Whilst shooting some hoops, some thoughts came to me:
Case #1: Le'Ron McClain
I'm still very intrigued by the thought of McClain being a Lion. He would upgrade our: 1. pass protection 2. run blocking 3. short yardage running 4. special teams. While I'm one of the few on here who likes Felton as a runner, I don't think anyone would argue that McClain is a better rusher. I reckon with a healthy Peterman, McClain, + LeShoure - we would rank in the top 10 in rushing (while also ranking in the top 10 in passing!). I also believe McClain provides a more reliable receiving option than Felton. Here's the new thought I had though; If we got McClain, MoMo becomes dispensable IMHO. I would be happy having McClain be our 3rd RB in the case that LeShoure and Best get hurt at the same time. I like him that much as a runner and would feel great about our chances to enforce our will in the run game.
McClain made $2.4 million in 2010 (from what I could quickly find). If we could sign him for not much more than that, it would be a revenue neutral move: MoMo's 2011 salary is set to be $1.6 mil (with a total of $2.2 mil after bonuses). When you add Felton's 2011 salary of $1.2 mil, you get over $3 million worth of cap space to work with. Therefore, the crux of my case is that we wouldn't have to sacrifice other FA signings to get McClain.
Case # 2: Manny Lawson
I'm not a talent evaluator and am set to trust our FO in making this decision, but I just have really been digging the thought of Manny in Silver & Blue. Side-note, I'd be just as happy if we got Nicholas - call him option 1B.
Some have not taken Manny to heart because he played in a 3-4. While I understand that may increase the chances that he doesn't pan out to be what we're looking for in a 4-3 OLB - I actually think there are good reasons he would. In our scheme, because of the DEs in the 9 technique, our OLBs are susceptible to lineman (mainly guards) getting up-field and blocking them. Manny's experience near the line of scrimmage and success against the run leads me to believe he may be a better fit than most other LBs to take on those blocks. Most WLBs in a traditional 4-3 are protected from these kinds of blocks. Thus it isn't a stretch to think that we may be gambling a little bit when projecting their success in our system... Moreover, Manny excels in pass coverage. With his athleticism and range, I believe he would fit our scheme very well. Lastly, as a bonus - Manny can provide a rush option we probably won't have with other potential FA pickups. Yes, I know we don't blitz the LBs often at all, but having that option - to at least make the threat - is something Gun would rather have than not!
Manny only made $1.8 mil in 2010 (from what I quickly found) and while he'll surely be looking for a real upgrade there, I think there are other FA LBs that might get more attention before next week is out and might not command a TON of $. Bryant Johnson's $3.6 mil total counting against the cap could possibly be used to cover most of Manny's base salary for 2011.
That would constitute 2 high quality FAs without cutting much into our 10 million or so we have to spend presently (7 million under $120 + the 3 million exemption). If we also use the $3.5 mil of next years cap space, we could have a decent amount of money to resign our players and rookies. Further, if we structured those contracts to be heavy in bonuses, then we might still have some room to sign an additional FA.