Jared Allen is set to be a free agent this spring after six seasons in Minnesota. (Matt Dunham/AP)
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar take on the roles of NFL general managers in Mock GM, as they work on speculative wheeling and dealing …
Trade 1: Fred Davis to the Chicago Bears for a conditional 2014 sixth-round pick.
Washington's GM reacts (Chris Burke): Quite frankly, it was time for both sides to go their separate ways. Davis was a terrific player in Washington for a couple of seasons, but Jordan Reed's emergence has really phased him out of the gameplan. Sitting him on the bench or scratching him from the active roster each week really does not do much for us -- and it certainly does not help Davis get his career back on track.
If Davis sees fairly regular playing time in Chicago for the rest of the season, we'll happily take a sixth-rounder. If they cannot find use for him, either, we'll settle for getting a seventh-rounder, as opposed to losing Davis this offseason.
Chicago’s GM reacts (Doug Farrar): We're a bit balky about Davis' injury history, though with Josh McCown at quarterback over at least the next four weeks, any short-target port in a storm will help. And if Davis gets hurt again, it's not a costly gamble, as he's got a $1 million base salary this year and will be a free agent in 2014. The conditional six-rounder makes this a deal.
Trade 2: Justin Blackmon to the Baltimore Ravens for a third-round pick
Jacksonville's GM reacts (Farrar): This week, our team's owner, Shad Khan, said that he wished he'd blown things up before he did to make the Jags a viable NFL team. To that end, we're blowing it up now by offering up skill players who can have positive effects on other teams in exchange for the draft picks we'll need to rebuild. Moving Justin to the Ravens for a third-round pick helps both teams. Justin is a high-volume receiver when he's not dealing with injuries or suspensions, and the 3-4 Ravens need another weapon in their passing game. Torrey Smith currently ranks seventh in Football Outsiders' efficiency metrics, and he's a great speed receiver, but after that, it's slim pickings. Marlon Brown is second on the team, ranking 47th in those same metrics.
The Ravens are spackling things together with Dallas Clark, Brandon Stokley and Tandon Doss. It's clear that Baltimore wants the passing game to be the focus of its offense (judging from Ray Rice's appearance on multiple milk cartons in recent weeks), and to do that, the Ravens must have a guy who can make the contested catch underneath and make things happen after the catch. For all his off-field issues, Blackmon is that type of receiver -- and he could be the difference for a Ravens team that is now looking up at the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.
Baltimore's GM reacts (Burke): We had to do something. That's not to say that trading for Blackmon is a desperation move or one that we fired off without thinking, but without getting our offense going this season will be lost.
Hitting the gas there is not going to happen without the run game. Here's the thing: We've really done all we can, personnel-wise, from that perspective: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have to pick up the pace, and our offensive line needs to find its footing. Where there was room to improve was at the receiver spot, and it's somewhere we looked throughout the preseason and early portions of the regular season. Justin Blackmon is the type of player that you do not get the opportunity to add all that often.
We're well aware of his off-field issues and that four-game suspension. We also know, as most of the rest of the NFL does after seeing him the past few weeks, what he is capable of on the field. Teams would have to choose between paying extra attention to him or Torrey Smith -- the other one, we feel, could win one-on-one battles. This may not solve all the offensive issues around here, but it should help dramatically.
Trade 3: Jared Allen to the Patriots for a 2014 second-round pick and 2015 third-round pick.
Minnesota's GM reacts (Burke): We committed more than $70 million to Allen on his last contract. Given that he looks more and more likely to test the free-agent market at the end of this season, getting out from even a little bit of that money is a benefit. Plus, in securing a pair of picks, we up anything that may have come back to us in compensatory choices.
Our fans will see this as waving the white flag on the 2013 season. While we would never do that, clearly this year has not started as we anticipated. It's important to try to lay the groundwork for a recovery in 2014 and beyond -- regardless of who comes and goes in the meantime. Shipping out Allen is a very difficult move for us, and for our fan base, but one that should help with that long-term process.
New England's' GM reacts (Farrar):
a third-rounder in 2014 and a fifth-rounder in 2015