Which players could move at the NFL’s trade deadline?
SI’s Peter King said on “Football Night in America” Sunday that the phone lines are “dead” around the league leading up to this week’s trade deadline. That puts the 2012 deadline more or less in line with previous years, despite the NFL’s decision prior to the season to push the deadline from post-Week 6 to post-Week 8.
The situation could change prior to the new Thursday cutoff point — and it would only take one noteworthy deal to shake things up around the league.
Who might be on the move over the next day or so? Here’s a rundown of a few candidates:
• Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Jackson’s entire 2012 season seems to be building toward him being traded, and indeed, there were reports Sunday that the Rams have fielded calls from interested teams. Jackson has not topped 20 carries since Week 1 — he’s had 12 or fewer runs five times since then, with Daryl Richardson seeing more and more action.
The Rams earlier agreed to restructure Jackson’s contract so he could be a free agent at the end of the year. His role has unquestionably diminished this season, but is St. Louis preparing for life after Jackson or driving down his value prior to him hitting free agency?
Either way, there are teams out there in need of running back help, and Jackson is a proven commodity.
• DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: It’s easy to understand why the Panthers would want to move Williams, as he’s in the midst of a miserable season and Jonathan Stewart has taken a stranglehold on the No. 1 running back job.
But a couple of big hurdles are in the way. Williams is due another $18 million over the next three seasons on his current contract, plus more than $2 million for the remainder of this season. The latter number could be a tough one to swallow for a team tight against the salary cap. And secondly, the Panthers don’t currently have a designated general manager — they just fired Marty Hurney and have yet to name a replacement, instead splitting those duties among the front office.
• LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers: Blount, as compared to Williams, has a very manageable contract (he’s making $540K this season and will be a restricted free agent after 2012). He’s also fallen almost completely out of favor in Tampa Bay — in Thursday night’s win over Minnesota, Blount saw just eight carries for 16 yards, none in key situations.
• Tim Tebow, QB, Jets: The New York Daily News reported Sunday morning that the Jets have “no plans” to trade Tebow, and Woody Johnson has previously said that Tebow would spend the remainder of his contract (through 2014) in New York. Did their Week 8 loss to the Dolphins change their minds?
Tebow has not had nearly the impact many expected when he signed in New York. Instead of stealing snaps from Mark Sanchez, he’s been relegated to a role as a punt protector with an occasional cameo for a play or two on offense. Though he’s signed through 2014, the final year of that deal is worth less than $900, 000.
Of course, even if the Jets opted to move Tebow, would any team want him? Without committing to Tebow as a starting QB, it’s hard to find the value there.
• Colt McCoy, QB, Browns: Yep, here we are again.
McCoy looked like a sure-fire trade candidate this offseason after the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden. Now that Weeden’s taken the starting job and run with it, McCoy’s presence in Cleveland is even more trivial. Given his age (26) and contract ($575K in 2013), McCoy could have some value if the Browns wanted to give him a fresh start.
Green Bay was one of the teams linked to McCoy a couple months ago — the Packers still could use an experienced backup behind Aaron Rodgers. Other QB-needy teams have emerged, though, like the banged-up Cardinals and the reeling Chiefs.
Another QB that you might have been able to include here, Miami’s Matt Moore, likely has to stay put. He stepped in Sunday for an injured Ryan Tannehill and helped deliver a win over the Jets. Given the Dolphins’ spot in the thick of the playoff race, they would be wise to hold onto their QB safety net.
• Braylon Edwards, WR, Seahawks: After Edwards was scratched from Sunday’s game against Detroit with a swollen knee, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport speculated that the Seahawks might have other plans for Edwards.
“He’s been a target for some teams in the market for a WR, I’m told. Needs to be healthy for it,” Rapaport tweeted.
Edwards has been a virtual non-entity in Seattle this year, making eight catches for 74 yards. Still, his athleticism and prior success could garner some interest from other teams.
• Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Unless the Chiefs plan to slap the franchise tag on Bowe again in 2013, this looks like the end of the line for these two sides. There have been numerous reports, dating to the offseason, that Bowe wants out of Kansas City.
The Chiefs would be looking at a compensatory pick likely in the third-round range should Bowe leave in free agency, so that’s the starting point for any potential trade offers sent Kansas City’s way. Any team willing to part with more than that probably would want Bowe signed beyond 2012, so that’s a hefty task to accomplish prior to this week’s deadline. But there are few impact players available out there like Bowe, so he may be worth the risk.
• Mike Jenkins, CB, Cowboys: This is a tough situation to get a grasp on. Jenkins reportedly requested a trade this offseason … then denied it. He’s seen less and less playing time as the season has gone on, but the Cowboys are fairly thin in the defensive backfield already, so could they risk trading another piece?
Jenkins also could hit free agency prior to 2013, so he might be a relatively pricey short-term solution for any interested party. This feels like a long-shot, but Jenkins’ name has been in the trade rumor mill for awhile.
• Darryl Tapp, DE, Eagles: Philadelphia was rumored to be on the brink of trading Tapp prior to Week 1, but he agreed to rework his contract to stick around. He’s played well enough in sparing duty, but let’s not pretend Philadelphia’s up-and-down defense would completely implode without him. If the Eagles could nab an extra draft pick for Tapp, who’s likely to depart as a free agent after 2012, what’s the harm?