DMN: 10-step program can help teams contend

QUOTE: “The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.” -- Margot Fonteyn

The draft is over. Many NFL teams now feel they’re in position to win the Super Bowl, which we all know is far from the truth. The teams that remain objective and diligent in filling their remaining needs, or creating a more competitive team, will ultimately be in contention in late December. I call this time of year the “10-step program,” which means teams must make at least 10 player personnel moves between now and the middle of the 2010 season that can greatly benefit them this year and, most important, next year. This is the time to keep working on the team, being objective and not getting complacent.

At this time of year, many teams will sit back and pat themselves on the back, believing they have the perfect team. In fact, they’ll look at the depth chart and feel they have more than enough players and will be able to gain trade value for their backups during the summer. The good teams will look at their rosters and keep thinking of ways to make camp competitive and hedge their bets by adding more players.

There are still some players on the market who can help teams along with players trapped in bad situations who are available, even though their current clubs claim they won’t be traded. Here are some who might be available:

WR Patrick Crayton, Dallas

I know Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said Crayton is not available, but I have a hunch if any team calls and offers a modest price, he’ll be sent packing. With the drafting of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have no place for Crayton. They are not a four-wide-receiver team, and for good reason. One of their best players, tight end Jason Witten, needs to be on the field, so they would only be carrying Crayton for depth. It’s very likely that if Crayton stays, he might not even dress on game day. He’s not a special teams coverage demon, so as the fourth wideout, if he is not going to play on regular downs, he must play in the kicking game. In spite of Jerry’s proclamation, Crayton is expendable.

OT Jammal Brown, New Orleans

This year, the Saints drafted offensive tackle Charles Brown of USC in the second round, and last year they won the Super Bowl without Jammal Brown playing. So it looks like one Brown will be replacing another. But even though the Saints won without Jammal, they still tendered him a first- and third-round pick in the restricted market. Now, they know they’ll never get those picks for him, but with the addition of Charles Brown, the price has gone down even more. If a team needs a tackle, a call to New Orleans might be worthwhile, assuming that Jammal will sign his tender.

DT Barry Cofield, New York Giants

Cofield was almost traded on draft day, but a long-term deal could not be worked out with the Saints. So he’s still available, especially if the Giants are able to sign veteran defensive tackle John Henderson, whom Tom Coughlin drafted while in Jacksonville. Cofield is a very good player, but the Giants aren’t prepared to offer him a long-term deal, making him expendable.

The restricted market may be over, but those players are still available as teams that don’t want to sign them to long-term deals will be willing to part with them for a modest price. Remember when the Packers traded cornerback Fred Vinson to the Seahawks for Ahman Green? The concept of the deal was trading one restricted player for another. It worked out well for the Packers and not so well for the Seahawks, but the concept still works, and more teams should explore this.

Teams can use that model to make deals now as they work on their 10-step program.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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