It’s been a pretty busy two weeks for the NFC West (due to some technical difficulties - mainly my computer being broken for a week and a half - there was no Fly Around the NFC West last week). Trades for QBs were made, general managers left teams, and Donovan Mcnabb rumors are plaguing multiple NFC West teams, so let’s get to it.
San Francisco 49ers: In a move that surprised no one, but perplexed everybody, Scot Mccloughan, the 49ers general manager, and the team parted ways. Mccloughan was the 49ers vice president of player personnel until 2008, when then coach Mike Nolan was stripped of his duties and Mccloughan moved into the GM role. As a GM, Mccloughan was part of a front office which drafted RB Frank Gore, LB Manny Lawson, TE Vernon Davis, LB Parys Haralson, LB Patrick Willis (who Mccloughan had to convince Mike Singletary to draft), and T Joe Staley. 49ers president Jed York claimed the parting was "in the mutual interest of both parties," and that Mccloughan’s departure was due to a "private personal issue." Whatever the case may be, the Niners are left without one of their better talent evaluators and a man who has drafted many of the Niners starting lineup today. Taking over draft duties for Mccloughan next month is director of player personnel Trent Baalke. Although Baalke and Mccloughan probably have similar philosophies and draft styles, this is still an inopportune time to lose their GM.
On the rumor front, many in the league are linking the 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. It is unknown whether this talk is based upon actual interest from the Niners, but most likely it is being leaked by Eagles executives trying to create a perceived market for the 33 year old veteran. The Eagles reportedly want a top 42 pick for McNabb, which I don’t see the Niners willing to give. If the Niners do trade for the QB however, many pundits would put them at the forefront of the NFC West for next season. There was also a report earlier in the week that the Niners were interested in Adam "Pacman" Jones, which I sincerely hoped was true, but all reports indicate that it was a rumor drummed up by somebody in his camp, probably his agent.
Seattle Seahawks: In the last two weeks, the Seahawks swapped 2nd round picks with the Chargers (moving from 40 to 60), while also giving them a 3rd rounder next year in return for Charlie Whitehurst. According to Mike Sando and the draft board, this is about equal to the last pick in the second round this year. While I don’t agree with the point system in the draft board, this gives us a baseline upon which to analyze this trade. In contrast, the Hawks gave up a 3rd rounder and a swap of the 10th pick for the 17th pick, in return for Matt Hasselbeck and a 7th rounder. Then coach Mike Holmgren had worked with Hasselbeck in Green Bay and had a hunch he could be a starting caliber QB. Luckily for them, that risk panned out as Hasselbeck made multiple Pro-Bowls and led the team to the Superbowl once. Although they haven’t invested quite as much into Whitehurst, they are paying him starting QB money and expect him to be their quarterback of the future. Also, unlike Hasselbeck, nobody on the Hawks staff has worked with Whitehurst before so it is a little strange that they are so high on him. Part of the reasoning is because it is unlikely they will be able to draft Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen in next month’s draft and believe Whitehurst is a better QB than the other QBs in the draft. Hasselbeck is still the projected starter for the year, but expect that to change if the Seahawks struggle.
St. Louis Rams: For the next month Rams news = draft news. Not much else will go on at Rams headquarters as the team prepares to make their third top 2 pick in 3 years. The Rams began preliminary discussions with the agents for Jimmy Clausen, Sam Bradford, Gerald Mccoy, and Ndamukong Suh this week. With the first pick in the draft making so much money it is really important for teams to agree on contracts before the draft. Many people, including myself, are close to 100% sure the Rams are going to pick Sam Bradford in the upcoming draft, and it is likely that we will know for sure if the Rams come to an agreement on a contract. The Rams are also involved in the Donovan McNabb rumors that are flooding the NFC West. Rumors first had the Rams sending the 33rd pick for McNabb straight up. These morphed into a deal including safety OJ Atogwe. Although it’s fun to talk about, it would be ludicrous for the rebuilding Rams to give up the first pick in the second round for a 33 year old QB and our friends over at Turf Show Times agree.
We are getting closer and closer to the draft and Fly Around the NFC West will be focused on potential 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks for the other teams in our division over the next couple of weeks and a thorough analysis of every pick on the Sunday after the draft.