AFC East: AFC East plus one

If the Fins could add any player, it would be ...

February, 2, 2009
2/02/09
11:15
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Although the Miami Dolphins shocked everyone by winning the AFC East, football operations chief Bill Parcells this weekend said his team still needs players.

Last week, I invited Dolphins fans to identify the biggest need and have a little fun in the process by responding to the following question:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

Readers submitted nominations on both sides of the ball. Some wanted big-play receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson, but most of the players mentioned were defenders.

Here's a sampling of responses left in the comments section and in my AFC East mailbag:

Zach from Eustis, Fla., writes: I think you go with a top notch linebacker like Demarcus Ware opposite Joey Porter and i think that makes your secondary better as well as your linebackers, or i guess you could say the whole defense better. They got to get more pressure. You could get a big WR in the draft as well as some o-line depth, and you also get two o-lineman back from injury. I think when Henne takes over then you go for a reciever like Fitsgerald or Boldin because you got someone that can utilize them better with their arm strength.

Craig in Toledo, Ohio, writes: Tim love the blog and how you actually gave my Dolphins a chance to win the East win everyone counted them out! That being said I would have to pick Larry Fitzgerald if I could add one player to the Dolphins line up. I believe that break out receiver is really missing in Miami and could you imagine guys like Ginn and Camarillo playing 2nd and 3rd. Pennington could certainly make that work and then the ever dangerous Fasano at tight end. I think with an addition like Fitzgerald it really could put the Phins offense on another level. Thoughts?

phinsfan1984 writes: Sticking with idea of only one guy, Id say Ed Reed. The guy improves any defense he joins and with his ball hawking skill, he gives the offense a short field to play with alot of the time.

hamelsimms writes: I agree with sykora13.."Asomugha, too dominant a player to pass on." He would more than make up for the rest of the defenses weaknesses (which aren't alot). But if we get two picks, then give me Snee as well. Satele was a good center this year. He'll put on a little more muscle in the offseason, and continue to grow next year to a potential pro bowl center. But if you put Snee next to Satele...then sit back and enjoy the new running game in South Florida.

Miami's receiving corps is loaded with castoffs and overachievers. A player such as Fitzgerald would be a monster upgrade, but would Chad Pennington be able to maximize an asset like that? Possession receivers like Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess work well within the Dolphins' system, but Fitzgerald wouldn't be nearly the weapon with Pennington as he is with Kurt Warner or another long-ball artisan.

For the purposes of this poll, however, debate about receivers is moot because the name that popped up most frequently will win out, and this one was a landslide.

In the AFC East Blog's Plus One, the Dolphins select cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

If the Pats could add any player, it would be ...

February, 2, 2009
2/02/09
10:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

On Thursday, I asked New England Patriots fans to take part in a bit of offseason whimsy by responding to the following question:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

I solicited nominations from the fans of all four AFC East clubs, and Patriot Nation came out strong. A solid majority went defense, with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha eliciting the most attention.

Here is a sampling of the responses that were left in the comments section and in my AFC East mailbag:

Ed in Ohio writes: As a patriot fan, and one living is Steeler country, I would have to go with Troy Polamalu. He would toughen up the secondary, and I'd love to see the ways that Bill would use him.

Allie in Fredericksburg, Va., writes: Hey Mr. Graham, I love your blog on the AFC East, it is the greatest. Well, if price were not an obstacle, I think that the Patriots would need to look at their defense. The offense is productive, even if Ben Watson is not the best. I liked the suggestion of Troy Polamalu. Or what about Ed Reed? I think he'd be a great addition as well.

th0mas33 writes: Asomugha is a FA, the Pats should make a serious run at him. He is a classy, smart guy and fits the "Patriots" mold. Plus Asomugha is tough, physical corner like they use to have.
(flashbacks of Ty Law pushing Marvin Harrison around)

Los in Boston writes: Id definately say Asomughua. Put Hobbs back at 2 where hes more solid, and let Asomughua shut down ANYONE one on one. Then we can really get our pass rush on. Our offense is set anyway.

merlion_8 writes:

Semi-finalists:Offense: Adrian Peterson
Defense: Mario Williams, Ed Reed, DeMarcus Ware, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Nnamdi Asomugha,
Special Teams: Leon Washington
Finalists: Adrian Peterson, Mario Williams and DeMarcus Ware
Winner: DeMarcus Ware (slightly over Mario Williams)
Most realistic for Pats: Nnamdi Asomugha
Top needs are the defensive secondary and applying pressure to the QB. I think if they could get more sacks and pressure, that would help their secondary. Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if they can only pick up a corner, perhaps Nnamdi Asomugha

beachbumjk writes: Julius Peppers. The pass rush would be awesome plus he drops back in coverage really well. Offensively were fine over powering when healthy. The D needs help Mid line backer or corner but if you have tht pass rush off both ends with speed how much corner do you need and remember the rookies are another year wiser. Peppers would be nice.

The Patriots' defense never filled the void created by Asante Samuel's free-agency departure. A lockdown cornerback to start opposite Ellis Hobbs clearly was how the readers wanted to go in our little daydream scenario.

In the AFC East Blog's Plus One, the Patriots select Nnamdi Asomugha.

If the Jets could add any player, it would be ...

February, 2, 2009
2/02/09
9:45
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Last week, I invited New York Jets fans to join me for a little offseason amusement by writing in with their responses to the following question:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

I solicited nominations from the fans of all four AFC East clubs, and Jets fans pretty much blew it off. Hello? Anybody out there?

A solitary reader wanted to replace Brett Favre with another quarterback. I received a grand total of one response in my AFC East mailbag, and a majority of the comments at the bottom of the blog mentioned multiple players, as if this were some sort of superstar shopping spree.

These were the most lucid responses:

nflfx writes: Andre Johnson. The Jets receivers are horrible. Make that Coles is horrible. Cotchery is a nice possession receiver and can mimic Houshmanzadah one day. But Coles doesnt get any seperation nor does he fight for the ball, poor route running, no serperation, no speed, missing/ drops passes. Andre johnson.

jnaught writes: With Rex Ryan in town a big time QB or WR would be nice, but not necessarily vital to making a run at winning it all. T. Jones, Little Leon and a talented O-line whose strength is run blocking could control time of possession with just an average QB. The defense, however, is poised to start 'playing on their toes'. A dominant DE or LB would be nice, but putting a combo of Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha opposite each other would put the clamps on any passing game while also freeing-up Rhodes to become 'the second coming of number 20'! Therefore, my pick: Nnamdi Asomugha.

geoyank2 writes: I would add Julius Peppers. Shaun Ellis and Julius Peppers on the Jets defensive line would sure up the team's run defense. This in turn would improve the secondary since they won't have to be responsible for as much run defense as they currently do. Rhodes, Revis, and the rest of the secondary are great players and shifting their focus mostly to the pass game would help the defense tremendously.

mntaxi writes: Fitzgerald. He is far and away the best player in the game, and he is still ridiculously young. I would be confident with the Jets having Kellen Clemens back there if it meant he had such a devastating target to get the ball to.

Kevin in Staten Island writes: The Jets need a playmaker on both sides of the ball. On offense- Larry Fitzgerald will open the field for the running game, and give them a gamebreaker threat. On defense- they need someone to bring some nastiness and speed. A young Ray Lewis, or Bob Sanders would be nice.

I agree that a receiver with separation skills -- with the outstanding offensive line already in place and Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in the backfield -- would make a world of difference for whomever the quarterback is.

My pick would have been Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning, but the position that came up most frequently was receiver, and the name that popped up most often wins this debate.

In the AFC East Blog's Plus One, the Jets select Larry Fitzgerald.

If the Bills could add any player, it would be ...

February, 2, 2009
2/02/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Last week, I summoned Buffalo Bills fans to join me in a football daydream by writing in with their responses to the following question:

If money, contracts and salary cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

I solicited nominations from the fans of all four AFC East clubs, and unsurprisingly Bills fans offered the most feedback.

But there was a problem with the poll. The Bills have so many needs, there was no consensus on a specific player. The most popular positions were quarterback, defensive end and football operations.

Here is a sampling of the responses that were left in the comments section and in my AFC East mailbag:

Mike in Rindge, N.H., writes: There is no one player who i think could turn around the bills. I would want to get Bill Parcells, The big tuna, to come into the Bills organization. What he did with the Dolphins is pretty impressive, and i wouldn't mind him coming into the Bills, firing a bunch of staff, releasing some players, and fixing it all up.

wchoy62 writes: There are TOO many positions to consider, but if I could only choose one I would have to pick Peyton Manning. The offense might actually work on a consistent basis and actually become good.

jhourihan13 writes: I agree that there are too many positions to pick from, but you have to pick a franchise QB. Matt Ryan is the man we need. A young QB who we can build the team around, who is ready to play at a high level.

mrf042579 writes: Julius Peppers. They need another pass rusher in the mix at DE and he would make this D a Top 10 D easily. As for the fact that everyone is picking a QB, it would be nice to have Manning or Ryan, but we've got the tools on offense to succeed. The inconsistency, which stems from playcalling and youthful inexperience, can be overcome with the current group. The lack of a pass rush can't (even with Schobel back).

Stein in Canandaigua, N.Y., writes: If I could add any players to the bills roster i would choose mario williams. Our pass rush has been dismal the last couple of years, and with the uncertainty of Schobel's injury we need a DE.

Although I'm surprised nobody wrote in to nominate an offensive lineman and only one reader wanted to upgrade the receiving corps, I agree the pass rush is Buffalo's biggest problem.

The loss of Aaron Schobel to a foot injury last season essentially crippled the Bills' pass rush. Another sackmaster would do wonders.

In the AFC East Blog's Plus One, the Bills select Julius Peppers.

Name the player: Add anyone to Bills' roster

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
12:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

It would be like letting loose an 8-year-old in FAO Schwartz and telling him he could have anything he wants from the shelves, but only one item.

That would be a long, painstaking process.

To round out our AFC East project, I ask Buffalo Bills fans:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

There are too many positions to consider, any number of decisions would be correct.

What about Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and moving Lee Evans to the No. 2 position?

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning because you know, unlike Trent Edwards, he consistently will play at an elite level and probably start all 16 games?

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates to fill an offensive role the Bills haven't had? Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, allowing them to move Jason Peters to the right side? New York Giants center Shaun O'Hara to anchor the line?

On the other side of the ball, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen would facilitate a pass rush that was non-existent in 2008. Perhaps Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed is the way to go.

Please share your thoughts below or drop a line in my AFC East mailbag. I will gather the responses and make a selection for each team Monday based on what you have to say.

Name the player: Add anyone to Jets' roster

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
11:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Next up in our daydream enterprise are the New York Jets.

Once again, here is the question we're posing to all four AFC East clubs:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

There are all sorts of ways to go, but the most obvious is quarterback. Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes and nine interceptions over the final five games, a significant factor in their collapse.

Indianapolis Colts passer Peyton Manning wouldn't have done that. Or maybe the Jets would tab a younger specimen such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints or Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers.

Then again, whichever quarterback they selected wouldn't have a receiver with separation abilities. The Jets could go that direction and pick up Houston Texan Andre Johnson, Carolina Panther Steve Smith or Arizona Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald.

On defense, the Jets would be tempted to add Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware or San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis, among others.

The Jets have two stars in the secondary, but their counterparts are weaknesses. They would assemble a devastating combo if they were to add Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu to play with free safety Kerry Rhodes. A few young lockdown cornerbacks opposite Darrelle Revis would give the Jets one of the NFL's best cornerback duos.

Those are some thoughts to get you started. Please share your thoughts below or drop a line in my AFC East mailbag. I will gather the responses and make a selection Monday based on your feedback.

Name the player: Add anyone to Patriots' roster

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
11:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The New England Patriots have a marvelous track record when it comes to locating talent.

While it might be unfair to the rest of the AFC East to let the Patriots cherry-pick any player they want, we can't exclude them from our endeavor.

As explained in the previous post, I'm posing this question for each AFC East club:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

The Patriots went 11-5, but that wasn't good enough to return to the playoffs. They have weaknesses.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten would represent the offensive weapon Benjamin Watson hasn't become. New York Giants guard Chris Snee would help even up a line that has Pro Bowlers on the left side.

But maybe defense is the way to go. Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison fits the mold of overachievers and former castoffs the Patriots always seem to maximize. Or what about placing Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason next to Jerod Mayo?

The most effective injection, however, might be in the secondary. Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu would replace an aging Rodney Harrison and create all sorts of new defensive possibilities.

Cornerback has been a need since Asante Samuel split. The Patriots might consider Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders or Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans. Then again, they could swipe one of the New York Jets' best players in Darrelle Revis.

Those are some thoughts to get you started. Please share your thoughts below or drop a line in my AFC East mailbag. I will gather the responses and make a selection Monday based on what you have to say.

Name the player: Add anyone to Dolphins' roster

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
10:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The AFC East has been huddled around the hot stove for a few weeks now. It's that bleak time of year when games exist so far in the distance. Fans speak not in terms of what's happening on the field but what could be happening in the front office.

Free agency, draft options, flights of fancy take over the conversation. Fans wonder how their team can get better for next season.

That's where this idea comes in. I have shamelessly stolen the premise from AFC South raconteur Paul Kuharsky, who posed the question for each of his teams:

If money, contracts and salary-cap restraints were no object, and you could choose any player in the NFL to add to your team, whom would you acquire?

We begin our exercise in fantasy with the AFC East champs, the Miami Dolphins.

Just because the Dolphins finished 11-5 doesn't mean they're devoid of needs.

With the entire NFL as the menu, should the Dolphins grab Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to open up the passing game and put Ted Ginn in a complementary role?

Maybe you shore up the offensive line by adding New York Giants right guard Chris Snee or New York Jets center Nick Mangold.

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware would look sensational in any uniform, but imagine him lining up in the 3-4 opposite Joey Porter.

Although many Miami defenders were adequate, major upgrades could be made. San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis would provide a noticeable difference. So would the coverage skills of a cornerback such as the Tennessee Titans' Cortland Finnegan or the Oakland Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha.

Those are just a few names to get you thinking. Please share your thoughts below or drop a line in my AFC East mailbag. I will gather the responses and make a selection Monday based on your lobbying.

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