A few days ago, news was leaked and confirmed that the New Orleans Saints will not use the franchise tag on their young Pro Bowl LT, in a move that will force the Saints to search for a new long term answer at LT, but will also allow the Saints to gain a little breathing room in cap space. If the Saints decided to tag Jermon Bushrod, they would reportedly have owed at least $9.66 million for just one more year of having him at LT.
They’ve already lost Carl Nicks last year in FA, and now they’re looking to lose yet another stud player from their OL, simply because the Saints do not have enough cap space to retain all of their key players on offense. What the Saints will decide to do next to provide Drew Brees with protection is anyone’s guess, but as for right now, Jermon Bushrod is an unrestricted free agent, and there are plenty of teams that will be searching for a good young LT once free agency begins March 12. If the Saints do not re-sign Jermon Bushrod, then let’s look to see who these 5 possible teams are on this list:
Chicago Bears – It is no secret that they need to provide QB Jay Cutler with better protection at virtually every position on the OL, in particular the LT position where J’Marcus Webb has been the starter the past 2 seasons, and the results have been less than ideal. Bears GM Phil Emery even dove into detail using statistics during his press conference that presented just how bad the Bears were in pass protection.
They need to get better, plain and simple, and they’ve already taken a major step forward towards the right direction in naming former New Orleans Saints OL coach Aaron Kromer their Offensive Coordinator and OL coach, a highly regarded coach who’s mentored and helped to develop Jermon Bushrod into the 2 time Pro Bowler that he is today. This would be the most logical landing spot out of the 5, as the Bears absolutely need to find an answer to fix their problem at LT, and Jermon Bushrod would be re-united with the coach who knows him best.
Of course, the Bears have a ton of other needs including the need to find a real “threat” at TE, and to find the heir apparent at MLB with Brian Urlacher’s days neering an end, although sources are pointing out Brian Urlacher could be returning this year in Chicago. On top of that, they’re pretty tight against the cap, and would need to make a few moves in order to accommodate this would-be splash in FA. Nevertheless, if the Bears do bring in Jermon Bushrod, then they would be well on their way to repairing what has been a severe as well as chronic issue the past 3 seasons.
Arizona Cardinals – If there was an OL that was even worse than the Bears’ OL, it would be the Cardinals’. Everybody in Arizona is concerned with who will be their QB this next season, when really I’d be much more inclined to ask who’s going to protect their QB? Now, their coaching staff has stated publicly that “there’s talent” on their OL, and some fans are pointing to Nate Potter as a potential gem in the making, but well we’ve heard that plenty of times around the NFL where their respective OL is not a very good bunch.
There’s no problem in sticking up for your own players, but to go and completely ignore the problem would be a serious mistake. If the Arizona Cardinals were to pursue Jermon Bushrod in Free Agency, then they would be bringing in a solid as well as a young and experienced option to mend the issue entirely, and would provide for a better environment for any QB named the starter in Arizona.
To put all their eggs into one QB basket and expect them to play well behind this OL in it’s current state, would be a death sentence for a career. Bringing in Jermon Bushrod, who may like Arizona because of the warm weather as well as the fact he would be playing under a dome, would provide some insurance to any incoming QB long term.
New York Jets – They’ve been quite busy cutting players in moves that are aimed at creating cap space, most notably Bart Scott among others, and the trade for Jason Smith in an effort to repair their LT position, turned out to be a complete disaster. If there was one glaring problem last season besides the drama at the QB position which was revolved around Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez, it was their front five.
Mark Sanchez, and Tim Tebow, and Greg McElroy, all received similar punishment coming from the blindside, where there seemed to be a swinging gate left wide open for all the defensive linemen to come in and get a clean shot at whomever was the QB. Since the Jets have hired a new GM, we really have no idea what exactly will take place with the team, but it seems clear that the Jets desire to get better on offense, with both the QB position as well as the LT and the OL in general being priority 1a and 1b.
Even if they do in fact decide to get another QB to compete with Mark Sanchez, you simply can’t expect the QB to play any better when there is a real question mark “protecting” your blind side. The Jets could help QB “X” play better, if you have better and consistent protection from the LT position. This is where Jermon Bushrod comes in, as he’s both young as well as affordable, where he would provide a long term answer for a key need, and allow the team to focus on other serious needs, like…finding a new potential starting QB.
Miami Dolphins – There is a reason why the Dolphins are potentially moving on from Jake Long after a long era with him as the starting LT, and that’s because he was seen as a shadow of his former great self where he’s been injured frequently, and his play went on a decline because of it.
Now, they could simply wait until the draft to find a young player to take over the LT position in the 1st round, but if they decided that a veteran would be a better option than a rookie to protect their young QB in Ryan Tannehill, then Jermon Bushrod would be a wise choice for this team to consider. He’s been relatively healthy throughout his career, and he does not seem to be asking for a huge salary that comes anywhere near what Jake Long would be asking for, so this would be an absolute win/win for the Miami Dolphins if they took this route.
Of course, they need to build a respectable receiving corps for the future franchise QB to target in the passing game, but bringing in a talented LT would certainly help Tannehill be able to find his targets easier, as the speed of the game will only increase from now on. Sign Bushrod and then either sign or draft a few solid pass catchers, and the Miami Dolphins would have the foundation to build an extensive passing game on.
St. Louis Rams – Considering how high the Rams have been drafting overall the past decade, as they’ve been in the top 10 overall in draft position for quite sometime now, you’d think they would have found a great LT to fill the void that’s been open since the days of the former great Orlando Pace came to an end, right?
Well…let’s just say when you trade your former 2nd overall pick at LT to another team for a back-up RT, which they did this past season, then that speaks a lot about the issues you have on your blindside. Not only have the Rams been bad at protecting Sam Bradford, they’ve been decimated by injuries as well. Something has to be done to bring stability to the OL in order to allow Sam Bradford to develop. However, like usual, the Rams are in a good spot to pick up a new LT to plug into the line-up in the draft, yet why not spend some of your resources to bring in a dependable veteran that’s shown he can protect your QB on a consistent basis?
When you sign your rookie QB to a deal that guaranteed him more money than a ton of other veteran QBs in the NFL were, you better be willing to protect your investment. And signing a quality starting calibre LT in FA, would allow the Rams to concentrate their focus on the skilled positions on offense.
Feel your team could use this healthy and young LT on your team? Then please represent your fan base and sound off, as I’m sure there are other teams that could look into signing a new LT not named Jake Long, Ryan Clady (who’s been tagged), or even Brandon Albert. Whatever team decides to sign this player, will be receiving a good and young prospect that can anchor your LT position, for years to come.