Five moves that should be made before the NFL draft

With the draft less than three weeks away, and with general managers taking fewer chances than usual during the 2010 offseason, let’s look at a few of the moves that should be seriously considered before the annual selection process commences.

Bears should make a move to reunite Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.
Bears should make a move to reunite Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.

1. Redskins trade for Sam Bradford.

As the Redskins launch the Mike Shanahan era, they need a quality quarterback. Currently, they do not have one.

So while they’re flirting with Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy, they should consider doing whatever they have to do to get the guy who’s currently at the top of the draft board.

And that’s Sam Bradford.

The challenge will be working out a fair trade. In prior years, the move from No. 4 to No. 1 would have required a mountain of picks and/or players. But since sliding down three spots moves the essentially ownerless Rams out of the crosshairs of the biggest contract that ever will be paid to a first-year player (especially if it’s a quarterback), the compensation for the three-spot climb shouldn’t be as stiff as it would have been in past years.

Besides, the Redskins never have been shy about dumping draft picks. So why not take the 2011 first-round selection, package it with a failed free-agent signing (or two) from past years, and offer a flip-flop to St. Louis?

With the Rams needing help at many more positions than quarterback, it makes plenty of sense.

2. Bears trade for Brandon Marshall.

Last year, the Bears sent two first-round picks (and more) to the Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler. To date, the move has been a failure — and it has left coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo on wafer-thin ice.

The situation has created sufficient desperation to prompt the Bears to overpay for a trio for day one free agents – Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna — which in the short term has removed the sense of gloom and doom that had taken over Halas Hall.

So with the Broncos looking to unload receiver Brandon Marshall, why don’t the Bears try to get him? Sure, the Broncos want a first-round draft pick and the Bears already sent theirs to Denver in the Cutler deal. The Bears should instead dangle their 2011 first-rounder, and possibly throw in a conditional selection based on Marshall’s performance in the coming season.

If the Marshall plan fails, Angelo and Smith likely won’t be there to not use the first-round pick in 2011 anyway. If it works, Angelo and Smith would gladly give up the pick for the ensuing job security.

Though the Broncos may not want to enable a Cutler-Marshall reunion, they may not have many/any other options for unloading a guy they clearly don’t want.

3. Cardinals trade for Donovan McNabb.

The Cardinals have said they aren’t interested in Donovan McNabb, presumably because they already have signed future Hall of Famer Derek Anderson to compete with future Hall of Famer Matt Leinart.

But McNabb reportedly wants to play in Arizona, and he could help the suddenly solid Cardinals not miss a beat in the wake of Kurt Warner’s retirement.

Even if it takes the 26th overall pick in Round One, it’s a no-brainer. In a quarterbacks’ league, McNabb is one of the best. Getting him at age 33, with five or more years left in his career, would keep things moving in the right direction deep into the new decade.

4. Steelers trade for Byron Leftwich.

It wouldn’t be a jaw-dropping move, and it wouldn’t take much to make it happen. But the Steelers need to be prepared for the possibility that Ben Roethlisberger won’t be around in 2010 — and the Steelers need to send a message to their fans that they plan to take the situation seriously if Roethlisberger ultimately is indicted for sexual assault.

Byron Leftwich did well for the Steelers as the primary backup to Big Ben in 2008, and Leftwich is the odd man out on the Tampa depth chart. Sure, the Steelers have Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. But if Roethlisberger ultimately isn’t available and Dixon gets hurt, Leftwich would be a much more viable alternative to Batch.

Besides, making a move for Leftwich now would let the football-following world know that the Steelers truly regard the Roethlisberger situation as grave, and that they’re making their plans accordingly.

5. Colts sign Marcus McNeill to offer sheet.

Colts president Bill Polian thinks his team’s offensive line was outplayed during Super Bowl 44. Since then, Polian has been trying to round up larger offensive linemen.

As left tackles go, they don’t get much bigger than Marcus McNeill of the Chargers. Listed at 6-7 and 337 pounds, the five-year veteran carries the highest possible restricted free agency tender, requiring a first-round and third-round pick as compensation.

But the Colts draft in nearly the lowest position in the first round, 31st out of 32 teams. So it’s a relatively small price to pay for a proven tackle who would help keep Peyton Manning in one piece during the final third or so of his career.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

With the draft less than three weeks away, and with general managers taking fewer chances than usual during the 2010 offseason, let’s look at a few of the moves that should be seriously considered before the annual selection process commences.

Bears should make a move to reunite Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.
Bears should make a move to reunite Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.

1. Redskins trade for Sam Bradford.

As the Redskins launch the Mike Shanahan era, they need a quality quarterback. Currently, they do not have one.

So while they’re flirting with Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy, they should consider doing whatever they have to do to get the guy who’s currently at the top of the draft board.

And that’s Sam Bradford.

The challenge will be working out a fair trade. In prior years, the move from No. 4 to No. 1 would have required a mountain of picks and/or players. But since sliding down three spots moves the essentially ownerless Rams out of the crosshairs of the biggest contract that ever will be paid to a first-year player (especially if it’s a quarterback), the compensation for the three-spot climb shouldn’t be as stiff as it would have been in past years.

Besides, the Redskins never have been shy about dumping draft picks. So why not take the 2011 first-round selection, package it with a failed free-agent signing (or two) from past years, and offer a flip-flop to St. Louis?

With the Rams needing help at many more positions than quarterback, it makes plenty of sense.

2. Bears trade for Brandon Marshall.

Last year, the Bears sent two first-round picks (and more) to the Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler. To date, the move has been a failure — and it has left coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo on wafer-thin ice.

The situation has created sufficient desperation to prompt the Bears to overpay for a trio for day one free agents – Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna — which in the short term has removed the sense of gloom and doom that had taken over Halas Hall.

So with the Broncos looking to unload receiver Brandon Marshall, why don’t the Bears try to get him? Sure, the Broncos want a first-round draft pick and the Bears already sent theirs to Denver in the Cutler deal. The Bears should instead dangle their 2011 first-rounder, and possibly throw in a conditional selection based on Marshall’s performance in the coming season.

If the Marshall plan fails, Angelo and Smith likely won’t be there to not use the first-round pick in 2011 anyway. If it works, Angelo and Smith would gladly give up the pick for the ensuing job security.

Though the Broncos may not want to enable a Cutler-Marshall reunion, they may not have many/any other options for unloading a guy they clearly don’t want.

3. Cardinals trade for Donovan McNabb.

The Cardinals have said they aren’t interested in Donovan McNabb, presumably because they already have signed future Hall of Famer Derek Anderson to compete with future Hall of Famer Matt Leinart.

But McNabb reportedly wants to play in Arizona, and he could help the suddenly solid Cardinals not miss a beat in the wake of Kurt Warner’s retirement.

Even if it takes the 26th overall pick in Round One, it’s a no-brainer. In a quarterbacks’ league, McNabb is one of the best. Getting him at age 33, with five or more years left in his career, would keep things moving in the right direction deep into the new decade.

4. Steelers trade for Byron Leftwich.

It wouldn’t be a jaw-dropping move, and it wouldn’t take much to make it happen. But the Steelers need to be prepared for the possibility that Ben Roethlisberger won’t be around in 2010 — and the Steelers need to send a message to their fans that they plan to take the situation seriously if Roethlisberger ultimately is indicted for sexual assault.

Byron Leftwich did well for the Steelers as the primary backup to Big Ben in 2008, and Leftwich is the odd man out on the Tampa depth chart. Sure, the Steelers have Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. But if Roethlisberger ultimately isn’t available and Dixon gets hurt, Leftwich would be a much more viable alternative to Batch.

Besides, making a move for Leftwich now would let the football-following world know that the Steelers truly regard the Roethlisberger situation as grave, and that they’re making their plans accordingly.

5. Colts sign Marcus McNeill to offer sheet.

Colts president Bill Polian thinks his team’s offensive line was outplayed during Super Bowl 44. Since then, Polian has been trying to round up larger offensive linemen.

As left tackles go, they don’t get much bigger than Marcus McNeill of the Chargers. Listed at 6-7 and 337 pounds, the five-year veteran carries the highest possible restricted free agency tender, requiring a first-round and third-round pick as compensation.

But the Colts draft in nearly the lowest position in the first round, 31st out of 32 teams. So it’s a relatively small price to pay for a proven tackle who would help keep Peyton Manning in one piece during the final third or so of his career.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

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