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2020 Draft on Tap

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NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Man—-the 2020 NFL Draft, set to take place on April 23-25 in Paradise, Nevada—-has already begun to look delicious.

Of course, as always, it starts at the top with the Bengals who are sitting pretty under an Ohio sky where, at least from the Bengals’ side of the state, all of the stars appear to be in perfect alignment.

#1: The Bengals get their Tiger in QB Joe Burrow, from LSU.

Unlike the absurd charade the Cardinals performed in acting coy with the #1 pick in 2019, the Bengals would be wise to do two simple and obvious things: (1) take the QB who arguably had the most prolific season in the history of college football; (2) trade QB Andy Dalton who heads into the last year of his 6 year deal with a 2020 cap figure of $17.7M (all of which is unguaranteed—-and not a cent of dead cap $ for the Bengals) and thus for a QB needy, cap tight team is a flat-out bargain.

Advice to Bengals: don't even confuse the matter by saying you are open to offers for the #1 pick. Weak minded teams do this. Just don't waste anyone’s time—-and don’t screw with Joe Burrows’ head.

Word in New England is that Bill Belichick is interested in Andy Dalton, if Tom Brady elects to move on. Brady just moved his family to Greenwich, CT. Hmmm.

#2: The Redskins get the most explosive defensive player in the draft in DE Chase Young (Ohio St.).

QB Alex Smith is adamant that he still wants to play. His 2020 cap hit is $21.4M (with a dead cap figure of $32.2M). His $21.4M is guaranteed if he is still on the roster on March 17th. The Redskins have Dwayne Haskins on his rookie deal, so, the real out in Smith’s contract is in 2021. Thus, the Redskins can head into the season hoping that they can be good with either Smith of Haskins at the helm. Meanwhile, a defensive guru like Ron Rivera can lick his chops knowing he just drafted a stud pass rusher to go with Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat. Plus he has two Alabama studs at DT in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne.

#3: The Lions get a Tiger and their defensive unicorn in Isaiah Simmons (Clemson).

CB Jeffrey Okudah of Ohio St. is a strong consideration here, but Isaiah Simmons is a too much of a game changer for any defensive coach, especially for a matchups connoisseur like Matt Patricia.

#4: Trade: the Panthers trade the #7 and #38 picks to the Giants for the #4 pick and follow the Golden Rhule of getting a franchise QB in place from day one in Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama.

The Panthers can save $19M on the cap by trading or releasing Cam Newton (with only $2M in dead cap). Tua fits Matt Rhule’s razzle-dazzle style of offense, thus they want to leap in front of the Dolphins to snatch him.

#5: The Dolphins hop on the back of a Bulldog.

LT Andrew Thomas (Georgia) is the top LT in the draft and the Dolphins traded away Laremy Tunsil and can’t pass the opportunity to draft his replacement. Brian Flores likes QB Ryan Fitzpatrick so much, he brought OC Chan Gailey out of retirement to maximize Fitz’s production. Thus, they want to strengthen the roster at other key positions and defer a decision on QBOF until 2021.

#6: The Chargers wanted Simmons, but are more than OK with Okudah.

In a move to further strengthen the back end of their defense, the Chargers snag Ohio St. All-America and Jim Thorpe Award finalist CB Jeffrey Okudah.

#7. (from Panthers) The Giants get Judge a Jeudy? No, they love their tape on CeeDee.

The Giants still feel the void at WR without OBJ and 2nd year QB Daniel Jones is poised to exceed the 25 TD passes he threw as a rookie. The PFF guys are convinced that the Giants are in love with CeeDee Lamb because of his ability to break tackles and take the ball to the house. Here is PFF’s Mock—-it’s a worthwhile viewing—-

#8. The Cardinals start a new fan club called ‘Wirfs and The Smurfs.”

In the 6-5, 322 pound, surprisingly agile T Tristan Wirfs from Iowa, he is going to be an impressive body guard and traffic sweeper for QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ 2nd round pick, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU.

Cardinals’ Free Agent signings:

1. Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys ($13M per year for 4 years)

2. Cory Littleton, WILB, Rams ($9M per year for 3 years)

3.. Breshad Perriman, WR, Bucs ($8M per year for 3 years)

4. Michael Brockers, 34DE, Rams ($7.5M per year for 3 years)

5. Connor McGovern, C, Broncos ($5M per year for 3 years)

6. Nick Williams, rush DT/34DE, Bears ($4.5M for 2 years)

6. Le’Raven Clark, T, Colts ($2M for 1 year)

Total: $49M

Re-Sign:

1. TE/WR Larry Fitzgerald ($11M for 1 year_—-welcome back Larry!!!!

2. QB Brett Hundley ($3M a year for 2 years)

3. K Zane Gonzalez ($2.9M—-2nd round tender—-RFA)

4. G/C Max Garcia ($1.5M for 1 year)

5. S/ST Charles Washington ($1M for 1 year)

6. T Justin Murray ($580K—-ERFA tender)

Total: $20M

Trade: RB David Johnson (save $10.2M) to the Bucs for 5th round pick #162

Trade: CB Patrick Peterson (save $12M) to Eagles for OLB/DE Josh Sweat ($800K), CB Sydney Jones ($1.3M) and pick #127 (4th Round) in 2020 NFL Draft

Release: CB Robert Alford (saves $4.5M on cap)

Added Cap: $24.5M

Cardinals’ 2020 NFL Draft:

1. T Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

2. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

3. OLB Bradley Anae, Utah

4. CB Lamar Jackson, Nebraska

4. 34DE James Lynch, Baylor

5. RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian St.

5. G Zack Johnson, North Dakota St.

6. S K’Von Wallace, Clemson

7. LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian St.

Draft Pool 2020: $9.9M

Accounting:

  • As of 1/14/20 the Cardinals have app. $67M in cap space (per Sportrac)
  • Added Space (via trades and releases): $24.5M
  • $67M + $24.5M = $91.5M (Additions)
  • Subtractions: $49M (outside FAs) + $20M (own FAs) + $9.9M (draft pool) = $78.9M
  • $91.5M - $78.9M = $12.6M

Cap Space Still Available: $12.6M

Paging Gungus (ROTB capologist)—-do these cap figures look accurate to you?

Notes:

  • I would be very surprised to see S Isaiah Simmons on the board at #8. He’s unique at a time when his kind of unique is in high demand and thus will go off the board quickly.
  • The thing that concerns me about Humphries is that he doesn’t believe that only starting 43 of 80 games over the past 5 years with the Cardinals should have any bearing on his next contract. Plus, as ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss reported yesterday, there are lingering concerns about D.J.’s right knee. Thus—-that takes the f-tag out of the question—-and any salary that doesn’t protect the team for injury.
  • It would be great for the Cardinals to sign UFA T Le’Raven Clark (who was behind Anthony Castonzo on the Colts for the past 4 years). Last year I mentioned Clark as a potential trade target because he played for Kliff Kingsbury in the K-Raid at Texas Tech. In 12 starts at LT with the Colts, Clark earned PFF grades in the 60s for 10 of them. Bringing him in on a prove-it deal would be fascinating. Clark was a 3 year 1st Team All-Big 12 tackle for the Red Raiders and a 2nd team All-American.
  • What I wonder about Le’Raven Clark is whether Kliff Kingsbury and Sean Kugler would be so keen on him that they sign him to a multiple year contract. If they do sign him as the new LT, then they could start Tristan Wirfs at RT, where he primarily played at Iowa. Or—-the Cardinals, if they are happy with Justin Murray at RT, could take a player at another position at #8. I would be very tempted to take WR Laviska Shenault there.

What would you do?