Neil's NFL Daily: May 9, 2013
The biggest news Wednesday, on another quiet day, was Ronde Barber announcing his retirement. I, for one, owe Mr Barber an apology because I thought he was completely finished in 2011, but he changed position and came back for his 16th season to have one of the better years of any safety. Only one good year in five between 2008 and 2011 had most of PFF with head in hands as yet another commentator got with his script and waxed lyrical about Barber’s wonderful playmaking ability. As he missed yet another tackle some ex-player would suggest it as a “rare” occurrence (much in the manner the same guys class every Wes Welker drop as “rare”). While 2012 didn’t see a huge reduction in missed tackles (he still fluffed on 15), the rest of his game was solid and his coverage generally very good indeed, as he brought his experience to bear in giving up only one TD and allowing a QB rating of 68.8 on balls targeting him. To finish his career on such a high was great not only for him but fans like us too, as it reminded us just how good he was in his prime and helped salve the memory of some of the less effective recent years.
Thursday, May 9th
Still Out There – Part 2
Following on from yesterday, here are another couple of players I think could make a positive impact on certain teams next year. 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.
Brandon Moore, RG
Sometimes I believe General Managers look at older players like time bombs — no one wants to be holding the package when it explodes, and every year it seems they see as another indicator the player’s demise is imminent. It flies in the face of reason when a player like Brandon Moore only needs to play half as well as he did last year (and that’s unlikely), and he’d still be better than 30% of likely starters. Now I have no idea what compensation Moore is looking for, but unless it’s ludicrous why would you not want our third-rated right guard shoring up your line?
A better-than-average pass protector, whose numbers were a little marred by having to spend a lot of time looking out for RT Austin Howard, he’s also a devastating run blocker when he gets the bit between his teeth, as he did after the infamous “butt fumble” episode. This is a man you don’t want playing angry, and that’s exactly what happened after the ridiculous and completely naive reaction to that play. There’s not an offensive lineman in football that hasn’t been pushed backward on occasion, but not many have then had the quarterback run right up their backside and on only one occasion ever has that player been the divisive Mark Sanchez.
From that game onward he went on a tear that saw him earn +14.3 of his +12.8 run blocking grade, and if anything would give me slight pause in signing him, that number there is the only concern. Why did it take him to be unfairly criticized to produce his best work? Regardless, his worst is still better than many guards’ best, and here are a few who would benefit.
Best Fits- Carolina and Dallas
If there’s one team that needs to do a better job of run blocking it’s the Panthers. When your left tackle is your best lineman in that facet of play things don’t augur well. Now, Carolina may think they have the answer in Jeff Byers (who also stood in at center last year) because he made a decent fist of the running game, but his pass protection was poor giving up only six less QB disruptions than Moore in 300+ less snaps dropping back.
After the Cowboys prematurely released Leonard Davis following the 2010 season they’ve struggled to adequately man the right guard position, and things degenerated markedly last year during the tenure of Mackenzy Bernadeau (-10.8). Remarkably, they renegotiated his deal at $4.1m APY (although only $1m is guaranteed) which makes it a more difficult sell.
In the truly surreal world of the guard marketplace (where a player of Davin Joseph’s capability is being paid $7.5m) it’s difficult to locate a fair deal, but if Bernadeau is worth $4.1m Moore is clearly worth $5m.
Josh Cribbs, KR/ST
I think what happened to Cribbs was that trying to make him a wide receiver effectively took away from his core skill set — that of probably the best overall special teams player I’ve seen since Steve Tasker. While Devin Hester often benefited from the superb blocking of the Bears’ units, Cribbs performed almost as well with less, both on kick and punt returns.
Add to this his work on coverage units (nine tackles last year alone), and you have a player that would add something to nearly every special teams group in the NFL.
Now, his bad knee is obviously affecting his market but apparently he’s been signed off as fit and passed a physical during a Raiders visit when they offered him a contract.
Best Fits – Kansas City and Tampa Bay (plus the Raiders)
All three of these clubs could use help at both kick and punt returner and on special teams in general. It’s highly unlikely Cribbs wouldn’t make a substantial positive impact on them all if he’s healthy. The Chiefs have the underwhelming Shaun Draughn as a KR and lost PR Javier Arenas to the Cardinals in trade, while the Buccaneers look to have two vacant slots
Baselines are difficult here because there’s much less to go on, but perhaps the most equivalent player is Leon Wahington who the Patriots signed for $1.3m.
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