Offseason Stock Report IITuesday, March 05, 2013
continue story »
Last time, we had a big fancy intro. This time, we’ll get right to it. Here are four more players who have gained value this offseason, and four who have lost it.
Gained: Alex Smith
Don’t get it twisted: Smith is still a bridge to the future. Perhaps the very near future. But not the immediate future. He’s gained value just by the sheer virtue of not losing any more of it. Where Smith’s job was in danger even before his concussion last season — despite what the accepted narrative might suggest — nothing is going to knock him out of the starting lineup in 2013. The Chiefs won’t be taking a quarterback at No. 1, and lack the draft-pick ammo to trade back into the first round and nab a slider, say USC's Matt Barkley. They paid an absurd price for Smith. A price that suggests genuine desperation, and guarantees no one else will see their name at the top of the depth chart, barring a season-ending injury.
The “question” is whether Smith will remain productive without Jim Harbaugh calling the shots. A career 57.1 percent passer through 1,514 attempts before Harbs rolled into town, there’s no guarantee Smith will extend his mid-career renaissance into a third season. Andy Reid can manage and manipulate with the best of them, but Smith will be his toughest challenge since becoming a head coach.
It’s doubtful Smith plunges back to his pre-Harbaugh depths, but equally unlikely he continues his slow trudge forward, or comes close to matching the 70.2 completion percentage or 104.1 QB rating he posted before Kaepernick took over last season.
Lost: Michael Turner
Turner has never exactly been a Ferrari on the football field. His game — which was quite good for some time — was all about power. He was a Hummer H2. In 2012? He was a semi with a four-wheeler engine trying to keep up in the fast lane. He was Shonn Greene’s grandfather.
After a series of fluky 50-yard gainers helped keep “The Burner’s” yards per carry at a healthy 4.5 in 2011, he had no such luck in 2012, wheezing to a horrendous 3.6 YPC. He was held to 52 yards or fewer in 10 of 16 games, and ≤ 3.3 YPC 10 times. He averaged 3.0 yards per carry over Atlanta’s final four games.
Turner’s inability to sustain drives made the Falcons’ otherwise excellent offense all-too-predictable at all the wrong times. He put nothing on tape to suggest he’ll be able to help a team in 2013. His name should get him a camp invite, or perhaps even some guaranteed money, but Turner will be lucky to touch the ball 150 times. Turner’s career may be only slightly less toast than his five-year streak of 10-plus touchdowns.
Gained: Lamar Miller
Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland makes a lot of mistakes. But it appears one of them won’t be sitting on the jewel of his surprisingly strong 2012 draft class. With Reggie Bush on the way out and Daniel Thomas on the way down, Miller is going to play in 2013, and play a lot.
"Lamar really showed some great signs of really some explosive-play opportunity," Ireland said of Miller’s rookie season. "He kind of shoots out of the cannon when he hits the hole. He’s got very good hands. I thought he did a very good job in his pass protection, which keeps him on the field all three downs."
Therein lies the key. Those magic words: Three downs. It’s what Miller proved he could play in 2012, and a role he should excel at even if he can’t quite match the excellent 4.9 yards per carry he posted last season. Perhaps the single most important element of fantasy success is identifying “Who’s Next?” at running back, and there’s strong reason to believe it’s Miller.
Lost: Brandon Weeden
For now, grandpa is still in the rocking chair. He might not be for much longer, however. The Browns have let everyone and their mother know that, at the very least, they would like to find some competition for Weeden. In a perfect world, they’d upgrade him.
It’s bad news for the soon-to-be 30-year-old sophomore’s future that the Browns’ new braintrust hasn’t softened its stance after two months of tape review. It suggests that even if Weeden does win the job, it will be by default. It doesn’t sound like something Weeden’s teammates would have an issue with. "He said as a rookie, (Weeden) really had trouble reading defenses from time to time and they had to skew their offense a little bit, sometimes somewhat predictable,” Trent Richardson told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche (T-Rich also said he thought Weeden deserved another chance). Things are so bad for Weeden, names like Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and Matt Moore are being thrown around as potential competition/upgrades. Matt Freakin’ Cassel.
Barring an extremely hot start to the season — something Weeden didn’t appear capable of as a “rookie” — he’ll be looking over his shoulder from Day 1. That’s a best-case scenario. Worst case? Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner decide ABW — anyone but Weeden — and set him up for clipboard duties, either in Cleveland or elsewhere.