Monday, February 13, 2006

Who Will Have the Edge?

There has been a lot of talk about Shaun Alexander in the aftermath of the Super Bowl, but the more intriguing running back that might be on the open market is Edgerrin James. He will come at a slightly lower price, but is just as good as Alexander and is one of only a handful of backs in the NFL that can run, catch, and block with equal skill. Plus, James is durable, can run in short-yardage situations, and doesn't get tired very often. What all that means is that you don't need a bunch of specialists when he's your tailback. Give him the ball 400 times and expect 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns. It doesn't look like the Colts appreciate these qualities, which means the Edge is going to be on the open market? Where will he go? Obviously, as a top-five back, Edge is an upgrade for most teams. However, some squads already have a quality RB, some have younger runners that may be better options in 3-4 years. My guess is that there are probably three or four teams that would be the best fits for the Edge. Let's try to figure out who they are.


Adam Hoff said...

First, for the record, Edge is 27. He appears to have at least two or three dominant years left, and is the kind of running back that should stay effective for another two or three after that. That said, who will be willing to give him the 5 year, $40 million type of deal is he looking for?

The Redskins are big spenders, but they already have Clinton Portis, who seemed to grow into the role of power back for Joe Gibbs last year.

The Dolphins are in James' beloved Miami, but they have Ronnie Brown in place and Ricky Williams for support/trade bait.

The Titans' duo of Chris Brown and Travis Henry isn't really getting it done, but they are in more of a rebuilding phase right now and their cap situation is a nightmare.

The Niners are in an equally miserable cap situation.

The Raiders are pleased with LaMont Jordan, the Saints have Duece coming back, and the Bills seem convinced that McGahee is their guy.

You can see how fast the list gets narrowed down. That said, here are five possibilities:

5. Seattle or Carolina. If the Hawks re-sign Alexander, look for the Panthers to consider Edge. Foster is a free agent and Stephen Davis isn't likely to pull off another miracle next year. Carolina is a complete team in desperate need of an elite running back. On the other hand, if Seattle doesn't give Alexander the cash and he bolts to Carolina (the front-runner to steal him away after he raved about their coaching staff in Honolulu), the Seahawks could easily plug in James and not miss a beat.

4. New York Jets. Two years ago Tiki Barber and Curtis Martin were the surprise backs in the NFL, befuddling fantasy football owners everywhere. Now? Barber is in his prime and Martin looks he aged 10 years overnight. The Jets were hoping to get lucky in the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes, but they can make a big splash by building their offense around a solid o-line and the most underrated running back in the game.

3. Philadelphia Eagles. Westbrook just isn't the guy. I like him, but Philly needs a guy that can move the chains by running between the tackles. James would be a perfect complement to McNabb and the Eagles are masters at clearing salary room to add key pieces.

2. Minnesota Vikings. New coach, new era, and new needs. Culpepper might not be back right away, the receivers aren't what they were, and the running backs here are awful. The Vikings really came on strong defensively last year and Brad Johnson brought a ball-control offense to the forefront. This team could re-emerge in the NFC North with a premier running back.

1. Arizona Cardinals. Think about it. The Cardinals are opening a new stadium. They have the new uniforms. They've got stability at head coach in Dennis Green. Most importantly, they have the best wide receiver duo in the game with Boldin and Fitzgerald. And Warner does a solid job getting them the ball. Even the defense is young and on the rise. The only problem? No running game whatsoever. They can't score in the red zone, can't get key first downs, and they can't control the clock, which leaves the D on the field far too long and far too often. Edge would change this franchise in the blink of an eye.

Anonymous said...

I think TJ and 85 would be offended saying that Boldin and Fitzgerald are better

Adam Hoff said...

I love that the only comment thus far to a post about Edge is regarding a throwaway line about the Cards receivers. Good stuff.

As for Chad Johnson and TJ being better than Boldin and Fitzgerald, I guess you could make a case. However, I'm guessing that if you asked any starting QB in the league which receiver tandom they would take, 30 would go with Boldin/Fitz. (Manning would take Harrison and Wayne, Palmer would take his guys). Something like that. Fitzgerald and Boldin are young, they are incredible route runners, they can both run possession routes or go deep (only Johnson has that versatility on the Bengals), and they are both huge. If they avoid major injuries and stay on the same team, I predict that Fitz and Boldin will shatter every existing record for receiving duos.

Anyway, even if you have them second or third (behind Johnson/TJ and Harrison/Wayne) among receiving tandems, you still have to admit that adding Edge would make that offense significantly better.

Anonymous said...

yeah, you're right. The Cards would definatly be a legit team in an always wide open NFC. Let alone the fact that the NFC West seems to produce bad football anyway. Denny Green could make the offense flow around Edge and those two young recievers. They could even take a stud TE and really make the offense look great.

By the way, sorry about my throwaway line. Just had to root for my boys.

Grant said...

Holy crap. You called it. Edge just signed with the Cards. Well done.