Chris Wesseling

Offseason Low Down

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Team Notes: AFC East, North

Friday, March 25, 2011


As @greggrosenthal pointed out, the lockout has drained football news to the point that Pro Football Talk and Rotoworld were prompted to run stories on Chad Ochocinco's soccer ability, Tim Tebow's drillies, and Patriots beat writer Ron Borges' turn on the can Friday morning.

With free agency and trades on hiatus, the NFL's version of the hot stove league has frozen over. To help compensate, Chris Wesseling will provide team-by-team notes analyzing the first two months of the offseason from a fantasy perspective. The AFC East and North will lead off, with the South and West on deck for Monday.

AFC East

Bills: Coach Chan Gailey has given Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple votes of confidence since the end of the season, but the Bills are believed to be considering Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert at No. 3 overall. Regardless, Fitzpatrick will enter the 2011 season as the starter. … The Bills are moving on from Brian Brohm, who was non-tendered. … Fred Jackson finished second only to LeGarrette Blount in Pro Football Focus' "Elusive Rating" for tailbacks. He's locked in as the Bills' feature back with C.J. Spiller headed toward a Reggie Bush-type role. … Gailey is asking Lee Evans to work on his route running to become a more consistent all-around receiver as opposed to a one-dimensional deep threat. … The Bills have begun a youth movement on defense, with DL Marcus Stroud already released and S Donte Whitner expect to depart as a free agent.

Dolphins: Chad Henne is expected to enter training camp atop the depth chart, but the Dolphins have "every intention" of drafting a QB and may add a veteran as well. There are plenty of intriguing bounce-back candidates in the league; Henne isn't one of them. … Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland intends to bring back Tyler Thigpen only if the backup is ruled a restricted free agent under the next CBA. … The Fins have made it clear that they want to move on from free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Brown in the backfield. Speed and play-making ability are the new buzzwords in Miami, and Sparano's wish list includes a homerun hitter in the mold of Jahvid Best. One possibility is pairing a passing-down specialist such as free agent Darren Sproles or draft prospect Jacquizz Rodgers with a bell cow along the lines of DeAngelo Williams or Alabama's Mark Ingram. … Lex Hilliard isn't a viable starting option at running back. … Free agent NT Paul Soliai was surprisingly retained by way of the franchise tag.

Jets: After opting for rehab over shoulder surgery, Mark Sanchez was able to throw to draft prospects in early March. He should be as good as new by the time football resumes. … The Jets have opted to bring back LaDainian Tomlinson at a reasonable $2.425 million salary, but this time he's ceding early-down work to newly minted feature back Shonn Greene. Coach Rex Ryan acknowledged that Joe McKnight has earned a share of the backfield pie as well, though it's hard to imagine last year's fourth-rounder touching the ball more than five times per game if the other two backs stay healthy. McKnight is also the leading candidate to take over punt returns from S Jim Leonhard. … Santonio Holmes (five-year vet) and Braylon Edwards (six-year vet) are both free agents, with Holmes as the higher priority for GM Mike Tannenbaum. … Jerricho Cotchery underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc in early February and expects to begin running in a month. … The Jets finally cut the fish loose, releasing epic flop Vernon Gholston along with NT Kris Jenkins, OLB Jason Taylor, and RT Damien Woody.

Patriots: Tom Brady is expected to be 100 percent recovered from right foot surgery by May … NFL Network's Michael Lombardi has suggested that Brady's backup Brian Hoyer makes for a compelling trade target for QB-needy teams, though we've seen no reports of potential suitors … The Patriots have shown heavy interest in second-round tailback prospects such as UConn's Jordan Todman and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter. We're confidently recommending one-year wonder BenJarvus Green-Ellis as one of the offseason's top "sells" in Dynasty and keeper leagues. … After Brandon Tate failed to emerge as a reliable deep threat last season, the Pats have been linked to Carolina's Steve Smith as a potential trade partner. It's a dream scenario for Smith's Dynasty owners, but the Panthers would have to accept the 60th or 74th pick in the draft as opposed to the 33rd. … Randy Moss has also reiterated a desire to return to New England, though we suspect that interest is a trifle one-sided. … Aaron Hernandez underwent surgery on his right hip in February after playing through pain down the stretch. Alge Crumpler also underwent "extensive" shoulder surgery in late January. … Though K Stephen Gostkowksi tore his quad muscle from the bone last November, the Pats don't anticipate the injury lingering into next season. … FS Brandon Meriweather was involved in a February shooting; his attorney insist he wasn't the trigger man.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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