What follows is the offseason scenario I would like to see, not necessarily what I think will happen. Some of these items are more likely than others, but everything here is - IMHO - within reason, and honestly, I think this scenario would give us an immediate shot at contention, with a lot of promise going forward. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Pre-Draft and Free Agency
The conditional pick would be stipulated thus:
1st round if the bills win the Superbowl, 2nd round if they make the playoffs, 3rd round otherwise. that would guarantee Philly a 2nd and at least a 3rd.
I recently replied to someone suggesting a McNabb trade that while I loved the idea, the probability would be less than 1 percent. And while I am still inclined to believe the probability is low, the Bills have indeed starting making phone calls.
McNabb is at a crossroads once again in Philadelphia. Andy Reid is sticking with his story that he intends to keep McNabb around, but I'm getting the impression that if the right offer were made they would pull the trigger. I also believe that McNabb wouldn't be too unhappy in Buffalo - with or without T.O. - as he'd be returning to upstate NY where he played in college, and he wouldn't have to move his family. He would also be a guaranteed starter with no-one on the roster within reasonable striking distance to replace him.
On the football side of things, McNabb is an excellent option for Buffalo due to his strong throwing arm. He can get the ball deep to Owens (or Owens replacement) and to Evans and his experience and leadership would go far in bringing the Bills back to contention.
Sign Larry Foote:
This one is easy and has been discussed here by the editors in depth. I'll leave it at that.
Not the biggest priority, but I would attempt to resign him. He's definitely not the player he was even a few seasons ago, but he's still one of the best at running the fly and with a strong-armed QB... well, you get the general idea. One less hole.
Draft Anthony Davis, LT Rutgers at #9:
I know this is an unpopular belief (some would say an incorrect belief), but I feel the Bills are a legitimate blindside tackle away from having a solid - potentially elite - offensive line. Trading for McNabb takes the emphasis off of LT, so I'm drafting Davis with the intention of him competing at RT with Brad Butler and the worst case scenario would be playing him at his familiar LT position. That's the kind of "worst case scenario" you want with a first round pick.
Draft Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama at #72:
Some people are going to say "he won't be there at 72" while others are going to say "he's not worth it, even at 72." I tend to think both of these camps are right in one respect or another. One the one hand, he's obviously one of a select few DT's in this draft that are prototypical NTs. That increases his value significantly and therefor you'd be right to suspect that he may not last to 72.
However, he's also a one gap NT and will probably never see more than 3.5 sacks a season in the pros - and that's if he can keep his weight in check and not completely bust out. So this decreases his value significantly and - again - you'd be right to suspect that he would last to #72 or beyond.
For a transitioning team like Buffalo, the risk-reward ratio on this move would be just about right.
Draft Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan at #104:
LeFevour isn't ready to take the reigns of an NFL offense, but he is an absolute steal at this spot. Ideally, he would sit behind Mcnabb for 2 or 3 years before succeeding him. He's got good size (6'3 229) and a strong enough throwing arm to play in Buffalo, while being one of the more purely athletic passers in this draft. Frankly, any offense you build around McNabb's skills would be ideally suited for him to take over.
Draft Mica Johnson, ILB, Kentucky at #136:
Buffalo, meet your backup "thumper" ILB. At 6'2, 258 Johnson is stout enough to take on offensive lineman, but also atheltic enough to have played OLB a touch as well. He wouldn't be available in this spot if not for injuries to his foot and knee (both requiring off season surgery). Showed toughness playing though pain and made a ton of tackles. Tough as nails, big and athletic, and would have plenty of time to heal up because he'd be sitting on the bench for '10.
Draft Zane Beadles, G, Utah at #166:
Line depth. Beadles is probably a pure G in the NFL, but he has played some Tackle.
Draft Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama at #184:
I'm not done raiding the Alabama defensive front. Deaderick is stout enough to experiment with him at NT, while projecting well as a 3-4 end.
Draft Joseph Linval*, DL, East Carolina at #195:
Linvall played DT at East Carolina but he's way too tall to stay there in the NFL. He's a 3-4 end project who can sit a while.
Draft Ryan D'Imperio, ILB, Rutgers #202:
My own personal touch here. Hard-nosed ILB depth. Not the greatest athlete, but plays downhill and has a great nose for the football.
Moves that would NOT be made:
I would not trade Marshawn Lynch: His value is somewhere between didly and squat right now. He's definitely #2 and that's where he should start the season - with a chip on his shoulder and with something to prove when he does finally get the rock.
What All of This Nonsense Would Achieve:
We've added a pro-bowl caliber QB. We've signed two veteran leaders in McNabb and Foote - one on either side of the ball. We've drafted their eventual successors in LeFevour and Mica Johnson. We've added line depth on both sides and brought in 3 versatile big bodies (Cody, Deaderick and Linval) to facilitate the 3-4. We've improved the depth at linebacker considerably. We've maintained the DBs.
The added expense to all of this? A conditional pick. Did I mention We've added a pro-bowl caliber QB?