May OTAs: 5 burning questions
"5 burning questions" is a recurring feature in which theScore's NFL editors debate the hot topics around the league. Grab a cold towel and prepare for hot takes.
Several players suffered injuries this week. Are spring OTAs worth the risk?
Amato: It's hard to imagine teams benefit much from three practices in May, so no, they are not worth the risk. Regardless of the fact that the drills are non-contact, as soon as players put a helmet on their competitive juices will be flowing and as seen over the last few days, it doesn't take much for a significant injury to occur. Many position groups train together during the spring anyway. That's good enough.
Woods: OTAs are a necessary part of the offseason. They allow coaches to install schemes and players to practice proper technique and work their way back to football shape ahead of training camp. When you have 200-pound men running and cutting - even in non-contact drills - injuries are inevitable. It's unfortunate when players get hurt (and the league must be diligent in enforcing non-contact rules), but I don't believe OTAs make injuries more likely.
How good can the Cowboys be without Sean Lee?
Amato: After finishing dead last in total defense in 2013, nothing about the Cowboys' personnel gives you confidence heading into this season. In addition to the loss of Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware bolted in free agency. Henry Melton could be an impact guy, but he's coming off a torn ACL. Granted, Dallas did use seven of their nine draft picks on defensive players, but second-round selection Demarcus Lawrence figures to be the only guy who could contribute right away. If the Cowboys make it to .500 this season, I'll be very impressed.
Woods: Even with a healthy Sean Lee, the Cowboys were poised for mediocrity at best. Without him, this is a sub-.500 team that could contend for a top-five pick in the draft. That defensive front seven is ugly. I think 7-9 is about the best Cowboys fans can hope for - and those seven wins will be of the 45-42 variety.
Will the Jets give Michael Vick a legitimate chance to win the starting job?
Amato: I think the Jets really want Geno Smith to win the quarterback job in training camp, which is why Vick remains skeptical about his chances. However, Rex Ryan is likely working on a year-to-year basis at this point, so his thoughts won't be on the future. If he thinks Vick gives him the best chance to win in 2013, that's who he'll go with. Ryan obviously builds his team around defense, so whoever makes the fewest mistakes will play.
Woods: Vick's savvy enough to know that the deck is stacked against him. Unless Geno Smith gets hurt or literally forgets how to throw a football, he'll be the Jets' Week 1 starter. General manager John Idzik simply has too much invested in Smith not to give him every possible chance for success. I believe the Jets lied to Vick when they signed him as a free agent by promising him a real chance to earn a starting job. I think we're only scraping the surface of how messy this situation will get if Vick outperforms Smith in camp.
Which player "holding out" during voluntary workouts is most likely to see his demands met?
Amato: While it doesn't look like any of the holdouts will have much success, Justin Houston of the Chiefs may have the best shot. Houston missed the last five games of the season as Kansas City and their defense struggled down the stretch. They still posted 10 sacks in the five games the pass rusher missed, but those numbers are misleading. They feasted on the lowly Redskins for six in one game and managed another three in a meaningless game versus the Chargers in Week 17. In the other three games Houston was sidelined they recorded just one.
Woods: Definitely not Vernon Davis. He's already a top-three tight end in terms of average per season compensation and he has three years remaining on his deal. He's not getting a raise. Neither is 49ers guard Alex Boone. With Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree both in need of new contracts, the 49ers don't have a dollar to spare. Setting aside Justin Houston (Amato has us covered there) and the few other meaningless holdouts by mid-level players around the league, only Andre Johnson has any leverage. I don't think there's a chance Johnson gets traded (the cap hit would be too severe), but I'm not certain that's his desired outcome. Perhaps Johnson's setting the stage for a 2015 release that would allow him to sign one final contract with a contender of his choice.
Jermichael Finley is medically cleared. Where is his best fit?
Amato: The New York Giants make the most sense here after you take a quick look at their depth chart. If the season started today, Adrien Robinson, a player who doesn't have a catch after playing in just three games over two seasons, would be the go-to guy. Some feel Robinson exhibits potential, but signing a veteran like Finley for insurance, even with his surgically repaired neck, wouldn't be a terrible idea.
Woods: I'd love to see what the Patriots could do with Finley. Rob Gronkowski's injuries and Aaron Hernandez's legal issues (which is putting it far too nicely) robbed football fans of Bill Belichick's exciting and borderline unstoppable dual-tight end offense. Finley is certainly no Hernandez on the field, but he's better than any tight end on the Patriots' roster not named Gronk. The Patriots have a history of giving beat-up veterans the chance to prove they have something left. Finley on a one-year deal makes sense.