The NFL isn't a league that facilitates many in-season trades, and at face value, it's hard to understand why.
The NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement this past offseason that moved the trade deadline back two weeks—from the Tuesday after Week 6 to the Tuesday after Week 8 (h/t NFL.com's Albert Breer).
Such a move seemed like it might open up the trade market more than in years past, as teams with playoff aspirations could potentially make a move or two to bolster their rosters heading into the second half of the season.
But here we are at the beginning of Week 6, and the rumor mill is almost completely devoid of any legitimate trade chatter.
Why is that?
Good Teams Build Through the Draft
The Buffalo Bills tried to buy a championship this past offseason by paying big bucks to Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. They needed to improve their defense, and they hoped that they could do so by bringing in a couple of big-name, big-play guys.
Clearly, the experiment isn't working.
Trading for a player midseason may sound like a great option. Team A has a need that Team B could provide, so what could go wrong?
Teams that find success in this league build for the long term, and short-term solutions rarely work.
There's a big reason for this, and it can't go unspoken.
If the NFL were like fantasy football, many of us could put together killer teams.
In real life, though, selecting a group of 53 players that work well with one another is more of an art form than a pure science.
Introducing a new face and new attitude into a locker room midway through a season is a difficult thing to do, and teams are more likely to fill a need with a player they've been working with since the beginning of training camp than bring in a new face.
That's why so many practice-squad guys end up on the regular roster of teams that end up getting decimated by injury.
Team chemistry is as essential to any winning team as having talent. It takes both.
But the most important reason we don't see many trades happening before the deadline in the NFL boils down to one thing: money.
Salary caps are incredibly fluid from year to year.
Anyone who's played Madden and plays the franchise mode can tell you how tricky it can be after the first two seasons. I've ended up restarting more franchises than I can count, just because I couldn't keep track of all the tricky ins-and-outs of the NFL salary cap.
I'm no expert, so I'll turn to someone who is.
Keith Kidd of Scouts Inc, via ESPN.com talks about the salary cap:
Finding a trade partner might seem simple enough for a team with a desirable or gifted player who, for whatever reason, simply no longer is a good fit. But making the numbers work under the cap often is an extremely complex problem that can be far more trouble than it's worth, especially when considering in-season trades. Because of prorated signing bonuses and salary accelerations, taking on a player with multiple years left on his contract can severely limit a franchise's flexibility to sign (or re-sign) players in the future.
Simply put, it's more of a hassle than it's worth to try to bring in that particular someone who may or may not mesh well with your current team, but who fills a need.