Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen saw his draft stock potentially tumble on Sunday through no fault of his own. When the Washington Redskins pulled off the blockbuster trade for Donovan McNabb, Clausen went from almost a lock for the top 10 with a big money contract, to a draft day question mark.
Before Sunday it was widely believed that Clausen was going to be selected 4th overall by the quarterback needy Redskins. Now that the Redskins made the move for McNabb, they will likely address their paper thin offensive line which could lead to a Brady Quinn-esque draft day free fall for Clausen.
In looking at the first round, there are plenty of teams in need of quarterbacks, but most have greater needs elsewhere on their team and might not be inclined to invest big money into a first round quarterback. The new options for Clausen could be Kansas City (#5), Seattle (#6 and 14), Cleveland (#7), Oakland (#8), Buffalo (#9), Jacksonville (#10), San Francisco (#13 and 17), Arizona (#26), or Minnesota (#30).
Kansas City would make sense only because of the Charlie Weis connection. Otherwise, they just invested a lot of money into Matt Cassel last off-season and have many more pressing needs. ESPN’s John Calyton mentioned Kansas City as a possible destination for Clausen though.
Seattle is an intriguing possibility with Pete Carroll taking over in the Emerald City in January. I can’t see the Seahawks taking Clausen 6th after making a move for Charlie Whitehurst a few weeks ago, but if he is still available when they pick at 14 it would make sense. Matt Hasselbeck aging and while they gave Whitehurst a decent sized contract, he only cost them a third round pick.
Cleveland just shipped Brady Quinn out of town a few weeks ago and under new management with Mike Holmgren serving as the new team president and Tom Heckert taking over the GM role in Cleveland. The Browns brought in Jake Delhomme and traded for Seneca Wallace this off-season already and Holmgren is on record saying he wished he liked Clausen more.
Oakland took Jamarucs Russell #1 overall just three years ago. They appear ready to pull the plug after being mentioned as a suitor for McNabb before the Redskins got him, but Clausen’s game doesn’t really fit with Al Davis’s love of big arms and down-field passing. Never use logic when trying to predict what Al Davis may or may not do though.
Buffalo looks like the most likely spot. The Bills have showed interest in Clausen and haven’t had a stable quarterback since the days of Jim Kelly. Clausen should be able to handle the cold in Buffalo just fine after playing in South Bend the last three years. The Bills are to Clausen what the Dolphins were to Quinn in 2007. If the Bills pass on Clausen at 9 just as the Dolphins passed on Quinn in favor of Ted Ginn, all bets are off as to where Clausen ends up.
Jacksonville could be in the market for a quarterback in this draft after Jack del Rio stated that he thought they needed to get better at the position. San Francisco has two first rounds picks, but seem to be OK with the idea of Alex Smith as their quarterback of the future based on the flashes he showed last season.
Arizona lost Kurt Warner to retirement and are left with Matt Leinart and free agent pickup Derek Anderson. Neither are sure bets to be able to replace Warner’s production, but they seem more likely to draft a wide receiver to replace Anquan Boldin.
Minnesota could be an interesting landing spot for Clausen. Even if Brett Favre plays in 2010, he would be a major question mark for the 2011 season at his age. The Vikings are a team built to contend for a few years with the right quarterback. While a fall to 30th would be devastating to Clausen’s checkbook, it would put him in a position where he might not be forced to start early and would be set up with a ton of talent around him.
No matter where Clausen ends, the financial impact of the Redskins trading for McNabb and taking themselves out of the market for a quarterback in the first will be substantial. In 2009, the #4 overall pick – Aaron Curry of the Seahawks – signed a 6 year, $60 million contract with $34 million guaranteed. The 11th overall pick – Aaron Maybin of the Bills – signed a 5 year, $25 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. If the numbers are similar in 2010, a fall out of the top 10 from the 4th position would cost Clausen almost $20 million in guaranteed money.
Last year, three quarterbacks went in the first round – Matthew Staff (#1 – Detroit), Mark Sanchez (#5 -New York Jets), and Josh Freeman (#17 – Tampa). The difference in contract size from Stafford to Freeman was $36 million overall and $31.25 million guaranteed.
Here’s a look at the contracts of all of the 2009 1st round picks to illustrate the vast difference in the size of the contracts.
- Matthew Stafford – QB – Detroit – 6 years, $72 million ($41.7M guaranteed)
- Jason Smith – OT – St. Louis – 5 years, $61.775 million ($33M guaranteed)
- Tyson Jackson – DE – Kansas City – 5 years, $57 million ($31M guaranteed)
- Aaron Curry – LB – Seattle – 6 years, $60 million ($34M guaranteed)
- Mark Sanchez – QB – N.Y. Jets – 5 years, $60 million ($28M guaranteed)
- Andre Smith – OT – Cincinnati – 4 years, $26 million ($21M guaranteed)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR – Oakland – 5 years, $38.25 million ($23.5M guaranteed)
- Eugene Monroe – OT – Jacksonville – 5 years, $35.4 million ($19.2M guaranteed)
- B.J. Raji – DT – Green Bay – 5 years, $28.5 million ($18M guaranteed)
- Michael Crabtree – WR – San Francisco – 6 years, $40 million ($17M guaranteed)
- Aaron Maybin – DE – Buffalo – 5 years, $25 million ($15M guaranteed)
- Knowshon Moreno – RB – Denver – 5 years, $23 million ($13M guaranteed)
- Brian Orakpo – DE – Washington – 5 years, $20 million ($12.1M guaranteed)
- Malcolm Jenkins – CB – New Orleans – 5 years, up to $19 million ($11M guaranteed)
- Brian Cushing – LB – Houston – 5 years, $18 million ($10.435M guaranteed)
- Larry English – DE – San Diego – 5 years, $17.8 million ($9.9M guaranteed)
- Josh Freeman – QB – Tampa Bay – 5 years, $36 million (10.25M guaranteed)
- Robert Ayers – LB – Denver – 5 years, $15.5 million ($9.7M guaranteed)
- Jeremy Maclin – WR – Philadelphia – 5 years, $15.5 million ($9.5M guaranteed)
- Brandon Pettigrew – TE – Detroit – 5 years, $14.6 million ($9.4M guaranteed)
- Alex Mack – C – Cleveland – 5 years, $15 million ($8.3M guaranteed)
- Percy Harvin – WR – Minnesota – 5 years, $14.25 million ($8.4M guaranteed)
- Michael Oher – OT – Baltimore – 5 years, $13 million ($7.82M guaranteed)
- Peria Jerry – DT – Atlanta – 5 years, $13.25 million ($7.55M guaranteed)
- Vontae Davis – CB – Miami – 5 years, $13.3 million ($7.35M guaranteed)
- Clay Matthews – LB – Green Bay – 5 years, $13.2 million ($7.1M guaranteed)
- Donald Brown – RB – Indianapolis – 5 years, $12.835 million ($6.845M guaranteed)
- Eric Wood – C – Buffalo – 5 years, $13 million ($6.5M guaranteed)
- Hakeem Nicks – WR – N.Y. Giants – 5 years, $12.54 million ($6M guaranteed)
- Kenny Britt – WR – Tennessee – 5 years, $12.25 million ($6.5M guaranteed)
- Chris Wells – RB – Arizona – 5 years, $11.8 million ($6.345M guaranteed)
- Evander Hood – DT – Pittsburgh – 5 years, $11.3 million ($6.1M guaranteed)
Hopefully for Clausen, he ends up in Buffalo and doesn’t experience the same draft day fall that Quinn experienced in 2007.