, but i don't recall seeing them much in the NFL.

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#57 by Karl Cuba // Feb 13, 2015 - 6:29am

The second pick Kansas City have the niners in return for Asked Smith was conditional on KC's record in their first year with Smith. Still not very common though?

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#19 by awsalick // Feb 11, 2015 - 11:55am

This article reads like a sensationalist piece you'd see on ESPN - big names, big trades, and purely hypothetical offseason filler. Your readers come to FootballOutsiders for analytics and statistic-based commentary, not this.

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#21 by Bright Blue Shorts // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:14pm

"(This article originally appeared at Insider.)"

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#31 by justanothersteve // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:19pm

At least now it makes sense.

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#28 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 12:55pm

Yes, this was originally for ESPN. So we had to keep things short and to the point. So some details were left on the cutting room floor. But, to be clear, I would make each of these moves if I was the GM. I like the Dareus move most of all, actually. They need to get more draft picks, they're not winning the SB this year, and Dareus is in line for a huge payday in a year. You're giving up a great player, but you'll have to give him huge dollars in a year to keep him.

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#40 by D2K // Feb 11, 2015 - 2:41pm

"This article reads like a sensationalist piece you'd see on ESPN - big names, big trades, and purely hypothetical offseason filler. Your readers come to FootballOutsiders for analytics and statistic-based commentary, not this."

This ^^^

Definitely not what I expected when I opened the article. Healy is a good writer IMO and I wish the FO crew would continue being the "punk rock" to ESPN's sissy hair bands, instead of dawning the proverbial make up and teased hair of their counterparts.

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#30 by Franchise_Punter // Feb 11, 2015 - 1:13pm

The reason you're suggesting they trade him is the same reason he's not going to net them anywhere near a future 1st round pick. It's just too much to give up for a rental, particularly one whose $8 million cap hit for 2015 isn't insignificant.

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#42 by Andrew Healy // Feb 11, 2015 - 3:34pm

You might be right about that. When some of us exchanged e-mails on what Dareus would get in return, we had a very wide range of opinions. A 2015 2nd or 2016 1st was about at the middle of the opinions. Definitely just a guess, though.

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#46 by Behemoth // Feb 11, 2015 - 4:35pm

I think that the Patriots will have to get all of Revis, Mayo, and Wilfork to renegotiate or to release them if they can't re-sign them. They team is about at the cap, before 4+ million in dead money for Mankins, plus a bunch for released draft picks. In total, they are about 5 million over the cap for their top 51 players.

Releasing Revis outright saves 20 million. Obviously, they won't want to release him, but they can't really afford to keep him at that number. At that, the team still has 5 million hanging over from last year for his signing bonus.

Releasing Mayo would only save 4.3 million against the cap, as he would count 6 million in dead money for next year.

Releasing Wilfork would save a little over 8 million of his almost 9 million cap number.

This is where the cap really hurts. The Patriots, I think, would prefer to keep all three. But they will need money to sign McCourty. They need to sign or let go Gostkowski and Vereen among others. They need to be looking at Jones, Hightower, and Solder who will be coming up for fifth-year options/renewal over the next couple of years.

Just to sign, say, McCourty, plus draft picks and your run-of-the-mill, low level, low signing bonus free agents will run, I'm guessing, 12-14 million or so. Even releasing Revis outright only just gets them into that range.

They will need to make very careful decisions about whom they can keep. They will lose a fair number of important players this year one way or another. I expect people such as Vereen are simply going to go, because I suspect that the Patriots can't really afford him, no matter how valuable he might be to their success, and I expect that some other team will be happy to provide much more money than the Patriots can offer.

Points: 0

#54 by Anon Ymous // Feb 12, 2015 - 2:18pm

Yes and no.

It is true that NE is tight against the cap, but if Revis goes, so goes $20mm of cap space, freeing up NE to do just about everything else they need to. Solder, for instance, counts $7.4mm against the cap and would likely see that number go down if extended.

If Revis is extended, that frees up ~$12mm of cap space. Add in the almost certain couple million generated with Wilfork/Mayo restructures and, again, it isn't that dire a situation. Denver, for instance, has a lot more room but they also have a lot more players becoming free agents. Of the 22 Patriot starters from the super bowl, only two, McCourty and Connolly, are free agents. I agree that the team would like to have Vereen back, but they've had a plan for his departure for nearly a year now.

NE will have some tough choices, but I don't think the waters are as treacherous as you make them out to be.

Points: 0

#60 by RickD // Feb 13, 2015 - 4:37pm

Not sure about your math. The Pats are about 5 million over the cap, so they "must" get rid of three players who contribute a combined $32 million?

OK, for starters they are not going to keep Revis on his current contract. Either it's renegotiated or he'll be allowed to become a free agent.

Mayo is due for a pay cut, given how much money he's earned the past two seasons on the IR.

As for Wilfork, we'll see. He's still the best interior lineman the team has, and it's not unreasonable to pay good money to keep the team from becoming just a complete sieve on the running defense.

The talk about McCourty is that he's likely to get the franchise tag.

We'll see what kind of offers Vereen gets. He's the least replaceable of the team's RBs, but he's not irreplaceable. He's a very good pass-catching RB, but he's far from being a full-time option.

"Just to sign, say, McCourty, plus draft picks and your run-of-the-mill, low level, low signing bonus free agents will run, I'm guessing, 12-14 million or so. Even releasing Revis outright only just gets them into that range."

I thought we'd agreed releasing Revis would save $20 million?

Your math is weird.

Points: 0

#48 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 11, 2015 - 8:28pm

The only way trading Dareus makes any sense at all is if you think they cannot re-sign him - because he wants out, because the Bills have taken on a franchise QB contract like Jay Cutler, or because they choose to go all-in on Jerry Hughes and don't want to invest so heavily in the DL. Otherwise, it's silly when Dareus (aside from his driving habits) has become exactly the player Buffalo hoped he'd be when they picked him at #3.

It's also worth remembering that the Bills are not hamstrung by Ralph Wilson's pocketbook any more. Terry Pegula is among the richest owners in the league.

Points: 0

#56 by ClavisRa // Feb 12, 2015 - 5:07pm

Hard to see the Pats continuing with Wilfork without a major restructuring; he can still be effective, but they have to limit his snap count across the season if they want him to play at a high level, especially come play offs. I don't see how they can pay Mayo, nor why they need to, as much as he has been a great leader and is well respected by Belichick; his successors have been successfully installed. I'll be amazed if they can't work out a new deal with Revis. Vereen is an interesting case, but it's hard to not see another team overpaying for him; re-watching the Superbowl, he had several clutch plays, and some nice highlights in the season.

Points: 0

#61 by RickD // Feb 13, 2015 - 4:41pm

The Pats didn't limit Wilfork's snap count this season. Let's not invent problems that the Pats don't have yet.

As for paying Mayo, if you feel comfortable having no depth at LB whatsoever, then sure, let him go. And then we can have another season of watching RBs run away from Jamie Collins on the wheel route.

I'd prefer to have at least a small amount of redundancy at the LB position. If you think Mayo will be healthy, he deserves a starter's salary. Not the salary he's got now, but cutting him right now doesn't make sense to me. Finding LB's at his level isn't easy.

I'm sure any of the other AFC contenders would love to have Mayo.

Points: 0

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