NFL Trade Speculation: 19 Players That Need a Change of Scenery
As we enter the 2012 NFL free agency frenzy, let’s be open about a significant fact that no one wants to talk about when it comes to trade speculation.
If a team is willing to trade you, there is a reason they are willing to trade you. And that reason is never something complimentary to you.
Team A is willing to let go of Player X because Player X has medical, social or performance issues deemed detrimental to Team A.
Occasionally, those issues are of a kind that might be detrimental to Team A, but may be a non-factor to Team B. But that is always a gamble.
When the Baltimore Ravens acquired WR Anquan Boldin, he wasn't really fast enough for an offense that features Larry Fitzgerald. But he is a terrific slot, possession and red-zone receiver for Joe Flacco. The fact that the Ravens proved unable to land an outside speedster (until finally drafting Torrey Smith) was not Boldin’s fault.
Then there are the ego-maniacal owners and coaches (What? Egos in the NFL? I’m shocked.) who continue to believe that whatever a player’s problems, they will be the ones to fix it and unlock that player’s boundless potential.
Albert Haynesworth has become the poster boy for this kind of hubris. Somehow, this giant pain convinced the Redskins, Patriots and Buccaneers that he would play well for them. Maybe he should go into acting, because he clearly has no interest in playing defensive line.
This trade list does not include Peyton Manning.
For the record, I do believe that Indy’s foremost star will be doing pre-snap gyrations in another city soon.
I do not think that Manning needed a change of scenery. He needed a run defense and a rushing attack.
Okay, that's it—I have declared this article to be a Manning-free zone.
New York Jets Biggest Drag
It’s no surprise that a wide receiver heads the list of players that need a new venue. I hate to generalize (well, no I don’t), but these peacocks tend to have easily ruffled feathers.
NFL ball catchers need to remember that there are at least three of them on every team—and that there were 47 younger wide receivers at the 2012 combine. Unfortunately, a realistic sense of self-worth does not appear to be a part of the wide receivers’ required skill set.
Leading the list, unsurprisingly, is Santonio Holmes. Was this man truly a Super Bowl MVP? You know that the Rooney’s breathed a sigh of relief the second the ink was dry on that one.
Against the trade plan is the fact that Gang Green is now locked into over $7 million per year for two years with Holmes.
GM Mike Tannenbaum said (I am assuming with a straight face), “[Santonio is] a GM’s dream…because of his work ethic and commitment to the team.”
Uh, Mike, were you watching the same games I was? Frankly, I think this is GM-speak for “He’s outta here if I can possibly recoup this ridiculous contract we gave him.”
Or is the Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez situation bad enough that New York will boot Sanchez down the road? I doubt it, with the quarterback's salary and two new offensive coaching gurus on board.
But with a team that just gave $15 million guaranteed to a locker room disaster, who knows? You couldn't convince me to give Santonio Holmes the rookie minimum. That’s probably why Tannenbaum did not ask for my opinion.
Or are the Jets honestly going to go after Peyton Manning, dump Mark Sanchez and hope that No. 18 can whip Holmes into shape? I do not think it at all likely that the elder Manning will end up in the the Big Apple, but I would absolutely buy tickets to see him yell at Santonio Holmes.
Manning reference. Sorry.
Philadelphia Eagles Freakout
DeSean Jackson has managed to screw up his reputation to the point that the Philadelphia Eagles are going to be forced to put the franchise tag on him, because no one on the open market is going to give this brat the contract he wants. The Eagles are simply going to have to trade him to the highest bidder.
Jackson is a warning to young WRs. He is persona non-grata on a good football team despite the fact that he averaged over 1,000 yards and six TDs in his first three NFL years, accompanied by three running TDs and four return TDs.
And now Plaxico Burress is starting his "I looooove Philadelphia" song again. I don't know why the Jets are so eager to get rid of Plax. He was a productive role player. Could he have been better? Sure. But you can say that about the entire Jets team. I think Burress should stay right where he is and be grateful that he has a job.
Don’t forget that when DeSean Jackson was drafted, both Browns general manager Tom Heckert and Browns’ head coach Pat Shurmur were on the Eagles staff. I’m just saying.
UPDATE: Mr. Jackson has been duly tagged and we will just have to see if anyone wants a speedy WR badly enough to give Philly a large check for him. This story may not be over.
My Kingdom for a Ticket out of San Diego
If the Chargers franchise Vincent Jackson, I devoutly hope that they will sign the 29-year-old and then trade him.
But Jason La Canfora doesn't think so:
Chargers WR Vincent Jackson may have caught his last pass in a Bolts helmet. The team reportedly has no desire to use the franchise tag for him, but his price in free agency may be more than San Diego is willing to bear.
Would you work for executive vice president and general manager A.J. Smith if you didn’t have to? That man never met a dollar he didn’t keep in the team coffers.
Jackson is coming off of three 1,000-yard seasons and has averaged a touchdown for every three games played. That is impressive on a San Diego team with a ton of offensive options. If he can escape Bolts’ jail, he will probably get the best WR contract this offseason.
But I would not put it past the Chargers’ management to imprison Jackson for the third straight year. Ummm, isn’t this why the NFLPA had a strike back in 1987? So that players couldn’t be held hostage?
Honestly, Smith makes Bill Belichick look warm and fuzzy. If anyone truly has paid dearly for wanting to play elsewhere, it’s Mr. Jackson.
The other WR who may get the “sign-and-trade” treatment is Dwayne Bowe.
Bowe is the only true offensive star the Chiefs have. He scores almost two TDs per game. With Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton and Tyler Palko throwing the balls. Yeah.
Nationally, we don’t hear too much out of the young man, but he could be a truly great WR if he had a real franchise QB.
His production alone makes him a valuable commodity and may guarantee his exit from a small-market team. Kansas City should at least try to keep him.
Unfortunately, they just hired a defensive coach who may franchise DB Brandon Carr instead of using the flashier offensive guy as trade bait.
Bowe might pout if he is franchised, so I can see the team letting his agent try to cash in elsewhere in plain old free agency. And I can also see management going along with a post-franchise-tag trade in order to stock up on an offense that desperately needs help.
I would pay Carr and franchise Bowe. Then I’d trade Bowe for a couple of draft picks and some cash. That is my plan just as soon as Clark Hunt makes me the Chiefs general manager.
However, rumors have surfaced that DB-challenged Dallas may be interested in Carr. And that just might make him the more valuable trade. Stay tuned.
Of course, Arrowhead is also a legitimate landing spot for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. If they draft RG3, please ignore the above because Dwayne Bowe won’t be going anywhere.
Packing in Green Bay
I think that Matt Flynn’s exit from Green Bay will ultimately be via trade. The fact that the Packers just closed a not-insignificant $14 million deal with TE Jermichael Finley is an endorsement of this theory.
NFL.com came out with a story this week that "a source" inside the Packers said that GM Ted Thompson wouldn't go the "sign-and-trade" route. This nameless person tried to get us to believe that Thompson was too above-board to indulge in pre-franchising whispers.
Right. This is the man who treated No. 4 like yesterday's refuse during his last three years in Green Bay and then actively dismantled his reputation when he left. Yeah, that's integrity I'm going to hang my hat on.
If the Green Bay Packers slap the infamous franchise tag onto backup QB Matt Flynn, they will be obligated to a salary of $14.4 million. Are they going to get that for him in a trade?
They can, quite possibly, get something equivalent to that. Especially from Miami, who just hired Flynn’s former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as their new head coach.
And let us not forget that Flynn is one of those guys drafted extremely low whose stock rose meteorically during their first years in the league.
Number 10 was a seventh rounder back in 2008. Good move for Packers. So Green Bay might even end up with a big chunk of money plus draft picks for a guy who was heretofore making about $400,000 per year. Now that was a good investment.
Despite being “this year’s Kevin Kolb,” Matt Flynn is indeed headed for a starting job. Green Bay will get a first- and a third-round pick or a second-round pick for their backup quarterback. Of course they will trade him.
Don’t Even Bother Making That Call
I’m not ignoring the offensive line. You know they are my very favorite players.
It is simply that all of the top offensive linemen who might be traded should stay exactly where they are if their teams have any sense at all.
A general manager who can’t “manage” to keep center Scott Wells in Green Bay, Ben Grubbs in Baltimore, Jared Gaither in San Diego (particularly given the Marcus McNeill soap opera), Evan Mathis in Philly, Demetrius Bell in Buffalo, center Chris Myers in Houston and Carl Nicks in The Big Easy should have their GM union card immediately revoked.
If anyone can convince Peyton Hillis to stay in Cleveland and convince Cleveland to keep him, they could make a fortune as a marriage counselor.
The team and the city may have forgiven him for being hurt (and kind of prissy about it, too). Then again, they may not.
We'll all buy that the CIA story was probably bogus, but Hillis continues to prove less than adequate at damage control.
"Someone is trying to downplay my name," he said. "I really don't cause a big ruckus."
Head coach Pat Shurmur must win this power struggle or he will be out of Cleveland sooner rather than later. (We all know that it’s just a question of time for this nepotistic hire, right?)
The Browns are making serious rebuilding noises (again) with their RGIII rumors. If true, this entire offense will change.
Any team in the market for a power rusher would like to sign Hillis. Big, tank-impersonating runners are rare in the NFL. It is not an accident that, big mouth or not, Brandon Jacobs is a significant piece of the World Champion Giants.
But no one is going to pay much for a runner with nagging hamstring injuries and the cloud (earned or not) of locker room discord hanging over him. So Hillis might be stuck in Cleveland until he can improve his image and earn a trade.
Bad Timing and Bad Luck
1) I am a Jason Campbell supporter. But he’s a victim of the Alex Smith syndrome: 35 head coaches in his seven-year career. I exaggerate of course, but it might as well be that many when it comes to developing as a quarterback.
Then he finally gets into a good system where he is “the man.” And he breaks his collarbone and the team brings in Carson Palmer. Did I mention he is a free agent? Bummer.
2) Rashard Mendenhall is a good running back. But he picked a very bad time to put his Twitter foot into his Twitter mouth last year with a poorly-thought-out-but-not-actually-bad statement about the inadvisability of partying over Osama Bin Laden's death.
It probably would not have mattered if the Pittsburgh Steelers had not decided to make 2011 the year that they became a passing offense.
You would think the guy had completely collapsed by the way Steelers' analysts talk. In fact, Mendenhall was a solid contributor with 4.1 yards-per-carry, nine touchdowns, 45 first downs and 8.6 yards per reception.
But the honeymoon seems to be over in the Steel City. He’s 24 years old. I’m not going out on too long of a limb when I say that someone else will jump at the chance to sign this running back.
I’d like to think this isn’t about the Super Bowl fumble, but I’m not at all sure. Look out, Wes Welker.
3) Another loser in the bad-timing sweepstakes is Colt McCoy. Thrust into the starting role due to injury as a rookie, McCoy showed some real flashes of ability in 2011.
He also showed some startling ineptitude and capped off the year as the victim of a vicious James Harrison hit.
Although McCoy is fully recovered, it seems a foregone conclusion that the Browns are going to try and draft Robert Griffin III. So Colt is on his way out of Cleveland. Can he really be all that upset?
No One to Blame but Themselves
These players will get a change of scenery as a result of their own actions:
1) Cedric Benson does not get it. He became a high-draft-pick millionaire and was the undisputed No. 1 rusher in both Chicago and Cincinnati. And he can’t stay out of trouble. Plus he’s a locker room whiner. Who needs it?
2) Washington Safety LaRon Landry gets this month’s “Are you out of your mind?” award. He’s ignoring doctors and refusing to have surgery on his Achilles.
The Redskins don’t therefore see fit to keep him. If Daniel Snyder (of ridiculous free-agent contracts fame) isn’t willing to shell out money here, will anyone else?
The answer is actually—maybe. He is a big talent when healthy. This could go either way and I’m not at all convinced that leaving Jim Bates’ system would be a good choice for this DB.
3) And the number one NFL player who absolutely has to find a new team is—Billy Cundiff! Yeah, I know he’s not a free agent. In fact, he is only one year into a five-year deal. But, come on.
Bonus Coverage: Free Agents That Need a New Venue as Much as They Need the $
Quite a few 2012 NFL free agents should embrace their opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Hall of Fame defender Reggie White and “take their talents” to. . .wherever. Yes, I know that was a shameless mixing of sports allusions—but you get the idea.
1) Stevie Johnson is too big for the room in Buffalo. I would advocate his move to New York immediately. Just imagine the endorsement deals!
Johnson wants the somewhat standard $10 million per year. Buffalo began negotiations at $7 million. Somebody is going to give this undisciplined talent the “kaboom” money.
Johnson said this week that “progress had been made" and he hopes to have a deal in "a week or so." They have cap room if they can cope with his immaturity.
However, I think Johnson needs to move on to a team where he isn’t the only star. He does not seem to be a jerk. He’s you’re your typical 25-year-old exceptionally talented wide receiver.
Everyone seems convinced that Ralph Wilson is going to pony up big bucks to keep his offensive star. We’ll see. This is the team that let amazing linebacker Paul Posluszny get away in 2011. Posluszny proceeded to become the entire Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
2) San Diego running back Mike Tolbert. Another one of the dying breed of power rushers, this large and powerful scoring machine will probably run his way out of San Diego. Who wouldn’t? Anyone with a mid-level RB budget could get a gem here.
3) If LaDainian Tomlinson hasn’t already packed up lock, stock and barrel and fled the Big Apple, I would be very surprised. It’s a shame: the Jets could use him and would probably have re-hired him. I would sign this older star if the price were right. He is now a change-up back, but he is a very good change-up back.
Several defenders also fit this description:
1) Linebacker Dan Connor got a chance to showcase his talent due to injuries in Carolina. He’s never going to be the starting MLB as long as the Panthers have Jon Beason, so he should grab his good showing and take it to the bank.
2) Osi Umenyiora will probably not be available to help the Giants try and repeat as Super Bowl champions. He was not a happy camper last year and he and the team essentially “stayed together for the Super Bowl.”
That won’t last another year. Going elsewhere may not be the best choice for Umenyiora’s career, but it is inevitable.
3) Jason Jones is a DT who was forced to play DE last year. If the Titans want to continue with that scheme, Jones should clearly move on.
4) Arizona’s DE Calais Campbell would probably love to get our of Arizona, and the team will probably let him go for big bucks.
Unless they sign Peyton Manning, in which case they would have shifted officially into “win now” mode and should keep this defensive star. And I’m sure he’d like to stay. If Manning comes to the desert.
Okay, I give up—you can’t do this without mentioning Peyton Manning.
Reviewing the Rules of NFL Trading
1) Teams with full cupboards and winning records will draft for quality and depth. They will also get selectively raided by teams that need a few good pieces.
This is the New York Giants, who may lose Mario Manningham and Osi Umenyiora. They will draft a bunch of linemen on both sides of the ball and sprinkle in some backup running backs and wide receivers with potential.
2) Teams who think they need a few good pieces to get over the top will search for veterans who were successful in a different system and hope for the best.
The Patriots have now acquired free agent WRs Randy Moss, Deion Branch (this time) and Chad whatever-he’s-going-by-these-days. Except for picking up Wes Welker, this has been a disaster.
There are no shortage of WRs who will line up to catch passes from Tom Brady, so some trades will materialize. Particularly current Rams WR Brandon Lloyd.
New England may wait and trade for a few cheaper prospects a la Welker. But they need to try again for a deep threat. Preferably one with a bit more stable psyche than Mr. Moss.
3) Teams that are the NFL version of Swiss cheese will go back to the drawing board. They will reach in the draft and dump expensive veterans who have anything left in the tank.
The Indianapolis Colts are cleaning house. I doubt that any of the premier free agents will be back “in the horseshoe” in 2012.
Take Reggie Wayne. You really don’t want to be an upper-30s wide receiver on a team that might as well put up its own billboard announcing that it is in rebuilding mode. Pierre Garcon and Robert Mathis will follow Wayne out the door.
Behind them will be every decent veteran. Within two years, the horseshoe will fit on an entirely new set of Colts.
First to go may be center Jeff Saturday. Hopefully, he’ll land with you-know-who somewhere and play another couple of seasons. But he has made quite a few television appearances and his invaluable contribution to the lockout negotiations may even lead Saturday in an entirely different direction.
Offensive lineman Ryan Diem is 32 years old. Start packing.
Pro Bowl pass-rusher Dwight Freeney and DB Antoine Bethea should leave now while they can still start elsewhere.
This carousel of win, lose, draft, trade ultimately determines a franchise’s success. The Pittsburgh Steelers are at a tipping point. They must get the next generation in place for all three levels of the defense and they are in danger of losing one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL.
In typical Steelers fashion, the team has wasted no time in restructuring the contracts of essential veterans Ben Roethslisberger, Willie Colon, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. So now they can take care of those missing (or aging) pieces.
Several years ago, when Tony Dungy first retired from coaching, Bob Costas asked him on NBC’s Sunday Night Football if he had a different perspective on the game.
Dungy new viewpoint is that, when you are in the game, it is too easy to be distracted by great individual talent when what ultimately matters is overall franchise structure and quality.
He hastened to add that, of course, he would never have turned down the opportunity to coach. . .Peyton Manning.
Google “franchise stability” and the Steelers come up. Really. It does. And people wonder why they are in the Super Bowl twice a decade.
Perhaps the Steelers, Patriots, Packers and Giants could hold class for the Browns, Raiders and Redskins. No, I guess not.
As for Peyton Manning, please check out my Huffington Post article on No. 18 and Mr. Irsay's boxing match.
Or, check out what the NFL Combine and Miss America have in common.