The Wasteland of NFL Trade Deadline Day

The Wasteland of NFL Trade Deadline Day
By Cian Fahey
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The Wasteland of NFL Trade Deadline Day

Every year, in late August, millions of soccer fans are drawn towards one of the most exciting events on the footballing calender. With Jim White as it's legendary conductor, the Summer Transfer Deadline Day for the English Premier League is arguably the best part of supporting a football club.

That final day when teams can take players from other teams has all the drama of sides avoiding relegation on the final day, the pain of losing in a cup final and the joy that comes with winning the league. Except that that day includes every fan of every team and the events leading up to the day can last for hours, or days, if not weeks on end.

In America however, most fans don't get to experience anything even similar to this phenomenon. Of course the odd blockbuster trade occurs in the NBA or MLB, you only need to look back a few days to find the James Harden trade that sent tremors through the collective spine of the league, but for the most part fans of the Big Four sports are used to eventful free agency periods in the off-season and little to no trading(or transfers as we call them).

Of the four major sports—the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL—the National Football League has to be the most underwhelming of all leagues for drama come trade deadline day.

Trades in the NFL at any point are few and far between. The biggest moves made in recent years have been made at draft time, while no teams ever swap superstars. The last time anything close to a superstar trade occurred in the NFL was in April 2009, unless of course you consider the trade of Randy Moss' corps from the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings two seasons back as the movement of a superstar.

No, instead franchises prefer to focus on holding onto their draft picks and developing their own superstars, because there are no quick fixes in the NFL. That said, the trade deadline is this week after it was pushed back from Week 6 to Week 8 entering this season(and then from Tuesday to Thursday because of Hurricane Sandy).


While the rumours and possibilities are sparse(as I write this the trade of Jacksonville Jaguars' wide receiver Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions is being celebrated as a big story on my twitter feed...yes, a Jaguars wide read that right), there are a few potential moves that could have long lasting impressions both on this season and into the future for certain franchises.

Even though any moves made are unlikely to reach the level of a Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears, there could be one or two potential Reggie Bushes to the Dolphins, or Brandon Marshalls to the Bears.

DeAngelo Williams
Position: Running Back.
Current Team: Carolina Panthers.
Likely compensation: Fourth/Fifth Round Draft Pick.
Suitors that make sense: Green Bay Packers. Cincinnati Bengals.
Move that makes the most sense: Cincinnati Bengals.


When the Cincinnati Bengals signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the off-season, they hoped that he would instantly become their feature back. Since then however, Green-Ellis has struggled to make the desired impact with the Bengals despite having a talented offensive line infront of him.

The Bengals need more explosion in the backfield, while the Carolina Panthers need to rid themselves of some of the salary cap space that they have commited to their running backs. Williams was the primary ball-carrier for the Panthers, but in recent times the team hs moved away from running the ball and recently signed Jonathan Stewart to a long-term deal.

With Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, as a running quarterback, all available to carry the football, paying Williams a guaranteed $21 million just doesn't make longterm sense. From the Bengals' point of view, paying Williams that kind of money is appealing because they are in need of a back to be a major proponent of their offense.


Dwayne Bowe
Position: Wide Receiver.
Current Team: Kansas City Chiefs.
Likely compensation: Second/Third Round Draft Pick.
Suitors that make sense: Minnesota Vikings. Miami Dolphins.
Move that makes the most sense: Minnesota Vikings.

Dwayne Bowe is a very very talented wide receiver, but he has multiple red flags that hurt his trade value. Bowe has always had question marks over his commitment during his time in Kansas City, and because of the rules that come with his franchise tag(a one year contract with the Chiefs) another team cannot sign him to a long-term deal until after this season. That means anyone who trades for Bowe will only be acquiring him for the rest of this season before other teams get the opportuntiy to offer him a contract.

Nonetheless, because Bowe has made it well known that he wants out of Kansas City, there should still be teams willing to add him to their rosters for a respectable price. Those teams will have to balance the value of having Bowe this season with the chance of signing him long-term, against the risk of losing a draft pick for future development. For two teams in particular, that value should significantly outweigh the risk.


Both the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins are surprise potential playoff teams this year and both need help at the wide receiver position. The Dolphins may have less talented receivers than the Vikings as a whole, but the style of offense that Joe Philbin runs and the style with which Ryan Tannehill plays quarterback, means that the Dolphins don't have a massive need for a number one receiver.


If the Vikings brought in Bowe, not only would they give Christian Ponder another weapon on the field, but his presence would have a knock-on effect on the whole offense. Percy Harvin is used in different ways by the Vikings, but when they move him around the field they lose their primary threat on the outside. If they had Bowe on the field with Harvin, then Harvin's effectiveness would be bloated as defenses face more questions than most can answer. Bowe is also a big bodied receiver who is capable of blocking down the field better than any of the team's other receivers. When Adrian Peterson is the focal point of the offense, the value of top quality blocking wide receivers is expanded.

The Chiefs probably won't re-sign Bowe after this season, and they are already all but out of the playoffs, so there is no real need for them to keep him past the trade deadline.


Steven Jackson
Position: Running Back.
Current Team: St. Louis Rams.
Likely compensation: Third/Fourth Round Draft Pick.
Suitors that make sense: Green Bay Packers. Cincinnati Bengals.
Move that makes the most sense: Green Bay Packers.

With the Rams in full-fledged rebuild mode, Steven Jackson is not expected to return to the team this off-season. The long-time star in St. Louis might even be pushed out the door before then, which would really be the best option for both team and player. A new opportunity with a competitive franchise would be refresshing for the back who has endured losing season after losing season, while the Rams' rebuilding process would be better served to add a draft pick or two instead of holding onto a veteran running-back.

Even though Jackson is entering the twilight of his career, he is still one of the better running backs in the NFL who is capable of carrying the load. For the Green Bay Packers, that is exactly what their offense is missing. The Packers signed Cedric Benson earlier this year, but Benson is nowhere near the level of a back that Jackson is and has since been injured.


Jackson has established his reputation on being a tough-nosed hard hitting runner, which he is, but his ability as a receiver is severely understated. If Jackson was traded to the Packers, he could be the every-down back ahead of Alex Green or Benson when he returns.

The Packers would be a better fit for Jackson opposed to DeAngelo Williams because he has less money and years commited to his contract. The Packers don't need a long-term bell cow to build their offense around.

Tyrod Taylor
Position: Quarterback.
Current Team: Baltimore Ravens.
Likely compensation: Fourth Round Draft Pick.
Suitors that make sense: Buffalo Bills. Arizona Cardinals.
Move that makes the most sense: Arizona Cardinals.

Even though Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey has a system that would perfectly fit Taylor's skill-set, the backup quarterback would be better off finding a new home in Arizona. Taylor is a second-year player who was taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. Despite falling to the sixth round then however, Taylor has shown plenty of promise in preseason and very limited action in the regular season.

He is a very athletic player who is still developing as a passer, but would be no worse than John Skelton at this point. The Cardinals are bleeding sacks to defenses because of their downright awful offensive line, while Skelton's statuesque style of quarterbacking doesn't cover any of the cracks. Taylor plays the game more like an escape artist who can evade defenders to extend plays.

Furthermore, Taylor has a very big arm that would play to Arizona's greatest offensive strenght: the vertical passing game. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd who are all legitimate deep threats when given the opportunity. Taylor would at least give them more opportunities than Skelton.

The Cardinals are better quarterback play away from being a contender in the NFC West. Taylor at the very least gives them a chance to improve the play at the position. And hey, Ray Lewis is a fan...

Jared Cook
Position: Tight End.
Current Team: Tennessee Titans.
Likely compensation: Third Round Draft Pick.
Suitors that make sense: New England Patriots. St. Louis Rams.
Move that makes the most sense: St. Louis Rams.

Cook reportedly requested a trade as recently as this week after being underused by the Titans this season. Cook is a physical specimen who resembles a receiver more than a tight end. For that reason the Titans prefer to start Craig Stevans and use Cook in passing formations. Despite not starting him, the Titans will be reluctant to let Cook leave after spending a third round draft pick on him in 2009.

Even though they may not be comfortable with the idea, recouping a third round pick for Cook at this point in his career may be too tempting to pass up. When the Titans drafted Cook, Jeff Fisher was the head coach. Now Fisher is the head coach in St. Louis with a Rams roster that is in desperate need of receiving options.

For any of Cook's shortcomings as a blocker and lack of consistency catching the ball, his impact as a mismatch receiver would greatly improve the Rams' offense as a whole. Cook can tower over defensive backs, run away from linebackers and create big plays down the field in different situations. Adding Cook to the emerging Chris Givens would give the Rams a real vertical threat combination that has been non-existent in recent seasons.

Follow Cian Fahey on Twitter - @Cianaf
Read more of Cian Fahey on Irish Central and in the Guardian’s US Sport section.

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