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MTK 04-09-2004 10:20 PM

Skins interested in Gallery?
By Len Pasquarelli
With the news this week that [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=nyg"][color=#00009b]New York Giants[/color][/url] general manager Ernie Accorsi phoned [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=sdg"][color=#00009b]San Diego Chargers[/color][/url] counterpart A.J. Smith to discuss a deal involving the top spot in the 2004 draft and likely acquisition of Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning, the NFL world was at least temporarily nudged back onto its axis.

Accorsi earned his stripes in the NFL watching guys like Johnny Unitas play the game's most demanding role and, in a league where it has become suddenly chic to diminish the quarterback position, he remains an old-guard true believer in the axiom that you need a great signal-caller to win championships.

Evidence to the contrary -- a former sixth-round pick, [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5228"][color=#00009b]Tom Brady[/color][/url] of New England, won two of the last three Super Bowl games and [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=2160"][color=#00009b]Brad Johnson[/color][/url], who came into the NFL as a ninth-round selection, claimed the other -- we agree. And so now the latest member of the most prolific quarterback family tree in NFL history figures to be the main focus of draft chatter for the ensuing two weeks.

Still, there is evidence supporting the notion that, if Manning is the highest profile player in the draft pool, Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery remains the [i]safest[/i] choice. Just as the Giants organization is scrambling to divine the formula for securing Manning, whose surname alone would be magic in The Big Apple, it appears even more franchises covet a shot at Gallery, who could be the second overall prospect off the board.

[img]http://espn.starwave.com/media/insider/2004/0407/photo/g_gallery_vt.jpg[/img][font=verdana, arial, geneva][size=1][color=#666666][b]Gallery is the only sure bet left tackle prospect this year.[/b][/color][/size][/font]For openers, Gallery is the lone sure-thing left tackle prospect in the talent pool, and the dropoff to the next-best pass protector is a precipitous one. While not in the same subset yet as NFL veterans such as [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=3540"][color=#00009b]Jonathan Ogden[/color][/url] of Baltimore, Seattle's [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=3949"][color=#00009b]Walter Jones[/color][/url] or [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=3951"][color=#00009b]Orlando Pace[/color][/url] of St. Louis, he possesses a remarkable upside. And Gallery has been well-schooled by Kirk Ferentz, the Iowa head coach and former [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=cle"][color=#00009b]Cleveland Browns[/color][/url] offensive line tutor, a guy who is now regularly sending great blockers to the NFL.

But beyond Gallery's estimable talents, and his Eagle Scout character, there is this factor: The left tackle position, in retrospect, has risen dramatically in importance over the past few years. And those teams that have solidified the tackle position in general over the last decade have realized handsome dividends.

Since 1995, there have been 15 offensive tackles chosen in the top half of the first round, and all 15 are currently starters in the league. In the last 10 lotteries, a dozen tackles were selected in the top 10, and one could argue that all have carved out notable NFL tenures to this juncture of their respective careers.

Of the eight tackles chosen in the top 10 of the draft 1995-2000, all but [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=4273"][color=#00009b]Kyle Turley[/color][/url] have been to at least one Pro Bowl game. [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=3136"][color=#00009b]Tony Boselli[/color][/url], whose career was cut short by a series of shoulder injuries, will be a Hall of Fame candidate. Ditto Ogden, Pace and Jones once their careers conclude. [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=hou"][color=#00009b]Houston Texans[/color][/url] tailback [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=6437"][color=#00009b]Domanick Davis[/color][/url] won rookie of the year honors for last season, but most league observers acknowledge the most accomplished first-year player in 2003 was Carolina tackle [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=6344"][color=#00009b]Jordan Gross[/color][/url], who will switch from the right side to the left side in 2004.

Once an afterthought, the tackle position is now a priority, and left tackle has risen to near-skill position status. All one needs to do is review the upward spiral of contract averages for offensive tackles over the last seven seasons.

"Nothing is ever going to replace (the quarterback position) as the most critical one on the field," allowed [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=stl"][color=#00009b]St. Louis Rams[/color][/url] coach Mike Martz at last month's league meetings. "But if you don't have a left tackle, well, you'd better get one, because you're in trouble. It really is one of the biggest building blocks. You can't function without a big-time left tackle."

The importance of the left tackle spot certainly has been reflected in what has transpired, or, more accurately, [i]hasn't[/i] transpired, during the current free agency period. Just three left tackles of note -- [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=2893"][color=#00009b]Todd Steussie[/color][/url] (of Carolina), [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=2371"][color=#00009b]Derrick Deese[/color][/url] (San Francisco) and [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=4428"][color=#00009b]Ephraim Salaam[/color][/url] (Denver) -- switched teams this spring. And all three did so only after they were released.

The top young left tackle who was to have been available, Green Bay's [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5073"][color=#00009b]Chad Clifton[/color][/url], was re-signed by the Packers before he ever hit the open market. That is in lockstep with the current mindset in the NFL, which strongly suggests that teams do whatever it takes to hold onto quality left tackles. The current 32 starting left tackles in the NFL are under contract, at this point, for an average of more than three more years.

And that, in typically convoluted fashion, brings us full-circle back to Robert Gallery.

The franchise that lands the Iowa star figures to secure his services, and thus ensure some degree of bodily safety for its starting quarterback, for the next six or seven seasons. Little wonder, then, that so many teams covet him and are plotting potential scenarios for trying to get into position to snatch him. Little wonder, too, that the [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=oak"][color=#00009b]Oakland Raiders[/color][/url] are getting a lot of phone calls about the second overall spot in the draft, and what it might take to pry that slot away from them.

Cleveland, which flirted briefly with the idea of trading for Pace, has made no pretense of its interest in Gallery, who would be the centerpiece of a revamped blocking unit. But the team that is perhaps most ardent in its pursuit of Gallery is Washington, which would like to slide up three rungs in the draft, to the Oakland spot, to choose him. The Redskins, to this point, have demonstrated stealth in their efforts, but now they have been outed.

[b]Yeah, we know, the Redskins already have a top-flight left tackle in [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5032"][color=#00009b]Chris Samuels[/color][/url]. And we just noted, only a few paragraphs ago, that teams with proven left tackles (Samuels has made a pair of Pro Bowl appearances), don't discard them.[/b]

[b]Both points are well-taken, but this is the Redskins we're discussing, and owner Daniel Snyder doesn't always adhere to league convention. More important, Snyder does not deal well with players who don't play according to his rules. Samuels, in rejecting all overtures toward the kind of contract extension linebacker [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5031"][color=#00009b]LaVar Arrington[/color][/url] bit on, is seen by the Redskins now in a different light.[/b]

[b]The Snyder rationale: If you're not with me, and not going to provide me the kind of salary cap relief I need, well, you can go the way of [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=4655"][color=#00009b]Champ Bailey[/color][/url]. Samuels has a salary cap charge of $8.749 million for 2004 and, after twice previously reworking his contract to help Snyder out of jams, is balking at another re-do. Plus having played two seasons in the flawed pass protection scheme drawn up by the deposed Steve Spurrier, the left tackle wants a shot to rehabilitate himself.[/b]

[b]What the Redskins would prefer to do is cut a deal, perhaps using wide receiver [url="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=5462"][color=#00009b]Rod Gardner[/color][/url] as trade bait, that allows them to choose Gallery. And then they could either deal Samuels to a tackle-needy team, like Cleveland, or release him at some point.[/b]

[b]While it doesn't have the marquee status of the Giants' pursuit of Manning, the chase for Gallery is almost as intriguing, and certainly magnifies the importance of left tackles.[/b]

Cush 04-09-2004 10:37 PM

I'll be a little disappointed if he's selected, the biggest needs are on D.

Paintrain 04-09-2004 10:44 PM

That would be ridiciulous if they did that.. I know Samuels isn't playing nice with Snyder right now, but that scenario that Pastabelly laid out was foolish.

MTK 04-09-2004 11:18 PM

More fuel for the Samuels/Gallery rumors


joecrisp 04-09-2004 11:30 PM

As far as I can tell, trading or releasing Samuels prior to June 1st would generate an $8.796 million cap charge in 2004, due to unamortized signing bonus. The net cap hit for 2004 (subtracting his base salary for 2004-- $5.132 million-- from the signing bonus charge) would be $3.664 million.

However, that would free up $9.643 million in 2005, and a whopping $11.32 million in 2006. Considering Smoot will be a free agent in 2005, and Arrington's cap hit for 2006 is slated to be around $12.414 million, eliminating Samuels' big numbers would help tremendously in retaining those two players.

Samuels may have angered Snyder by refusing to re-work his deal, but I have a feeling the motives for drafting Gallery and moving Samuels would be more salary cap-related than anything personal against Samuels. Though Gallery would certainly demand a huge contract, the numbers of the first 3-4 years would likely be rather cap-friendly-- certainly nowhere near as damaging as Samuels' numbers over the same timeframe.

Now, I may have totally screwed up those cap numbers, so I'd appreciate it if Crazy Canuck-- or somebody with more cap-savvy than me-- would enlighten us on the cap stats for moving Samuels.

Gmanc711 04-09-2004 11:55 PM

Here's my take on the issue. Drafting Gallery would be quite dissapointing, in my view. Depenidng on those cap numbers, it could be a decent move cap-wise, but as far as next season, we arent gaining anything. In fact, were proboly losing more. If we traded a WR like Garnder and got rid of a LT like Samuels, we wind up getting rid of a #2 reciver in the end, and the tackles just cancel each other out. " April Fools day is 9 days late " I sure hope that to be true.

skins009 04-10-2004 12:00 AM

This is getting a little weird to me. Don't we need help on D. Am I the only one who thinks that.

Gmanc711 04-10-2004 12:03 AM

No, I'm with you skins 009. I really think this is just rumors, I'm suprised it took this long before we heard this crap. I would have to hear what the actual trade was before I took a side on it. I gotta think, though, were gonna have to give up #5, in which case I'm completley against it.

SKINSnCANES 04-10-2004 12:14 AM

We are wasting a top five draft choice, and players to get nothing in return. Gallery would not step in and do anythign for our team. That doesnt mean he isnt a good player, it just means hes playing where I great player was. Our team as a whole would not be better. I hope that this is just crap talk before the draft. Unless they got the second pick to deal it to pick up more picks...but that seems like a stupid risk

joecrisp 04-10-2004 12:14 AM

Could be that this scenario was intentionally leaked by the Redskins FO-- after all, Cerrato himself said, "teams are giving out false smoke signals all the time." Who better to send smoke signals than the Redskins themselves? Wouldn't propagating a Samuels trade rumor-- especially one where Samuels might wind up in Cleveland, of all places-- provide leverage in convincing Samuels to renegotiate his ridiculous cap numbers? Well, his agent isn't biting for now. But I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the "Trade Samuels Saga".

skins009 04-10-2004 12:29 AM

I agree, if we get rid of Samuels and draft gallery all we would have done, is create a hole, and then fill it. But we won't have actually helped our selves out. The only senario i could see being worth while is trading Samuels and gardner to cleveland, then drafting gallary with our 5 if NY passes and then taking a d-linemen with clevelands pick. In this Senario Tayler would be gone. Being drafted by detriot. Windslow would still be on the board. But once again we woulda have a fanatasy offense with no defense.

Ghost 04-10-2004 12:38 AM

I wonder if there's anyway they could pry the #2 away from Oakland without giving up the #5 ... maybe a package of Samuels, Gardner and next year's #1? Gallery is supposed to be awesome and Samuels' play has been suspect recently, but if they're talking about trading the #5, I'd rather stand pat and take Taylor or Winslow. Even trading down for DL help is preferable to trading up.

SKINSnCANES 04-10-2004 01:25 AM

Trading down in this draft would help us more than trading up. I think staying put and adding later picks is the way to go. Samuels isnt worth what he is getting paid, if anything give him next year to see if he steps his game back up, mabye talk to him during the season about restructuring so we can keep Smoot

offiss 04-10-2004 01:36 AM

This is kind of funny because I almost started a thread about this very thing the other night but decieded not to because I didn't feel right now we would be able to get enough for samuel's, the only way I do this is if I can send samuel's, gardner, and something else and keep my #5, but I say we should wait this one out we could get lucky and have him fall to us and then see what we can come up with in a trade for samuel's and gardner. Although samuel's hasen't played well under SS He need's to be given a shot with a real coach, but considering his production the last 2 year's, regardless, he should be more than occomadating on restructuring his salary.

SKINSnCANES 04-10-2004 01:39 AM

Hmm, it depends on what the Raiders want to do, and I havent heard to much about Norvs plan. They hold the cards, if they want Roy they can probably draft him a little later. It depends on if the Giants trade up as well.

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