Okay. Some clarifications before I get into my plan:
1. I hate math. I will not be figuring out cap stuff. I am the GM and I do not have time to be messing around with numbers. I need to be eating at the Chop House with potential head coaches and free agents. Plus, this is why I have hired a cadre of number-crunching minions.
2. With that said, I am trying to keep this as realistic as possible. I would love to take a QB and Manti in the first round, with Cowher waiting for them in Buffalo. But, let's not get crazy.
3. My goal: Make the playoffs in 2013, with an eye towards building a solid foundation for the future.
4. I am not going to get into long-winded explanations on some of my decisions. (See # 1; I am the Decider.)(That, and I want to keep this short and to the point.)(Which I am not doing right now.)
Buddy Nix will be 'promoted' to VP of Football Operations (a la Holmgren and Elway). I think that Mr. Nix has done a solid job drafting (except the whole not drafting of a QB business). He did a solid job bringing in the biggest non-Manning free agent last year when everyone else said Mario would never even consider Buffalo. Finally, he has re-signed talent. In the past, we have all watched talented players leave for greener pastures, all while OBD sat on their hands. Under the Nix administration, players are given the right message -- Play hard, play at a high level, and you will be rewarded with a lucrative contract.
With that said, Mr. Nix is not a young man anymore. I believe that with the other changes coming, it is the correct time to hand the reigns over to Doug Whaley. While I do not know a lot about Mr. Whaley, everything that I have read about him indicates that he is a capable Executive with a lot of attention from other teams.
This decision creates continuity while, at the same time, allowing for the next generation to take over. It is win-win.
Chan Gailey is 15-32 as the Bills HC. Chan Gailey has won 3 divisional games. It appears he has forgotten that teams are forced to play defense as well. While I would be okay with his utter disregard for the defensive side of the ball if the offense was elite, this offense is no where near elite. Giving CJ 7 carries in a game is unacceptable. Forcing Fitz to through the ball as much as he does is similarly unacceptable. Finally, when the coach does not know what yard line the ball is on at the end of a half demonstrates that he is in over his head.
Mr. Gailey, you are fired.
Mr. Wannstedt, you are fired.
Mr. Modkins, you are fired.
As for the others? Head Coach Ray Horton will determine their fate.
Why Mr. Horton you may ask? He is brash, loud, and outspoken. I am so sick and tired of seeing a coach on the sidelines that looks like he is waiting in line at the Golden Corral rather than coaching an intense and high stakes sport. If you do not think that this makes a difference in the attitude of a team look at the fire teams like the 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Patriots, etc. play with. That fire has been put out on the Bills for years, and Mr. Horton will bring some swagger to the Bills. Oh, and he is one of the most respected DCs in the league, Arizona constantly has a top-tier D, he has coached alongside Dick LeBeau and under Cowher and Tomlin, and he smokes cigars after his team wins the AFC Championship (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl0gMq3jSbw).
Others that I would not hate --
Mike McCoy, Denver OC (won with Orton, Tebow and Manning, cultivated the top rushing offense last year, and Manning said that he is one of the main reasons he went to Denver)
Hugh Jackson, Cincinnati DB Coach (similar to what others have said, plus he is brash and outspoken, too)
Andy Reid, Eagles HC (yes, I think he is still a great coach. If he is fired by the Eagles I would seriously consider him as my choice to lead the Bills)
I would leave the Coordinators up to coach Horton but would suggest the following:
OC -- Todd Hailey
DC -- Mike Singletary
RESIGNINGS, RESTRUCTURES, AND CUTS
I would resign Byrd and Levitre, obviously. Byrd, I say back up the brinks truck and pay him what he wants. If that means we have to overpay (as in more than Weddle), then we overpay. Byrd is that good. He would be crazy to resign with the Bills in their current state. But then again, cash is king.
As for Levitre, I would pay him what other top-tier offensive lineman make. Not elite money, but not serviceable money either. Something in between -- Number-crunching minions do your thing.
I would also resign David Nelson to a rather lucrative contract (between $1 and $2 million per year). He has great hands, he is a hard worker, plays the slot very well, and he seems like a really good guy.
I would resign Moore. I would be willing to pay him a little bit more than others have said. I believe there is something special about him as a pass rusher. I would be willing to pay him between $1 and 1.75 million per year.
I would resign McKelvin but only for a very reduced rate (under $2 million per year). He is not great on D, but would provide good depth. His return skills are what push me to want to resign him. If he does not want to be paid what I believe he deserves, then he is free to go, too.
I would resign Merriman to a very cheap deal. I love me some Lights Out.
I would tender Jones and Rinehart. If they stay then good, if not then that is okay, too.
I would force Kelsay to restructure to $1 million per year or show him the door. He is replaceable, especially with that bloated contract of his.
I would force Brad Smith to restructure as well. I actually like him a lot, and I would get him more involved as a WR.
I would not resign the rest.
I would cut the following: McGee, Wilson, and Fitzpatrick. This, along with the restructures, would save significant money for free agency.
Assuming that Alex Smith is released, I would pursue him with the same fervor we pursued Mario (sans the $100 million contract). If he is not, then I would offer the 49ers something. Maybe our 3rd rounder from this year and a 5th rounder from 2014. I am not an expert on trade values, however.
Smith had a heck of a year before he was unfairly benched. I also think he will have a chip on his shoulder because of it. He is better than a game manager, and I believe he can start for a season or two before we start our new QB of the future. Plus, if our defense comes together like I hope it will under Mr. Horton, the QB will be less of an issue during this transition. Plus, we still have CJ to make plays, plus Stevie, plus new rookies.
If we cannot get Smith, then I would not be opposed to getting another veteran QB if he is not resigned (Rivers, Flacco, Romo, etc.).
I would also try to sign a veteran WR like Ogletree from Dallas or Bowe from KC. The problem, however, is that cap room might be tight with signing a QB (but we did free up a decent amount of space trimming some of the fat). Assuming it can be done, I would love to have Bowe.
Here is probably the most unpopular part of this -- I would trade Fred Jackson. There are a few reasons, but the most important is that he would most likely not restructure and I would rather get value for him now before it is too late (see Lee Evans). I will assume that the Packers give us a 4th rounder for him. Maybe we could get a 3rd but 4th is more likely. Plus, he would have a shot at a Super Bowl ring and I would love for that to happen.
**Note -- this is the first mock draft that I have ever done so be gentle**
Biggest Needs: QB, ILB, CB, WR
Round 1, Pick 6. TRADE.
Hopefully someone would be willing to move up from around 15 to 6. We get #15 and #45.
Round 1, Pick 15. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.
Honestly, I would take either Nassib or Glennon here. I just think that Nassib has the better arm and is more intelligent than Glennon. I think that if we have a veteran start for the next year or two, it will allow Nassib to become a much better player. He can learn the system and he will not be thrown into a must win situation that kills most quarterbacks.
Round 2, Pick 41. Justin Hunter, Tennessee, WR.
He is a big boy (6-4, 200 lbs.). He plays very physical football, and he is not afraid to go up and get the ball. In 2010, as a freshman, he caught 16 passes for 7 TDs. He has been criticized for his poor route running skills, but Stevie can certainly show him the ropes. Hopefully, he falls to us at 41.
Round 2, Pick 45 (from the trade-back). Kevin Minter, LSU, ILB.
Minter was named team MVP this year, first-team All-SEC, second-team All-American, and the Defensive Player of the Year (according to the Louisiana Sportswriters). He can play inside or out and he is very good in coverage. He has decent closing speed, but is usually in a good position to make a play. He led LSU with 111 tackles and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He also set an LSU record for 17 solo tackles against Florida. This may be a reach at 45, but we need to fill a serious need at ILB. (Important to note that he is an underclassmen, so he may not declare. If not, then I would probably go Oggletree from Georgia.)
Round 3, Pick 72. Traded to San Francisco for Alex Smith.
Round 4, Pick 103. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina, FS.
He is a bruiser. I know we have one of the best FSs in the game, but I think Swearinger could be converted to a SS. This would help shore up the position where I feel we are weak (and we are cutting Wilson). He also started every game for the Cocks. I would love to have an enforcer in out secondary, and Swearinger is him.
Oh. Watch this. Sure he was a little classless after the hit, but it was a huge game against their rival -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcdM6ie9GlY
This too -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ZXQ0BqCMA
Dude plays with attitude and that is something this Bills defense lacks.
Round 4, Pick 110s (from Freddie trade). Tyrann Matheiu, Burger King/LSU, CB.
Yes, he has some issues. No, I do not care. Mr. Horton will keep him in line. Yes, this is probably a reach. No, I do not care.
This about sums it up -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KBPaoS6odk
Round 5, Pick 134. Sanders Commings, Georgia, CB.
I do not know a lot about him, but he has made some nice plays in the Georgia games that I have watched. I am surprised CBS has him rated as a 5th rounder, but they are the authority that I am basing this on. Plus, he is pretty big for a CB (6-1, 216 lbs.) Hopefully he could develop into a nice complement to Stephon Gilmore.
Round 6, Pick 169. Depth at D-line.
Round 7, Pick 234. Depth at O-line.
So. There you have it. My off season plan. Here are the highlights.
Nix -- VP of Football Operations
Whaley -- GM
Gailey -- Fired
Ray Horton -- Hired
Resign -- Byrd, Levitre, Nelson, Moore, McKelvin (cheap), and Merriman (cheap)
Cut -- McGee, Wilson, Fitzy
Pick up -- Smith and Bowe
Draft -- Trade, Nassib, Hunter, Minter, Swearinger, Matheiu, Commings, depth.