Giants New Priority: Sign Kirk Cousins

Eli Manning‘s streak of 210 consecutive games started will officially come to an end in Week 13. The Giants organization and head coach Ben McAdoo have handled this in the worst way possible. I would have understood, and I’m sure many would agree, if the Giants benched Eli for rookie QB Davis Webb. However, they are starting QB Geno Smith instead. A guy who has thrown 28 TDs to 36 interceptions in 34 career games. HE IS HORRIBLE. There is no other way to put it. It is time to move on from this topic, and it seems as if the Giants are ready to move on from Eli Manning.

So, who will be the man under center for the Giants come 2018? Yes, you read the title right. Kirk “You Like That” Cousins. How do the Giants do this? Why would the Giants do this? What would this mean for the rest of their off-season? Do not try to think too much and hurt yourself. I got you covered.

Step 1: Trade Eli Manning

Eli Manning does have a good amount of money left on his contract and a no-trade clause. After the way the Giants organization has treated him recently, I would not be surprised to see him waive his NTC if he was going to a team that can win immediately. Manning has 2-3 good years left and he is going to want to win soon. What team has enough cap space and will please Eli? Hello, Jacksonville! Jacksonville will have around $34M in cap space when the 2018 off-season begins. They also have a dominant defense, solid run game, and Tom Coughlin. Blake Bortles is not the answer for them. They need to upgrade the QB position if they want to find success. Eli will bring veteran leadership to a young team that has the pieces to win right away. He will fit nicely and the Jags could either cut Bortles, or possibly move him to a desperate team. In return the Giants could receive a package in the ball park of a 2018 2nd rounder and 2019 5th rounder.

Step 2: Cut Marshall, Harris, and Armstrong

When the Giants signed Brandon Marshall, I thought it was a steal. Boy, was I wrong. Marshall went down with an injury early in the year, but even before then he looked like he had brick hands. He was dropping balls left and right, while giving no effort at all. The signing of Dwayne Harris was just not good. The Giants overpaid for a player who they thought could be a game changer in the return game, but he has been abysmal at that position. He also is not a very good wide receiver. He is good as a gunner on special teams, but it is not worth the contract he has. Who is Ray-Ray Armstrong? I did not even know this man was on the Giants roster, nonetheless under contract through 2018. Goodbye. By cutting these three players the Giants would save themselves a little more than $8.8M.

Step 3: Restructure Janoris Jenkins

In 2016, Janoris Jenkins was arguably the best cover corner in all of football. This year, he has looked lazy and has been placed on injured reserve. He should be embarrassed, as should this whole team, for the lack of effort he has given in some games this year. A change of power should change his attitude. However, the Giants need to save some more money somewhere. They can restructure a few big contracts. I think Jenkins is the most likely to restructure and he certainly should after the lack of effort he has displayed at points this year. If the Giants restructure his contract, they can save about $7.5M.

Step 4: Sign Captain Kirk

Here it is. The moment you have all been waiting for. Kirk Cousins will receive a hefty contract this off-season, but it will be well worth it. I see him signing around 5-years/$130M. After all these moves the Giants certainly have the cap space to make this possible, and they should. Cousins will be 30 years old when the 2018 season begins, which means he can definitely give the Giants at least 5 good years.

Kirk Cousins is having a fantastic season, once again. Cousins gets a lot of blame for the Redskins’ lack of success since he became their full time started in 2015, but that is not all on him. Kirk has started one playoff game for the Redskins, which came in 2015. He passed for 329 yards and threw for one TD, while completing 63% of his passes. The problem in that game, and this has been the case for the Redskins most of the time since 2015, was the lack of defense and a rushing attack. Let’s take a look at the three years in which Kirk has been a starer.

2015:

  • 69.8% Pass Completion Percentage (1st)
  • 101.6 Passer Rating (5th)
  • 379 Passes Completed (7th)
  • 3 Game Winning Drives (8th)
  • 4,166 Passing Yards (10th)
  • 2 Comebacks (10th)

2016:

  • 406 Passes Completed (3rd)
  • 4,917 Passing Yards (3rd)
  • 307.3 Passing Yards/Game (3rd)
  • 4 Comebacks (4th)
  • 4 Game Winning Drives (5th)
  • 97.2 Passer Rating (7th)
  • 67.0% Pass Completion Percentage (8th)

2017 (As of 12/1):

  • 4 Game Winning Drives (1st)
  • 275 Passes Completed (2nd)
  • 3,289 Passing Yards (2nd)
  • 21 Passing TDs (4th)
  • 274.1 Passing Yards/Game (5th)
  • 66.6% Pass Completion Percentage (6th)
  • 99.6 Passer Rating (7th)
  • 1 Comeback (8th)

Safe to say Kirk is at least a top-10 QB in the NFL right now. The Giants would be extremely wise to go out and sign this man, even if it means overpaying a bit. If the Giants can go out and make this possible, they could afford to trade down in the draft and accumulate draft picks. This would give them the ability to add multiple players, through the draft, to positions that they desperately need upgrades at. Cough, running back and offensive line, cough. The Giants would also have about $20M more in cap space after signing Kirk, restructuring Jenkins, and cutting the players I mentioned.

Call me crazy for thinking about this happening, but it is a real possibility. It is becoming more and more realistic that Eli can be traded this off-season. This would mean the Giants would a craving to sign, or draft, a quarterback. Are any of the QBs in this upcoming draft worth a second or third overall pick? That I am not sure of, but this roster is good enough to win next year if they stay healthy. Kirk Cousins could be the answer for years to come as a replacement for Eli. Think about it for a second before calling me crazy.

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Free Agent Predictions: Relief Pitchers

I covered the starting pitchers who are hitting free agency this off-season and where I think they may land. Next up is the relief pitchers!

1. Wade Davis: Chicago Cubs, 4-years/$64 M

2017 Stats: 4-2, 2.30 ERA, 58.2 IP, 79 SO, 32 SV

Wade Davis was one of the best closers in baseball last season for the Cubs. The Cubs already had a thin bullpen last year and they will not want to lose their best bullpen arm. I think the Cubs will do whatever it takes to retain Davis.

Other Destinations: Astros, Rockies, Braves, Dodgers

2. Greg Holland: Houston Astros, 4-years/$54M

2017 Stats: 3-6, 3.61 ERA, 57.1 IP, 70 SO, 41 SV

There were a lot of questions surrounding Greg Holland coming into this past season as he was recovering from surgery. Well, he proved everyone wrong. He was tied for the NL lead in saves and ranked second in all of baseball in that category. The Rockies love Holland and Holland says he loves playing in Colorado. However, will they be willing to pay for his services? I don’t think so. The Astros won the World Series with an abysmal bullpen. They will be looking for a top-notch arm this off-season and will overpay if they have to.

Other Destinations: Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers, Braves

3. Addison Reed: Atlanta Braves, 3-years/$36M

2017 Stats: 2-3, 2.84 ERA, 76.0 IP, 19 SV

Addison Reed may have been a top-5 set up man in all of baseball last year. He was closing games for the Mets when Familia went down, but returned to his set up role for the Red Sox and had a fantastic season. Reed may land as a closer somewhere this off-season as a lot of teams are in need of bullpen help.

Other Destinations: Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies

4. Mike Minor: Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-years/$27M

2017 Stats: 6-6, 2.55 ERA, 77.2 IP, 88 SO, 6 SV

Mike Minor came up with the Braves as a starter, but struggled for the most part. Last year with the Royals, Minor had a career year out of the bullpen. He established himself as one of the best left-handed bullpen arms in all of baseball. The Dodgers do not need a high-priced arm this off-season as they have Kenley Jansen manning the 9th inning, but I think Minor will be a great fit in their pen.

Other Destinations: Rockies, Royals, Twins, Mets, Yankees

5. Brandon Morrow: Colorado Rockies, 3-years/$24M

2017 Stats: 6-0, 2.06 ERA, 43.2 IP, 50 SO, 2 SV

The Rockies may lose out on Holland and they will need to try to replace him, which is going to be close to impossible to do. Brandon Morrow signed with the Dodgers last off-season on a minor league deal, and he dominated. He proved how valuable he was in the World Series as Dave Roberts turned to him in every game. Morrow earned himself a nice paycheck and I think the Rockies take a chance here.

Other Destinations: Dodgers, Astros, Twins, Braves

6. Juan Nicaso: St. Louis Cardinals, 3-years/$21M

2017 Stats: 5-5, 2.61 ERA, 72.1 IP, 72 SO, 6 SV

Juan Nicasio is another starter turned reliever who found success last season. The Cardinals acquired Nicasio late in the season last year and he served as their closer for about the last month. He converted 4 saves for an extremely thin Cardinals’ pen. They are once again thin going into this season and they are going to need to sign multiple arms. I think they retain Nicasio for a relatively cheap contract.

Other Destinations: Twins, Rockies, Phillies, Mets

7. Bryan Shaw: New York Mets, 3-years/$21M

2017 Stats: 4-6, 3.52 ERA, 76.2 IP, 73 SO, 3 SV

The New York Mets should have a solid 1-2 punch in their bullpen with Familia and Ramos, but they need to add another solid, consistent arm to make their bullpen dominant. In comes Bryan Shaw. Shaw has been one of the most consistent and durable relief pitchers in all of baseball since he joined the Indians in 2013. The connection with new Mets’ Manager Mickey Callaway should help the Mets lure Shaw in.

Other Destinations: Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Dodgers, Rockies

8. Jake McGee: Colorado Rockies, 2-years/$15M

2017 Stats: 0-2, 3.61 ERA, 57.1 IP, 58 SO, 3 SV

As mentioned, I think the Rockies will lose Holland this off-season. I am predicting they will land Morrow and I think they also retain Jake McGee. McGee struggled in his first year in Colorado, but bounced back nicely last season. He was one of the key pieces to the Rockies’ bullpen and I do not think they will want to lose too many pieces in their pen.

Other Destinations: Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels

9. Anthony Swarzak: Milwaukee Brewers, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 6-4, 2.33 ERA, 77.1 IP, 91 SO, 2 SV

Anthony Swarzak was another reliever on a minor-league deal that flat out dominated last year. He had the best year of his career and set a career high in strikeouts. The Brewers traded for Swarzak around the deadline and I think they will be able to retain his services on a relatively cheap deal. Swarzak will be one of the best value signings this off-season.

Other Destinations: Mets, Cardinals, Twins, Braves

10. Steve Cishek: St. Louis Cardinals, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 3-2, 2.01 ERA, 44.2 IP, 41 SO, 1 SV

Steve Cishek has been one of the more consistent and underappreciated relief pitchers in baseball. He has never had an ERA over 3.60 in his career and he was a dominant closer for a few years with the Marlins. The Cardinals got a taste of Cishek in 2015 and he pitched well for them in 23+ innings. As I mentioned, the Cardinals need multiple arms to fill their weak pen. They find very good value in Cishek.

Other Destinations: Rangers, Mets, Cubs, Rays, Astros

11. Brandon Kintzler: Minnesota Twins, 2-years/$14M

2017 Stats: 4-3, 3.03 ERA, 71.1 IP, 39 SO, 29 SV

The Twins dealt Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals at the deadline as it seemed their magic was running out, but we know how that story ended. The Twins need some bullpen help and they will look for towards a cheap reunion with Kintzler, who revived his career with the Twins.
Other Destinations: Nationals, Mets, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers

12. Tommy Hunter: Atlanta Braves, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 3-5, 2.61 ERA, 58.2 IP, 64 SO, 1 SV

Tommy Hunter has been both a starter and reliever throughout his career, but last year he established himself as a solid bullpen arm. The Braves always seem to be signing a veteran arm to add to their bullpen and I think they find a set up man in Hunter for the 2018 season.

Other Destinations: Rays, Blue Jays, Mets, Nationals

13. Pat Neshek: Cleveland Indians, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 5-3, 1.59 ERA, 62.1 IP, 69 SO, 1 SV

The Indians are likely to lose Shaw this off-season and they are going to look to replace him without breaking the bank. Pat Neshek will add a different dimension to their already dominant bullpen. He should come fairly cheap and complement Cody Allen and Andrew Miller nicely with his funky delivery.

Other Destinations: Mariners, Mets, Rockies, Phillies, Nationals, Rays

14. Tony Watson: Minnesota Twins, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 7-4, 3.38 ERA, 66.2 IP, 53 SO, 10 SV

Tony Watson is only behind Shaw for most games pitched since 2012. The Twins continue to bolster their bullpen with the signing of Watson. He has not always been used a left-handed specialist, but he can be that for the Twins. He can also be their set up man to Kintzler.

Other Destinations: Blue Jays, Dodgers, Rockies, White Sox

15. Joe Smith: Blue Jays, 2-years/$10.5M

2017 Stats: 3-0, 3.33 ERA, 54.0 IP, 71 SO, 1 SV

The Blue Jays signed Joe Smith last off-season and they do once again this year. They hope this year they keep Smith for a whole season as they will be competing this upcoming season, unlike last year. Smith is not a big name reliever and he won’t close out many games for teams, but he is a solid arm that every pen will like to have. He can eat up innings and come up clutch in the 7th or 8th inning.

Other Destinations: Mets, Twins, Indians, White Sox, Cardinals

16. Seung-hwan Oh: Milwaukee Brewers, 2-years/$9M

2017 Stats: 1-6, 4.10 ERA, 59.1 IP, 54 SO, 20 SV

Seung-hwan Oh struggled in his second year in the MLB after a dominant rookie year in which he struck out 103 batters, recorded a 1.92 ERA, and finished 6th in rookie of the year voting. His struggles last year will hurt his value tremendously, but he still was able to record 20 saves. The Brewers will be looking for a set up man for Corey Knebel. Oh will come cheap and has a chance to bounce back.

Other Destinations: Rangers, Cardinals, Angels, Diamondbacks, Twins

17. Fernando Rodney: Philadelphia Phillies, 1-year/$5M

2017 Stats: 5-4, 4.23 ERA, 55.1 IP, 65 SO, 39 SV

Fernando Rodney did not have a great year in terms of ERA, but he was top 3 in the NL in saves. He won’t get more than a 2-year deal and that is even pushing it as he will be 41 years old when the 2018 season rolls around. A team like the Phillies may take a chance on him in hopes that he has a solid season and can be used as trade bait when the deadline rolls around.

Other Destinations: White Sox, Diamondbacks, Angels, Rays

18. Yusmeiro Petit: Los Angeles Angels, 2-years/$9M

2017 Stats: 5-2, 2.76 ERA, 91.1 IP, 101 SO, 4 SV

Yusmeiro Petit quietly had one of the better seasons among relief pitchers last year. However, I do not think he will be highly sought after as there are plenty of valuable, cheap bullpen arms in this free agent class. The Angels need pitching help all around and they should bring back Petit next year.

Other Destinations: Nationals, Padres, White Sox, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks

19. Matt Albers: New York Mets, 1-year/$5M

2017 Stats: 7-2, 1.62 ERA, 61.0 IP, 63 SO, 2 SV

Matt Albers had one of the best years of his career with the Nationals last season. However, he will be 35 years old on opening day and entering his 13th season. Therefore, he will not be sought after much much like Petit. He still should be valuable to a team as a middle innings arm.

Other Destinations: Nationals, Cardinals, White Sox, Angels, Phillies, Diamondbacks

20. Trevor Rosenthal: Arizona Diamondbacks 2-years/$6M

2017 Stats: 3-4, 3.40 ERA, 47.2 IP, 76 SO, 11 SV

Trevor Rosenthal will be the most interesting bullpen arm in free agency this off-season. He was cut by the Cardinals after deciding to undergo Tommy John surgery. He will miss most, if not all, of the 2018 season. However, he is too good to go unsigned this year. I expect a team will either sign him to a cheap 2-year deal or a 1-year will with a team option for year 2. The Diamondbacks are a team that needs bullpen help and they seem as if they will be a force for a while. They are a team that may take a chance on Rosenthal. It will be really interesting to see how this plays out.

Other Destinations: Cardinals, Rangers, Twins

Indians Decline Option on Reliever Boone Logan

The Cleveland Indians continued reshaping the roster for another run at a World Series Monday, choosing to decline the $7M option on relief pitcher Boone Logan. Logan, who was signed away from the Colorado Rockies last off-season, appeared in 38 games for the Indians in 2017.

With a 4.71 ERA on the season, the 33 year old took a step back from his respectable 3.69 ERA with Colorado in 2016 which is likely why the team decided to move away from Logan. Already having picked up the options for outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitcher Josh Tomlin, shedding Logan’s $7M from the books should provide some additional flexibility for the Indians who still have a number of key pieces to make decisions on.

The Indians are now left to handle decisions regarding outfielders Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson and first baseman Carlos Santana. Each of the three were valuable contributors to the team and the money saved on Logan should help retain these more pivotal support pieces to the team’s stars. Surely we have not seen the last of the off-season shake up in Cleveland.

The Los Angeles Banana Boat Boys

Photo Credits: ESPN

 

Rumors can be vicious. The longer they stick around the stronger they get and none are stronger than the Banana Boat Boys trying to end their careers together playing for the illustrious Los Angeles Lakers.

There’s four of them all together who took the infamous ride on the raft together and it has been no secret that they share more than just a vacation spot. These guys are real friends and also real superstars who hold a lot of power in today’s NBA. There is nothing stopping them from heading to LA together for an aging super team and a shot at having a few really fun seasons together in one of America’s most eclectic and incredible cities.

Let’s start with LeBron James. Unrestricted free agent in 2019, works out in LA in the off season, already planning to be in more movies and has stated that he might want to produce a little. He won’t talk about stuff like this during the season, but so many people are speculating it just has to be true. That’s how the internet works, anyway.

Next is Chris Paul. He just moved to Houston and left LA. But he still owns his house there and he had to have something to do in the meantime and Houston is a cool city and Harden seems like a pretty cool dude. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Good time to sign a one year deal with Houston is it’s going well and wait for Bron Bron.

Dwyane Wade just signed with Cleveland after giving up a crud load of money with Chicago to go play with James. He is unrestricted in 2018 and could just as easily wait another year or head to LA and get things started. He’s already taking a pay cut and getting around $2 million this year, what’s stopping him from the next step of becoming a Los Angeles Banana Boat Boy? On to Oklahoma to the recent landing spot of Melo. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the same time as LeBron in 2019. Carmelo Anthony spent the last 6 years in NYC and I’m sure he’s not going to want to stick around in Oklahoma City for too long. Especially if he wants to impress LaLa again.

If they all joined up in LA in 2019 they’d all be 37 and under, which is old for the NBA but certainly not a death sentence by any means. Now cap space can be a problem but as of right now Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are the top paid players on the current roster. I’m sure if there were some whispering that a super team was forming the Lakers management team could figure out a way to fire Lopez and Caldwell-Pope out of a cannon and into outer space to make space.

They’ll just need a fifth wheel to start. Maybe a big man to round out who they have already. If only a big name center was going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2019….

Milwaukee Bucks Free Agent Targets: Part 1

The Milwaukee Bucks have had a solid, yet uneventful summer, as far as real basketball transactions are concerned (we will deal with the front office turmoil at another juncture). The team has no major additions or subtractions from last year’s 42-40 squad, and with no real cap space to use, the team does not have the financial flexibility to add another major piece to the roster.

This leaves the Bucks with two exceptions, The Non-Tax Payer Mid-Level & The Bi-Annual Exception, to fill out the remaining pieces of their roster before the 2017-2018 season. ย The Mid-Level Exception will be worth 8.4 Million for the first year & the Bi-Annual has a total value of approximately 3.3 Million. If the Bucks decide to use the exceptions and enter into the tax for 2017-2018 they have multiple intriguing options.

As part of a two column piece today we will look at potential Bi-Annual Exception candidates with a focus on Mid-Level players to follow.

Bi-Annual Exception Candidates:
Ian Clark- It’s unclear what the true market on Ian Clark is at this point in time. What we have seen so far in free agency is that it appears the Golden State Warriors are in no panic to bring him back. The addition of Swaggy P, along with the continued growth of Patrick McCaw have made Ian Clark an expendable player for a team that is loaded with depth. Patrick McCaw is a dynamic shooter and scorer that would make perfect sense as another rotation piece to backcourt that is desperate for scoring.

Donatas Motiejunas –ย The upside of Motiejunas is a 7-foot stretch 4/5 that can be a deadly shooter from 3 and provide floor spacing for Giannis to operate. The bad news is he shot only 23.4 percent from three last season. Motiejuanas was banged up, in a bad situation, and could really never get in a rhythm during all of 2016-2017. ย At this point it’s worth the flier that he is able to return to 2014-2015 form when he shot 36.8 percent from deep and looked like a quality rotation piece.

Ty Lawson-ย No he is not the elite point guard he was 5 years ago. No he is not even a quality starting point guard anymore, but Ty Lawson still has burst and still has the ability to provide real value to a team in today’s NBA. The Bucks lack players with the ability to handle the ball and push the pace, especially in bench units. Ty Lawson is a quality piece that can provide transition offense when Giannis sits and be a secondary ball handler when sharing the floor.

 

All of the above players have warts to their game. When signing players for under 3.3 million you are unlikely to find a player that is a huge difference maker. That does not mean players like this are unimportant. Often times it is the bench units of teams, the rotation players 8-10 that separate and compile large leads.

In a season that is 82 games long it is critical that all players 1-15 are real, quality NBA players, and with little flexibility left, the Bucks need to make sure to make the most out of all their chances.

Please check in next week for our list of Mid-Level Exception Candidates.

If you would like you can follow me on twitter: @mikebosports.