AFC East: Derrick Harvey
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|The Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat formation against the Patriots, and wound up winning their first game of the year.|
To stay in the spirit, let's relaunch this season for the AFC East with tweaks to the script.
What do you think would've happened:
1. What if Tom Brady didn't get hurt?
The New England Patriots finished 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback but needed one more victory to reach the playoffs. How much would their record change with Brady healthy? Would Cassel have remained anonymous his whole career?
2. What if Brett Favre stayed retired?
The New York Jets probably wouldn't have traded Chad Pennington, but would they have insisted Kellen Clemens be the quarterback? Do they win nine games without Favre? Could the Miami Dolphins have won the division without Pennington?
3. What if the Dolphins hadn't tried the Wildcat in Foxborough?
It took guts for Dolphins coach Tony Sparano and his staff to unveil their gimmick offense. He admitted he was worried because, if it failed, he would be ridiculed. But the Wildcat didn't fail, and the Dolphins detonated the Patriots. The Dolphins avoided a 0-3 start and all of a sudden had reason to believe.
4. What if the Patriots had brought back Asante Samuel?
The Patriots let the Pro Bowl cornerback hit the free-agency market and never saw him again. They used the likes of retread Deltha O'Neal, Lewis Sanders, Mike Richardson and rookies Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite.
|AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin|
|Trent Edwards didn't appear to be the same after suffering a concussion against the Cardinals.|
5. What if Trent Edwards hadn't suffered a concussion?
The Buffalo Bills quarterback was a popular subject in the national media for propelling the Bills to a 4-0 start with some fourth-quarter heroics. His confidence was soaring. Then Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson crushed him on a blitz. Edwards suffered a concussion, and while he looked sharp in beating the San Diego Chargers in his next game back, everybody wondered if the concussion contributed to the Bills' second-half collapse.
6. What if the Jets had drafted somebody other than Vernon Gholston?
The Jets had the sixth overall pick. They were infatuated with the Ohio State pass-rush specialist enough to snag him there even though many other teams had him slotted late in the first round or early second. Gholston proved to be a long-term project. He was invisible on Sundays and eventually deactivated. Might the Jets have been able to use Jerod Mayo? Sedrick Ellis? Derrick Harvey? Ryan Clady?
The Long selection was a successful one, but as great as Ryan was in leading the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs, Dolfans will be wondering for years what path their team would have taken if Ryan was the quarterback for the next 10 years.
8. What if the Bills had held off a couple of weeks on that Dick Jauron contract extension?
They probably wouldn't have given him one based on losing eight of their last 10 games. The Bills might be going through a head-coaching search right now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
That development isn't indicative of any looming progress between the Bills and Pro Bowl T Jason Peters, who's embroiled in a contract dispute of his own.
The connection between Peters and Jackson -- aside from the fact they're the last two holdouts in the NFL -- is they share the same agent, Eugene Parker.
But that doesn't mean Peters and Jackson are using the same playbook.
Multiple NFL sources have told ESPN.com there has been no movement between the Bills and Peters, and the club doesn't expect Jackson's situation to have any bearing on Peters' holdout.
Peters and Jackson have different circumstances. Jackson was entering the final season of the five-year, $7 million contract he signed as a rookie. Peters still has three years remaining on a contract that already has been renegotiated once, giving him a maximum annual salary of $4 million.
Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon has said they absolutely will not negotiate with Peters until he shows up. They are hammering out a new deal for WR Lee Evans, who's with the team.
(For the record, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie DE Derrick Harvey also hasn't reported to camp, but he's not technically a holdout. Harvey isn't allowed to show up even if he wanted to because he hasn't signed a contract. You can't hold out if you're not under contract.)