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Comparing strategy: GM decisions have consquences

Championships are not won in March. Everyone's heard that right?

Well, in the NFL that is true but it is also true that decisions by NFL front offices this time of year have consequences. And there is indeed much winning and losing going on right now.

As this offeseason progresses, indeed, as free agency eventually bleeds into the draft and teams morph toward improvement or decline, what is happening right now is likley at the root of that future change.

And so I present to you a comparison of multiple teams and multiple relatively new general managers.

Their decisions, in the open for all to see, will be remembered and judged in the coming year as we measure how much what happened this March affects their teams from September through January.

The GMs we look at today?

John Idzik of the New York Jets.

Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals.

Tom Telesco of the San Diego Chargers.

Ray Farmer of the Cleveland Browns.

Dennis Hickey of the Miami Dolphins.

All are in their first or second offseasons with their teams. All made intertwined decisions this offseason that will be measured against each other for the next year.

To wit:

On March 5 the St. Louis Rams did as expected and released cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The move was a no-brainer. Finnegan, who played poorly for the Rams in 2013, saved the team clear $4 million in cap space at his release.

Four days later, the New York Jets, hoping to clear cap space, cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The move was a no-brainer. Cromartie, who played poorly at times for the Jets in 2013, saved the team $4.3 million in cap space at his release.

And then is when the GMs we mentioned went to work.

Hickey, wanting a cornerback who could compete for a starting job but also perhaps play the slot against multiple receiver sets, brought in one cornerback and signed him. He selected Finnegan, 30, and paid him $11 million over two years. The contract paid Finnegan $5.45 million guaranteed in 2014.

Idzik, wanting to upgrade at cornerback, instead brought in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and apparently tried to get a short-term prove-it deal done with him. It wasn't until the crosstown New York Giants stepped up with a big offer that Idzik, flush with cap room, also presented a better deal.

Too late.

DRC picked the Giants. Cromartie, who had earlier said he'd like to retire with the Jets, was still on the market but by then had already visited the Arizona Cardinals. And Keim, who last year did a good job bringing in several veterans on prove-it deals including former Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby, struck before Idzik could recover.

The Cardinals signed Cromartie, 29 and with experience in both press and off-man schemes, to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million plus another $250,000 as a per game roster bonus. The bonus is paid on a per game basis at $15,625.

So two corners at or nearing 30. Three general managers. Two deals.

Well, Idzik got no one. The Jets today are searching for cornerback help and will likely have to look to the draft for it.

The Dolphins got Finnegan for the most expensive contract that actually includes guaranteed money.

The Cardinals got Cromartie for the least expensive contract that has no guaranteed money.

[Update: The official Cromartie contract is in and it does have guaranteed money, although he's still at $3.25 million this year. He got a $1 million signing bonus and his base salary of $2.25 million is guaranteed.]

Which GM won? That will be determined during the season when we can compare how Cromartie vs. Finnegan vs. air works out for the three teams. (Air has trouble playing press-man, by the way).

Right now, it seems Keim has the overall advantage although that can change.

Young general managers also made interesting decisions on running back, too.

When free agency opened, Donald Brown, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden, Toby Gerhart, Rashad Jennings and others were available.

The San Diego Chargers and Telesco stepped out almost immediately and signed Brown to a three-year, $10.5 million deal. The deal includes $4 million in guarateed money. If you do the math the deal averages $3.5 million per year.

The Cleveland Browns and Farmer, more cautious, nonetheless landed Tate. He signed a two-year deal for $6.2 million with $2.5 million guaranteed. If you do the math the deal averages $3.1 million per season.

Gerhart, the understudy to Adrian Peterson, went to Jacksonville for $10.5 million over three years or $3.5 mill a year apy. McFadden, often injured, remained in Oakland for one year and $1.654 million with only $100,000 guaranteed. 

Today the Dolphins and Hickey are hosting a visit with Moreno. As I noted yesterday, the Dolphins have so far been serious about the players they bring in for visits. So I would expect something to happen today -- at least an offer to Moreno.

So mulitple running backs. None of them stars. All of them accomplished to some degree. All of them experienced and adept in pass protection. All available at the same time to the different general managers.

Do the Dolphins get rewarded for waiting the most by paying the least? Or do they pay the same for Moreno that Cleveland paid for Tate or San Diego paid for Brown?

Hickey paid more once before.

We'll see which general manager actually gets what he paid for -- in January.


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These are interesting questions Mando. Will be the opening salvo in Hickey being the answer at GM or just another short-termer fiddling around yet constantly putting together a mediocre team. We'll see how it all comes together in Sept.

But I disagree on the premise. I thought I read a quote where Belichick did say Championships are won in the offseason (something like that). And I agree. Teams shoot themselves in the foot in FA/Draft. Like Miami and Chad Henne, Pat White, and any other of the numerous FA QBs we brought in who did nothing. Until we get good QB play we won't go anywhere, no matter what any GM tries to do.

We will find out shortly if hickey has a eye for evaluating talent come may.

Man, the Jets won't be able to play man at all next year... Milliner stinks and they have nobody else ... do they still have that CB from Boise St they took in the first? Guess he would be serviceable...

Great Post Salguero.

I must say since Ireland left you have become more Objective.

Right now I give Hickey a C. He hasn't done much but he also hasn't done nothing.

If he gets Moreno at the right price. Preferably a 1 year deal. I will give him a C+ going into the draft.

The only thing I am not liking right now is that Hickey is putting to much value on the draft. Which is a crapshoot. You don't know which player will be available when you pick.

I know when Philbin got here he said that the way he would like to build the team would be thru the draft. And apparently Hickey thinks the exact same way.

Home = Grown Up Eric Cartman

Posted by: Dashi | March 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Dashi = adult size Mr. Hanky Christmas Poo.


Yeah, the guy they picked in the Top 10 to play Nickel back, J.Wilson.

But that only means they have 2 CBs. And one can't play outside.

Still think that L. Blount may be more useful to Fins, but Moreno also an upgrade

We have our Franchise QB in Tannehill,real Dolphanz already know that!With and upgraded Oline and running game to compliment THill sky's the limit for our Offense moving forward, I wanna keep building our D into a Monster! Drafting a MLB and possibly a Corner and Safety for more competition would b awesome!

There seems to be a serious disconnect between Rex and Idzik. Probably similar to Philbin and Ireland.

Idzik seems to be building the offense because he wants Geno to succeed and leaving Rex in a bad spot besides D-line.

Home = Grown Up Eric Cartman

Posted by: Dashi | March 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Dashi = adult size Mr. Hanky Christmas Poo.
Posted by: Dashi dreams about fornicating w/men | March 21, 2014 at 11:53 AM


That is Cornier than "I know you are but what am I"

And you have the nerve to say you are "WINNING"





No time to read this one

Home is Jetting to NYC to meet Mike Vick & Desean Jackson


Mike Vick in the AFC east

Can u say, . . . Go JETS !!!

Go Sexy Rexy!

FA has been slow and methodical in FA so far. Seems to be similar traits to Philbin. I always had a feeling Ireland just picked the guys that he thought would work. I wonder if Philbin and Hickey are spending a lot of time watching film and making decisions together. That right there would make the team better in itself

Hi Dashi!

Hi Home!

No na na no na no na no. Hawaii pancake recipe!! Blombo sad dog. Na no NI na no. Do Cha Cha in Vietnam VOO.


Vick and Decker n Jackson and Brady & Revis & Browner


and ah
who's that guy faking QB for the Dolphins in the 58 sack video y-day ?


Go Jets
Go Pats
Go Bills
Go Fish

tough year for the Miami Mullets

Oh yeah Dashi, that's the guy. Actually he wasn't picked top 10, he was picked after odrick ... jets wanted Odrick bad from what i remember. Remember reading Ryan pounded the table when Ireland picked him .. oh well, too bad, so sad...

You need to look at these things vs. the salary cap and needs. I think Hickey has been responsible and filled holes admirably thus far while keeping $19m in reserve.

In the division:

The Jets look a bit messy by comparison - no CB's in a pass happy league. Their DB's will be looking at the backs of a lot of receivers this year.

Through gritted teeth, I've got to give the Pats credit. Revis and Browner fixed some big problems for them.

The Bills - lost their best player....

Overall a B thus far for the Fish. Some nice signings but one OT short of an A.


Agreed. Ryan and Idzik haven't been on the same page since Day 1. Remember last year all the stuff we were hearing about them because of M.Sanchez and G.Smith.

Add to that Mornhinweg is the OC.

The Jets will disappear faster than a ....

To soon for that joke. But you get the point.

Rex Ryan is getting snacks ready for Vick & Jackson

Somewhere Joe Philbin is vacuuming drapes

Interesting, Armando, interesting. We'll see.

Ive not seen that many FAs that ever played up to their contracts,,,there are exceptions but most crash and burn. If player X is released from the Eagles because of cap issues, why would, say, the Dolphin sign player X for the same amount of money the Eagles refused to pay? One mans trash is another mans treasure? But when it comes to signing FAs, why would I want a player that was not re-signed by the team who drafted him?

Thanks for correcting me, MIT.

Who was it that the JETS traded up to the Top 10 to get then?

Oh, Yeah. Mark "Buttt Fumble" Sanchez.

cuz Demarcus Ware is darn good

and so is Revis

and so is Browner

and so is Byrd

and so on

What's the Dolphins "cheap safety" name again

Know they told everyone they only wanted a "cheap safety"
but already forgot his name


Great post.

Even though I am an Ireland fan. I will admit that he was more of a Prototype than Scheme fit type of guy.

I would like to believe Philbin and Hickey are working together for the betterment of the team.

The one thing I like about Hickey is that he has already scouted for the scheme we are trying to run on both sides of the ball. WCO and a 4-3 Cover 2.

That is the one thing that bothered me about Ireland when he hired Philbin. He changed the Philosophy of the Whole Team. So he had to rebuild the roster with different type of players. To me that cost him his job just as much as the fight with Philbin.

The Jets can have Odrick what has he done other than the occasional pee wee herman dance a few times a year.

Trannyhill is another of a long line of bust QBs paraded thru here. No.27 if I recall. Converted wide reciever not good enough to play QB. Johnny Football is a thousand times better.

at least Chad Henne is starting for the Jags!



Tannehill "Orang Peel" still has a "LONGGGGG" way t go.



Now Tanne range Peel" even close on the same planet as Marino as a passer?

Who plays safety for the Jets?

That is right. Nobody we know.

Pee Wee Herman, now, that's a great guy.

Give Cogs a break. We all know he left mental health treatment on the "early release" plan.

The video I posted, in 1984, you'll see that the ball was coming off of Marino's hand so quickly defenders didn't have a prayer of defending. He made them look like "helpless children" on the playing field.

That's right Dashi, traded up before the new CBA, paid a bunch of money to Mark Sanchez. Browns draft Alex mack and end up with more picks.. one of the few things Browns ever did right..

Kyle Wilson is the name of that Jets corner I think. Guy is worse than Carroll. Millner seemed pretty bad too, but he did end our season last year, so I can't talk too much.

On what Hickey has done so far I really liked the Albert, Grimes, and Starks signings. Mitchell and Shelley Smith I am unsure about. I didn't really like the Finnegan signing, I think we should have gotten him at around Cromarties price. Moreno I would be good with at around 2 mil a year.

The draft is huge like every year. We'll have a more complete picture of things in 2 months.

That was a drug rehab, man, a drug rehab.

Marino, All 48:


Hickey can't let Moreno leave today without a contract.. and not a one year deal.. i wud sign him for at least 3 years.. at that point.. u get the most out of him, and he wud only b 29... peaking pt for running backs.
i still think we need to get a big, physical WR to compliment the group we have.. Wallace will never get one-on-coverage otherwise.

YG, what is this word, we don't have it in Canada ...



Milner was only a rookie and started to play better as the season went on. Indeed Thill couldn't find a way around him in the last game of the season.

Finno is a bit of a gamble and is too expensive, but much better than Carroll or any of our other corners we known about.

I wouldn't go for Moreno, unless we are about to say bye bye to Miller and Thomas altogether. Moreno would stop us taking a back until late in the draft though, so we could go after an O-lineman and the best ILB on the board. We are in need of some quality depth at LB, S and clearly PR/KR.

RITCHIE C, really on Odrick, he had 43 tackles and 4.5 sacks, the sacks were 3rd on the team. And not bad for a DT.

YG, weren't you ripping marino here for all to read like mad for years? today you praise him.

Explain yourself!

Dolfans will feel better and loosen up after we sign Moranal in few hours

Gigi has even stated on the blog she is a big fan of Moranal

NeMo, Wallace fell on that INT to Milliner..even Carroll made a few picks last year...

Before that though the Dolphins abused him pretty bad..

Moranal will def put a smile on Dolfans faces

Incognito is crazy but if you read between the lines you get a sense he knows the Real reason why J.Martin left the Dolphins.

"He always felt welcomed up there at Stanford and with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh."

Knowshon Moranal will find the crack and go right up the middle

Home, sounds like you're a fan of Moranal

Sign Moreno- we need all the help we can get.

U have to give the fans what they want and they scream for Moranal!

The men are down w it
Butt their wives and GFs are not always easily convinced on Moranal

Moreno and Hyde in the backfield would be scary and give us a solid running game for the next few seasons. We may be able to keep Miller as the third back and let him take over return duties, while putting Gillislee on reserve.

Hopefully next year we go back to being an aggressive smack mouth running team. Shermans WCO's was pathetic and we just don't have the QB to get it done. Thill could be effective though as a marksman, rollout, play action running QB for years to come. Lazor Ball will be interesting to watch, we hope.

If Dawn Aponte wants Moranal
Let's do it!

I've always been immune to the chem trails, I don't believe in them. Meferefu' Chango!

@Sam wth? Can't get either of those links..

i've been saying Miller was a "no go." i knew that when we let Bush go.. Miller was never a number one back.. at least with Moreno.. we have a "legit" back with credentials.. he can actually get 4-5 yds per carry, he can pass block... and catch out the backfield.
we can't waste time "hoping" for a good back in the draft. the Phins have other needs that have to be addressed. O-linemen and we have to find a scheme that matches with our #1 pick for last year.. cuz he didn't do much of anything .. and he has to show something this year.. or he's gonna be considered a bust. i wish the Phins wud have tried to get Jared Allen.. and he wants to play every down.. not just third down... anyone agree. i wouldn't give him a huge contract though.. hopefully, he's looking for playing time and not paying time.

It takes a "SPECIAL KIND OF IDIOT" to compare the MOST PROLIFIC PASSER IN HISTORY with Tannehill.


And you don't need to relive 1984 to see Marino's Greatness.


Marino was putting in work against McNabb and Aikman. Making them look silly.

Philbin says we need to play looser and if it takes Moranal to win than Gosh Darn it were gonna see Moranal around here

Hickey can't let Moreno leave today without a contract.. and not a one year deal.. i wud sign him for at least 3 years.. at that point.. u get the most out of him, and he wud only b 29... peaking pt for running backs.
i still think we need to get a big, physical WR to compliment the group we have.. Wallace will never get one-on-coverage otherwise.

Posted by: cdavis | March 21, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Right on, lock him up.....


Marino's 1984 season was a clinic in how to play the qb position. 48 tds, after that a 44 td season, then Marino became human. 2 phenominal seasons, slowly downhill afterwards.

Yes, I've bashed him, but that 1984 season was just an "absolute clinic" in how the qb position should be played.

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