We should know by the end of today if Roscoe Parrish is going anywhere via trade, or if the Buffalo Bills make a move for any players to help this injury-plagued team make a playoff run with a surprisingly soft upcoming schedule. While some point to our upcoming opponents' combined record to show that we face an easy road ahead, our biggest weakness is run defense, and our biggest strength is pass defense. Unfortunately, the teams we are set to face are all stellar running teams.
As the Jets, Dolphins, and Browns showed, we can be run on quite easily. With Chris Johnson, LenDale White, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Slaton, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Leon Washington and Thomas Jones again up on the schedule, if we do make a trade, it should be for a linebacker to help out with Kawika Mitchell down for the year and Keith Ellison not getting the job done in run support. Losing Kawika also hurts our pass rush, so I can see us looking for a player who can do that as well.
With that in mind, below are some likely and realistic targets I can see us trying to seal the deal on before the NFL's trade deadline - which just happens to be today - based on rumors and tidbits gathered of who’s on the block.
1. Antwan Barnes, LB, Baltimore Ravens: NFL Network reported that the Ravens backup linebacker Antwan Barnes is on the block. Although the 6'1", 245-pound backup has never started a game in his three seasons in the league, Barnes is said to possess good pass rushing skills. In five games with playing time this year, he has an interception and 7 tackles and notched two sacks as a backup in his rookie season. The Ravens need a returner and receiver depth, so I can see Parrish being involved here. Because Barnes is only 25 and has pretty decent potential, I also think a late rounder - maybe a seventh - would have to be thrown into the mix.
2. Kamerion Wimbley, LB, Cleveland Browns: A former first-round pick who has not quite lived up to expectations after a monstrous rookie season for the Browns is reportedly on the trade block – which is surprising considering he appears to finally be breaking out this year. Despite missing last game with the flu, he has 4 sacks (one on Trent Edwards) and 32 tackles in five games in 2009. Wimbley also has 4 sacks in '08, 5 sacks in '07 and 11 sacks in his rookie year in '06. Mike Lombardi writes:
Tuesday is the trading deadline, but I’m not optimistic there will be many deals. The Browns can’t trade Josh Cribbs (I hear they won’t), but will try to move outside backer/defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, who missed Sunday’s game against the Steelers with the flu.
I’m not sure how effective Wimbley can be in a 4-3 (I believe he has only played in a 3-4, but correct me if I’m wrong please), but I would definitely put him in over Ellison or Palmer. The Browns already have a great return man in Cribbs and their special teams is fantastic, so Parrish isn’t an option here. We’d likely have to give up a lot get him, and with his stock so high, Mangini is obviously cashing in on a player that he didn’t draft while he can. I’d say a third and sixth would do it, though competition from 3-4 teams that are struggling to get to the passer (i.e. the Cowboys opposite DeMarcus Ware) could jack up the price to a third and a fifth. In my opinion, it is worth considering if the film shows he can be productive in a 4-3.
3. Also from Mike Lombardi: "If I were working in the NFL today, I might want to call the Titans since it looks like they might be offering all their players in a fire sale." Based on that I’m going to take some creative liberties here and say that David Thornton, a 30-year-old outside linebacker that measures in at 6’2", 225 pounds, can be had for a fourth or a fifth-round pick. The Titans are going to have to re-build their defense, and while Thornton has been a crowd favorite in Tennessee, he is aging, and a re-building team doesn’t tend to keep aging players when they are 0-6. I don’t see them trading franchise great Keith Bullock, but I do see them willing to give up the unspectacular but solid run stopping linebacker Thornton. He won’t make many big plays, but he is a solid tackler and will bolster a team's run defense. I like the sound of that.
Anyway, the deadline is this afternoon. If we don’t patch our run defense up, the upcoming schedule is quite terrifying. Quentin Groves is reportedly on the market, but I see no place for him here. Add any of your own targets if you've got them.