...as I woke up this morning. And I asked myself, what could help us at wide receiver? And I answered to myself, a trade.
But who to trade for? Some fans are saying that this roster needs to add vertical threats. I disagree. We have Price and White for at least another year. Speed is not a problem for this unit. It's just getting open. But also I think an issue is that we need YAC guys to be a bit more in-tune with the "classic" WCO.
And then it dawned on me, are there "tradeable" receivers out there that are any good? But then I realized that's slightly oxymoronic, since almost all receivers that are traded are either A) disappointments or B) lost in the shuffle.
That got me thinking, what receivers will likely be on the trading block this off-season. The names that came to mind were:
Josh Reed, Bills
Peter Warrick, Bengals
David Terrell, Bears
Freddie Mitchell, Eagles
Rod Gardner, Redskins
Koren Robinson, Seahawks
Derrick Mason, Titans
Now a few of those names might surprise you, but I think all are definitely tradeable from their respective teams, depending on what's offered. The beauty of it all, is that all these players are entering the final years of their contracts, which means that if the Falcons did acquire them they are not inheriting a long-term commitment. But the question, which among these players is the right fit?
Mason seems tough to trade for due to the approx. $6 million cap hit he will carry in 2005. Plus the Titans would probably want at least a 2nd rounder for the 31-year old vet that caugh 96 passes this year. They probably would normally want a 1st, but it'd be doubtful any team would give up that much for a guy that's near the end of his career.
Robinson, Gardner, Reed, Warrick, and Terrell are all playing under the rookie contracts, which makes them all very tradeable. What would their teams want for them? Well Robinson is obviously a first rounder, just because of his youth and athleticism. The knock on him is that he can't catch, and the knock is true. Gardner is not a big play threat, just a steady possession guy that really only makes his mark felt in the red zone. Reed is a smaller YAC guy that really hasn't done much in the pros after an outstanding college career. Warrick has had 1 good year in the NFL, but otherwise is a decent/average No. 2 threat. Terrell played fairly well this year when he was the #1 threat in Chicago, but he's really an overglorified #3 guy with attitude and work ethic issues.
So you might be saying to yourself. Well this is a great crop of guys to pick from. Most of them are underachievers or over the hill. Well, I'm sorry to tell you, but a guy like Roy Williams is unlikely to drop magically from the sky and solve our WR issues forever. We just aren't likely to be in a position to get a top wideout in the upcoming drafts, assuming we will be picking in the bottom part of the 1st round in upcoming years. Reggie Wayne (#30, '01), Moss (#21, '98), Moulds (#24, '96) and Javon Walker (#20, '02) are the only real wideouts picked after #20 in the first round that have had successful NFL careers in recent years. You get more Rae Carruths and Marcus Nashs than those guys. Now of course, this all changes if the Falcons revert to their former selves and have a 5-11 season at some point.
But anyway, back to the point. Who among those guys is a possible target. Depending on what we give up, I wouldn't mind having any of those guys. I don't really see it as something that we need to bring in a single player that is going to change our fortunes forever, but I do think we need to continue to accumulate talent, and at the very least get us a #2 that is really a quality starter. White/Finneran are backups that are basically starting on a bad unit. Mason, Robinson, and Warrick definitely fulfill that role IMO. Terrell, Reed, and Gardner have the potential, but they don't offer the consistency/big play potential of the other 3. Mason would be the ideal choice, because he's the most dependable, but that huge salary is going to be tough for both the Titans & Falcons to handle if he is traded. Robinson has the most potential, but he's shown little improvement over the years in consistency. He drops so many passes, it's uncanny. Warrick is coming off an injury and is a decent #2 if he has a capable #1 across from him.
I really think it's a situation where some of these guys will step up their game with a change in scenery. Well, you might be saying, it's too risky trading a 1st/2nd/3rd round pick for unproven or inconsistent players. And I say, you have to take risks in this business if you want to pay dividends. We all knew it was risky to sign Price to a huge deal and ship a #1 to Buffalo for him. But I think it was worth the risk. This team needed a playmaker, and Price and Coles were really the only ones available. Did the team ultimately make a mistake in taking Price over Coles? Yes, I think so. But I don't fault Reeves & Co. for at least trying. And McKay needs to do the same thing.
But I think McKay should look at some of these names, and actually put the feelers out there to see what type of interest their teams have. I don't want to give up a 1st round pick for any of these guys, but if it requires dumping this year's 2nd & 5th, and a future 2nd for Koren Robinson, I think it's a risk worth taking. We need to jumpstart our passing game, and a set of fresh legs is just what we need.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.