NFL Trade Speculation: 7 Players Who Could Be Traded During Draft

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

NFL Trade Speculation: 7 Players Who Could Be Traded During Draft

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    The National Football League doesn't support an atmosphere that makes the trading of players prominent during the offseason. There are multiple reasons for this. 

    First, the salary cap disables a team's ability to take on a rather large contract without restructuring the deal beforehand. Secondly, the league wants to avoid the payroll purges that have become such a fixture in Major League Baseball. Finally, draft picks have become too important to give up for another teams' throwaway veteran. 

    With that said, we have seen some big trades over the course of the last few seasons. Certain franchises hold off releasing a player because they want to get some resemblance of value for him. 

    In the end, trades come down to the three days of the NFL draft in April. At this point, we see a wide array of different player moves occur. 

    This article is going to focus on seven players who might very well be traded during the annual event in Radio City Music Hall. 

7. Wayne Hunter, New York Jets

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    How much value does an aging offensive tackle with pass-protection issues have on the free-agent market? Not much if you ask me. 

    Despite this, it does look like the New York Jets Jets are looking to trade Wayne Hunter. 

    Of course, a team like the Arizona Cardinals, who are desperate for multiple upgrades, could come calling. I just don't see the value in giving up anything of worth for Hunter. 

    The Jets are probably looking at a late-round pick at best. 

6. Alphonso Smith, Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions seem to be shopping the services of young corner Alphonso Smith. This move would make no sense considering that the Lions have absolutely zero depth at corner following the departure of Eric Wright in free agency. 

    Jacob Lacey isn't going to be a difference maker for this franchise moving forward. In fact, his signing was about as marginal as the Lions could get at a postion of need. 

    Despite having eight interceptions over the course of the last two seasons, Smith is an extreme liability in man coverage. He bites too much on the double move and can get beat over the top. You also have to wonder why a team that needs players in the defensive secondary would be shopping a young player along that unit. 

    Buyer beware. 

5. Ben Tate, Houston Texans

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    I speculated that Ben Tate might hit the trade market this offseason about four months ago, and was met with a lot of criticism. 

    While this is still a long shot, reports have surfaced that the Houston Texans were talking to the Cleveland Browns about a possible trade for the up-and-coming running back. 

    I still don't think that value would be a match in any possible Tate trade. Any team looking to acquire his services have to realize that the 2012 NFL draft is full of stud running backs. Additionally, the Texans are not going to give him up for pennies on the dollar. 

    Much like the moon aligning with the sun, the perfect match would have to take place in order for Tate to be traded during the draft. 

4. A.J. Hawk, Green Bay Packers

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    Having A.J. Hawk on this list is pure speculation on my part, but it just makes too much sense not to include.

    Hawk struggled a great deal last season and was one of the weakest links on a disastrous defensive unit. In addition, the Packers appear to have a up-and-coming player in D.J. Smith who looked much better than the veteran linebacker in limited playing time last season. 

    You also have to take into account the market for Hawk right now. Multiple teams that run a 4-3 scheme would be interested in acquiring him if the price were right. 

    Stay tuned because this could be one of the real under-the-radar stories heading up to the draft. 

3. Asante Samuel, Philadelphia Eagles

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    By far, the most sought after player on the invisible trade market is Asante Samuel of the Philadelphia Eagles. He might not be a great man-cover guy, but the veteran corner is a playmaker in the defensive secondary. 

    Samuel has compiled double-digit passes defended in each of his last seven seasons and leads the entire NFL in interceptions during that span. 

    The Eagles, who acquire Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the Kevin Kolb trade last season, don't seem to have a major need for the services of Samuel. 

    While it would seem that No. 22 would get a lot of play on the trade market, interest has been lukewarm at best. The Detroit Lions were said to be interested but don't seem to be anymore. 

    A report from Mike O'Hara over at Fox Sports Detroit has concluded that there is a "zero chance" that Samuel goes to the Lions. 

    It could be that the Eagles are setting too high a value for the veteran corner who is on the wrong side of 30. If they lower demands, you can expect Samuel to be traded to the draft. 

    In my opinion, teams like the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals would be great fits. 

2. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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    While the Carolina Panthers have remained steadfast in denying that Jonathan Stewart is on the trade block, it seems that those public sentiments are more than just smoke and mirrors at this point. 

    Carolina doled out $43 million over five years for DeAngelo Williams last offseason and the addition of Mike Tolbert in free agency last month complicates the situation further. 

    Another indicator that shows Stewart is ripe for the picking is the fact that he's set to be a free agent following the 2012 season. No NFL team can afford to pay two running backs top-of-the-line money—it just isn't going to happen. 

    The Denver Broncos would seem like a natural fit. They are going to be looking for another running back in the draft, and John Fox is the former head coach of the Panthers. 

    With that said, Carolina could just hold on to Stewart, let him walk in free agency and receive a compensation pick. This scenario indicates that nothing less than a second-round pick would pry Stewart from the claws of the Panthers. 

1. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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    People seem to think that it is way beyond the realm of possibility that Matt Forte could be traded from the Chicago Bears during the 2012 NFL draft. 

    Let's take a look at the indicators.

    The Bears and their franchise running back seem to be far apart in extension negotiations. Unlike what we have seen in the past with Frank Gore and Chris Johnson, this soap opera has a much different feel to it. Forte is nowhere near happy with his contract and might hold out into the 2012 season. 

    Chicago signed Michael Bush, a true every-down back, this offseason. This leads me to believe that they are planning on not having Forte in the fold at the start of next year. 

    If the Bears could pry a first-rounder from a team like the New York Jets or New England Patriots they might want to think about pulling the plug on the Forte experiment. 

    At the very least, this will be bandied about in New York City three weeks from now.