Suck for Luck: A New Twist
By Alex Wiederspiel
No team is going to lay down to get Andrew Luck. I promise you that. No self respecting player or coach is going to lay down for a college player. They won’t listen to a coach who says lay down, and a coach won’t listen to a front office member or owner who says lay down. The Colts are in pretty much the perfect scenario of shit here. If they lose next week against Jacksonville they clinch the first overall pick and are certainly assured Andrew Luck by virtue of a strength of schedule tie breaker over St. Louis. If they win, they have to hope the Rams somehow beat the 49ers who are still fighting for the second seed in the NFC. If St. Louis wins the Suck for Luck race, they’ve won more then Andrew Luck. They’ve won the rights to rebuild their team and maybe make the NFC West a competitive division down the line.
It will depend on where the team is moving from in this draft, but acquiring Andrew Luck will almost certainly require three first round picks, a couple of seconds, maybe a third or two, and/or some players. It’s going to be a monster package deal. If St. Louis clinches the first overall pick on Sunday with an Indianapolis win…things are going to get awfully interesting. If they can’t find a trade partner they just do the easy thing and draft Matt Kalil. Kalil will play left tackle, Saffold will move inside to guard assuming Jason Smith can get healthy (unlikely) and the Rams can just pray the line actually stays healthy.
But here are some potential teams and packages that the Rams could be looking at if they get the first overall pick. The Rams will decide very quickly if they want Andrew Luck or not. They won’t let Bradford blow in the wind, because that’ll only make things worse for the franchise. Let’s look at the scenarios where the Rams hold onto Bradford and deal the 1st overall pick.
1st — Indianapolis Colts
You have to assume that Indianapolis would be the most alluring team to deal with for St. Louis. If the Colts want Luck badly enough to trade up, the Rams only have to move down one spot and acquire Matt Kalil. In the process they could pick up a few picks from the Colts, but I think the Colts would actually be extremely hesitant to offer anything more then their first round pick and a 2013 3rd. If they believe Manning is going to be fine, then they can rebuild around Manning. The Colts could franchise Reggie Wayne and deal him to St. Louis as part of a package. You’d have to assume the Colts are open to dealing any player to get Luck, and that could mean Wayne, Collie, Garcon, Clark, Robert Mathis, etc. Still, the Rams may not really be interested in any of those players.
2nd — Cleveland Browns
I think this is a very exciting possibility for Cleveland. Holmgren refused to publicly commit to Colt McCoy beyond this season and with Andrew Luck becoming available the Browns could make a serious splash. The Browns have two first round picks in 2012 which would minimize a lot of the damage to the franchise. The Browns could deal both first round picks, their second round pick, and their top two picks in 2013. The Browns could also look to move promising young receiver Greg Little (unlikely) or one of their big defensive tackles–Taylor or Rubin (likely it would be Rubin). One package could include the Browns two first rounders in 2012, their second round pick, Rubin, and a 2013 pick in the 3rd or 4th round. The Browns are definitely a Luck candidate if Indy wins on Sunday.
3rd — Washington Redskins
If there is one thing Dan Snyder likes to do, it’s make a splash. He treats draft picks like they grow on trees and the Redskins have all three of their first three picks in 2012 and 2013. The Skins could move all six picks for Luck, or could potentially throw in a player to the deal like DeAngelo Hall (if I were St. Louis I wouldn’t want him), Jarvis Jenkins (his value is much lower because of his rookie season being lost to injury), Trent Williams (very unlikely, but for Luck I wouldn’t be surprised), or Fred Davis/Chris Cooley (the value on Cooley is too low because of his age/injury). Washington would be more likely to go the route of picks then players, but if Dan Snyder wants Andrew Luck he could make St. Louis the big offer and send over six or seven draft picks. This isn’t ideal for St. Louis because they’ll likely fall out of range to get either Matt Kalil or Jonathan Martin.
4th — Miami Dolphins
Miami has their picks, but they also have some player pieces that could be part of an Andrew Luck deal. They could send over Sean Smith or big defensive tackle Paul Soliai who is currently under the franchise tender. Miami could in theory send over first round picks this year and next year, a second, Soliai, and a 2013 third to get Luck.
5th — Kansas City Chiefs
A team you can’t count out, the Chiefs may very well move on from Matt Cassel this off-season. With major depth at the Rams biggest need, the Chiefs could in theory deal either Dwayne Bowe or Jonathan Baldwin who would be extremely valuable in acquiring a player like Andrew Luck. My assumption is that Kansas City would want to deal Baldwin, but would deal Bowe if they can’t come to a contract agreement (which could very well happen). The Rams could get the Chiefs first and second round pick this year, Dwayne Bowe, and a pick in 2013.
6th — Seattle Seahawks
Seattle would be a longshot, because I don’t think the Rams want Luck in the NFC West. That being said, the Seahawks are actually moving in the right direction and could compete with San Francisco next season. The Seahawks would likely go draft pick based, but could throw in big linemen Red Bryant or a young corner like Brandon Browner or Richard Sherman. Still I find that unlikely, and expect Seattle to go more after a veteran like Matt Flynn.
7th — New York Jets
There are reports surfacing that Mark Sanchez has fallen out of favor. The Jets can save 9.25 million by moving on from Sanchez, whether justified or not, that’s a big number and the Jets could do a lot with that money. If the Jets do move on from Sanchez and want to go after Luck, they’d probably have to throw a player into the deal. They have all of their top three picks in 2012 and 2013, but this would be a drop to the mid-teens for the Rams. The Jets would need to throw in someone like Kenrick Ellis (assuming he’s not getting deported), Antonio Cromartie, or Kyle Wilson along with a series of picks. My guess is that the Rams would be too afraid to make Wilson a number one corner and want Cromartie. In which case the Rams could probably get Cromartie, the Jets first three picks in 2012 and a first and a third in 2013. This is more likely then Seattle.
The big thing in this race is that teams with movable pieces at wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, or cornerback can really appeal to the Rams in a trade down. Those teams in order:
1. Cleveland Browns — Two first round picks in 2012 and two valued defensive tackles
2. Miami Dolphins — Enough picks to deal and Paul Soliai
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Enough picks and a lot of depth at wide receiver. The Chiefs have the most valuable asset in Dwayne Bowe, and would have to send the fewest picks more then likely.
4. New York Jets — Thanks to their depth at corner and Sione Pouha the Jets could probably make a deal with St. Louis to get Luck, but they’d still have to get their fair share of picks because New York could still in theory have a playoff draft pick. If the Jets lose to Miami though, they could be picking as high as 14th overall and that would make things a little simpler if they choose to move on from Mark Sanchez.
Now as for Sam Bradford. If the Rams decide that they want Luck they’re going to try and move Bradford as quickly as possible to avoid putting the franchise in disarray. Remember they will also likely want to keep Bradford out of the NFC. Here are the most likely landing spots:
1. Indianapolis Colts — Indy won’t have to trade their pick this year, but could offer a package of picks (think a 3rd this year and a conditional pick in 2013 that could go as high as a first). Bradford could learn under Peyton and restore his body to full health. I don’t think this is likely though. If Indy trades for him that means they are moving Manning.
2. Cleveland Browns — The Browns could probably get away with a pick and a player for Bradford–probably Rubin.
3. Kansas City Chiefs — Though I could see a scenario where the Rams don’t want to trade to their in-state competitor, there is a good chance Josh McDaniels takes over Kansas City in 2012. If he does, McDaniels could make the move for Bradford after coaching him in 2011. Again, the Chiefs could easily move Bowe or Baldwin, and may even be able to move Bowe for Bradford and get a pick back in the process.
4. New York Jets — Again, you can’t rule them out because they have picks. I would actually think the Jets would try and make this really easy on St. Louis and offer them their first round pick straight up or their third round pick and a conditional first in 2013.
5. Miami Dolphins — Most definitely a major possibility. A mentioned earlier Miami has a valuable defensive tackle that they don’t necessarily want to sign long-term and they have picks.
The big key for St. Louis would be finding a way to not have to deal Bradford to Washington and certainly not to division rival Seattle.
The last big domino is Peyton Manning. If the Colts choose to move him you have to assume that the top contender will come from the NFC and that top contender has to be Seattle. Manning doesn’t fit the type of offense the Shanahan’s run (though they’d be foolish not to adapt their system). Manning will cost the least because of his age and injury history, but will still cost a pick this year and a conditional pick in 2013 that will likely go as high as a first. Seattle would be the most likely fit in the NFC. In the AFC, it’d be the New York Jets. The Jets franchise missed out on Manning when they wouldn’t guarantee his father in 1997 that he’d be the first overall pick. So Manning stayed in school and Parcells traded the pick to St. Louis who took Orlando Pace. The Jets could right a wrong, and reunite Manning with Tom Moore who is an offensive consultant in New York. For the Jets, they can afford to gamble on Manning because having Sanchez sit and learn from him may actually benefit the franchise in the long run. However, the Jets would likely have to move Sanchez in that scenario anyway. Still, putting Manning behind a much better offensive line with a much better running game and at least comparable receivers would make the Jets mega contenders.
I see the most likely scenario being some sort of three team trade. Here are a few possible trades –
The Rams trading the pick scenario:
St. Louis deals the first overall pick to Cleveland. Cleveland sends their two first rounds picks in 2012, their second round pick, wide receiver Greg Little, their first round pick in 2013 and their second round pick in 2014. Cleveland selects Luck. The Rams snag either Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin, or Alshon Jeffery depending on availability.
The Rams trading Bradford scenario:
St. Louis deals Bradford to the Kansas City Chiefs for Dwayne Bowe. The value would wind up being about the same because of Bradford’s position, potential, and rookie of the year status from a year ago. Consider that nobody can blame him for what happened in St. Louis this year and his value doesn’t take a huge hit. However, the Rams could send a mid-late round pick along with Bradford just to sweeten the deal for Bowe. They add Luck and Bowe in this scenario.
A possible three team deal involving Bradford could involve the Jets:
The Jets receive — Sam Bradford, Lions second rounder
The Lions receive — Jets first pick (mid to high teens)
The Rams receive — Lions first pick (21st to 32nd)
Bradford likely wouldn’t go for a first round pick in the mid teens, but in the late first that’s very possible. Essentially Detroit moves up to grab a left tackle in the 14-19 spot. They send a first and a second to New York. New York then turns that first round pick around to get Bradford. Simple enough right? You can see something similar involving that this draft season–or perhaps simplified by offering a 2013 1st round pick by one of the quarterback needy teams.
So get ready for the chaos. If the Colts don’t finish with the first overall pick, things could get very wild. One thing I am sure of, no matter what this off-season is going to change the fate of several franchises.