Off-Season Simulation: Buffalo Bills

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

Despite the Bills narrowly missing the playoffs, they’re in great shape for the future with $32.2m in cap space. I made a few moves to free up an additional $11.6m ($43.8m total). There aren’t really any players on the Bills roster who have a high cap charge and aren’t playing to that number. However, they can save $833k by cutting Anthony Dixon and $660k with no dead money cutting Deonte Thompson. to free up extra room I restructured Mario Williams’ (saves $8.6m) and Leodis McKelvin’s (saves $1.6m) contracts.

The Bills have a bunch of key players hitting free agency, but C.J. Spiller will likely find a job elsewhere, and Jerry Hughes will get more money on the market than what the Bills would offer. Although, I did re-sign Da’Norris Searcy to a $5.6m/year, 35% guaranteed, 5-year contract, and Brandon Spikes to a $6m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4-year deal. Searcy got a top-20 deal among safeties but it’s worth it to keep him off the market where he’d likely command more, and currently the Bills are being noncommittal to Spikes, but they’d be silly to not keep him, and that’s what it’ll cost. I also re-signed Jarius Wynn, who has value as a rotational pass rusher and a run defender, for $1.5m/year, 20% guaranteed, 3 years. That brings us to free agency where I made a killing by filling up the roster with quality players.

Since the Bills will be playing a 3-4-type base defense, I needed to get a premiere pass-rushing outside linebacker. Jason Worilds is the best one on the market, and I payed him more than any there team offered at $9.8m/year, 30% guaranteed, 6 years. After this off-season, that could possibly peg him as the second-highest paid 3-4 OLB. Next, I needed a quarterback with whom E.J. Manuel will compete for the starting job. I tried signing Sam Bradford for $5.3m/year, but the Jets offered about $2m more. Instead I signed drake Locker to a 2-year, $4.8m/year, 30% guaranteed contract. I made an upgrade at tight end by bringing in Vernon Davis for $6.3m/year, 35% guaranteed, 3 years. Hopefully his one-year slump was just that. I also signed Randy Starks, an above-average defensive tackle, who will keep the defensive front strong when Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams rotate out, for $5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 2 years. The Bills need a big upgrade at wide receiver. My plan was to draft a starter on the outside in the second round of the Draft, so I got a nice slot receiver in free agency, Cecil Shorts, to a lucrative slot receiver contract ($5.1m/year, 40% guaranteed, 4 years). With some of the extra money I had, I signed two backups: John Jerry ($2.1m/year, 25% guaranteed, 2 years) and C.J. Wilson ($1.85m/year, 30% guaranteed, 2 years). Jerry has a bunch of starts under his belt, and Wilson has had some nice success in Oakland. After all of these moves I still had $13.8m left over. With that money it would be wise to extend the contracts of cornerback Stephon Gilmore and left tackle Cordy Glenn. They are both franchise pieces entering the last year of their contracts, and extending them now would soften the cap blow in subsequent years.

Here’s how the Draft went:

Round 2, Pick 18 – WR Sammie Coates

Round 3, Pick 17 – RB Ameer Abdullah

Round 5, Pick 1 – FS Gerod Holliman

Round 5, Pick 19 – T/G Corey Robinson

Round 6, Pick 18 – DT Marcus Hardison

Round 7, Pick 17 – OLB Davis Tull

I built up the Sammie/Sammy duo with the Bills’ first pick in this year’s draft, which should give them a solid foundation at wide receiver for many years, something the team has been lacking for a long time. With C.J. Spiller gone and Fred Jackson’s advancing age, I got who could be the team’s next feature running back in Ameer Abdullah. Gerod Holliman played safety in college, but the Bills need another good slot cornerback, and that’s where Holliman could be at his best. He has great ball skills and cover ability, but struggles a lot in the run game. It’s very possible that the Bills would have to trade into the fourth round to select him, though. With their second pick in the fifth round, I got Corey Robinson. Another backup lineman was needed, and he could play both tackle and guard. Extra depth on the defensive line never hurts. Marcus Hardison has potential, but needs coaching. Rex Ryan is exactly the guy who can realise that potential. With their last pick, I got the Bills a pass-rushing outside linebacker in Davis Tull. I actually wanted to get one a little earlier, but with the last three picks I see them going OL/DL/OLB in any order.

Here’s how the depth chart shakes up after all of these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Philadelphia Eagles

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Eagles were the closest team looking into the playoffs from the outside. However, they have plenty of work to do this off-season. They only have $11.1m in cap space, and the problem is they don’t have anyone else worth cutting to save money than they already have. It’s just unwise to create more holes when they already have plenty. To at least make enough room to re-sign key players, I restructured LeSean McCoy’s contract, saving $6.2m, and Jason Peters’ deal, clearing up another $4.5m. That gave me $21.8m with which to work.

The top priority was bringing back Jeremy Maclin. It took us a while to settle on a deal, but we eventually agreed to a $9.3m/year, 40% guaranteed, 6-year contract. Next up was Brandon Graham. He’s been playing lights out, and with Trent Cole quickly approaching the asymptote of retirement, the Eagles need him in their future. Graham signed a $7.8m/year, 40% guaranteed, 5-year contract. Bradley Fletcher has been a very good nickelback. Those are hard to find in this league, so he got a $5.6m/year, 35% guaranteed, 4-year extension. Nate Allen has been okay at safety, and at this point the Eagles don’t have a better option. So I got him back for $3.2m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years. The last player I re-signed was Casey Matthews. He played well in DeMeco Ryans’ absence, so I kept him for $1.6m/year, 20% guaranteed, 3 years.

Without much money to fill holes in free agency, I decided to bolster the defensive front by signing Darnell Dockett ($5.2m/year, 35% guaranteed, 2 years). After all of the signing I was left with $300k.

Here’s how I filled the rest of the roster in the Draft:

Round 1, Pick 20 – CB Marcus Peters

Round 2, Pick 20 – DL Preston Smith

Round 3, Pick 20 – G Josue Matias

Round 4, Pick 14 – WR Jamison Crowder

Round 4, Pick 20 – DT Tyeler Davison

Round 5, Pick 20 – FS Ibraheim Campbell

Round 6, Pick 20 – CB Imoan Claiborne

Round 7, Pick 20 – C Max Garcia

With the first round pick, I addressed the Eagles’ biggest weakness. With the addition of Marcus Peters they now have a decent group of cornerbacks. The defensive line needed some more beef, and Preston Smith is a solid pass rusher and run stopper. Plus, he can play from any spot on the line. With the release of Todd Herremans, the Eagles needed a replacement for him. Josue Matias can be that guy from day-one. A dynamic threat in the passing game would really help this offense. Jamison Crowder is a speedy guy who is a perfect fit. Tyeler Davison was the best guy on the board at the back end of the fourth round. He could develop into something good, but it’ll take some work. The Eagles need some help at safety still, so Ibraheim Campbell will have a chance to compete with Nate Allen. Help on special teams is always sought out. Imoan Claiborne should give an immediate boost there. Max Garcia was my last pick. The Eagles had a to of injuries on the offensive line in the last couple of seasons. Extra depth never hurts, especially in the seventh round.

Here’s how the depth chart shakes up after these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Houston Texans

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Texans have a pretty solid team and are only a few pieces away from being good enough to make the playoffs. They currently have $7.5m to make those upgrades, but can get up to $29.6m after making some savings. Firstly, restructuring J.J. Watt’s contract would clear up $15.5m. Since he’s obviously going to be on the team for a while, there’s no harm making it easier on the team this off-season. About the cuts, Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t needed anymore since I plan on re-signing Ryan Mallett. Cutting him saves $3.25m. Damaris Johnson carries a cap number of $1.55m with no dead money, and the Texans could use the extra money. Finally, Will Yeatman hasn’t done anything recently, and he clears up $1m.

The first player I re-signed was Ryan Mallett for $5m/year, 35% guaranteed, 4 years. Hopefully that’s enough to actually keep him off the market. Derek Newton is a solid starter at right tackle, so singing him to a $3.8m/year, 40% guaranteed, 5-year deal — the 15th highest deal for a right tackle — is a no-brainer. Brooks Reed can be good, so I re-signed him for $3.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years. Akeem Dent, whom the Texans acquired via trade last off-season, has been solid when he’s seen the field. He agreed to a $1.6m/year, 35% guaranteed 2-year deal. the Texans have two safeties set to hit the market, but they are both valuable to their defense. I re-signed both Kendrick Lewis ($4m/year, 35% guaranteed, 6 years), to man the back of the defense for a while, and Danieal Manning ($3m/year, 40% guaranteed, 2 years), to play the slot and occasionally free safety and possibly retire as a Texan. The last move I made to keep players in Houston was franchise-tagging Kendrick Lewis. He’s a very good young cornerback who would see big offers in free agency. Slabbing him with the non-exclusive tag will keep him in Houston for one year at $11.9m and also give the team the chance to work out a long-term deal.

Without much cap space left, I only signed one free agent: Dwan Edwards ($3m/year, 35% guaranteed, 2 years). He’s been putting up nice stats in Carolina. Teamed up with a very good defensive line in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, he can still be very successful. That left me with $1.2m to spare.

Here’s how I filled the rest of the Texans’ needs in the Draft:

Round 1, Pick 16 – WR Jaelen Strong

Round 2, Pick 19 – DT Carl Davis

Round 3, Pick 18 – RB Tevin Coleman

Round 4, Pick 17 – LB Taiwan Jones

Round 5, Pick 16 – CB Alex Carter

Round 6, Pick 19 – T/G – Tayo Fabuluje

Round 7, Pick 18 – DE Brock Hekking

Andre Johnson probably won’t be with the Texans for much longer. Jaelen Strong will give them a very good, young wide receiver tandem with Strong and DeAndre Hopkins. Dan Edwards is getting old, so Carl Davis will be set to replace him. Davis has first round qualities and luckily he slipped to me in the second round. Arian Foster isn’t getting younger either. In the meantime, he and Tevin Coleman will give the Texans a nice one-two punch. After Foster moves on, Coleman is definitely capable of being a feature back. The Texans need some help at inside linebacker, especially with Bria  Cushing’s knack for getting injured. Taiwan Jones should help there. Johnathan Joseph is another ageing Texan. Alex Carter gives them some depth in the secondary. The Texans also need depth on the offensive line. Tayo Fabuluje is a massive player who can play both tackle and guard, and that type of versatility is huge (no pun intended). With the last pick, I took the best player available: Brock Hekking. You can never have too many defensive lineman.

Here’s how the depth chart looks after the off-season simulation:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Kansas City Chiefs

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Chiefs have $7.1m of cap space heading into free agency, but if they want to tag Justin Houston, they’ll have to clear more space before then. Chase Daniel is a player who it was easy to let go, clearing up $3.8m. Also, letting go of Jeff Allen freed up $1m. I was contemplating a lot whether or not to release Tamba Hali. The Chiefs drafted Dee Ford last year to ultimately replace him, and they need the extra room to not only keep Justin Houston, but to re-sign other key free agents. Releasing Hali saved $9m, which brought up the total cap space to $21m.

Justin Houston is arguably the best pass rusher in the league, so I gave him the exclusive franchise tag, which costs $12m. Many other teams would easily sign him to a bigger deal. So hopefully the chiefs can work out a long-term deal with him sometime before he hits the market again. Rodney Hudson is the Chiefs’ next biggest free agent. He is easily one of the best centres in the league. We agreed to a $6m/year, 25% guaranteed, 7-year deal, a top-10 contract for a centre. Josh Mauga played well last season, which granted him a $1.5m/year, 20% guaranteed, 2-year contract. With the uncertainty at the safety position, I needed to lock up both Ron Parker ($1.75m/year, 20% guaranteed, 4 years) and Kurt Coleman ($1.5m/year, 15% guaranteed, 2 years). Ryan Harris had an up-and-down season lat year, but since the Chiefs are so thin at tackle I had to keep him for $2m/year, 25% guaranteed, 3 years. The last player I re-signed was Jason Avant. Wide receiver is also a thin position for the Chiefs, and we agreed to a $2m/year, 25% guaranteed, 2-year deal.

All of those signings left me $1m in the hole, so I couldn’t sign any free agents. The Chiefs could easily get back under the cap by cutting a few roster-fillers.

I filled the rest of the Chiefs’ needs in the Draft:

Round 1, Pick 18 – WR Devante Parker

Round 2, Pick 17 – CB Jalen Collins

Round 3, Pick 16 – T Cedric Ogbuehi

Round 4, Pick 19 – G John Miller

Round 5, Pick 18 – T/G Jeremiah Poutasi

Round 6, Pick 17 – CB Quandre Diggs

Round 7, Pick 16 – DE Tavaris Barnes

The Chiefs’ two biggest holes are at wide receiver and cornerback, so I addressed that with the first two picks. I decided to take a wide receiver first, and Devante Parker will add a lot of explosiveness to the offense, which has really been lacking. Jalen Collins could possibly go in the first round, so getting him in the second round is great. With the next three picks I addressed the depth of the offensive line — the next biggest hole. Cedric Ogbuehi is coming off an ACL injury, but he can be a very solid tackle in the NFL. Once he gets healthy he can fight with Eric Fisher for who plays left tackle and who plays right tackle. John Miller could easily start at guard on day-one. Jeremiah Poutasi has versatility being able to play tackle and guard, which will really help the Chiefs. Extra depth at cornerback never hurts. Quandre Diggs could play in the slot. The defensive line is another spot where teams always need more help, and Travaris Barnes could work for a rotational spot there.

Here’s what the depth chart looks like after the off-season simulation:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: New York Giants

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Giants have some tough decisions ahead of them. Right now they’re sitting at $19m in cap space, but there isn’t much they can do to create more room. There are two players’ contracts that I considered restructuring: Victor Cruz’s and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s. The Giants made a bad deal with Rodgers-Cromartie last season, paying him more than he’s worth, and he might not be on the team in a couple of years. So a restructure would come back to bite them. However, Cruz will likely play out the remaining three years on his contract. So they can handle his restructure, which saves the team $4m. To save more room, I cut three starters from last season. Mathias Kiwanuka hasn’t been playing well the last two seasons, and letting him go creates $4.8m of cap space. Jon Beason can’t stay healthy, and Jameel McClain had an okay season. Designating Beason as a post-June 1st cut would save $4.3m. The Giants need an upgrade at centre. Saying JD Walton had a bad season would be an understatement. Saving the $3m by cutting him is worth it being that the Giants could replace him with someone already on the roster. After these moves they have $33.9m of cap space.

However, I used just over half of that cap space re-signing players. First up: Jason Pierre-Paul. I gave him the Transition Tag, which would cost the Giants $10.6m if he signs it. What could be good about this tag is that it doesn’t carry exclusive rights, meaning, another team can send him an offer sheet with more money, but the Giants would have the chance to match it and automatically keep Pierre-Paul. If they don’t match the offer, they get two first round picks from the team signing Jason. Either way the Giants win. I chose not to re-sign Walter Thurmond after his one-year stint in New York. He too has an injury history and wanted more money than I was willing to offer. I did bring back Quintin Demps at $4.7m/year, 25% guaranteed, 4 years, and Steve Brown at $2m/year, 20% guaranteed, 2 years, to be the starting safeties. Antrell Rolle will likely hit test the market and get a bigger deal. John Jerry ($2.1m/year, 35% guaranteed, 4 years) and Henry Hynoski ($1.5m/year, 25% guaranteed, 3 years) were obvious re-signs. They’re both important players to this team.

With the remaining cap space I brought in four free agents. The Giants biggest hole is outside linebacker. Bruce Carter decided to come in from Dallas for a $3.4m/year, 35% guaranteed, 5-year value deal. Also joining the Giants from within the division is Bradley Fletcher, who had a solid season with the Eagles at $3.8m/year, 25% guaranteed, 2 years to be the nickelback. After cutting Jon Beason, I needed to get a backup inside linebacker. Dannell Ellerbe was available. He didn’t live up to his deal in Miami, but I gave him a chance to prove himself on a one-year deal for $2.9m, 40% guaranteed. The last free agent I signed was Stevie Johnson, who didn’t really add much to the 49ers passing attack. At $5.7m/year, 35% guaranteed, 4 years, he should be a nice threat in the Giants offense alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz. All of the re-signings and free agent deals left me with $3.8m.

Here’s how the Draft went:

Round 1, Pick 9 – DT Danny Shelton

Round 2, Pick 8 – LB Paul Dawson

Round 3, Pick 10 – CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Round 4, Pick 9 – DE Danielle Hunter

Round 5, Pick 8 – S Kurtis Drummond

Round 6, Pick 10 – G Jamon Brown

Round 7, Pick 9 – C Andy Gallik

Round 7, Pick 28 – WR Vince Mayle

Danny Shelton can be disruptive up the gut in all facets of the game and will be a very solid building block in the Giants defensive front. Paul Dawson should be a solid starter from day-one, giving the Giants a good foundation at linebacker, where they’ve been lacking for a while. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is coming off an ACL injury, but he is a first round talent when completely healthy. Danielle Hunter will keep the pass rush going as a rotational guy behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers. The Giants don’t have any depth at safety, so Kurtis Drummond should help out there. In the 6th and 7th rounds I got two interior offensive lineman to backup the starters in case of injury, which happened plenty last season. Four picks before the last, I got the best player left ton the board in Vince Mayle.

This is how the depth chart would look after all of the off-season moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Miami Dolphins

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Dolphins only currently have $1.8m of cap space, but by cutting some veteran players they can get up to $25.1m. First and foremost, Dannell Ellerbe didn’t work to at all. It’s a simple decision to designate him as a post-June 1st cut to save $8.45m. Another player who can clear up a significant amount of cap space as a post-June 1st cut is Brian Hartline ($5.95m). He was phased out of the dolphins offense last year, so it seems like they’re ready to move on. Brandon Gibson is another receiver to whom I gave the boot, clearing up another $3.2m. Finally, Cortland Finnegan has been dealing with some injuries. So it’s best to part ways for an extra $5.7m.

A good amount of the cap space I freed up went into re-signing players. Daryn Colledge stayed for $3m/year, 25% guaranteed, 4 years, and a chance to compete again for a starting guard spot. Two more valuable backups who signed fresh contracts are Samson Satele ($1.8m/year, 25% guaranteed, 2 years) and Jason Fox ($1.25m/year, 25% guaranteed, 3 years). Matt Moore is arguably the best backup quarterback in the league and has been with Ryan Tannehill from the start. He stayed for $3.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 3 years, although Tannehill could benefit from some competition. Jimmy Wilson was valuable in as a nickelback last season. Bringing him back for $3m/year, 30% guaranteed, 3 years is a bargain. Finally, Charles Clay will be looking for a big deal in free agency, but I was able to retain him for $4.75m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years.

I signed some quality pieces in free agency with the rest of the cap space. Dan Williams has been very productive in Arizona, and I signed him to a $4.25m/year, 35% guaranteed, 5-year contract, which is the third highest 3-4 DT contract in the league. He’ll be worth every penny. Akeem Ayers will add some production in the rotation for $4.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years. With Knowshon Moreno leaving, the Dolphins need a new backup running back. Stevan Ridley decided to stay in the division for $3.75m/year, 30% guaranteed, 3 years. He and Lamar Miller could be a nice tandem in the backfield. The last player I signed was Kenny Britt ($4.25m/year, 30% guaranteed, 3 years), to continue rebuilding the receiver corps. All of these off-season moves left me with $1.7m of cap space.

A big part of the Dolphins off-season upgrades will be done through the Draft. Here’s how it went:

Round 1, Pick 14 – ILB Eric Kendricks

Round 2, Pick 15 – DL Xavier Cooper

Round 3, Pick 14 – WR Rashad Greene

Round 4, Pick 15 – CB Steven Nelson

Round 5, Pick 14 – OLB Zach Hodges

Round 6, Pick 15 – SS Jordan Richards

Round 7, Pick 14 – G Robert Myers

Eric Kendricks could be the best inside linebacker in the Draft, making him a no-brainer first round pick for the Dolphins, who have been lacking at inside linebacker for a while. The Dolphins needed depth at defensive tackle being that they use a 5-DL package. the best value for getting that player was Xavier Cooper in the second round. Rashad Greene tops off a quality receiving core. After letting go of Cortland Finnegan, the Dolphins needed to replace him. That’s where Steven Nelson comes in; in the fourth round he can give them good value for the pick. Zach Hodges will also get to compete for snaps as an outside linebacker and help out a lot on special teams. Jordan Richards will get a chance to fill Louis Delmas’ void. Robert Myers adds depth at guard and should also give the rest of the guys at the position some competition.

Here’s what the depth Chart looks like after these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: New Orleans Saints

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Saints are higher above the cap limit than any other team. Right now they’re $22.6m above where they have to be, but they don’t have many options as to how to get there. There are two players I cut to start chopping down the team salary. Rafael Bush saved $1.95m, and Brodrick Bunkley, who’s the 4th highest paid 3-4 defensive tackle in the league, can clear up $4.5m being a post-June 1st cut. I was thinking about cutting one of the Saints’ inside linebackers, who both have really struggled in the past couple of years, but they’d be to hard to replace given the amount of money the Saints can spend. To get back in the black I restructured three contracts. Drew Brees, who has restructured in each of the past couple of years to save the Saints some space, freed up $8.8. Restructuring Marques Colston’s deal cleared $3m. And Jimmy Graham saved $4.8m, which brought the Saints up to $500k of cap space. That Jairus Byrd deal from last year really got the Saints in a deeper cap rut with all of his guarantees.

The Saints have a few guys who I would’ve wanted to re-sign, like Patrick Robinson and Mark Ingram, but there just isn’t any cap room to do so. The same goes for free agency, so the Saints will have to build their team through the Draft until they deal with their bad contracts. They still need a backup quarterback, though.

Here’s who I drafted to fill the Saints’ holes:

Round 1, Pick 13 – CB Trae Waynes

Round 2, Pick 12 – ILB Denzel Perryman

Round 3, Pick 11 – C Hroniss Grasu

Round 4, Pick 13 – OLB Martrell Spaight

Round 5, Pick 12 – DL Grady Jarrett

Round 6, Pick 11 – DE Martin Ifedi

Round 7, Pick 13 – DE Deion Barnes

With the first four picks I got players who will be able to compete for a starting spot right away. Trae Waynes should be able to take Patrick Robinson’s spot. Denzel Perryman will give both Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne a run for their job. Hroniss Grasu can take over for Jonathan Goodwin whom I couldn’t re-sign. And Martrell Spaight can also challenge the linebackers for a starting job. The last three picks gives the Saints some depth at defensive line which the really lack. Grady Jarrett will help in the run game. Martin Ifedi is a tough player who will work to get better. And Deion Barnes will give the Saints a decent situational pass rusher off the edge. Hopefully at least one of these guys can turn out to be a quality starter.

Here’s what the depth chart would look like after these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: San Francisco 49ers

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The 49ers are another team with cap issues, even though it may not seem so bad right now. They are currently spending $2.9m more than the allotted amount, however, with a handful of moves they can have enough money to make their team better in the short-term. First, I cut Stevie Johnson. The move to get him didn’t really work out so well, and letting him go saves $6m without any dead money. I though about cutting Patrick Willis since he could save a lot of money and Chris Borland had a very good rookie season. However, it was to hard to bring myself to make the move. Instead I restructured his contract, saving $3.2m. I did the very same with NaVarro Bowman, who had also restructured his contract last year. Colin Kaepernick has a pretty high cap number this year, and a simple restructure clears up $9.3m. Finally, I also restructured Ahmad Brooks’ contract, which freed up an additional $2.8m to bring the 49ers’ cap space up to $18.8m.

The 49ers have plenty of their better players entering free agency. Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore will likely test the market, so I didn’t re-sign them. However, I did re-sign Mike Iupati to a $5.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4-year deal, which is a little more than I wanted to spend, but that’s where his talent is at. Plus, I didn’t want to create another hole unnecessarily. Another key player I brought back was Chris Culliver for $3.25m/year, 35% guaranteed, 4 years. Finally, Blaine Gabbert stayed put as the backup quarterback for $1.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 2 years.

I had an interesting approach to free agency. Since the 49ers can’t sign too many players to long-term deal due to their cap restraints after restructuring so many contracts, I signed a few players to short-term deal that may end up working out in the longer-term. Since the 49ers need to fix their receiving core, I brought in Hakeem Nicks ($4m/year, 35% guaranteed, 2 years) and Wes Welker ($5m, 50% guaranteed, 1 year). The Hicks deal would have an easy out after one year if id doesn’t work out, and the Welker deal could possibly have an option for another year. I also signed Shaun Phillips to a $2.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 2-year deal that would have an easy out after the first year. I did make one bigger signing, though. Tom Johnson agreed to come to San Francisco for $6m/year, 35% guaranteed, 3 years. I was in a bit of a bidding war, but he has been great with the Vikings and will give a big boost the the 49ers defensive front. All of these moves left me $400k in the hole, but that can easily be remedied by cutting a player or two with a smaller contract.

Here’s how I made fixes on the roster in the Draft:

Round 1, Pick 15 – CB Marcus Peters

Round 2, Pick 14 – WR Nelson Agholor

Round 3, Pick 15 – DE ZaDarius Smith

Round 4, Pick 27 – RB Jeremy Langford

Round 5, Pick 15 – G Shaq Mason

Round 6, pick 14 – OLB Geneo Grissom

Round 7, Pick 29 – TE Jean Sifrin

The 49ers top two needs are cornerback and wide receiver. I thought I’d first address cornerback with arguably the best one in the Draft — Marcus Peters. New head coach Jim Tomsula is defensive-minded, so he may be inclined to go defense first as well. Nelson Agholor can be a Michael Crabtree-like guy for Colin Kaepernick — maybe even better. The 49ers need some depth on the defensive line, and Za’Darius Smith can get pressure on the quarterback. With Frank Gore moving on, I needed to get a running back. Jeremy Langford is valuable in the running game and passing game and can compliment Carlos Hyde really nicely. Depth was needed at guard, so once all of the other needs were filled I took the best one available, which was Shaq Mason. Geneo Grissom is a bit of a project, but he can develop into a nice pas rusher and is already valuable as a special teamer. Jean Sifrin is very raw but has plenty of upside. Definitely worth the risk in the seventh round.

This is what the depth chart would look like to reflect these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Cleveland Browns

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Browns don’t have much space to clear. However, they have $49.1m of cap room already, and cutting Phillip Taylor and Josh Gordon saves $6.5m, bringing them up to $55.7m. Gordon is facing a year-long suspension, and since this is the last year of his contract the Browns should be done with him.

Jabaal Sheard is the Browns’ top-priority free agent. We agreed on a $8m/year, 30% guaranteed, 6-year deal for him to stay in Cleveland. Buster Skrine would be up next, but he’ll test his value in the open market. Jim Leonhard did a very good job filling in for Tashaun Gipson. Since Gipson’s injury was a pretty bad one, he probably won’t start the season, so Leonhard ($1m, fully guaranteed, 1 year) can keep his spot warm until he’s healthy. I signed one more player to a one-year fully guaranteed deal — Miles Austin ($1.25m).

Free Agency is the Browns’ chance to make major upgrades. I tried bringing in Greg Hardy, but we couldn’t agree on the value. However, I did sign two other defensive lineman: Nick Fairley ($9m/year, 35% guaranteed, 6 years) and Derrick Morgan ($5.5m/year, 35% guaranteed, 5 years). That should start a good rotation up front. Since Jordan Cameron and Buster Skrine walked, Charles Clay and Rashean Mathis will take their places for $4.7m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years, and $3.25m/year, 40% guaranteed, 2 years, respectively. The Browns really need help at wide receiver. Michael Crabtree should give them a good start at $8.2m/year, 40% guaranteed, 5 years. The last free agent I signed was Chad Henne. Brian Hoyer moved on elsewhere, and Johnny Manziel should get a fair shot at the starting quarterback job. Henne should serve as a solid backup on a $4m/year, 50% guaranteed, 2-year deal. I still had $26.7m left over, so there’s still room to add a few more pieces.

The Browns have nine draft picks this year, and here’s what I did with them:

Round 1, Pick 12 – WR Kevin White

Round 1, Pick 19 – DL Arik Armstead

Round 2, Pick 11 – T D.J. Humphries

Round 3, Pick 13 – OLB Tony Washington

Round 4, Pick 12 – ILB Taiwan Jones

Round 4, Pick 16 – G Ali Marpet

Round 5, Pick 11 – S Erick Dargan

Round 6, Pick 13 – DT Chucky Hunter

Round 7, Pick 12 – OLB James Vaughters

The Browns have more picks than needs, so they could easily make a trade to jump up in the Draft. With the first first-round pick I took Kevin White. He teaming up with Michael Crabtree could be a dangerous combo. Arik Armstead needs some developing, but he should become a force on the defensive line. D.J. Humphries finishes off the Browns’ offensive line — arguably the best in the league. The rest of the picks gives the Browns some depth. Taiwan Jones could eventually start. Ali Marpet is a good option at guard or centre if anyone gets injured. Erick Dargan has shown some flashes of good stuff. Finally, Chucky Hunter and James Vaughters give the Browns more options at pass rush from different spots.

Here’s the depth chart reflecting these moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up. 

Off-Season Simulation: Minnesota Vikings

Up until the start of free agency (March 10th), I will be doing off-season simulations for each team in the league in draft order. The off-season simulation entails free agency: cutting players and restructuring contracts, re-signing players, and signing free agents; and the Draft.

(The off-season simulation programs are provided by fanspeak.com; All salary cap figures are provided by Over The Cap – overthecap.com)

Off-season simulations for other teams can be found at overtimeireland.com/articles; Season recaps for each team can be found at overtimeireland.com/podcasts.

The Vikings currently have $16.2m in cap space, but they have the opportunity to climb up really high if they cut some big-name players. However, I didn’t go that way completely. First, I designated Greg Jennings as a post-June 1st cut, which saves $9m. I  Could’ve freed up over $12m by cutting Adrian Peterson, but I didn’t feel like that was the best move. Instead I restructured his contract, saving $8m. The Vikings can always revisit his situation again next year after they see him play again and still have the chance to save a lot of money. I also made two smaller cuts: Marcus Sherels and Charlie Johnson, adding $3.6m of cap space. All of that gave me a total of $38.7m to spend.

The Vikings have a handful of key players to re-sign. Jerome Felton came back for $2.75m/year, 30% guaranteed, 5 years. Joe Berger signed for $1.4m/year, 50% guaranteed, 2 years. Tom Johnson signed the biggest deal of all the players I brought back — $4.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 3 years. Finally, Jasper Brinkley stayed for $2.3m/year, 25% guaranteed, 3 years. All of these players add modest contributions to this team, so it’s important to keep that going.

I didn’t go too heavy on free agency, having a specific plan for the Draft. I signed Patrick Robinson at $7.4m/year, 25% guaranteed, 4 years, to help in the secondary. Stephen Paea ($6.5m/year, 30% guaranteed, 5 years) should round out a solid defensive front. And Clint Boling gives the Vikings a nice upgrade at guard for $7.2m/year, 30% guaranteed, 4 years. I still had $15.5m to spare, but that should help next year.

Here’s how the Draft turned out:

Round 1, Pick 11 – WR DeVante Parker

Round 2, Pick 13 – ILB Stephone Anthony

Round 3, Pick 12 – SS Jaquiski Tartt

Round 4, Pick 11 – CB JaCorey Shepherd

Round 5, Pick 13 – G Shaquille Mason

Round 6, Pick 12 – T Donovan Smith

Round 7, Pick 11 – OLB JR Tavai

DeVante Parker gives the Vikings a threat all over the field, which should nicely compliment Cordarrelle Patterson. Also, he used to play college football with Teddy Bridgewater. So that previous connection will help a lot. Stephone Anthony can be ready at linebacker if someone isn’t playing well or gets injured and should eventually take over a starting job. Jaquiski Tartt gives the Vikings a much-needed starter at strong safety. That finally gives them security in the secondary with he an Harrison Smith. Personally, I have JaCorey Shepherd rated as a 2nd-3rd round player. He has great ball skills and plays hard, which should immediately earn him the nickelback spot. Maybe he can even Challenge Xavier Rhodes for a starting cornerback spot and make him better. Shaquille Mason can turn into a quality backup in the phone booth. Donovan Smith also adds some depth to the offensive line. J.R. Tavai can be a nice player if he stays healthy. That’s worth the gamble in the seventh round.

This is what the depth chart would look like after these off-season moves:

This OTI Piece was written by Eli Bookstaber. Eli, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a huge follower of all things NFL and an avid fan of the Redskins. He writes the weekly Power Rankings as well as “Bookie’s Playbook”, where Eli breaks down the X’s and O’s of various plays and things of the sort. He welcomes all feedback on his articles, and you can always talk to him about anything NFL-related. You can follow him on Twitter @Ebookstaber, but be prepared. He never shuts up.