Although there are always rumors coming from the NFL trading block, the NFL Draft has to be the busiest time for these rumors. With draft picks being very viable bargaining chips, it's a great time for disgruntled players to be shipped away.
This year is no different with several players likely to switch teams sometime during the draft's three day time period. Whether the fact that their current team has too much depth at their position or they have publicly expressed disappointment with their contract situation, the time has come for change.
Here are several players that I think will be used as trade bait during this year's draft.
Currently the Houston Texans are stacked at running back with 2010's leading rusher Arian Foster and his productive backup Ben Tate both under contract for the 2012 season. Tate finished with 942 rushing yards on 175 attempts while starting two games early in 2011 thanks to Arian Foster's hamstring injury.
At only 23 years old, Tate has got to have that itch to start somewhere in the NFL. That's not going to happen in Houston where Foster is playing as good as any running back in the league. With Matt Schaub being healthy in 2012, the Texans passing offense should return to top form meaning that Tate could get less carries.
Although there used to be rumors that Tate could go to the Cleveland Browns, those rumors were shot down as the Texans are reportedly not dealing him. However I think that with the right persuasion, the Texans could be convinced to let Tate go. It's going to take a lot though, maybe even as high as a first round pick.
The question running back needy teams will ask is Tate worth the high price? If anyone deems the answer to be yes, Tate could be starting somewhere else in 2012.
Although he's one of their starting cornerbacks, Aqib Talib has reportedly been put on the trading block by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is a move that makes sense given both the Buccaneers state as a franchise and the state of the secondary.
Obviously the franchise isn't in the best of places, having suffered a 10 game losing streak to close out 2011. 2012 is looking like a rebuilding year as the Buccaneers try to get rid of last year's losing culture. However one of the few positions where they may not need to rebuild is at cornerback.
The Bucs have brought in Eric Wright via free agency. With the fifth overall pick in the draft, they could be in line to land the draft's best cornerback Morris Claiborne. And given Talib's troubles with the law, they could decide that it would be best to just get rid of the talented but troubled player.
Currently the Buccaneers moves have been conflicting as a report has been released denying their plans to move Talib. I would still think that a move could be possible, especially if they draft Claiborne. There are lots of teams looking for good cornerbacks that would be willing to give up a lot to get Talib.
Asante Samuel currently commands a $9.9 million salary as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. This reason as well as depth at cornerback has the Eagles looking to shop Samuel. Ever since free agency began, rumors have popped up about where Samuel could go.
Well none of them have come true yet leaving Samuel still with the Eagles just days before the draft. They know that they could still get good value for Samuel even though he is getting up there in age. He led the league in interceptions in 2009 and only gave up 296 receiving yards during the entirety of last season.
The trouble with a potential Samuel trade is that his value is pretty uncertain right now. Right now it's looking like the Eagles would get either a fourth or fifth round pick for Samuel.
Samuel meanwhile has expressed a willingness to restructure his deal so he would make less money.This should make him far more attractive to most NFL teams and certainly helps his cause. Reports have now come in that the Denver Broncos are interested in him and I would not be surprised at all if he ends up in Denver possibly before the draft starts.
This rumor may sound like a crazy one. Since 2006 Steven Jackson has hands down been the best player on the St. Louis Rams and during most of those seasons, he carried their offense on his back. He has amassed seven consecutive seasons of over 1,000 yards rushing which is the longest current streak in the NFL.
So why would the Rams get rid of Jackson? Well for one thing he'll be 29 years old this season and generally running backs production tends to go down hill at or before the age of 30. Also the Rams have expressed interest in drafting Alabama running back Trent Richardson sixth overall.
It's possible that Jackson and Richardson could co-exist and even make the Rams running game one of the best in the entire NFL. But Jackson has been a workhorse back his entire career and since he hasn't had any noticeable drop off yet, he should still be starting for some NFL team. Richardson meanwhile is a top prospect who figures to start for whoever drafts him immediately.
In addition Jackson has yet to play in a playoff game as the Rams have been awful during his time with them. I think new coach Jeff Fisher will turn things around but it could take awhile especially with all the NFC West's other teams showing improvement in 2011. Maybe it would be better for both the Rams and Jackson if he went to a contending team like the New England Patriots or the New York Jets.