The 2015 NFL offseason has been marked by unprecedented craziness. Jimmy Graham is now in Seattle to catch passes from Russell Wilson. Brandon Marshall got sent to New York to join the Jets. LeSean McCoy and Matt Cassel are now Bills, Kiko Alonso is an Eagle, Kenny Stills is a Dolphin, Mike Wallace a Viking, Haloti Ngata a Lion, and Sam Bradford and Nick Foles have swapped places in St. Louis and Philly. Is the frenzy over? Maybe not!
If you pay any heed to the myriad rumors circulating over the past few weeks, there may be more match-making going on up to and during the NFL Draft, especially at the quarterback position.
The following is an exercise in hypotheticals -- let's not get bogged down in the trade details -- a way of imagining what the NFL would look like if the rumors came true and the dominoes started to fall. Also -- and this is important -- this is just for fun. I am not predicting any of this will happen, only presenting weird, possibly intriguing scenarios somewhat rooted in logic. Somewhat.
Jameis Winston to the Buccaneers
OK, this seems like an inevitable end to the pre-draft hysteria about the top pick. The Buccaneers, in this scenario, nab their quarterback of the future and franchise signal caller in Florida State's Winston, and Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter set out to build a their offense and long-term future around their rookie.
With all assumptions pointing a quarterback pick by the Bucs here, it's been rumored that Tampa Bay would be willing to deal backup Mike Glennon, who failed to hang on to his starting job after Tampa Bay selected him in the third round in 2013. Glennon would be a pretty solid choice to back up Winston -- he's on a rookie deal and has 19 starts to his name -- but the Bucs may decide they have better options with a veteran free agent like Tarvaris Jackson or Jason Campbell, the latter of whom has experience with Smith. Either Jackson or Campbell, or even a guy like Michael Vick, could provide leadership in a young locker room and mentor Winston on the trappings of pro football. Just spitballing here, everyone.
Speaking of that, how 'bout this:
Mike Glennon to the Browns
It had been rumored that the Browns were "sniffing around" on Glennon, and if Cleveland were interested enough, it could probably tempt the Bucs with a third-round pick (especially with the scenario laid out above).
The Browns, in turn, would receive a young, experienced quarterback who still has some upside, and more importantly, has an impeccable record off the field.
Conversely, there's Manziel, who is still in rehab after a disastrous rookie campaign in which he lost the trust of the locker room and logged only two starts. This scenario, like the Seahawks' decision last season to dump Percy Harvin after just one year, would be a good example of a front office quickly realizing it made a bad decision -- ESPN's Chris Mortensen recently reported that the Browns are "90 percent" done with Johnny Football -- and cutting its losses.
So, what would happen with Manziel? Only the most-fun-to-imagine scenario in this whole article.
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Johnny Manziel to the Cowboys
This just seems too perfect. We know that Jerry Jones agonized over whether or not to select Manziel in the first round last year and still gets mad thinking about the decision not to pull that trigger. However, he got Zach Martin, who quickly became a Pro Bowl guard and paved the way for DeMarco Murray's record-setting season in 2014. Getting Manziel now, on the cheap, would be the stuff of Jones' dreams.
It certainly would make for some entertaining stories. Manziel, out of rehab, back home in Texas; Johnny Football, playing for America's Team.
Please, NFL, make this happen.
With the theoretical Winston Domino Effect sending Glennon to the Browns and Manziel to the Cowboys, the second pick of the draft has the potential to make some waves in itself.
Marcus Mariota to the Chargers
Philip Rivers is entering the final year of his contract and has not signed an extension or shown any intention to do so. The natural rumor -- sourced or simply dot-connecting -- is that perhaps San Diego will trade with the Titans for the second spot to select Marcus Mariota in exchange for the venerable, feisty Philip Rivers.
The Chargers have worked out the Oregon star, and there have been rumors connecting them to the athletic signal caller. Mike McCoy was, as you may remember, the offensive coordinator behind the Broncos' Tim Tebow read-option offense in 2011, including the improbable playoff win over the Steelers. The thought is that he could design a system that could ease Mariota in to the NFL and feature his talents, including his mobility and athleticism.
It may take more than just Rivers to move from No. 17 to No. 2 (maybe? probably?), but it would be a pretty interesting move for a team that believes it might not be able to hold on to Rivers past 2015. Rebuild/reload, sure, but if you're going to lose your franchise quarterback, you'd like to get something in return.
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Philip Rivers to the Titans
Rivers grew up near Nashville and may want to spend the twilight of his illustrious career near his home town. The fit would make a lot of sense, as well. In 2013, Rivers blew the doors off the NFL after many believed he was spiraling into suckitude. His offensive coordinator at the time was none other than Ken Whisenhunt, the current head coach of the Titans. He passed for nearly 4,500 yards at 8.2 yards per attempt while connecting on 32 touchdowns and just 11 picks. It revived his career. The Whisenhunt-Rivers team could make some noise again this season with some of the young offensive weapons the Titans have been accumulating.
Whisenhunt may be on thin ice in Tennessee and could look at this as a chance to buy himself a couple more years with the team. He wouldn't have to worry about developing a rookie and the inevitable growing pains therein. Plus, rumor has it that Whisenhunt doesn't like Mariota that much anyway. With the capital of the second pick, you'd like to get the most important position in football. It's a win-now move, but that's what coaches on the hot seat do.
OK, now that we've established a somewhat believable scenario, let's play around with a few crazier what ifs.
Brett Hundley to the Bears
Ryan Pace and John Fox are trying to create a new culture in Chicago and, I would imagine, Jay Cutler might be an impediment to that goal. Getting some fresh faces in, rebuilding, and jettisoning some of the malignant personalities should be priority number one. Brandon Marshall, who reportedly caused some issues in the locker room last year, is already gone. Is Cutler next? Perhaps, if Chicago thinks a guy like Brett Hundley is the answer (note: I'm not saying he is; remember, this is just for fun).
Pace and Fox get a guy they believe they can mold and develop as the face of the franchise. They'll build an offense around him that can take the team to the next level. The mercurial and inconsistent Cutler, and the management issues he seems to bring with him each year, will be long gone.
Jay Cutler to the Jets
So, who might take Smokin' Jay off of the Bears' hands? Well, it just has to be New York. It just has to be. Brandon Marshall is already there. The Jets have crazy amounts of cash to blow and have no easily identifiable answer at the quarterback position. They've got Chan Gailey at offensive coordinator, and speed and talent at the receiver position. It could be an interesting fit. Most importantly, though, New York is the biggest, toughest media market in the entire world. It feels right.
Please, NFL, make this happen.
Colin Kaepernick to Washington
Not much has come from the report that the Niners were looking to deal their incumbent starter, but this is an article looking at potential landing spots for quarterbacks ... we have to include Kaepernick. Would Scot McCloughan try to do a deal with his old team to replace the embattled Robert Griffin III? Perhaps. Kap is on a team-friendly deal that can be terminated after this year with no dead money. After a tough year in 2014, perhaps a change of scenery would be good for the fifth-year pro. Kaepernick would get a fresh start with Sean McVay, an up-and-coming coordinator, and Washington could allow Griffin to move on after a tumultuous three years.
Robert Griffin III to the Bills
Why not? If Washington gets the guy it views as a sure-fire starter, Griffin becomes somewhat expendable. Meanwhile, the Bills have uncertainty at quarterback with Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel, and trading for Cassel isn't reason enough to ignore the opportunity in front of them.
It's an arms race in the AFC East. Greg Roman has his run-heavy, option offense to design. The Bills have tons of offensive weapons in Sammy Watkins, Harvin, Shady McCoy, Charles Clay and Robert Woods, who can take the pressure off of Griffin with the hope being he could get back to some of the things he did his rookie year. Perhaps the Buffalo brass and Rex Ryan see potential there? It would be fun, anyway.
Sam Bradford sticks with Philly!
Oh, sorry. This is boring. But yeah, with Mariota off the table, it seems likely Bradford sticks with Chip Kelly and the Eagles.