Neil's NFL Daily: May 10, 2013
Oh come on Ozzie, you’re just showing off now. Not content with as good an offseason as anyone, the Ravens are just icing the cake with their recent trade for A.Q. Shipley. Who? Well, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta know about him even if 95% of the rest of the football world doesn’t. I’ll get into detail about Shipley and why this is such a clever move below, but for the time being it’s worth reiterating why Baltimore is so good.
Just when you thought they were losing touch by letting Anquan Boldin go because they couldn’t find $5.5m in cap room (although that could still come back to haunt them), they deliver hit after free-agency hit and replace departed players with potentially better options. Two-time Super Bowl winners, I don’t think a third is in the cards next year, but the moves will get them close in 2013 and keep them in the running for another few seasons.
Friday, May 10th
Ravens Trade for Colts Center A.Q. Shipley
With the retirement of Matt Birk the Ravens were left with a choice of replacing him with 2012 fourth-rounder Gino Gradkowski, or rookie sixth-rounder Ryan Jensen. Gradkowski played 89 uneventful snaps last year but the majority of those (73) came in a meaningless Week 17 meeting with the Bengals. That’s not enough action to be confident of him making the promotion seamless, and as for Jensen? Who knows?
A.Q. Shipley was originally drafted by the Steelers, didn’t play for them and after floating through Philadelphia without seeing the field was signed by the Colts the day after Bruce Arians arrived. In March the Colts then signed Samson Satele as their center and gave him a contract that would effectively keep him in Indianapolis for two years. Satele is not a terrible player but has been very inconsistent throughout his career and generally poor in pass protection — indeed, he was the lowest ranked players at his position in Pass Blocking Efficiency in 2012.
However, he was also injured on occasions last year which gave Shipley a chance to step in, which he did very well indeed. In his first game he played all 100 snaps against the Packers in the one of the surprise wins of the year — in fact, he gave up only a single hurry in 67 pass drops and run blocked effectively.
He had a few issues in his next opportunity (Week 9) when he faced Paul Soliai of the Dolphins in the running game, but beyond that stood up well when given playing time, which he was to the tune of 476 snaps. In the end we graded him at +6.9 and positive in every facet of play.
Now maybe the Colts figure Satele was affected by injury and will be OK, but there’s no doubt last year Shipley was a more effective player. This makes the trade of, at very worst, an excellent backup who was due to count less than $0.5m against the cap for a conditional pick, a strange choice if not one that will have fans screaming for Bill Polian’s return anytime soon.
Still Out There – Part 3
In parts 1 and 2 I expanded on four players available in free agency who could still help teams. In part 3, I go back to the well again to mull the potential fits of two more I think could make a positive impact in the right locale. Once again I’ll give a brief description of each, some possible landing places and, in my opinion, what would be a reasonable asking price.
Eric Winston, RT
When the Texans cut Eric Winston I was floored. A general Manager told me there must be something wrong with him if the Texans were cutting him at that price. That wasn’t the case, and since he left Houston have had problems at right tackle, and he did a more than decent job for Kansas City last year grading at +13.1 overall and positively in both pass protection and run blocking. Frankly, I have no idea how a player whose only real flaw was giving up too many penalties last year (10) can’t find a job when so many teams have issues at the position.
Best Fits- Washington and Detroit
The problem for Winston is that where he’s likely to be an upgrade, the team often has a player that hasn’t seen much action who they are currently extrapolating to do better than is likely. In both the teams above we’ve got a much better idea of the outcome, and in order to give their respective quarterbacks the best chance to flourish Winston would help hugely.
The Redskins’ line has one weakness and the offseason acquisitions of Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos to replace Tyler Polumbus are probably doomed, unless Pashos can stay healthy (highly improbable).
Corey Hilliard is pencilled in at RT for the Lions but if his brief opportunity in 2011 is anything to go by (-5.1 across his two “full” games) it may never be inked over. Three fresh faces may be just too much for an already shaky Lions outfit.
Tyson Clabo signed for one year $3.5m, so with Winston being not quite that good, but reasonably close, $3m should fit both parties.
Kerry Rhodes, FS
It makes you wonder if Rhodes off-field lifestyle, where he makes the most of his celebrity, has more to do with keeping him off the field than any unreasonable contract demands, although you can never be sure. Last year his on-field work was as good as anyone and he excelled in both coverage and run support. He’s one of the few players at the position who are equally adept at playing “in the box” (41% of snaps) and deep, and his all-around ability theoretically should make a tempting prospect for many teams.
Best Fits – Cincinnati and Carolina
A quality player alongside Reggie Nelson could be the thing that mitigates some of the likely linebacker coverage issues for the Bengals, because although I like Taylor Mays when he’s on the field his aggressive playing style doesn’t facilitate that too often.
A decent end to the season isn’t enough to convince me that Charles Godfrey is an improved player for the Panthers, and even if he is do fans really want to see another pairing with Haruki Nakamura?
Most of the older safeties signed for between $1.5m and $2m. Although, given his excellent performances, I’d consider a tad more, I’m not sure if any teams would.
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