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AP Photo/James Kenney

Building A 2020 NFL Expansion Team, Part III: Free Agency


A lot of you guys really like our NFL expansion series every year. If you have had some enjoyment from reading the 2020 version, please consider making a donation to help out our friend Jill and her family. Donations can be completely anonymous. Thank you.

 

The Toronto Wolves have a solid roster foundation after Part I and Part II of this year’s NFL expansion series. If there really was an NFL expansion team in 2020, how might the squad’s free agency approach look? In case you missed it, here’s the roster ahead of free agency:

 

QB: Robert Griffin III

RB: Elijah Holyfield

WR: Marcell Ateman // Mack Hollins

WR: Keke Coutee

WR: Deontay Burnett

TE: Jimmy Graham // Ross Travis // Demetrius Harris

OT: Cordy Glenn // Alex Light

OG: Eric Kush

C: Mike Person // Evan Brown

OG: John Miller // Aaron Stinnie

OT: James Hurst

 

DE: Margus Hunt

NT: Linval Joseph

DE: Jonathan Harris

OLB: Clay Matthews III

ILB: Haason Reddick // Thomas Davis Sr.

ILB: Mark Barron

OLB: Devon Kennard

CB: Prince Amukamara

S: Armani Watts

S: Blake Countess

CB: Xavier Rhodes

NB:

 

K:

P:

LS: Jake Cardona

 

Signings

 

Marcus Mariota | QB | Age: 26 | 3 years, $45 million

We 100% would have targeted Tom Brady at first, which most teams in the NFL should have thought about doing in real life in my opinion; but he would not be joining an expansion team over a stacked Bucs offense. The Wolves reunite Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota after the two spent a year together with the Oregon Ducks. Kelly was extremely high on Mariota entering the NFL, and his opinion of the 26-year-old quarterback almost certainly hasn’t changed. Mariota will be entrenched as our starter—and the offense will look to unleash his superb dual-threat talent—but a three-year, $45 million deal (structured to pay more in the final two years of the deal) works for both sides.

 

Melvin Gordon | RB | Age: 27 | 2 years, $19 million

Running back was one of the thin spots during the expansion draft, but there are some values during free agency. Melvin Gordon hurt himself with his holdout from the Chargers last year, but he’s shown the ability to be one of the league’s top workhorse runners and a touchdown machine. We bump up his salary a bit from what he got with the Broncos in real life to sway him from wanting to stay within the AFC West.

 

Jordan Howard | RB | Age: 25 | 1 year, $6 million

The plan for the Wolves is to run a ton of plays and run the ball often. Jordan Howard gives us another bruising runner to wear down defenses and help put games away in the fourth quarter. Both Gordon and Howard have been highly productive in the NFL, and they can be a two-headed monster backfield.

 

Nelson Agholor | WR | Age: 27 | 2 years, $10 million

The receiving corps could also use some improvement from the expansion draft, and the Wolves target a high-upside weapon in Nelson Agholor. The former Eagle has gone through his struggles, but he’s also flashed immense untapped potential and was a force in Super Bowl LII. Again, trying to keep this realistic, Kelly drafted Agholor in the first round in 2015.

 

Phillip Dorsett | WR | Age: 27 | 1 year, $2 million

While he didn’t become a consistent numbers-producer for the Patriots over the past three years, it seemed like Phillip Dorsett found a way to make key plays for Tom Brady and company. The NFL draft is still to come, but Agholor and Dorsett will work as the Wolves’ top two receivers for now.

 

Daryl Williams | OL | Age: 27 | 1 year, $3 million

Daryl Williams was named a second-team All-Pro in 2017, so he’s well worth a selection for an expansion team. The former Panther will likely be our Day 1 starting right tackle.

 

Leonard Floyd | OLB | Age: 27 | 1 year, $13.5 million

I was stuck between Michael Brockers and Leonard Floyd for our biggest spend on defense. Brockers would fill a better need, but Floyd is ultimately a better scheme fit. We’ll give the versatile former top-ten pick $13.5 million for one year (he actually received $10 million guaranteed and up to $13 million from the Rams), which gives him the edge over what would have been a multi-year deal for Brockers. Floyd, Devon Kennard, and Clay Matthews III can rotate and stay fresh at outside linebacker.

 

Kendall Fuller | CB | Age: 25 | 4 years, $44 million

When starting this series, my plan was to sign either James Bradberry or Trae Waynes at cornerback. But to not cheat things, I drafted veterans Xavier Rhodes and Prince Amukamara to ensure we were set at the position. Now, Kendall Fuller can slide into the nickel spot between them, getting $1 million more per year than the Redskins gave him in real life.

 

Darqueze Dennard | CB | Age: 28 | 2 years, $9 million

It’s surprising that Darqueze Dennard remains unsigned in real life, but the Wolves will add him as a fourth corner that can compete and push for a starting role. If Rhodes or Amukamara start the season but struggle, we will have an excellent replacement option ready to go.

 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix | S | Age: 27 | $1 year, $6 million

Perhaps Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wanted to play for the Cowboys and his old coach Mike McCarthy no matter what, but we bump up his salary and get him to join the NFL’s newest franchise. Clinton-Dix helps shore up the safety position for us.

 

Current Roster

 

Check back next week for the draft as we complete this year’s NFL expansion series, but here is where the roster stands after free agency.

 

Salary cap: $198,200,000

Total payroll: $181,948,260

Cap space: $16,251,740

 

QB: Marcus Mariota // Robert Griffin III

RB: Melvin Gordon // Jordan Howard // Elijah Holyfield

WR: Nelson Agholor // Marcell Ateman

WR: Phillip Dorsett // Mack Hollins

WR: Keke Couteee // Deontay Burnett

TE: Jimmy Graham // Ross Travis // Demetrius Harris

OT: Cordy Glenn // Alex Light

OG: Eric Kush

C: Mike Person // Evan Brown

OG: John Miller // Aaron Stinnie

OT: Daryl Williams // James Hurst

 

DE: Margus Hunt

NT: Linval Joseph

DE: Jonathan Harris

OLB: Leonard Floyd // Clay Matthews III

ILB: Haason Reddick // Thomas Davis Sr.

ILB: Mark Barron

OLB: Devon Kennard

CB: Prince Amukamara // Darqueze Dennard

S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S: Armani Watts // Blake Countess

CB: Xavier Rhodes

NB: Kendall Fuller

 

K:

P:

LS: Jake Cardona

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Trevor
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Trevor

Everyone is like 27 near or approaching their prime. Good stuff.

Vox bulldog
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Vox bulldog

Really good aside from you spending on RBs

astauf
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astauf

Shaping up to be a pretty solid team. Looks like the draft is set up to take Young or trade back?

davidchappine
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davidchappine

Thanks for reading and following! Yup, great call! Likely going to do a trade back scenario. The draft should be up sometime next Thursday.

winup
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winup

Trade back take Derrick Brown!

rr1997
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rr1997

no trade back one spot and still get young

supermarcusmariota
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supermarcusmariota

Looking good!

FYgrin
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FYgrin

Mariota and Chip Kelly could be fun, or disaster

goducks1
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goducks1

It would be good.

Brian
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Brian

Great read.

Bobby T.
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Bobby T.

Let’s go I’m anticipating Thursday. This is the bomb.

James
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James

Keep it up man.

Dave
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Dave

Imagine Mariota in an offense that uses him right.

union25
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union25

nice

herd13
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herd13

Awesome idea good read

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