Free Agency 2011 – The Matt Roth Sweepstakes

| July 23, 2011

It’s like Christmas … at least like it was when I was a kid. Only this time Santa got locked out of the house so Mom and Dad told me it would come eventually, and now it looks like he’s finally found a way in. As soon as he does, I’m going to unwrap my presents and play the heck out of my new Super Nintendo.
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I’m not sure if that analogy works, but I’m so excited about there being some football I don’t really care. Regardless, while we sit, waiting for free agency to start and chomping at the bit, we look for something to distract us, if only for a few minutes.
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So, while the final details of the CBA are being hashed out, I’m going to be looking at some of the most sought after would-be free agents and some of the teams that would provide the best matches for their services. Up first is Matt Roth, the soon-to-be former Cleveland Brown.
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The Low Down
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Who is Matt Roth? I can’t answer with intimate details but I can tell you a bit about the football player.
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●  Had a very productive 2008 that went under the radar opposite the big sack numbers Joey Porter put up.

●  Lost his spot as a Dolphin in 2009, went to Cleveland and played so well Eric Mangini decreed him the best player on the roster.

●  Started 2010 in blistering, relentless form before tailing off a bit towards the end of the year.
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Essentially, Matt Roth is a proven performer. He can play the run, and he makes life real tough for a quarterback. He may never lead the league in sacks, but he will help the coverage guys behind him by generating a lot of pressures. There should be a significant market for his services and I’ll look at five teams that should be interested and assess the fit, in this, the Matt Roth Sweepstakes.
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Counting down to number one:
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5. New York Jets
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Why It Will Happen: The Jets are using more standard 3-4 fronts as part of their hybrid. Only problem is unless Jammal Westerman breaks through, they don’t have guys who generate pressure from that position. So that they’re not stuck with a defensive back being their sack leader, they really should upgrade the OLB spot.

Why It Won’t: Money or priorities. Word it however you will, but the Jets have some of their more important players about to hit free agency. They need to tie them down, and it’s going to be pretty tricky to find the money to keep hold of Holmes, Edwards, Cromartie and others. If they can’t do that, then how are they going to stump up for Roth? With Roth being one of the top pass rushers available, it’s a case of right player, utterly wrong time for these two.
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4. Buffalo Bills
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Why It Will Happen: The Bills need pass rush to cement the move to a 3-4. They tried to implement it without the right personnel last year and the result was … well, they quietly switched back to a 4-3 with some 3-4 looks in such a fashion people didn’t seem to realize. Maybe Arthur Moats turns into a quality pass rusher, but we already know we get more effort than production from Chris Kelsay, and who knows if Shawne Merriman can be the player he was meant to be four years ago. Oh, and there’s a cap floor they need to hit so they’ve got to get spending.

Why It Won’t: The Bills have plenty of weaknesses, and they’ve invested money (Kelsay), time (Moats) and faith (Merriman) in their outside linebacker group. You get the impression they could quite easily focus on other areas and not get involved in a bidding war for Roth. Plus, does Roth really want to go to Buffalo? Given how things worked when they initially installed a 3-4 defense, would he want to put himself in a team that failed to get the best out of so many of it’s players?
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3. New England Patriots
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Why It Will Happen: The Patriots like guys like Matt Roth – under the radar and extremely productive. He could fit into their team very nicely. It would upgrade their pass rush and make full use of Roth, a player who is much better when not asked to play every snap of every game.

Why It Won’t: The Patriots don’t have much cash artillery to slug it out for him and they like some of the pass rushers that they already have on the books (understandable given the performance of Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham). Roth did practically nothing when he played against New England this year, and teams remember how well a player played against them when free agency comes around.
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2. Arizona Cardinals
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Why It Will Happen: Joey Porter. Clark Haggans. Untested young guys. Three reasons right there. The Cardinals got next to nothing from their edge rushers last year and need to be less reliant on Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett to generate pressure. They have plenty of money and could free up more. Roth is a big upgrade for Arizona, and they can pay him what he’ll be looking for.

Why It Won’t: Roth struggled in the second half of the year, and visibly looked to wear down when he was burdened with the task of being his team’s top pass rusher. The Cards may have more pressing needs when you consider what they have to do at the quarterback spot, and the mess of an offensive line they boast.
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1. Kansas City Chiefs

Why It Will Happen: Mike Vrabel has retired and Andy Studebaker seemed to become less of a factor the more playing time he saw. If he can’t do the job in sub packages, how can he do it full time? The Chiefs were overly reliant on Tamba Hali, and you can always use someone like Roth who can upgrade the run defense. They have the cap room as well and it doesn’t hurt that Roth played particularly well against KC earlier in the season.

Why It Won’t: The Chiefs may think Studebaker is the answer, or at least be prepared to give him a chance in a move that is nothing if not economically prudent. While they do have cap room they need to work on a big extension for Tamba Hali. Then they need to sort out contracts for Brandon Carr and Wallace Gilberry, among others. They could also deem nose tackle and Aubrayo Franklin, a more pressing concern.
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So there you have it. My Matt Roth sweepstakes would see me putting my money on Roth going to the Chiefs. But it’s far from a certainty, and with a talent like Roth you could see a number of suitors make a big play for him.
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  • tim tellean

    As with all the FA, I wonder how likely players are to move? The window is apparently very small to sign and camps are immediate so no OTA’s, workouts etc. to get up to speed. I think we’ll see fewer moves than in the past.

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

    Perhaps, but Roth will move. Doesn’t fit into what Browns want to do. He has moved in season before and was able to go straight to Cleveland contribute extremely effectively so I wouldn’t be worried about it with him.