NFL: 10 Players Who Should Be Traded Prior to Camp
You wake up at 6:30 AM with the sun already out as the birds begin to chirp. You walk outside as you get ready to go to work or class, and the temperature has a nice seasonal coolness to it that allows you to leave the jacket in the closet today.
All of this of course means one thing: We're getting even closer to the opening of the 2012 NFL season!
With the dust having settled from the NFL Draft, we are now only two months away from NFL teams opening their doors for training camp. For some teams, it means bringing back much of the same team as last year as they prepare to make a run at Super Bowl glory.
For others, they are turning over a new leaf, bringing in a stockpile of rookies and other new talent.
But whether a team is a contender, a re-builder or somewhere in between, every squad has a player—or several players—that should be packing their bags and taking their talents elsewhere. For some, it could be due to contractual reasons. Others may just not fit into the current plans.
Here are 10 players that should be playing for a new team before training camp opens.
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Talk about getting lost in the shuffle.
James Jones has the talent to be a second receiving option on a lot of NFL teams, but in Green Bay, he's third and, with the emergence of Randall Cobb, could very well be fourth next season.
If Donald Driver comes back again, the Packers could live with him, Cobb, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson while trying to get the money to bring in another piece for their currently wretched defense.
Top Landing Spots: Cleavland, Tennessee, Buffalo
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Freeney simply doesn't fit into the Colts' plans to rebuild. Despite the fact they have cut or refused to re-sign almost every other named veteran, Freeney remains on the team.
Unless there is a specific conversation going on where Freeney is volunteering to serve as a defensive mentor, there is no reason for him to stay in Indianapolis. While aging, he still has enough talent left to go and compete for a Super Bowl title somewhere else.
Best Landing Spots: Detroit, New Orleans, Tennessee.
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I want to become a believer in the Carolina Panthers. I really do. But I have absolutely no idea what they are doing tying up so much money in the one position where you can often stick a practice-squad member and find success.
The Panthers now have Williams, Jonathan Stewart and newly signed "fullback" Mike Tolbert on the roster. Unless they are monumentally stupid, they can't keep all three.
Williams has the talent to be a top-ten running back, but last year, he was not exactly stellar so his trade value won't be that high, especially given his high salary.
But at this point, saving that money that could go towards other positions of need (wide receiver?) would be a very wise move.
Best Landing Spots: Detroit, New York Jets, Denver
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For eight years, Jackson has been a faithful servant to the St. Louis Rams franchise, often not making a peep despite playing for one of the worst franchises since his arrival.
It's time the Rams reward that kind of loyalty and give him a chance to win a championship before his career comes to an end.
At 28, Jackson is now "old" by running back standards. We have seen this many times now where a running back sees his production fall off a cliff, and Jackson, who has taken a pounding in his career, is a risk for that to happen to.
But while a team would risk him being the next Shaun Alexander, the reward could be great as well for a team that needs a strong No. 2 running back. If healthy, Jackson is still one of the best rushers in the league, and he could make for one of a dynamic duo at the position.
Best Landing Spots: New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Like Jackson, Thomas has enjoyed some good years with the Saints, but between his age and past injury history, time is not on his side.
The Saints are in a state of disarray, and trading one of the more popular members of the team comes with a risk. But with the Saints so logjammed at the running back position, they should take advantage and try to unload Thomas to a team that could send back a linebacker or defensive lineman to make up for the suspended players such as Jonathan Vilma.
The key here would be to find teams that have some defensive depth to send back some talent for New Orleans
Best Landing Spots: Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Denver
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The 49ers should be trading Crabtree not only because they all of a sudden are loaded at receiver (Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins); they should find a trade partner before Crabtree is officially labeled as a bust.
Touted as a big-time receiver from Texas Tech, Crabtree has not yet been able to materialize into a No. 1 receiver. Though he had over 70 catches one season, he looked lost at times last year and completely unable to shed defensive coverage.
Crabtree can certainly fill a role somewhere in the league, but likely not as a franchise No. 1 wideout. Depending on the location, though, he could make for a very good medium-yardage second or third option.
Best Landing Spots: Chicago, Denver, Baltimore
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LaGarrette Blount has been a nice story the past three seasons. Many people remembered him initially for his post-game tantrum at Oregon, when he slugged a Boise State defensive player.
It marred him the rest of the season, and he was never drafted, signing on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be a backup as an undrafted free agent.
However, he has proven to be one of the best bruising running backs the past two seasons, and more importantly, he has kept his nose clean.
Despite this, it may be time to trade Blount as a new sheriff is in town in Greg Schiano, who looks to use running backs as passing threats and emphasizes protecting the quarterback. Neither of these skills are Blount's strong suit.
True, Blount could split time with new first-round pick Doug Martin, but given the other holes Tampa has, they should use their current No. 1 running back and fetch a good return.
Still young, Blount could have trade value despite being a running back. For a team that needs someone to go between the tackles, this could be your man.
Best Landing Spots: San Diego, Washington, Dallas
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It really is amazing how winning can cure all problems.
It seems like ever since the Giants Super Bowl win four year ago, the team and Umenyiora have had contract and playing-time issues.
Everyone shut up though amidst their second title in four seasons. However, given the trend in the past decade, the Giants will not be going back to the Super Bowl, and thus the drama with Umenyiora will pick it up again.
The Giants should nip it in the butt and trade Umenyiora before it even gets started. He still can be one of the top pass rushers in the league, and there are a number of teams that could use that kind of player on their roster, meaning the Giants could fetch a lot in return.
With Jason Pierre-Paul quickly entering the scene, the Giants can afford to trade Umenyiora and say bon voyage.
However, with his temperament, I would trade him out of the NFC at all costs. If the Giants somehow faced Umenyiora in a big game, this is a case where I could see a traded player getting big-time revenge on his former employer.
Top Landing Spots: Tennessee, Jacksonville, Cincinnati.
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Matt Forte frankly deserves a better fate, but with the two sides inexplicably not coming close to a new deal, the Bears should thing long and hard about trading Forte.
This is a rare case where I don't blame the player at all for wanting out. Forte has been a model citizen in his time in Chicago, who did not hold out last year despite wanting a new contract. He went on to vastly over-perform his deal until he got hurt.
Given the fact that injury was a wake-up call about just how tenuous it is to be an NFL running back, Forte should get what he wants: a contract. However, the Bears have responded by signing Michael Bush.
While Forte should get paid, the Bears' hard-line point-of-view should be that they can find Forte's production from guys like Bush and other potential backs waiting in the wings.
With big needs at offensive line, linebacker and cornerback, the Bears should strongly consider using Forte's value and talent, and give him a new home.
Best Landing Spots: Miami, Indianapolis, New York Jets
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You can already see the end of this tale can't you?
Tim Tebow gets signed by the Jets to be the "backup" quarterback but is already being given No. 1 treatment by the fans and media.
Sanchez, who is one of the more mentally fragile quarterbacks, takes the field in Week 1 of the season and throws two interceptions. He leaves the field listening to a chorus of boos and the fans chanting, "Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!"
The media by the end of the second week call for Tebow to be inserted as the starter. Rex Ryan, fearing for his job, and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, drooling over the possibility of having a wildcat-capable quarterback taking full-time snaps, make the move.
Mark Sanchez is unceremoniously dumped to become the No. 2 quarterback and is subsequently kicked to the curb at the end of the year.
And none of them lived happily ever after.
Many people envision that type of scenario taking place. So before it happens, trade Sanchez and let him be someone else's pet project.
You know what would be an ironic trading partner? The Denver Broncos.
Sure, they got their own rookie project, but if the Jets gave them a call, I bet they would listen. A good bit of me believes John Elway would love to show the world that he was right and has the better quarterback.
If Sanchez were to be traded, it's quite possible he sits for a year. Ultimately though, I think this guy could succeed if he is coached properly and gets out of a huge media market.
Other Landing Spots: Seattle, Arizona