NFL Trade Speculation: 1 Player Each Team Would Refuse to Deal
Are you afraid your favorite NFL team may trade your favorite player?
The NFL offseason is underway, and there will undoubtedly be new faces in new places. The NFL is not as trade-happy as the NBA or MLB, but some big-name players will be packing their bags.
Of course, every team has its must-have franchise player. Here are the 32 stars least likely to be moved by each team.
Maurice Jones-Drew has been the lone constant on offense since the team drafted him in the second round back in 2006. The human bowling ball has rushed for over 1,300 yards in each of the last three seasons, including a league-leading 1,606 yards in 2011.
For Jones-Drew's sake, I hope the Jags can find him some help and can become a contender. Players of Jones-Drew's caliber do not come around very often, and it would be a shame to see him stuck with 5-11 teams for the rest of his prime.
Despite constantly facing eight in the box, MJD has averaged 4.6 yards per carry for his career. It is safe to say the Jags' running back will stay in Jacksonville until at least 2014, when his contract runs out.
Chris Johnson was terrible for most of last season but showed some of his CJ2K form toward the end of the year.
Part of his slow start can be attributed to the shortened season. The Titans were entering the season with a new coach. Mike Munchak specializes in the offensive line and was trying to install a new blocking system on players who had only known Jeff Fisher's scheme in the NFL. There are also rumors that Johnson himself came into the season out of shape, and his productivity (or lack thereof) in the first half of the season would indicate that.
This season there will be no excuses for Johnson—he has to produce. Even if he doesn't, no one will trade for the million of dollars he is guaranteed for the next five years.
For how many years in a row would this slide contained a picture of Peyton Manning? Times have changed, and the man now least likely to leave the Indianapolis Colts is Dwight Freeney.
Playing with few leads, Freeney still managed 8.5 sacks last season for the 2-14 Colts. I would like to see Indianapolis let Robert Mathis walk and sign a run-stuffing defensive end to pair with Freeney and bring more balance to the Colts' defense. We saw what happened when a team's D is dependent on one player delivering an early lead.
Freeney is under contract for only one more season but will undoubtedly be a Colt until at least this time next year.
Andre Johnson finally made it to the playoffs but had to battle hamstring injuries to get there. Still, the future is bright for Johnson and the Houston Texans.
The Texans had each of their five most important players on the out for stretches last season, including placing Mario Williams and their top two quarterbacks on the injured reserve. That did not stop them from taking the AFC South and winning their first playoff game.
Johnson has been arguably the game's best receiver since the Texans drafted him in 2003, and he now has teammates to complement his ability. With the return of Matt Schaub and a healthy Johnson, the Texans will be a tough out in the playoffs next season.
Brandon Marshall has already been traded once in his career, but now he is a cornerstone for the rebuilding Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins have the look of a team just a quarterback away from being a playoff contender. They have a serviceable defense and a strong running back tandem in second-year man Daniel Thomas and a resurgent Reggie Bush. If and when they get that quarterback, look out for B-Marsh.
Marshall has gone for over 1,000 yards in both of his seasons with the Dolphins, playing with the likes of Chad Henne and Matt Moore. Of course, if the Dolphins do not get a quarterback, the combustible Marshall could talk or play his way out of town, but we should be a season or two from that worst-case scenario.
For now, Marshall is a must-have for the Dolphins.
New England Patriots
As his lovely wife pointed out, Tom Brady "cannot #%&$@*& throw and catch the ball at the same time." In spite of that astute observation, the New England Patriots will only go as far as Brady's right arm takes them.
Not much else to say here. With over 3,500 yards passing in every season since 2002 (with the exception of his one-game campaign in 2008), Brady is on the short list of players least likely to be traded in the NFL.
New York Jets
Once Darrelle Revis finally got the long-term contract he was seeking in 2010, any notion of him playing during his prime anywhere but with the New York Jets was thrown out the window.
Revis has reached the level of a cornerback who will not have great stats, because most quarterbacks avoid throwing to his side of the field altogether. In spite of few opportunities, Revis still managed four interceptions and took one back for a touchdown in 2011.
There is a lot of turmoil on the offensive side of the ball, but Revis is not going anywhere for the Jets' defense.
Fred Jackson has been the lone constant on the Buffalo Bills' roster for the last four seasons.
Steve Johnson has single-handedly lost two games for the Bills in the last two seasons, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's production took a nosedive as soon as he got his big contract extension. Jackson has rushed for at least 4.2 yards per carry in every season of his career and was leading the league in rushing before injuries derailed the second half of the season.
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins needs to hand the keys of the offense over to Jackson and let him run with it.
In his eight seasons as a Pittsbugh Steeler, Ben Roethlisberger has made the transition from game manager to team MVP.
In spite of the Rooneys' insistence on returning to a ground-and-pound style, this offense will still revolve around Roethlisberger. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley ran a pass-happy offense with the Arizona Cardinals but was head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and their top-ranked rushing attack that captured the AFC West in 2010.
Expect this to mean there will be more flexibility (and in theory, efficiency) to the Steelers' offense, but it will still be Roethlisberger winning games late for the Steelers. Roethlisberger is one of just three active quarterbacks to hold up the Lombardi Trophy twice, and every year he is a Steeler, he has the opportunity to hoist another one.
Something was made painfully evident for the Baltimore Ravens last season: When they give Ray Rice the ball, they win. When they rely on Joe Flacco, they lose.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was all but given an ultimatum to give Rice more touches last year, and with good reason. The Ravens lost all four games (their only four of the regular season) in which Rice had fewer than 15 rushes.
Rice is a free agent now, but it is believed the Ravens will use the franchise tag on him this year, if not next year as well. The core Ravens are a tight-knit group, and Rice's close relationship with Ray Lewis should keep him in town for the foreseeable future.
Joe Thomas has been the Cleveland Browns' best and most consistent player since the team selected him with the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
According to ESPN's scouting report (only available to Insiders), Thomas is the top-ranked tackle in the game and is tied for the seventh-highest ranking at any position in the NFL. Thomas has been selected to the Pro Bowl every year of his career, a perfect 5-for-5.
The Browns have the tackle capable of protecting a franchise quarterback's blind side. Now they just need the quarterback.
This was a difficult pick between the Cincinnati Bengals' two sensational rookies, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
In reality, neither one of them will be traded this offseason. However, in choosing one, the decision came down to this: AJ Green is a lock to be elite at his position for the next decade. Dalton is not at that level, at least not yet.
I believe Dalton is and will be a very good quarterback, but there have been young guys in the past who have led their team to playoff runs, only to never have the same success again. Shaun King comes to mind, as does Aaron Brooks.
I am not saying Dalton will follow in those guys' footsteps, just that he is not the absolute lock to be one of the best at his position like Green is. With his speed, size and athletic ability, Green will be this generation's version of Randy Moss.
San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers is as much of a lock as just about anybody to finish his career with the franchise that drafted him. As the years have gone by, the San Diego Chargers have become more and more dependent on Philip Rivers' right arm.
In 2011, Rivers had his worst season since 2007, throwing a career-high 20 interceptions. Still, the Chargers are a threat for as long as Rivers is their quarterback. I expect a big bounce-back season from the Chargers' QB in 2012.
For better or worse, the Oakland Raiders and Carson Palmer are attached at the hip. The Raiders will live or die with their decision to sell the farm and bring in Palmer.
Palmer was awful for the Raiders, throwing 16 interceptions in 10 games, though I do not think that performance dooms Palmer and Oakland to failure. Palmer did not stand a chance in coming off the couch to lead a team in the middle of a playoff chase. Anyone who says different just does not know football, nor do they understand the complexity of an NFL playbook.
Expect better things from Palmer in 2012. Will it be enough to make them a contender? The jury is still out on that one.
Tim Tebow's job may be up for grabs come training camp, but he will definitely be a Denver Bronco in 2012. Regardless of his long-term success, he has certainly played his way onto the roster.
Tebow is working with a specialist out West and has John Elway to lean on for advice on throwing motions. The more Tebow plays, the more teams will be able to game plan against him and exploit his mechanics, or lack thereof.
Again, his long-term success is still up for grabs, but Tim Tebow certainly is not going anywhere through the 2012 season.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were hit hard by the injury bug in 2011. They were forced to say goodbye to their two best and most important players, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles.
That brings up the debate: Who is their least expendable player, Charles or Berry? Charles is a running back whose game is predicated on quickness and explosion and will be coming off a gruesome knee injury. Berry was well on his way to becoming the next elite safety in the game, and his style of play is less based on cuts.
I like Berry's chances of continuing his play at a high level better than Charles'.
Tony Romo is a great quarterback. That's right, get over it. If he played for any other team but the Dallas Cowboys, he would be respected as a gritty gamer. Yes, he takes risks, but for the most part they work out and help his team win.
Romo is not on the Tom Brady/Drew Brees/Mannings level, but he is right underneath those guys. The media and the majority of the fans may not realize this fact, but the Cowboys do and that is why he will not be going anywhere in the offseason.
We all know Michael Vick's talent is second to none, and we thought we saw him take the next step to MVP status in 2010.
Vick was not quite on that level in 2011 but still had the second-best quarterback rating of his career. Numerous injuries took their toll, and players like Vick perform best when they feel like they have something to prove. Expect Vick to have a bounce-back year in 2012, though I would not be surprised if he missed a few more games due to injury.
Besides, Vick's $100-million contract assures he will never be traded. If he ever leaves Philadelphia, he will be released due to terrible play.
New York Giants
With his second Super Bowl victory, Eli Manning assured he will all but retire a New York Giant. The only way he doesn't is if age or injury takes its toll very late in his career.
Manning took a quantum leap in both the intangible and the tangibles in 2011. The Giants' QB finished in the top 10 in just about every statistical category, including career highs in passing yards and quarterback rating. He also set the single-season record for the most comeback victories in the fourth quarter, and he did it on America's biggest stage, the Super Bowl.
Yep, even the haters have to admit: Eli is merely Peyton's little brother no more and will be the face of the Big Apple for years to come.
Search the Washington Redskins' offense, and you will find no one untouchable. On the defensive side of the ball, there is one man who has flown under the radar due to playing for a terrible team: Brian Orakpo.
Orakpo has recorded between 50 and 60 tackles and 8.5 to 11 sacks in each of his three seasons with the Redskins. Washington has done much better drafting of late (see: not trading their first-round picks for aging veterans) and Orakpo is the type of elite defender they can build around.
This team may be a solid quarterback away from contending in the NFC East. For now, they can settle for Orakpo terrorizing the opposing QBs.
New Orleans Saints
Granted, Drew Brees is a free agent, but you have to believe the New Orleans Saints will find a way to re-sign him. Even if they don't, he will not leave via trade.
Brees' stats have been second-to-none since signing with New Orleans, and he brought home the Lombardi Trophy following the 2009 season. The question really is how much money will the Saints give him, and for how long?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman had an awful 2011, but I still believe in the kid. He has a cannon for an arm, has elite size and seems to have a great work ethic.
Sure, Freeman had 22 interceptions, but people quickly forget Peyton Manning threw 29 interceptions in his fourth season in the league. I believe we will look back on 2011 as Freeman's version of Manning's 2001 campaign.
Regardless of his long-term success, there is no chance Freeman will be moved this offseason. I am still a believer in the Bucs, with a young corps to build around in Freeman and LeGarrette Blount.
Cam Newton shattered so many rookie records, I may have lost count. My personal opinion on the 2011 Rookie of the Year: He will be what we thought Michael Vick would be when he entered the league 10 years ago.
Newton threw for over 4,000 yards with 35 total touchdowns and 17 interceptions. As he gains more experience, the touchdowns and completion percentage will increase, while the turnovers will decrease.
In short, watch out for Newton and the Carolina Panthers in 2012.
"The next Peyton Manning" label may have soured on Matt Ryan, but the 26-year-old quarterback will be an Atlanta Falcon for a long time.
For as good as Ryan has been, he still leaves a lot to be desired, especially come playoff time. However, top-10 quarterbacks do not grow on trees, and there are plenty of teams that would mortgage their future for a shot at this guy.
Again, in defense of the young guys, it took Peyton Manning five years (and a 41-0 loss along the way) to win his first playoff game. Give Ryan a little more time before you wipe out his big-game ability.
So, upon further review, I had to ask myself, do the Seattle Seahawks have a player who should be deemed untouchable?
Marshawn Lynch is easily their best player, but he is neither under contract, nor a virtual lock to come back to his current team like some of the other free agents who made the list. None of their signees from last season (Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Tarvaris Jackson and Robert Gallery) had a dominant performance in 2011. In a sense, that could make all four "untradeable," but I like to see the positive side of life. So that leaves me with old reliable, Chris Clemons.
Clemons had 11 sacks in each of his two seasons with the Seahawks. He is under contract through next season, and with another dominant performance he should be re-signed long-term by the team.
San Francisco 49ers
Vernon Davis proved his worth (and then some) during the San Francisco 49ers' playoff run.
Once labeled as a guy you can't win with, Davis single-handedly got the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, then nearly got them to the Super Bowl. We all knew Davis' ability coming out of college, with his 4.4 40 time and 250-lb. frame. He finally got some consistent quarterback play and took off when it mattered most.
With four touchdowns in two playoff games, Davis is assured he will be a big part of a bright future in San Francisco.
St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford endured a horrible sophomore slump, but it can hardly be placed on him.
The St. Louis Rams had an awful receiving corps and even worse offensive line. The team needs to get him some serious help in both areas, or he will play himself into bad habits that will ruin the promise he showed as the top pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.
I'm still high on Bradford. I just hope the Rams don't manage him into a lackluster career.
Larry Fitzgerald is part of a Holy Trinity of NFL wide receivers that includes Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson. If Kevin Kolb is the answer as the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback, Fitzgerald's production will only increase.
The eighth-year veteran combines Terrell Owens' toughness across the middle of the field with Randy Moss' ability to get up and snag a deep ball. The Pittsburgh product has had fewer than 1,000 yards receiving just twice in his career (one an injury-plagued, 13-game season) and has eclipsed 1,400 yards four times.
If Kolb can establish himself as an above-average passer, Fitzgerald will increase his claim as the game's best pass-catcher.
Green Bay Packers
At times (see: 15 out of 17 games last season), Aaron Rodgers is the game's most unstoppable quarterback. I would be shocked if does not win at least one more Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers has the intelligence and accuracy of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning but is way more athletic and mobile then either of those two could ever dream to be. It is that ability to put the ball on the money and extend the play with his legs that makes Rodgers the best quarterback in the game.
Without a doubt, Rodgers will be in town long enough to challenge and surpass many of Brett Favre's records with the Packers.
Mark my words: Jay Cutler will lead the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance. Whether or not he wins, well, there are too many variables to predict. Just look at the last Super Bowl a few weeks ago.
Cutler gets a lot of flack, but he is as good as advertised, if not better. He may be a bit of a gunslinger, but he usually delivers the ball on the money. He arm strength is unquestioned, and Cutler can extend the play with his legs. The seventh-year quarterback led his team to the NFC Championship game in 2010 and was well on his way back to the playoffs before breaking his thumb in 2011.
Cutler has kept the Bears afloat while playing with arguably the league's worst receiving corps/offensive line combination. If and when they get Cutler some help, the Packers/Bears rivalry will be back in epic fashion.
Adrian Peterson is coming off a devastating knee injury, but his recovery is already ahead of schedule. He should start running by the end of the month, which is better news than the Minnesota Vikings could have hoped for.
When he gets back, Peterson will once again be the heart-and-soul of the offense. He may lose some of his incredible jump-cut ability, but Peterson is the game's most violent running back, a mentality no injury can take away. If Peterson does lose a step, expect him to throw his 220-lb. frame around with more reckless abandon than usual.
Peterson is still only 26 and locked up until 2017. The only way he does not play out the entirety of that contract is if the knee injury haunts him. Even then, he will not be traded, but released.
Who to go with here for a young and talented Detroit Lions' team? Matthew Stafford? Ndamukong Suh? Calvin Johnson?
In reality, none of them will be traded, but I decided to with Johnson because he is more elite at his position than even his exceptional teammates at their respective positions. On the season, Johnson was in the top three for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. At 6'5" and with 4.4 speed, he is the game's most difficult cover.
Many of Stafford's 41 touchdowns came by way of throwing it high and letting Johnson go get it. If they ever get a receiver capable of taking some of the defensive attention away from Johnson, he will be setting single-season records for receivers.
Johnson is only under contract through next season but will likely be a Lion for the long haul.
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