3-Wide is a weekly feature in which theScore’s NFL editors debate the hot topics around the league. Grab a cold towel and brace for hot takes.
Which team should surrender a 1st-round pick for Malcolm Butler?
Jack Browne: It would be a bold move, but the Steelers have the need, adequate cap space, and the 30th overall pick, which isn’t too high of a price for an upper-echelon corner who will need a long-term extension. Pittsburgh isn’t exactly in win-now mode, but after watching injuries and suspensions rob them of making a true run with its dominant offensive trio, it should be wary of overvaluing draft assets when a very good player like Butler could be acquired. Whether the Patriots would send Butler to their biggest AFC rival is another matter.
Dan Wilkins: Nobody. Butler certainly has some trade value, but there isn’t one team that should be offering up a first-round pick. Looking beyond the simple idea of adding the player, any club that acquires Butler will immediately have to give him a massive contract extension. So that’s giving up a premium draft pick, and likely committing top-five cornerback money to a soon-to-be 28-year-old. If the need at the position is so desperate, why not keep the pick and use it on one of the many top defensive backs in this draft. A younger and far cheaper player, who could very well end up being an equal talent, is the far better option.
Mitch Sanderson: The Packers might have gotten to the Super Bowl if they had a corner like Butler on their roster to help shut down Julio Jones. Green Bay is in win-now mode with a handful of positions that could use a solid upgrade. With the 29th overall pick, the Packers might get lucky and have someone who fills a need fall to them, or they could swap that pick for a quality 27-year-old cornerback who already knows how to win a Super Bowl or two.
Which free agent are you most surprised is still available?
Wilkins: Given the importance of the quarterback position, it’s pretty odd to see Jay Cutler still unsigned and yet to drum up much interest. His shortcomings are well documented, but in terms of talent, there’s no doubt he’s still a more effective passer than a number of players in line for starting jobs. The veteran signal-caller could be a nice fallback option for the Houston Texans if they’re unable to land Tony Romo. Maybe that situation working itself out will be what gets Cutler’s market going.
Sanderson: One explanation for Johnathan Hankins still being in search of a new team arose Thursday, but I’m still surprised he’s available. The former Giants defensive tackle reportedly wants at least $10 million per season, which seemed reasonable heading into free agency, but after other interior linemen signed lesser deals, he should have caught on to the trend.
Browne: Nick Mangold isn’t quite what he was, but a lesser version of the best center of his generation is still a solid player. While Mangold has spent his entire career at center, there’s no reason he couldn’t transition to guard for the right fit. Maybe after 11 seasons in the NFL, the 33-year-old is taking his time to assess his options, and will sign somewhere later in the offseason, but considering the amount of money that’s been thrown at offensive linemen in free agency, it’s a bit of a shock Mangold is still out there.
Which offseason move will have the biggest impact on Super Bowl odds?
Sanderson: While they’re still looking to find a replacement, the Texans’ trading of Brock Osweiler moved them much closer to winning a championship. Houston has a Super Bowl-ready roster, but they were never going to get to the dance with him under center. Adding Tony Romo would make the Texans a favorite to win it all, but getting rid of Osweiler was a good start.
Browne: Even with the signing of DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay won’t be a contender just yet, but it’s the type of move that should be a warning the Bucs are ready for the next step. Tampa Bay would have likely been overlooked for the upcoming season if they hadn’t made a major move due to their poor play late last campaign, which cost them a playoff spot. Jackson is not only a signal of intent, but the piece that will take the Bucs’ offense to the next level.
Wilkins: As good as Odell Beckham Jr. is, the Giants were never going to get anywhere when he was the only source of consistent playmaking ability on offense. The free-agent addition of Brandon Marshall has the potential to help things really come together on that side of the ball. New York’s passing attack will now better complement what we now know to be one of the NFL’s top all-around defenses, and it would be no surprise to see this team enter the season as an NFC favorite as a result.
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