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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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4th rd Andre Williams RB Boston College
5th rd Jay Prosch FB Auburn

I didn't understand the Finnegan contract, but, lets wait to see how he looks in training camp and the regular season. Also, let's wait till after the draft to start critiquing Hickey. I'm not entirely happy with his free agency decisions but i don't know the plan and neither do you, Mando. I would have liked a Tate or McFadden 2 year deal instead of Moreno... I would have liked a Michael Oher at RT signing, and definitely a better choice than Finnegan at CB... but we aren't behind the scenes and don't know why the front office didn't go in those directions. Only time will tell.

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home 2012 was his rookie year, in 2013 he only had 2 games with no TD's Cin and Buf, and the Fins won at Cin. LMAO

Tannebust cant hit the broadside of a barn if its more than 15 yds away.

Vick will be better than Tannehill again this year

Brady's Pats & Vick's Jets to the playoffs

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home, Vick is holding out for a job as a backup QB, don't you know anything.

Monte 60.8 comp %.

Vick w Desean Jackson and Decker, plus drafting more weapons will not back up 25 INT GENO
even if GENO smoked the Dolphins and kept them from backing into the Play offs

Vick will start 4sure
the competition is just to keep them on their toes

Oh and say yards per attempt as Luck.

With rushing stats included it is 9 each season.

Luck 2012 10, 2013 6
Wilson 2012 5, 2013 10
Vick 2012 10 games played 11 fumbles (lol), 2013 7 games played 4

HOmar Hater, tisk tisk... Tannehill has plenty to prove but your assessments are just down right E GRE GIOUS

"I know nothing"
- Joe Philbin

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home, geeeeeee when did he sign with the Jets, and when did the Jets trade for Jackson.

Vick was still rated higher than Tanny last season

The nuclear bomb to Wallace is the only hope

Need to build platform to launch it

Btw way in case you didn't know it sacks play a part in QB rating. The only one that it doesn't is QBR.

NostraHomeUs has In Sight

stay tuned jmike

Wallace like Martin will probably quit this season disgusted w Tannefail, again

Moreno is better than Thomas, so that could be a good move, in a Marlins kind of way

It tastes a little bit shitier

Vick lost his job to a goofy lookin white boy lol. He won't be able to recover from that blow, especially after spending so much time in the yard. That's just inexcusable! HEHEH!

TannePuke ranked 37th in yards per pass play. AND THERE"S ONLY 32 TEAMS!! And...His 4th quarters are the worst in football!

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home Hey it doesn't look like Vick throw enough passes to qualify for passer rating LMAO. You talk speculation, I talk facts.

JETS resigned Calvin Pace
the pass rusher that knocked Tannefail out of the game in 2012
Tannehill was 2-5 throwing dirt balls at the ankles of WRs running the opposite way

Tannehill froze like a deer in the headlights as Pace knocked him silly
Tanny limped off and collapsed on the side line

Moore came in and played lights out and won the game w good QB play and good Dolphin defense

And Brady was 36th lol.

Mike Glennon w Tampa even had a better year than Tannehill

and is on his way to franchise QB

Tannehill OUT in 2015

"Reel" might just be the most staggeringly boring poster this blog has ever seen, and that's saying a LOT.

Seriously, he's the posting equivalent of watching paint dry or a Paulie Shore movie. Just dreadful.

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home, please please talk 2013. 2012 was too long ago, hos rookie season. Be more intelligent.

Tannehill is slightly better than Weeden

that's it!

Tannebust reminds me of John Beck with his deer in headlights bewilderment. LOL

Love Paulie Shore movies

Thad Lewis > Ryan Tannehill

middle school football players can throw more accurate at 60 ft than Tanneeeehill

no kidding

all day long

60 ft is not far, folks
unless ur Tanneeeeehill

Remember when sexy rexy did his presser standing sideways? HAHAHA!! What a doucher.

Joe Philbin = girls volleyball coach

I would not discard Tanne yet, he has much to learn, but he is fighter. Those years at wr hurt him, we are paying for it right now.

The NFL window opens for short periods of time, in year 3, Tanne is playing for validating his status as a starting qb

Overall year 2 was good, but with obvious flaws that can not continue. Last 2 games left many doubts,,,,but the 58 sacks were too much, that line was horrible.....still is :-(

Geno Smith > Ryan Tannehill

I wonder if rexy is still looking for is goddamm snack?

Monte when did Beck ever throw for 3900yards.

That Mexican Sanchez would put more Miami Mexican & Hispanic bean eaters in the seats than Tannehill

Right Armando?


If you want to talk fumbles, all these qbs had more or as many...

Matthew Stafford, QB
Robert Griffin III, QB
Peyton Manning, QB
Russell Wilson, QB
Tom Brady, QB
Ben Roethlisberger, QB

that's 12 super bowls in that bunch...

Dash boy of 1000 names so you'd rather have Geno rather than RT, you're a pretty knowledgeable fan.....wow

just in when u throw the ball almost 600 times in the NFL

3900 YDs is nothing

esp when their garbage YDs in the 4th with another loss coming

...Before the CF signing I was complimentary about how Hickey had gone about Free agency. It looked like there was a plan that we would stick too. The CF signing blew that theory out of the water. I just do not understand paying a guy that contract whose best football is most likely behind him. Who has turned into a liability more then a asset.

If he plays well then Hickey looks smart, and we have another solid corner. I get that. But to me the odds are not in out favor. We had better options for cheaper that we passed on. Anyway. I think he gets an F here.

But before this one. I thought the moves were practical, and we got the 2 guys we wanted the most. Albert, and Grimes. These were our first 2 priorities and we hooked both.

Most of us would have liked to see the more attention paid to the offensive line. Remember the market for some of the player we may have ben interested was inflated by the extra cap space each team got, and the Raiders...these were 2 massive factors in why I think we did not sign another high profile guard. eliminate these 2 factors..And things look different, and hickey is probably getting the same ticker tape parade Ireland received last offseason.

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home Luck throw for less yards and throw 600 passes. How about that smart guy.

U really think the Tanehill's Dolphins can finish better than the JETS this year?

Or not get swept by Thad Lewis?


Your memory deceives you with it's "selectiveness". Yes, Moore had a piss poor preseason that year. However, "memory should also serve correctly", Tannehill wasn't taking preseason by storm either.

If not for the injury, the ex-Jaguar qb, overwhelmingly would have started over both. Tannehill won the starting job being "not so bad" compared to worse.

So, lets not get it "twisted" here, ok?

Lets start a pool. At which week during the 14-15 season will HOmar go to the Miami Dolphins Pro Shop and purchase a #17 Ryan Tannehill Jersey???

OK buttholes!!

Tannehill fumbled 1 time after week 8 and lost none of them.Not a problem.Move it along here.

deity at 1:52, my wife hates football but she caught that presser and was laughing her arse off. It's her signature Rex Ryan moment. When she sees him now, she laughs. That was a great presser

I can tell that guy, but i don't need to tell you!

Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home, so you're a Jets fan I see. What are you doing on a Fin site.

Luck has 46 Passing TD and 9 Rushing TDs in only two yrs

and a record 4th Q comeback victories

Pleas do not mention are failed WR/QB in the same sentence as Luck



Ryan Tannehill = Another Irescum bust

Joe Flacco threw the ball more for fewer attempts

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.

There have been recent studies and analysis (some I believe by Polian while he's been at ESPN) that shows Free Agency is an equal crap shoot. Both can be 50/50 propositions.

And I'd have to agree with Philbin, the draft absolutely is the most important part to building a team. I've yet to see the team that has built their championship by signing other teams discards...
Free Agency is where you fill holes. You find band-aids that enable you to be competitive. The Draft is where you find the talent that wins you championships.

With that in mind, I'm fine with what Hickey has done this far, and it's funny, but I've seen it entirely different than you, I think he's using FA perfectly. There seems to be a checklist type approach, he's went with bigger deals, smaller deals and everything in between, and he's filling the roster with possible solutions to each of the holes.
More than anything that has me excited, because it gives me hope that we won't see that checklist type approach on draft day, and Hickey will actually draft talent instead of perceived need.


Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home Really, last year RT had one more 4th Q comeback than Luck. Explain that.

today Home is green

next week red

next week Dolphin blue

next week Denver orange

We can't all be blind jaded homers

Matt Moore > Ryan Tannehill

jmike put down the whiskey and stop sniffing glue

Tannehill beat Luck in his own yard... and if Sean Smith and karlos Dansby could catch would be 2-0. He's also beat Tom Brady, Big Ben, Russel Wilson, Matt Ryan, etc, etc, etc...

I've got a comeback for all of these...

"I'm going sideways"



Reel Dolphin In Sight w Home and Drew Brees had much worse 1st 2 years than RT, and Rodgers didn't play until hos 4th year. What one looks for in a young QB is improvement.

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