2011 ended up alot better than what most people thought at the beginning, with that being said I think our 9-7 record says that we are a team who is on the verge of being a contender. I hope that the front office takes this into consideration in the free agency. We need upgrades in several spots. Including the interior O-line, DE, SS, and possibly WR if one lands in our lap. Now if Griffin and Finnegan aren't resigned that leaves two more holes. Here's a look at some possible free agents pick ups next year
The first spot we'll look at is interior O-line. The first ones that jump out from the lists are offensive guards Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks. While it would be amazing to land either of these guys, I think it'll end up being to expensive. That being said we also need a center who can hold his own in the trenches. Jeff Saturday and Nick Hardwick are both available. While neither one is a sexy pick, they'd provide immediate ugrades to the center spot.allowing us to move amano to guard or just put him on the bench. I think we should make a push for one of these guys and address the guard position in the draft.
The next spot to look at is Defensive End. Robert Mathis is available, and still has moves to get to the Quarterback. But, he is older and doesn't have that many years left. At this position I would like us to go younger if we have the chance. Cliff Avril is only 25, he has decent size at 6'3 and 260 lbs. He's sacked the QB 11 times this season and had a one handed acrobatic interception for a touchdown recently. I would love to see us get this guy, Detroit could let him walk for a cheaper option this year.
The next position to look at is Strong Safety. While there is not alot of options at this spot, there are two playmaking studs. The first is Laron Landry, who is solid while he's healthy. However, the last two seasons Landry has landed on IR. So in this situation I'd rather take the second guy. Tyvon Branch is the starting Strong Safety for Oakland, he posted 109 tackles and an interception in the 2011 season. The guy is solid in coverage and has a nose for the ball. The other perk for Branch is his age, he's 25 and has been in the league four years. So he's young but has some experience.
In the event that we lose Finnegan or Griffin leave there are some options there as well. At free safety, we have Reggie Nelson (cinci), Dashon Goldson (SF), and thomas decoud. They had a number of interceptions,4,6, and 4 respectively.
At corner we have a few guys who could provide depth. I believe if Finnegan leaves the jobs belong to Verner and Mcourty. There is Terrell Thomas (NYG), who is a solid number 2 guy. He had a pretty impressive statline with 101 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and five picks. There is also WIll Allen (MIA) and Aaron Ross (NYG).