In a 12-part series, we take a look at each DFL team, where they’ve been and where they’re going. We analyze the strength of their current roster build, what areas need improvement, and speculate what they might do in the coming months.
A look back
Ireland made quite the impressive run in 2022, winning 10 of its first 12 games before dropping the final two of the regular season. They had a week 13 showdown with Colombia, which they lost by just five points in a close battle, and which would prove to be a preview of the eventual league championship. The Shamrocks had an explosive offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Dalvin Cook, receivers Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin and Keenan Allen, and, of course, the ever-explosive X-factor, Travis Kelce. The Shamrocks tore through the playoffs with some of the highest scores in the league until they met up with the Capybaras again. In a disappointing, low-scoring championship, a suspended game cost them a chance to see if they could make a comeback victory, and they fell to Colombia, 73-67.
A look ahead
The Shamrocks have all their key players returning for the 2023 season, and presuming they retain Kelce — who ought to command a pretty penny in free agency — the Shamrocks have every reason to be optimistic about returning to title contention for this upcoming season. If Kelce re-signs with the Shamrocks for the same contract he earned last year, that’ll leave the Shamrocks with $12.5 million in cash to spend on six players. Given that their starters are basically set, they can afford to sign minimum-waged players to round out their roster. The Shamrocks have three picks in this year’s draft, but don’t pick until No. 11. They’re definitely in win-now mode.
The Stock Report
Stock Up: Joe Burrow, QB/CIN; Rhamondre Stevenson, RB/NE; Jaylen Waddle, WR/MIA; Travis Kelce, TE/KC.
Stock Down: Mac Jones, QB/NE.
Joe Burrow is about as steady as they come at the position. He finished as QB4 last year by a wide margin. He’s locked up for another year at $9 million, which makes him the second-highest paid quarterback in the league, at the moment. As long as he stays healthy, he can be relied upon. The Shamrocks have two other quarterbacks under contract in Mac Jones and Kenny Pickett. Jones has not had the most stellar career thus far while Pickett flashed some upside at times in his rookie year but needs to keep improving. The team is probably fine at the position moving forward.
Running Back Analysis
Stevenson really broke out in 2022 and the Shamrocks had signed him to an affordable, $3 million contract over four years. Assuming no major regression from his RB7 finish a year ago, the team has a really strong outlook at the running back position. Ireland traded away an injured Javonte Williams mid-season for Dalvin Cook. Although his durability has always been in question, he continues to churn out good production, finishing as RB11 in 2022. If the team can get one more good season out of him, it’ll be well worth the investment. The Shamrocks also have Kyren Williams on the roster but he seems like a camp body at this point. They’ll want to try to add another piece to the running back room for depth.
Wide Receiver Analysis
With Waddle, McLaurin and Allen under contract for the 2023 season, the Shamrocks are in good shape in the receiver room. Romeo Doubs could take a nice second-year step to shore up the depth chart. Rondale Moore is also under contract but has not been able to do much in his short career (pun intended). Presuming this receiving corps stays healthy, they should be a boon for Ireland this year. Whether they add another receiver through the draft or try to find a cheap one in free agency, it will just be extra gravy.
Tight End Analysis
Ireland has two tight ends officially under contract in Adam Trautman and Greg Dulcich, both for league minimum. The former has been a big disappointment thus far in his career while the latter has promise, but is mired in competition. No matter. The real focal point of not just the tight end room but the entire offense is Kelce. The Shamrocks have the funds to match whatever offer he gets and presumably they will do just that. He has been a model of consistency and a major X-factor for the Shamrocks each and every week.
As I just mentioned, retaining Kelce will be the major point of emphasis this offseason. Presuming that they do so, this team will be locked and loaded for another playoff run in 2023. They could use extra depth at running back and another FLEX body. But they won’t need to throw money around this offseason, which is a good thing because they won’t have much left after Kelce signs.
“What could be…”
Barring injury, it’s hard to imagine the Shamrocks don’t win the North Division title and make a big playoff run. Their range of outcomes span from a Wild Card playoff loss to being crowned 2023 league champions. The Shamrocks have a few good young players under contract beyond this year, but it’s obvious their window to win is right now. You can bet the front office will do whatever it takes to ensure they fill out the bottom of the roster with the remaining pieces to make the push across the finish line.
Next Up: Colombia Capybaras