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  1. #1
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    NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Scouts Inc.

    Scouts, Inc. has evaluated the rosters and salary-cap situations of all 32 NFL teams. With free agency approaching and draft right around the corner, here's how each NFC West team stacks up as it heads into the offseason.



    Arizona Cardinals

    2004 record: 6-10 (third place)
    Having re-signed S Adrian Wilson during the season and with a fairly nondescript group of remaining free agents, the Cardinals don't have many crucial offseason decisions to make. They would like to keep RB Troy Hambrick and CB Renaldo Hill but only at the right price. Hill could become a higher priority if nickel CB Duane Starks is a salary-cap casualty.
    RB Emmitt Smith has just retired, and DE Peppi Zellner could be re-signed. One small surprise could be TE Freddie Jones. He is a good pass-catcher, but the Cardinals want more size and power at the position and might let him test the free-agent market.



    QB Josh McCown, a restricted free agent, likely played well enough to earn a substantial tender offer from the club, but the Cardinals probably aren't ready to commit to a long-term deal. An extension for WR Anquan Boldin could be on the to-do list, even though he has two years remaining on his current contract.

    Some cap casualties could be OT L.J. Shelton, FB James Hodgins, OLB Raynoch Thompson and franchise stalwart MLB Ronald McKinnon.

    Expect wholesale changes in the offseason. Coach Dennis Green wants to turn over the roster, and Arizona has money to spend on a franchise back and a rebuilt offensive line. On defense, the Cardinals want to improve their matchup capability in the secondary by adding a cover cornerback or two.


    San Francisco *****

    2004 record: 2-14 (fourth place)
    The ***** are a troubled franchise that enters the offseason almost $15 million over the salary cap. Before they start looking on the open market, they will need to address their own veterans who currently are under contract.
    RB Kevan Barlow is due a huge bonus in March and could be traded, while DE Brandon Whiting, OT Scott Gragg and DT Bryant Young might be on the outs if the new front office decides to completely clean house and start over.



    The only unrestricted free agent the ***** might consider re-signing is OLB Julian Peterson, an outstanding talent whose season-ending Achilles' injury could affect his value on the open market. Expect the team to work toward a long-term deal, but if that doesn't happen, it likely will franchise Peterson again.

    WRs Curtis Conway and Cedrick Wilson could return at a reasonable price, but the ***** want to get even younger at the position. OC Brock Gutierrez a solid backup and CB Jimmy Williams and RB Terry Jackson neither of whom are big contributors might be brought back.

    The reality is that Peterson probably is the team's only free agent worth worrying about, which is telling of the quality of players on the roster. San Francisco does have two restricted free agents in OG Eric Heitmann and OT Kyle Kosier who likely will receive tenders. (Heitmann, who will draw interest from other teams, could require a first-round tender.)

    The team probably will be very quiet in free agency, instead spending its offseason trimming the roster and rebuilding through the draft. With a muddled front office and a new coaching staff, it won't be easy.

    The ***** can draft a franchise QB with the first pick, but will they spend the money? With so many needs at other positions, this team could go any direction in free agency and the draft


    Seattle Seahawks

    2004 record: 9-7 (first place)
    The Seahawks have plenty of decisions to make this offseason, many involving their marquee players. The first priority is QB Matt Hasselbeck, who achieved free agency by reaching incentives that voided his contract.
    He wasn't dominant last year, but he is a key component and coach Mike Holmgren can't afford to give up on him now. Seattle would prefer not to put the franchise tag on Hasselbeck, and both sides seem intent on banging out a long-term deal.



    RB Shaun Alexander might be a different story. Statistically he had a great season, but he isn't a great fit in the West Coast offense and critics believe he lacks toughness and suspect that his production will drop off after he enjoys a big payday. Alexander seems to want to test the open market, so placing the franchise tag on him might have negative repercussions. The team might simply have to cut its losses.

    OT Walter Jones, who has been franchised three years running, will draw that designation again if the team has no other choice but to let him leave. Re-signing CB Ken Lucas and DE Chike Okeafor is considered a high priority, but it won't be easy. Four members of Seattle's starting offensive line (including Jones) are unrestricted free agents. But OT Floyd Womack, OC Robbie Tobeck and OG Chris Gray each work well within the system and might be more valuable to the Seahawks than to other clubs.

    The team has too many in-house concerns for it to spend big on the open market. With 17 players (including nine starters) eligible for free agency, the front office has its work cut out. In fact, the team might ask some of its veterans to restructure their contracts to give the organization some cap relief.

    Who goes and who stays will directly affect the Seahawks' top offseason needs. They need to get better on the defensive line and linebacker. A receiver who can actually catch the ball would be a great fit.


    St. Louis Rams

    2004 record: 8-8 (second place)
    Each offseason the big free-agency snag for the Rams seems to be OT Orlando Pace, and this year is no different. After carrying the franchise tag the last two seasons, Pace has changed agents and there is hope a reasonable long-term deal can be worked out.
    If not, it will be franchise tag three years in a row. With OT Kyle Turley all but gone thanks to an unsalvageable relationship with coach Mike Martz, or retirement due to injuries the Rams can ill afford to lose two Pro Bowl-caliber tackles.



    OLB Tommy Polley doesn't always play up to his ability, and he might have an inflated idea of his market value. The Rams would prefer to have him back. Fellow unrestricted free agent DE Bryce Fisher is a hard worker and a great contributor on the pass rush and special teams. OG Tom Nutten and TE Cam Cleeland are solid veterans who likely will return.

    With the exception of WR Dane Looker, the team's group of restricted free agents is nothing special. The Rams have limited room under the salary cap, though they could free up money. RB Marshall Faulk, WR Isaac Bruce and Turley who are in the twilights of their careers and who are paid very well could be cap casualties. The Rams need to rebuild their offensive line, acquire an athletic pass-catching tight end and find playmakers on defense.

    Scouts, Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.


  2. #2
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    I still think the Cardinals, since they seem to be so open to the prospect of exchanging players with the Rams, would be a great NFC West storyline if they picked up Warner and Faulk. Playing on grass would help Faulk's knees and the warm weather would help them both. Also, playing against the pathetic defenses of the NFC West wouldn't hurt either.

    I am curious to see if Faulk becomes a cap casualty like this article suggests. Trading him accelerates his cap money but cutting him splits it up, right? I don't see Bruce going anywhere, though. He's still too productive and integral to Martz's offense. I'm pretty sure wide receivers are still a priority for Martz.

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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Quote Originally Posted by moklerman
    Trading him accelerates his cap money but cutting him splits it up, right?
    The accelerated cap hit is only split up if he's cut after June 1st. Cutting him before then or trading him at any time will cause the entire hit to come into effect for this season.

    If we're going to cut ties with Faulk, I think it'd be easier to do next season. I believe the cap hit if we cut him before June 1st is somewhere around $5.3 million. After June 1st, it'd be around $1.3 million in 2005 and about $4 million in 2006.

    If we waited until 2006 to cut ties with Faulk, the pre-June 1st cap hit would be something around $4.15 million, and post-June 1st numbers would be a little over $1 million in 2006 and around $3.11 million in 2007.

    Keep in mind that while those are the cap hits we'd take for his accelerated bonus, we'd lose his contract from the books. So for instance, in the latter option, in 2006, we'd take an accelerated hit slightly over $1 million, but we'd be rid of a salary of nearly $6 million.

    Someone can correct me if my math is wrong, but I'm going on the figures provided by NFLPA.org and KFFL's information about his latest signing bonus ($9.3 million), although other bonus money might need to be factored in, as KFFL reports he was due $12 million in the first two years in bonus money including the main bonus. So, the more I think about it, the more I know these numbers aren't exact, but they're fairly close I'd think.

    But anyways, I think it would be wise to keep Faulk for 2005, especially if we plan on cutting Turley post-June 1st this summer. The larger accelerated portion of Turley's bonus would be with us for 2006, at which point the smaller portion of Faulk's bonus would be coming into play. If we cut Faulk this summer after June 1st and got rid of Turley, we'd be looking at A LOT of dead money in 2006. If we cut both before June 1st this summer, we'd be in a truck-load of crap because we've still got over $6 million in dead money from Warner to deal with.
    Last edited by Nick; -02-09-2005 at 02:32 AM.
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    thx

    great analysis even if only rough... nice work

  5. #5
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Expect wholesale changes in the offseason. Coach Dennis Green wants to turn over the roster
    Rest assured, every defensive player that Green cuts will get picked up by Marmie. Or at least the ones that aren't any good.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    FB James Hodgins
    Is it time to make up for a previous mistake and solidify our pass rush blocking scheme?
    This space for rent...

  7. #7
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    I think Joey Goodspeed had a very good year last year. What we need to do is bring back Ernie Conwell. He's a free agent this year, no?

    Also, the words Isaac Bruce and Cap Casualty will never enter the news in the same sentence. It just couldn't happen...could it? If they were going to move him they would've traded him to the Ravens this season in exchange for Hartwell, or at least that's what the rumors said.

    Also, I think it's time for a little revenge for our Seahawk friends. Last year they took Wistrom from us. This year I say we take Ken Lucas from them. Whad'ya say?
    Last edited by ZigZagRam; -02-09-2005 at 12:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Faulk won't be cut. Warner's cut is killing the cap this year and the Rams don't want that kind of problem to be routine. If they can rework his contract (in addition to Bruce's), then that would help.

    I also like Joey Goodspeed and I think we should stick with him and maybe draft a FB on Day 2. I don't know about getting Conwell back, I don't know if that would be a good fit again. I wouldn't mind seeing him back in horns, but he's older now.
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  9. #9
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJRamFan
    I don't know about getting Conwell back, I don't know if that would be a good fit again. I wouldn't mind seeing him back in horns, but he's older now.
    I agree with you. Obviously we've seen that cutting Conwell wasn't a good move, but that doesn't mean we run out and get him back. We need someone with similar abilities, but we need youth. Conwell's really struggled with injuries the last few seasons.
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Cutting Bruce or Faulk whould make me cry. I doubt either happen though. :disappoin

  11. #11
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    Re: NFC West overview by Scouts Inc.

    Philly got back Trotter.......Looks to me like Ernie's still got game! :tongue:
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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