Fooch's Note: In case you missed it, make sure and check out Josh Branco's continuing series of previews of free agency as it relates to the 49ers 2010 opponents. Today he looks at the Chiefs.
The combine is in full swing where NFL hopefuls are poked, proded, tested, timed, and generally treated like cattle. Of course the big question coming out of the combine will be, what will the Rams do with the first pick? More and more it's looking like they just might take Sam Bradford and his surgically repaired shoulder. Proving once again that you can convince yourself to do almost anything if given enough time. By almost anybodies reckoning, the top three players of the draft are Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and Eric Berry. But if the Rams chose Suh or McCoy, it would be the third time in four years that they've chosen a DT with their first pick. When asked about that, Rams general manager Billy Devaney joked, "We should have a helluva defensive line." Arguments for drafting Bradford almost always include the fact that the Rams passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez in the last two drafts. Because a QB who throws 12 TD's and 20 interceptions with a rating of 63, like Sanchez did last year, is exactly what the Rams need to turn things around. Suh is a once in a generation beast who can completely disrupt an opposing teams offense. That's why I'm hoping the Rams talk themselves into selecting Bradford.
In other news, the Cardinals will release Antrel Rolle before he's due to receive his 4 million roster bonus. In all, Rolle would have made 12.1 million if the Cardinals kept him with his current contract. The former first round pick was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, but paying any Safety 12 million dollars for one season is absurd. But the Cardinals have only themselves to blame. Most teams sign their draft picks to contracts that allow the player to void the last year of the deal. This means the player is a restricted free agent and the team can use the franchise or transition tag on them, or at the very least, match any offer any other teams make. But the Cardinals haven't been doing that. Instead they back lode the deal in the hopes it will force both sides into negotiating a new one. But the pressure is all on the Cardinals, not Rolle, to get a new deal done. As a result, the Cardinals have to release him to avoid over paying him, and now he'll be an unrestricted free agent.
To make matters worse, Matt Leinart has a similar deal. He's due a 5 million dollar roster bonus and 5 million dollar pay raise next season. So if he proves to be the answerer at the QB position for the Cardinals this season, they'll have to hope he's willing to negotiate a new contract. Otherwise they'll have to release him, making him an unrestricted free agent, or pay him the over inflated last year of his contract.
And if things weren't bad enough for the Cardinals, they still have Anquan Boldin to deal with, and it's all but a sure thing that they're going to lose Karlos "Spelled with a 'K' not a 'C'" Dansby. The Cardinals general manager, Rod Graves, seemed all but resigned to the fact in a recent interview when he said, "Obviously we will come in with 53 players. I don't mean to be short about that, but we hope to replace him with equal quality or better." I would just like to take this moment to thank the NFL for putting the Cardinals in the NFC West. They finally had a couple of good years for the first time since moving to Arizona, and the seem hell bent on ruining it.
Elsewhere on the free agency front, TO was released by the Bills and Thomas Jones was released by the Jets. The Bills releasing of TO hardly came as a surprise. They've cleaned out the front office and are moving in a new direction, and having a 36 year old prima dona wide receiver wasn't part of their new plans. TO said through his twitter, "I would like to thank the great fans in Buffalo, Ralph Wilson & the Bills organization for all their support this past season." What he left off was, "And for being the only team willing to pay me 6 million dollars for one season." Chad Ochocinco is already lobbying hard for Cincinnati to hire the buttered fingered receiver. I'm not sure how much better TO would make the Bengals but with TO and Ochocinco on the same team, they'd definitely have the best 1-2 punch in TD celebrations.
At first glance, the releasing of Thomas Jones by the Jets along with his 1402 rushing yards and 14 TD's, seems surprising. But when you look at what rookie RB Shonn Greene did at the end of the season and in the playoffs, the reason becomes more clear. In Cincinnati and San Diego, Greene, not Jones, carried the load at the RB position rushing for 135 and 128 yards. Jones is also 31, which is the age RB's start to decline. Plus Greene had the higher yards per carry average (5.0 compared to only 4.2 for Jones). Not to mention, the Jets still have their change of pace back with Leon Washington. So the Jets were stacked last season with 3 solid running backs. And to think I'd be happy if the 49ers just had 2. C.J. Spiller perhaps?