The knee-jerk reaction to the Rams/Titans trade last week came fast and swift. Specifically, the Titans, who received six high draft picks in exchange for the top selection, were the clear winners. Not even close.
But what if Jared Goff or Carson Wentz leads the Rams to a Super Bowl?
“You can’t grade these deals until they’re done,” former NFL executive and current NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Everybody says that’s a stock answer. Well, it’s true. Look at the RG3 deal, which is a parallel to this. You got to go a couple years and see where you are with the thing. I think this much: I think the Rams had to make a move. They were kind of in neutral. They needed a quarterback. They’re moving to a new city. L.A. is a star city. They’ll sell it out this year, but they better have something to make them buy the tickets next year. So it’s a gamble, but that’s the way (it is). And for Tennessee, they had the left tackle and they had the quarterback. So they’ve got to convert all these picks into players that can help them win a championship – and not just a bunch of guys.”
Goff and Wentz both have pros and cons, but it’s difficult to compare the two for one simple reason: Goff played in the Pac-12; Wentz played in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“Anytime you’re taking a lower-level guy from that division and trying to convert him to an NFL prospect at a higher division, there’s two things you look for,” Casserly explained. “No. 1, does he have the physical characteristics to play in the NFL? Could he go start at Cal? The answer is yes. He’s a big, strong-armed guy, athletic – so he has the physical characteristics. Does he have the mental characteristics? Yes. Okay, does he dominate the level of competition he’s at? The answer is yes. So again, it’s still a projection, but he’s got to check those two boxes. He went to the Senior Bowl, did not look out of place, looked like he should be there. So that’s another box you check right there.”
The obvious parallel to Wentz is Joe Flacco, who starred at Delaware and was a first-round draft pick. Flacco, of course, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in February 2013.
“(Wentz is) a better athlete and a prospect coming out of college than Flacco, but you still have the conversion to the higher level,” Casserly said. “And the team he’s with has a lot to do with it, too. Flacco and (Ben) Roethlisberger, they went to the right teams – good running games, strong defenses, didn’t need them to play well (as rookies) to win.”
While the Rams are deliberating between two prospects, the Jets are negotiating with NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 33-year-old quarterback threw for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns last season – both career-highs – but he and the Jets are reportedly far apart in contract negotiations.
The Jets, however, can afford to play hard ball – literally and figuratively.
“You want the employer – the player – to feel good about himself when he comes in (so he is) happy and (isn’t) a problem in the locker room,” Casserly said. “But it was an impossible situation created by I’m-not-sure-who when the player got in the mind he was worth (a certain) amount of money. He’s a smart guy. He can figure this stuff out himself, but it should have been tempered (and his agent should have) immediately (said), ‘Fitz, you’re not going to get the money (you want). It’s not there, so just get it out of your mind right now.’ That should have been grilled into his head right away – and he probably would have fired the agent if he said it to him.”
Casserly said that a two-year, $20 million contract would be more than generous for a player of Fitzpatrick’s caliber.
“That’s my line,” Casserly said. “It’s over, we’re moving on. As long as I can wait, I’m going to wait, Fitz, but I’m going to wake up one morning, and I’m going to tell you it’s over. We’re going with Geno (Smith), maybe we’ll sign (Brian) Hoyer and we’re moving on. This team is in a win-now rebuild. It’s the most difficult situation in the league because they drafted so poor for so many years that they got a huge hole on their roster and they’re short draft picks. So it is a tough position to be in, and what you can’t do is build up dead money down the road. When he has no offers, doesn’t that tell you something? If I’m the Jets, I want this guy back, too. He’s great in the locker room, he’s a leader, they’ve got momentum with him, they absolutely want the guy back. But it is a business, and you’re offering more money than anybody else in the league.”