Dynasty News #4
By Jeff Tefertiller
August 4th, 2011

The training camps are now in full swing. The news is beginning to ramp up as the excitement for a new season builds. The series of articles will look to keep you in the loop on some of the recent news as it relates to dynasty leagues. We will identify some winners and losers. This is not an exhaustive list, but will include some of the bigger news. Keep a close eye on the Footballguys.com news page for the up to date news.

In a deal many expected for months, the Arizona Cardinals acquired unproven quarterback Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for elite cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick. This was a great deal for the Eagles in that they were able to acquire a top corner and a pick for a player they could not retain past the 2011 season. After the trade, Kolb inked a five-year contract for $63.5 million contract with $21.5 million guaranteed. Franchise quarterbacks are difficult to identify and roster so the Cardinals could end up looking ok in the deal. This price is not that much more than what the Houston Texans gave up to get Matt Schaub. Arizona needed a passer to stabilize the offense after the mess in 2010. Larry Fitzgerald's contract will come due soon and they need to show him they are committed to winning. The Cardinal offense could be surprisingly productive with the addition of rookie running back Ryan Williams and tight end Todd Heap, in addition to Kolb. The Arizona Republic recently ran an article that the Cardinals identified Kolb as their quarterback due to concerns about Kyle Orton's effectiveness on third downs and in the red zone. This is true. The Denver quarterback does possess a weak arm. Since this is a dynasty-focused article, enterprising owners might look to acquire Andre Roberts or Early Doucet on the cheap if the Cardinals do not sign Braylon Edwards or another high-profile receiver. The upgrade at quarterback could do wonders for their emergence into the spotlight.

The Denver Broncos have been looking to trade quarterback Kyle Orton for a few months, thus anointing Tim Tebow as the starter. But, as college football guru Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast". Denver was close to a deal with the Dolphins but Miami would want Orton's contract extended ... and the veteran passer wanted more than the stingy Dolphins wanted to spend. Yes, this is the same team that gave the Eagles a 2nd round pick a few years ago for A.J. Feeley. We are now at a stalemate. The Broncos just paid Orton a $1.5 million roster bonus and would owe him another $2.9 million in salary if they cut him. So, the wait is on. Orton is forcing the issue since he knows he has Denver over a proverbial barrel. The team would have to pay him $7.38 million to keep him, and compete with Tebow. Denver has to pay to cut him or keep him so they want the trade to go through, plus the club would get a draft pick in return. Orton knows this and is holding out for a big contract. The national media is conflicted as to the outcome, with many thinking the Orton-to-Miami deal is still not dead. Bill Williamson of ESPN said this past week that the Broncos want "to give Tim Tebow an open highway to see if he can be the future of the franchise or not." A related transaction this week was the signing of the lackluster Matt Moore by the Dolphins. This move was to put the pressure on Orton and Denver ... not Henne. NO WAY was Moore signed to compete with incumbent Chad Henne when he could not beat out Jimmy Clausen last year. Moore signed a contract that makes him a QB3 not a threat to the starter. The move for dynasty owners is to try to acquire Tebow while Orton is practicing with the Bronco starters in training camp. Another angle would be to see if you can acquire Brandon Marshall on the cheap since it appears (to the masses) that Miami is stuck with Henne and Moore at the quarterback position.

In a yawner of a deal, the Minnesota Vikings acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Washington Redskins in exchange for a 2012 sixth-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2013. Many will look at the price and think it is cheap. Before you fall into that category, think about McNabb for a minute. Do you think he will add "W"s to the win column for the Vikings? The veteran has never been known as a good mentor of young talent and bristles at the thought of competition. This is a situation which WILL get ugly as early as this season. He is 34 years old and on the downside of his career. Sure, the motivation for the Vikings might be to have a veteran come in and start so rookie Christian Ponder can learn. But, this is Donovan McNabb we are talking about. The Washington Redskins chose to go with John Beck over him. The dynasty move is to target Ponder while the focus is on McNabb. Before the draft, Minnesota's scouting department determined that the rookie from Florida State was ready to start games in the NFL. With Sidney Rice now with the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings will display a conservative offense so there is limited fantasy upside this season. The Minnesota pass offense will not be strong with Michael Jenkins starting with Rice now departed. But, in terms of value, Ponder is a great player to acquire now while he is cheap. He will start games this season.

In another predicted move, the Tennessee Titans signed the aging Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year contract. Many see this as good news for the entire Titans offense. But, will the passer who has thrown so many interceptions of late, and few touchdowns, really be a better option than the eighth overall pick in the NFL Draft, Jake Locker? There is no question that Hasselbeck was signed because Locker is no where near close to being an effective NFL passer. He was erratic in at the University of Washington. The veteran will be 36 in September and has struggled to stay healthy. It might be best to avoid all of the Titan passing game until the situation plays out. It could be a mess for a long while.

As the dominoes fall in the free agent signings, ex-Viking Tarvaris Jackson was signed to take Hasselbeck's place in Seattle. He will get a whopping $8 million over two years. After proclaiming love for Charlie Whitehurst the past few months, Pete Carroll has already anointed Jackson as the starter. This is bad news for the Seahawk passing game. No, Whitehurst would not do much better. But, Seattle could have aimed much higher than a battle of two very average NFL backup quarterbacks.

Speaking of backup NFL quarterbacks, the Buffalo Bills reunited coach Chan Gailey with Tyler Thigpen. For those not remembering the connection, Thigpen was under center the last half of his rookie season in Kansas City in 2008. Gailey had the youngster lined up in the shotgun (Gailey called it the "Pistol") and was able to best utilize Thigpen's skill set. This is a solid move for the Bills. They now have a safety net for starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Another wrinkle this past week was the signing of Brad Smith, formerly of the New York Jets. The team has listed Smith as a quarterback with the hope of running special plays.

In a surprise move, the Carolina Panthers re-signed running back DeAngelo Williams to a five-year, $43 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed. The new coaching staff wants to keep the strong running attack of the John Fox era. But, why would a young team invest so much money in a 28 year old tailback? The Jonathan Stewart owners are crushed. The value of both backs has taken a hit, but moreso for Stewart. The re-signing of Williams could be taken as an indication that the Panthers are not fully comfortable with Stewart as the primary ball carrier. Questions remain about his durability. On the bright side, rookie quarterback Cam Newton will have a strong ground game to rely upon.

The New Orleans Saints are as shrewd as any team. They were able to trade Reggie Bush to the Dolphins, and letting the Miami coaching staff fell like they stole Bush. Coach Tony Sparano stated his "strong belief" that Bush can be an early-down back with the Dolphins. Did he watch any tape of the injury-prone back in his post-Kardashian era? Sparano told Bush he would have an opportunity to be the "featured back and the main guy" in Miami. The Dolphins desperately need another back in the stable with only Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas in the fold.

After unloading Bush (and his hefty salary), the Saints signed the shifty Darren Sproles for less money than what Bush wanted and got. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Sproles' role will be similar to the one Reggie Bush held in New Orleans. So, the team upgraded in talent, paid less for the player, AND got something in return for Bush via trade. With a backfield of rookie Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Sproles, the Saints are stacked at the position once again.

In a move that will be overrated by dynasty owners, the Cleveland Browns sign former Green Bay Packer running back Brandon Jackson to a two-year, $4.5 million contract. This is hardly starter, or even backup, money. For reference, Sproles received roughly $4 million per year for a four-year deal. So, this is a token deal for a player who was unwanted by his former team. Jackson is a good receiver and picks up the blitz very well, but offers little aid in the running game. This move says more about the faith the Browns have in Peyton Hillis than anything else. If, as some believe, Hillis is to receive fewer touches going forward, the Browns would have brought in a better back for competition. There are plenty of ball carriers waiting to sign somewhere. This would be a great time to see if the Hillis owner will let him go on the cheap.

In a much-anticipated move, the New York Jets were able to retain Santonio Holmes with a five-year, $50 million contract. He was able to secure $24 million guaranteed. Holmes was the best wideout on the free agent marketplace. His presence in the lineup is key for the conservative new York offense. Quarterback Mark Sanchez needs a deep threat with some ability. This was a solid move for the J-E-T-S. Then, the team added Plaxico Burress on the cheap. New York was smart to only give Burress a one-year "prove it" deal. He should produce numbers close to what Braylon Edwards accumulated last season.

The Seattle Seahawks were able to lure Sidney Rice away from Minnesota with a five-year, $41 million contract. For a player with an ongoing hip injury, a whopping $18 million in guarantees was shocking. Rice, and Tarvaris Jackson from above, followed offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell from Minnesota. Now the Seahawks have a couple of quality receivers and no quarterback. For those so inclined, Rice makes for a great player to buy this season with the hopes that the team brings in a talented rookie passer next offseason. Rice is only 26 years old so he has plenty of road in front of him, as long as the hip recovers. An interesting part of the story was when ESPN NFC North blogger Mike Sando reported that Sidney Rice's relationship with the Vikings turned "frosty" after the 2009 NFC Championship Game. For those that do not remember, Rice suffered a hip injury that would eventually require surgery. But, at the same time, he wanted a long-term deal from the Vikings. As you can imagine, the team balked and the hard feelings evolved.

In a purely typical New England Patriots move, the team gave the Cincinnati Bengals a fifth-round pick in 2012 and a sixth-round pick in 2013 in exchange for Chad Ochocinco. The Patriots even got the ego-centric receiver to redo his contract from the $6 million he was due this season. Further, Ochocinco has even cooled the media interviews and Twitter. What a low-risk gamble for New England.

Shortly after his release by the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Roy Williams was signed by the Chicago Bears to a one-year deal. This gives Williams one year to show he has the goods for a bigger deal next offseason. Frankly, those expecting numbers similar to the career year Williams had in Detroit under Mike Martz will be disappointed. He may not even make the team. But, for the sake of glory days, let's look back at the 2006 Pro Bowl season Williams had for the Lions. He set career highs in receptions (82), yards (1,310), and yards-per-reception average (16.0). While only 29 years old, Williams has lost a few steps and has little ability to separate from defenders. One dynasty sleeper to remember as a result of this signing is Kevin Ogletree who should step into the WR3 role for Dallas. Ogletree has played well the past two preseasons and could be worth a roster spot in the deeper dynasty leagues.

Some situations seem to repeat themselves. The Sacramento Bee reported this past week that wide receiver Michael Crabtree could miss six weeks of training camp and preseason action with a foot injury. This is the same injury we warned readers about a few weeks ago in this article. For those keeping score at home, Crabtree is going to miss his third straight preseason. The injury is to the same foot that he had surgically repaired before the 2009 draft. This is a horrible spot for Crabtree owners. He has not lived up to expectations and is having trouble displaying any form of durability. Having Alex Smith back under center cannot help much either. The value is low so Crabtree is a hold in dynasty leagues.

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saint fans can breathe a little easier now that the team has re-signed underrated receiver Lance Moore to a five-year contract. With the chronic knee injuries of Marques Colston, Moore could have an expanded role in the prolific New Orleans pass offense.

In another upside move, the St. Louis Rams inked the injury-stricken Mike Sims-Walker to a one-year deal worth $3.7 million. This has to be good news for Sam Bradford, but can fantasy owners really believe Sims-Walker will be a viable fantasy option? The Rams drafted two rookie wide receivers, and have a cache of injury-prone pass catchers already on the roster. This move makes a great time to sell the ex-Jaguar receiver.

In a surprise move, the Chicago Bears traded athletic tight end Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a 2012 third-round pick. Olsen was often under-utilized in the Mike Martz offense and will get a chance to be an active part of the Panther offense. One dynasty winner in this trade is Kellen Davis, the young tight end in Chicago. Even though he will not see many looks this season, Davis has speed and could pop onto the dynasty radar in the near future.

With the offseason now in effect, please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any suggestions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there. I will also be active in the "wannabee" thread in the assistant coach forum.

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