The money isn’t mine. I’m not certain about what you can afford and what the market will pay when free agency opens on March 13. I’m not positive about your plans and schemes.
But I’ve got a good sense of your team. We've looked at the free-agent list.
And here’s what I’d try to do with your major issues:
1) Land at least one premium free-agent wide receiver. I’d stack them something like this: San Diego’s Vincent Jackson, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, Buffalo’s Steve Johnson, New Orleans’ Marques Colston. If you’re bold and will take two, I like Indianapolis’s Pierre Garcon or New Orleans’ Robert Meachem.
2) Re-sign safety Dwight Lowery. Just a year ago, you were a mess at safety. You did fine work signing Dawan Landry and trading for Lowery and shifting him from corner to fix it. You have to keep it fixed. Hopefully he realizes what a great fit he is in a top-flight defense. But there are a lot of safety-needy teams out there, including your AFC South rival Titans. Lowery needs to be in your lineup in 2012.
3) Be a player for Mario Williams. If Houston’s outside linebacker/defensive end becomes a free agent as I expect, you can afford to make a huge splash with him. And you’re a premier pass-rushing defensive end and a cornerback away from being a premier defense. If Williams goes elsewhere and the Colts’ Robert Mathis comes free, he should be the second target.
4) Shop free-agent quarterbacks to upgrade the backup plan for Blaine Gabbert. Chad Henne probably finds a better situation. Kyle Orton too. How about Jason Campbell? The new backup needs to have the right disposition -- sit back, offer guidance, run a good scout team. But he also needs to be able to play, because if Gabbert is bad again, you can’t just sacrifice the season. You have to have a better backup than Luke McCown.
5) Let defensive end Jeremy Mincey explore the market. He’s a supreme effort guy you’d like to have back. But he’s not worth the kind of money I imagine he’s looking for. If the rest of the league agrees, you’ll have a chance at him later. If he gets swept up, then someone likely overpaid.
6) Monitor your defensive tackles closely. Tyson Alualu's knee surgery wasn't said to be major, but the knee kept him from peak performance last season and they need to get it right. And Terrance Knighton's weight cannot continue to be an issue going forward. Ultimately it's on him, of course, but the new staff needs to find the best, most helpful approach.
7) Wait on Rashean Mathis unless he's cheap right away. The corner will be an unrestricted free agent but is coming off a torn ACL. He's a great team guy and can still play, but the end is in sight. You want him on a cheap, short deal and hopefully you draft the guy in April who replaces him in 2013.
8) While you have plenty of cap room, you still want to be conscious of paying reasonable prices. You can wait to decide on them later. But even a healthy Aaron Kampman isn’t worth a $4.97 million base. And fullback Greg Jones played only 38.7 percent of the team’s snaps last season but is schedule to make $3.4 million. Too much.