So here is my mock offseason. This is what I would do if I were running the show and not what I think Buffalo will do.
First I want to say that I'm on board with the Dockery cut. I was really surprised and totally disagreed with the move at first because I thought that Dock was only going to be making about 3 mil this season. But after some digging and some thinking it looks like bonuses were going to push his contract up over 5 mil this year. Rotoworld had his salary listed at 2.75 mil, but if you add up all the money he has already gotten and all the salaries rotoworld had him scheduled to recieve, it ends up being more than 4 mil short of the 49 mil contract he signed. So to recap: Derrick Dockery for 3 mil is something I don't mind on the team, but Derrick Dockery for 5 mil is a good cut.
In addition to cutting Dockery, I would cut Robert Royal, just like Buffalo did and save about 1.5 - 2 mil that way. I would cut Chris Kelsay saving 3.5 mil and Roscoe Parrish to save another 3 mil. I thought about cutting the overpaid Spencer Johnson too, but a lot of his contract is still guaranteed and a vet replacement would end up being just as average and just as overpaid.
Next thing I'm going to do is trade Jason Peters. I know this sounds like insanity to many of you and I agreed for the longest time, but after Jordan Gross got 10 mil a year, I think Peters isn't worth the investment. I know that leaves me with 3 offensive line spots that need to be filled, but it also leaves me with lots and lots of money to fill those spots as well as an extra pick or two to fill some of the holes with. I'm trading him to Philly who thinks they can win now, won't have to pay Peters too much more than they were going to give Tra Thomas anyways and has an extra first round pick. Is it reasonable to think that you could get the 28th overall pick and Philly's first 5th round pick (5th pick in the round) for Peters? I tend to be conservative with speculation like this, but I think that sounds about right.
So that leaves Buffalo's roster and the money we owe them in 2009 looking like this:
Trent Edwards - .6
Marshawn Lynch - 3.0
Xavier Omon - .4
Lee Evans - 9.0
Josh Reed - 2.6
James Hardy - .4
Steve Johnson - .4
Derek Fine - .4
Brad Butler - 1.5
Langston Walker - 4.0
Demetrius Bell - .4
Aaron Schobel - 4.0
Ryan Denney - 3.1
Chris Ellis - .4
Marcus Stroud - 5.0
Kyle Williams - 2.5
Spencer Johnson - 3.5
John McCargo - .9
Paul Posluszny - .6
Kawika Mitchell - 3.5
Ace Bowen - .4
Terrence McGee - 3.0
Ashton Youboty - .5
Leodis McKelvin - 3.0
Reggie Corner - .4
Donte Whitner - 4.0
Bryan Scott - .8
Ko Simpson - .5
John Wendling - .5
Rian Lindell - 1.2
Brian Moorman - 1.2
total - 61.7
So I have Buffalo at 61.7 million cash to cap dollars on the books. Buffalo spent 113 mil last year on player salaries and bonuses and that was about league average. It looks like Buffalo will spend a little more this year than last year so I'm capping myself off at 120 mil.
I'm actually going to bring 80 players into camp like they do in the NFL. So first up is RFAs and obviously there is a lot of guess work as to what these guys would or wouldn't accept, but I think my offers are pretty fair.
Keith Ellison - I'm not giving him or DiGi tenders, instead I'm going to try and lock them up on the cheap for multiple seasons. I am signing Ellison to a three year contract that pays him 1.1 mil per season. The contract would give him 600K in base salary this year and a 700K signing bonus and 1 mil in salary in 2010 and 2011.
John Digiorgio - 2 year contract that gives him a 400K signing bonus with 500K in first year salary and 900K his second year.
George Wilson gets the million dollar RFA tender that gives me the right to match any offer and I feel safe assuming that no team is actually going to try and sign Wilson away.
I'm letting Hamdan and Jenkins become UFAs. I would bring them back very early into FA on cheap one year contracts. 600K for each sounds like the best offer they could get from someone else.
Dustin Fox can walk. I might bring him back after the draft as camp filler.
I am offering the league minimum to every ERFA other than Jackson and Baker. I'm giving Jackson a long term contract and I won't be offering Baker a contract at all. So (by my best guess) that ends up looking like this:
460K for Derek Schouman, Copeland Bryan, Ryan Neill and Corey Mace. 460K isn't a fun number to round, but i'll just round up to 500K
385K for Blake Costanzo, Jon Corto, Jonathan Stupar, Bruce Hall, Chris Denman and Marcus Buggs. I'll round those contracts up to 400K
290K for CJ Hawthorne, Felton Huggins, Brandon Rodd, Vince Hall, Mike Jefferson and Marcus Smith. These contracts get rounded up to 300K
Fred Jackson gets a 5 year, 14 mil contract. I know I said I would never give him that type of money, but I'm setting it up like an extension more than a new contract. Jackson gets a nice bonus now to keep him happy (4 mil signing bonus, 3 of which I will pay upfront and I will give him the last mil next offseason) and really cheap salaries for a few seasons and some big ones that we can avoid by cutting him down the road. So the cash to cap money that I would owe Jackson would look like: 2009 - 3.5 mil, 2010 - 1.5 mil, 2011 - 1.5 mil, 2012 - 3 mil, 2013 - 3.5 mil.
The UFAs that I'm just letting walk without a second thought are Melvin Fowler, Duke Preston, JP Losman, Jason Whittle, Jabari Greer (too expensive), Corey McIntyre and Jonathon Scott. I'm letting Teddy Lehman experience some free agency as well, but I might bring him back at some point to be roster filler if somebody doesn't beat me to it.
I'm going to handle Crowell a lot like the Bills are going to handle him. I want to see just how much I would have to pay him to get him back, but I would guess there is an 80% chance or better that I bring Crowell back to start on the strong side. It just makes too much sense not to do it.
Kirk Chambers is getting offered a 3 year, 5.5 mil contract. If Buffalo gives him a bigger deal then that, I will reconsider. For now, I feel like that is about what Buffalo will give him. The cash to cap values would look like: 2009 - 2.5, 2010 - 1.5 mil, 2011 - 1.5 mil
That leaves me with these cash to cap additions to my roster:
Ellison - 1.3
DiGiorgio - .9
Wilson - 1.0
Hamdan - .6
Jenkins - .6
Jackson - 3.5
Chambers - 2.5
Schouman - .5
Neill - .5
I'm also estimating 15 mil in cash to cap money that will have to go to signing the draft picks. I have 9 picks and 41 players under contract. So I can assume that I won't have many (if any) players who I havn't accounted for cash to cap wise (guys like Costanzo, Bryan, Huggins etc...) make the team. That means I have already used about 88 of my 115-120 mil. And you can also see how I think that Buffalo has very little money to spend this offseason in the real, non-mock world.
So now comes the fun part. How am i going to spend my 30 mil in UFA.
The first thing I would have done would have happened this afternoon when I signed former Dolphin LB and Syracuse grad Kelvin Smith to a nice cheap contract and let him compete for a roster spot. 1 year 500K with a nice little 30K signing bonus would bring him into camp.
I'm going after TJ Houshmandzadeh hard. We will have to wait and see what kind of deal he ends up signing, but I wouldn't mind going over 10 mil per season and I wouldn't mind giving him way more years than he deserves to get. I plan on just beating whatever contract he ends on signing. It's tough to give a guy like him an actual contract without, you know, actually negotiating and hearing what other teams are offering.
My other sizeable first day signing is Geoff Hangartner. I really like the idea of Buffalo bringing in a versatile player like Hangartner who can play either center or guard and go into the draft knowing that you can grab someone early from either position to compete for a starting spot. My initial offer to Hangartner would be 5 years, 18 mil and I would definitely be willing to top an offer from a different team as well.
Jason Babin could be a nice fit here as a stop-gap role player. He has been traded and/or cut a few times over the last few seasons, but he played well when the Chiefs got desperate late in the season. He is a former first round pick too. I would give him a decent contract and pretty much guarantee him that he makes the roster here and that is more than most teams will be willing to do. I would give him a 2 year deal worth 3 mil.
I'm assuming that the three contracts I end up giving out to Housh, Hangartner and Babin end up costing me about 20-25 mil in cash to cap money this season. That only leaves me with enough cash to sign some fringy vets for depth. This is something I'm going to be doing over time leading up to the season, but here are some of my front runners for various roles:
I'm open to a number of different QBs. Batch tops my list, but anyone who I can get really cheap will do including Joey Harrington, Ryan Fitzpatrick or even Chris Simms or Patrick Ramsey.
I'm waiting on third RB until after the draft. I'll probably settle for someone who is pretty bad, but I just don't think a 3rd RB is much of a priority. I wouldn't rule out drafting one in the later rounds to compete with Omon either.
I'm calling the agent of every FB available. I don't really have money to spend on one though, so I either have to find someone that nobody else is interested in or grab one in the draft.
Grabbing a blocking TE in FA is something to consider. A guy like Will Heller could be a nice addition at the right price. This would probably lead to me drafting a good receiving TE and keep 4 on the roster. Schouman might end up inactive most weeks, but then again, I've never really been a fan of his.
I'm definitely signing a CB at some point. Keiwan Ratliff seems like a nice option. Reynaldo Hill and former Bill, Eric King would be pretty cheap options too. I younger vet like Daven Holly or Eric Green would be great options too if I can get them cheap enough.
And a quick mock draft to end this ridiculously long post:
11 - Michael Oher
28 - Michael Johnson
rd 2 - Eric Wood
rd 3 - Chase Coffman