I would love to say, "numbers aside" when talking about why I love this signing, but let’s admit it, contract numbers play a huge role in how we judge any FA acquisition. At 3 years/$10.5 million/$4 million guaranteed he’s a little more expensive than Ronnie Brown’s just-over-a-million-for-one-year deal, but it’s 2014 and Ronnie Brown just isn’t really a viable option anymore. So we move forward with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, two players who technically play the same position but fill two very different roles. Ryan Mathews is your workhorse, your between-the-tackles guy that can handle 20+ carries a game. Danny Woodhead, on the other hand, is your 3rd down back, the one who understands pass protections, can catch the ball out of the back field, and also handle a dozen-or-so carries. (For the record: Yes I know both backs do a little bit of both, you have to do that to avoid completely giving yourself away. Would anyone really argue they aren’t two different types of backs?)
The reason I love this signing is because Donald Brown can essentially provide depth behind both guys. I can’t name another FA running back that I could comfortably say that about. Donald was a 2009 first-round-pick in Indy while Tom Telesco was Director of Player Personnel there. He obviously liked Donald Brown, who started his career out primarily as a 3rd down back until this past season when Trent Richardson’s struggles gave him the opportunity to show he could also be a serviceable every-down back. In short, Donald Brown immediately provides another tool for Mike McCoy to utilize on the field. Off the field he provides security, and therefore leverage, next off-season when both Ryan and Danny’s current contracts expire.
It just seems like such a smart move all the way around. Sure it would have been nice to get some more kick return abilities out of that 3rd-running-back roster spot, but a quick glance at our WR’s on the roster (especially when you consider the fact that Malcolm Floyd is no lock to ever play again) shows there’s room on the roster to maybe add a player there that could fill that role. Or maybe someone already on the roster, like a Stevie Williams, deserves a look there? Either way, if you had realistic expectations going into this off-season I think you have to be pretty pleased.
Those are my two cents, who disagrees?