Teams have been slapping players with tenders recently (not actually slapping, although that would be amusing to watch), and a couple of very interesting tender sheets have cropped up. The Titans have put a second-round tender on LenDale White; the Jets have put a second-round tender on Leon Washington, and the Ravens have put a first-round tender on Le'Ron McClain.
I've been not-so-secretly coveting those three backs as a potential game-changing solution to the obvious issues with the Pats running game. I'll break them down a little after the jump.
LenDale White is a big back. He's big. He's also a goal-line beast; that makes him the polar opposite to Laurence Maroney, who's deadly between the 20s, moving the chains in the open field. I particularly like the idea of coupling them in a one-two punch - LenDale White earned his stripes in college being the thunder to Reggie Bush's lightning, and Maroney is looking more and more like Reggie Bush by the day. Apparently White is unhappy with the lack of touches he got in Tennessee last year - they were giving the ball to some Chris Johnson guy for some reason. Would he likely get more touches in a Pats-style RBBC than in the feature back Titans system? Yes, he would. Is he worth a 2nd rounder? Maybe - he's still a fairly young man. He was fairly happy as a goal-line specialist back a couple of seasons ago, he might well be happy to something similar in NE. Something to consider.
Le'Ron McClain is cut from the same cloth as White - he's another big man - all 260lbs of him. He's also fairly young, and has positional flexibility - he's run as a feature back before in a depleted Ravens running back corps, and he's also run as a full-time FB, clearing paths for useful, nippy RBs. He'd make an interesting counterpunch to Maroney - he can pave lanes for Laurence as a FB, and he can also take snaps as a very big, strong Halfback - say, for goal-line snaps. No more fumbles in the Red Zone, huzzah! In other words, he'd be a bigger, faster, stronger and more combative Sammy Morris, and he's a lot younger. And Morris is off-contract at the moment; the could do with a replacement/upgrade. Is McClain worth a first rounder? Maybe. Would the Ravens consider a trade for something less? Probably not, but they've got a few very good RBs in the roster already. Maybe they'd consider it. Maybe they want Adalius Thomas back.
The third guy is Leon Washington. He's a scatback and kick returner; he's basically Kevin Faulk on steroids. The Pats ran a LOT of shotgun - Faulk was on the field more than half the time, so he had the most snaps as a RB in the Pats system. Faulk, like Morris, is also old and off contract this year. Is it time for an upgrade? The Pats could use another kick/punt returner - Welker, Tate and Edelman were all hurt last year, and the returner stocks were a bit bare. It's also not clear how healthy those guys will be for the start of the 2010 season, meaning the Pats are perhaps without a clear option at kick returner. Leon Washington was hurt last season, so he's a risk... but then, so are the incumbent players. Worth a look for a second-rounder? It'd also be depriving the Jets of one of their genuine offensive weapons, so it'll make at least two games a season that much easier. Want to give up a second-rounder?