The 2012 NFL Offseason is about to commence, and, predictably, speculation about where the marquee free agents and draft prospects will land is rampant.
But, why isn't anybody talking about trades?
I know that trades are a rarity in the NFL, but they're not as uncommon as you might think. Last offseason alone, names like Kevin Kolb, Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie, Donovan McNabb and Chad Ochocinco were moved via trade.
And the Miami Dolphins are no strangers to trades, either.
Jeff Ireland acquired Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush through trades, and plenty of ex-Dolphins such as Tim Dobbins, Pat McQuistan and Benny Sapp came over from deals as well.
So, which players could Ireland try to deal for in the coming months? Here's a preview.
The Dolphins desperately need to add an athletic, seam-threat tight end, but their options are limited.
There are a few stud tight ends in this year's draft class, but most of the worthwhile prospects are projected to go within the first three rounds—and the 'Fins have bigger needs to address with their first few selections. And there aren't any notable tight ends slated for free agency save Martellus Bennett, John Carlson and Jacob Tamme.
But Joe Philbin's former employer, the Green Bay Packers, have an excess of tight ends. The Dolphins would be wise to poach Andrew Quarless, a 6'4", 248 pound third-year player. Quarless performed decently in his rookie season in 2010, but missed a chunk of last season due to injury.
Quarless is athletic for his size and has soft hands. While he might not be a Pro-Bowler, Quarless could greatly improve Miami's passing and red-zone games.
Joe Philbin spent the last nine years on Green Bay's coaching staff. So he should have intimate knowledge of the team's offensive personnel. This could give him and the 'Fins an advantage in trade-talks with the Packers.
Another tight end buried on the Packs' roster is Ryan Taylor. Green Bay drafted Taylor in the seventh round last year, but he's an intriguing player. He's 6'3", 254 pounds and was one of the most productive tight ends in University of North Carolina history.
Taylor is a receiving-oriented tight end, and although he'll need time to develop (And even then, he might not amount to much. He was a seventh round pick for a reason), he wouldn't cost more than a late-round draft pick.
Training camp is still months away but a position battle is already heating up in Green Bay.
The Packers must decide whether 35-year-old Chad Clifton or sophomore Marshall Newhouse will be the team's starting left tackle entering next season.
Newhouse was inconsistent at times last season, but he's much younger than Clifton and doesn't have the durability concerns. Clifton, meanwhile, has struggled with injuries and only has a year or two left in the tank.
If Newhouse wins the job, then Clifton could be cut. There's also a chance that Green Bay tries to trade him, though.
In this scenario, the Dolphins would be a perfect trade partner. Clifton could provide a brief solution at right tackle for a small price.
The Dolphins need all of the secondary help they can get. Sean Smith is entering the final year of his contract and Vontae Davis will be a free agent in 2014. Plus, besides them, the Dolphins have a very shoddy cornerback corps.
One way the 'Fins can bolster their pass defense is by trading for Shawntae Spencer. He was a staple in San Francisco's secondary for seven seasons, but once Jim Harbaugh arrived, Spencer became an afterthought.
The 49ers have given Spencer permission to seek a trade, and he should give the Dolphins a call. Adding a third quality corner would significantly bolster Miami's secondary. So long as the Niners don't demand an outlandish return, Spencer should be on the Dolphins' radar.
Another one of Miami's most pressing needs is free safety. Unfortunately, there aren't many options out there for the 'Fins to pursue. This year's draft class is devoid of standout safeties, and the Dolphins can't afford any of the top-flight free agents.
The Philadelphia Eagles are overstocked at safety, which makes them an ideal trade partner for the 'Fins. Philly has Nate Allen, Jaiquawan Jarrett and Kurt Coleman under contract, so they could feasibly look to move one for the right price.
Because Allen and Jarrett were both second-round picks, the Eagles might be more inclined to keep them. Instead, Coleman, a former seventh-round pick, could be the odd man out.
Philly needs a linebacker, right? Maybe the 'Fins should dangle Koa Misi to them.
Reggie Bush had an amazing season, but I'm still not entirely confident that he can withstand the punishment number one running backs endure on a weekly basis. And, Daniel Thomas is yet to prove that he can be effective at all.
So, the Dolphins should be in the market for another running back this offseason.
Just like last year, the Saints are overstocked at running back. And, just like last year, the Dolphins need a running back.
See where I'm going with this?
Chris Ivory is a tremendously talented running back who has became overshadowed by Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas last season. There's no reason for New Orleans to carry four talented backs—they should unload one.
Ivory definitely seems like the odd-man out, and Miami would be wise to inquire about his availability.