Number one. Establish Flynn's value.
Let's not quibble too much over this, Flynn will be traded. Flynn wants gone, he has value, Tarvaris Jackson netted a pick fer gosh sakes. To be third string in Buffalo. Flynn is worth more than him. So, let's say he is worth a 5th (and I think that is conservative for a QB). If you don't agree, just humor me anyway. This is only an exercise!
First priority. Shore up DT. This is a must.
Sign Desmond Bryant for 4 years, 26 million, 14 guaranteed. I know some want Henry Melton, I don't, and the truth is Bryant has produced more sacks per start than Melton anyway, and he did it without defenses worrying about a linemate like Peppers. 6'6" 311, and he can collapse the pocket. 20 hurries in 350 pass rushes and 8 starts. 4 sacks. (by comparison, Jones had 10 hurries and 3 sacks). If this move is untenable, another big body is available, Terrance Knighton from the Jaguars. Knighton would be an immediate upgrade over Branch(according to PFF)
Defensive end is an even bigger concern. The Clemons injury exposed a lack of depth, with Seahawk fans wondering who the hell Chukwurah was. They still wonder who he was. I want to look at two free agents, Connor Barwin and Anthony Spencer. Barwin is a name you may recognize, he is a former tight end who then played DE at Cincy and then played rush LB at Houston. He was miscast in that role, despite his 12 sacks he rates as just plain awful as a 3-4 backer. A great athlete, he not quite the physical fit Spencer is at LEO. Barwin had a 40 inch vertical at the combine and ran a 4.66 40, with a 6.87 3 cone. That is eye popping athleticism, at a position where Pete demands athleticism. Spencer is three years older. We are just spitballing here, and neither guy has to be signed. I would prefer we sign one of these two over a linebacker, but this is just part of looking under every rock here. Playing LEO is no easy task, and until/if Clemons returns, his job may need to be done by two players. The other one we will get in the first round. I know, Irvin, but until he proves he can stop the run I am going to assume he can't.
Part of my off season plan is to also pay close attention to the tender San Diego slaps on Danario Alexander. If it is a 3rd round or higher, I grab that guy. He had 7 touchdowns in 10 games for San Diego last year, and looked good doing it. I would trade a third rounder for him right now. 6'3" 217, and I like the way he plays.
Explore signing Brad Jones, linebacker. He has the measurables, 4.54 in the 40, he has the right size at 6'3" 242. The price has to be right, and Schneider has to be convinced. Phillip Wheeler is another linebacker worthy of consideration. Either one would have to be the right price, as the latter part of this draft has some prospects. If one of those two is signed, it needs to be a team friendly deal, something like 3 years with some guaranteed money in that first year. Coverage skills are nice, but not mandatory in a free agent LB this year. All we are looking to do is create some draft freedom if things don't fall our way. Depth and competition!
There is another part to my exercise, and this is a part I am sure is being explored by John Schneider right now. There are several teams making 3-4 and 4-3 switches this year, and some of them are sure to have some scheme misfits. Those scheme misfits have to be explored before any free agents are signed. Philly, Buffalo, and the Saints are all potential trade partners. We have done business with the Bills before, and Pete has had Chip Kelly to the VMAC for a visit before. The Saints are less of a known relationship right now. Players like Greg Romeus, Martez Wilson, Mark Anderson are all players who might not really fit the schematic direction those teams are headed. Romeus in particular fascinates me, he was a 7th round pick after missing lots of time with an ACL. Think of him as the 2012 draft's Tank Carradine, except he is healthy right now. Same goes for defensive tackles on those three teams, if we see that one of them can be an adequate replacement for Alan Branch.
I clearly realize we cannot sign all these free agents, so please don't point that out. This is just spitballing. The last thing I want is to overpay and have too long of contracts with any of these players.
If I have my druthers, we will come away from free agency more fluid and agile on draft day. We will have lost a 3rd if we signed Alexander, but gained a 5th for Flynn. We will have filled at least two, if not three of our bigger needs before the draft.
What say you?