1 Player Each NFL Team Must Target at 2012 Trade Deadline
If there are trade winds blowing in the NFL and nobody feels them, do they really exist?
It’s no secret that the trade deadline in the NFL usually comes and goes without much action, if any, every year. Still, that doesn't mean fans out there can’t dream of how the guys in charge of their favorite NFL team can at least hypothetically improve their squads by pulling off a trade deadline deal.
In order to do that, though, they have to have at least one player targeted. Some targets are more realistic than others, but they could be potential targets nevertheless.
Here’s one trade deadline target for every NFL squad.
New England Patriots: Abram Elam, S, Chiefs
Anyone who follows the New England Patriots knows they have very few weaknesses. Tom Brady is Tom Brady.
The Pats can both run and pass the ball with the best of them. Although banged up, the offensive line has held up very well.
And on defense, the front seven is a young, athletic and aggressive unit. But the secondary is still a liability, especially down the seams. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning and now Russell Wilson have all picked on the Patriots’ safeties in recent weeks.
This is where the Bill Belichick coaching tree comes into play. Chiefs backup safety Abram Elam used to play for Eric Mangini, a Belichick disciple. Current Kansas City and former Patriots front office man Scott Pioli could draw up a deal with Belichick to send Elam to Foxborough to bolster up the safety position.
New York Jets: Donald Driver, WR, Packers
With a completion percentage of less than 50 in 2012, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez deserves some of the blame for Gang Green’s lack of an explosive aerial attack.
But not all of the blame can be placed on his right arm.
With the injury bug biting Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, Sanchez is playing with less than a full deck in the passing game. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum acquiring Packers veteran receiver Donald Driver will give Sanchez an upgrade at receiver.
There have been rumblings out of Green Bay that Driver has been unhappy with his reduced role in the Packers’ 2012 offense. That wouldn't be a problem for Driver in New York, as he would be a prime target on a receiving corps that lacks quality depth at the moment.
Buffalo Bills: Ike Taylor, CB, Steelers
The Buffalo Bills have been torched by opposing quarterbacks in 2012.
From Tom Brady to Alex Smith to even Mark Sanchez getting the better of Buffalo, the Bills need help in the secondary, and fast. That’s why Buffalo should look to trade for Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
This defensive back would give the Bills a physical presence that is sorely lacking in Buffalo’s secondary right now. And Taylor could certainly teach Bills first-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore a thing or two on how to lock down on opposing receivers, something he has yet to do enough of thus far in his pro career.
Miami Dolphins: Ramses Barden, WR, Giants
Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has looked very promising thus far in his young NFL career. Surely, though, fish fans would love to see what the kid can do with another viable receiver on the roster.
Ramses Barden hasn't done much of anything since exploding for nine catches and 138 yards in Week 3, but that one performance alone could be enticing enough for the Dolphins’ brass to make a move.
Barden likely wouldn't be missed in New York, where the Giants have exceptional depth (even without Hakeem Nicks in and out of the lineup) at the receiver position. But having Barden take pressure off of Dolphins receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess could help Joe Philbin’s offense grow even more with Tannehill under center.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Tate, RB, Texans
Part of the problem for the underachieving Pittsburgh Steelers is that they've been very ineffective on the ground so far in 2012. Making a bold move and grabbing Texans’ backup running back Ben Tate could potentially put the “ground” back in ground and pound for Pittsburgh.
Tate is a quality back just waiting to get his chance to start permanently. With Rashard Mendenhall still banged up and Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer failing to get the job done, Tate could give Pittsburgh the offensive balance—and dominant wins—they've been lacking.
Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been a disappointment thus far in his first season as Cincinnati's starting running back. Through the Bengals’ first six games of 2012, Green-Ellis has yet to crack 400 yards rushing and has fumbled more times (three) than he did in his entire New England Patriots career.
Obtaining a quicker, flashier running back in San Francisco’s Kendall Hunter could give Green-Ellis a hand and give the Bengals another dynamic aspect to their running game that they’re currently missing.
The 49ers likely wouldn't be all that reluctant to give up Hunter, either, as they drafted the speedy LaMichael James out of Oregon this past spring. And a 1-2 punch of Hunter and the Law Firm could keep defenses honest, allowing Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to cause further damage in the passing game.
Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Williams, LB, Broncos
The Baltimore Ravens’ defense is hurting right now, literally and figuratively.
For the first time since they moved to Baltimore, the Ravens have surrendered over 200 yards rushing in consecutive games (to the Chiefs and Cowboys). And the Ravens’ D is looking more and more like a M.A.S.H unit, with Lardarius Webb, Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis all suffering devastating injuries, joining stud linebacker Terrell Suggs on the injury list.
Until Suggs returns from his Achilles injury, Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome may look to make a giant splash and acquire suspended Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams. He's serving an extended suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
He's eligible to return to action on November 12. By then, Williams and star linebacker Terrell Suggs (who's returning from an injury of his own) teaming up could be enough for Baltimore to somewhat stem the devastating injury tide.
Cleveland Browns: Anyone Good on Defense
The good news for Cleveland Browns fans is that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and rookie running back Trent Richardson are starting to assert themselves offensively as they continue to get used to the speed of the NFL. This was evident as they played a role in the Browns recently capturing their first win of the season over the Bengals.
The bad news is that Cleveland’s defense is beginning to look pretty vulnerable. They rank in the bottom part of the league in terms of yards surrendered per game both on the ground and through the air.
If they can get anybody decent on the defensive side of the ball at the trade deadline, the Browns should pursue a trade, as the losses aren’t going to stop coming with the defense the way it is currently.
Indianapolis Colts: Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots
With Andrew Luck under center, the sky’s the limit for the Indianapolis Colts offense now and down the road.
But currently, the Colts could use a bit more punch behind Donald Brown in the running game. Enter Shane Vereen. The second-year Patriots running back has struggled to remain healthy through his young NFL career.
Still, he’s youthful and a bruising back, someone the Colts could use.
With Vereen suddenly expendable thanks to a deep running backs group in New England, Indianapolis may be in prime position to trade for the former Cal stud rusher.
Houston Texans: Jordan Senn, LB, Panthers
The Houston Texans are hurting in the front seven—literally, not figuratively. Wade Phillips’ defense remains as stout as ever.
But star defensive end J.J. Watt continues to play with a brace to protect an elbow injury, and stud linebacker Brian Cushing is lost for the year with a torn ACL.
Picking up veteran Panthers outside linebacker Jordan Senn could serve as an adequate replacement for Cushing and help bolster Phillips’ front seven for the remainder of the year.
Tennessee Titans: Geoff Schwartz, OL, Vikings
Titans running back Chris Johnson is slowly but surely starting to become more productive with each passing week. Perhaps Tennessee could speed up Johnson’s momentum even further by adding an upgrade to the offensive line in picking up Vikings guard Geoff Schwartz.
He already has experience opening holes for a premier running back in Adrian Peterson, so it’s not like Schwartz will be spellbound by CJ2K’s presence.
And if I’m an NFL offensive lineman, I’d love to play for the Titans and get coached up by two all-time great hog mollies in Titans head coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Flynn, QB, Seahawks
The one-win Jacksonville Jaguars continue to underwhelm offensively.
But why is this the case?
They have a good offensive line and good backs and receivers in Maurice Jones-Drew, Laurent Robinson, Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis. Point to Jacksonville’s struggling quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, for the Jags’ offensive offense.
New Jags owner Shahid Khan should make a big splash (or roar) at the trade deadline and acquire Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn. After all, Flynn is just sitting on the bench making big money in Seattle.
Why not put that big money to use and play him in Florida?
Denver Broncos: Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns
Willis McGahee isn't getting any younger and Knowshon Moreno isn't getting any better in the Denver Broncos' backfield.
With stud rookie running back Trent Richardson taking the bulk of the carries, backup Browns running backs like Montario Hardesty have suddenly become a little expendable.
Peyton Manning loves the play-action pass, and having another back like Hardesty potentially bolstering the Broncos' rushing attack could make No. 18 all the more dangerous off of fake handoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs: Daniel Fells, TE, Patriots
I already mentioned how the Patriots should acquire Chiefs safety Abram Elam. Naturally, Kansas City should get someone in return from Foxborough, and veteran blocking tight end Daniel Fells would be the one.
Tight end is a position of strength for the Patriots with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the roster. Fells could open up even more lanes for the potent Jamaal Charles and could provide struggling quarterbacks Matt Cassel and/or Brady Quinn another reliable target in the passing game.
San Diego Chargers: Brandon Hughes, CB, Eagles
Getting another cornerback at the NFL trade deadline could help the Bolts stop the bleeding a bit in defending the pass.
Brandon Hughes from the Eagles is a player who can step in right away and contribute on nickel and dime packages. And perhaps he could start a game or two if injuries strike the Bolts’ secondary.
Oakland Raiders: A.J. Hawk, LB, Packers
Even former legendary Oakland Raiders coach Tom Flores believes the silver and black could use an upgrade at linebacker.
This is where A.J. Hawk comes into play. The Raiders aren't ones to shy away from making a splashy trade (see Palmer, Carson).
And since current Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie used to be in the Packers' front office, he’ll know exactly the type of player he’ll be picking up in Hawk.
New York Giants: Jeremy Trueblood, OL, Buccaneers
Believe it or not, but the New York Giants' offensive line is getting up there in age.
The Giants’ starting line boasts over 40 combined years of experience in the NFL. A good way to add some youth and depth to this group of hog mollies would be to trade for Bucs tackle Jeremy Trueblood.
It’s no secret that Tom Coughlin has a soft spot for BC guys, considering how he used to be the head man up in Chestnut Hill. If he and Bucs coach Greg Schiano can get over their differences about taking a knee, maybe this deal comes to fruition.
Philadelphia Eagles: Stewart Bradley, LB, Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Akeem Jordan have been pretty banged up lately. Maybe the Eagles try to re-acquire former Philadelphia and current Arizona Cardinals linebacker Stewart Bradley.
Yes, Bradley has been fighting through injuries of his own so far in 2012. But if he, Kendricks and Jordan can all get back to full strength, linebacker would become a position of strength in the City of Brotherly Love.
Dallas Cowboys: Chad Rinehart, OL, Bills
The last time Jerry Jones made a deal at the trading deadline, he acquired receiver Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions in 2008. Yikes.
Cowboys fans had better hope that didn't make Jones trigger shy, because Dallas could use a bit more offensive line help. The Buffalo Bills are one of the few NFL teams that boast quality depth (surprisingly) on the offensive line.
Fifth-year Bills backup guard Chad Rinehart could solidify the interior of Dallas’ offensive line, opening up running lanes for Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray, while buying quarterback Tony Romo some extra time in the pocket.
Washington Redskins: Marcus Trufant, CB, Seahawks
The Washington Redskins desperately need some help for their secondary, a unit that is surrendering nearly 330 yards in the air per game in 2012. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is notorious for making splashes through player acquisitions.
Maybe Snyder tells GM Bruce Allen to pull the trigger and intercept veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant from Seattle. The former first-round pick is currently sitting behind Richard Sherman on Seattle’s depth chart, so maybe a promise of more playing time lures Trufant to the nation’s capital.
Green Bay Packers: Gino Gradkowski, OL, Ravens
There's no doubt that the Green Bay Packers' offense will only go as far as superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take them.
But if the Green Bay offensive line keeps failing in its efforts to keep Rodgers upright, the Pack won't be attacking opposing defenses much longer, as chances are Rodgers will be eventually knocked out.
Making a trade for rookie offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski is a route Packers GM Ted Thompson could pursue to help his O-line find more stability. Gradkowski can play both guard and center, so his versatility would be a welcomed addition in Green Bay.
Minnesota Vikings: James Sanders, S, Cardinals
Even with a recent loss to the Washington Redskins, life is pretty good for the Minnesota Vikings right now. But Vikings fans have to be slightly concerned that two rookies—and ex-Notre Dame teammates—in Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton have seen so much playing time at both safety positions this season.
Ex-Patriots, Falcons and current Arizona Cardinals veteran safety James Sanders could serve as a valuable acquisition for the Vikings. Sanders would add quality depth to the back end of the defense and could possibly serve as a mentor for Smith, Blanton and other young members of the Vikings secondary.
Detroit Lions: Jorvorskie Lane, FB, Dolphins
The Detroit Lions could use an upgrade in the running back department to alleviate the mountains of pressure mounted every week on Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford to perform at a high level.
The big, bruising fullback/running back Jorvorskie Lane has emerged as someone Detroit GM Martin Mayhew may want to take a flyer on.
The 260-pound, first-year player out of Texas A&M has turned into a reliable goal-line option down in Miami. Lane could bring some aggressiveness to a Lions backfield that, quite frankly, has been virtually nonexistent in the Jim Schwartz era.
Chicago Bears: Kevin Ogletree, WR, Cowboys
With rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery expected to be sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury, it may be in the Chicago Bears’ best interest to pick up a wide receiver at the trade deadline.
Since having a breakout performance in Week 1 against the Giants, Cowboys wideout Kevin Ogletree has been limited to nine catches and zero touchdowns.
That’s why the Bears should buy low here. At the very least, Ogletree will give Chicago depth at receiver until Jeffery and Earl Bennett return from their respective injuries.
Atlanta Falcons: Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs
The Atlanta Falcons have certainly improved their passing offense thus far this season. But if they want to become an even more balanced and explosive offensive, maybe front office buddies Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli pull off a deal that sends underachieving and bruising Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis to Atlanta.
If Hillis can bounce back from a nagging ankle injury, the Falcons could have somewhat of a triple threat with Hillis, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers splitting the handoffs. Then again, Hillis hasn't shown any signs he’s ready to return to his dominant ways of 2010, so it may not even be worth it for Dimitroff to kick the tires on this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin McCourty, DB, Patriots
From Eli Manning to Robert Griffin III, quarterbacks have had their way against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ secondary. In a bold move, Tampa could target Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty.
This move would depend on whether or not current Bucs and former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano would feel confident enough in McCourty (a Rutgers graduate himself) and his abilities to trade for him.
Even if this doesn't come to fruition, don’t be surprised if the Bucs and Pats pull the trigger on future trades, as Schiano and New England coach Bill Belichick have grown comfortable with each other over the years.
Carolina Panthers: Randy McMichael, TE, Chargers
Perhaps the reason why Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been struggling in the passing game is because of a lack of a viable second tight end behind Greg Olsen.
Last year, with Olsen and Jeremy Shockey working in tandem, the Panthers had an added dimension in the passing game that helped Newton pass for over 4,000 yards in 2011.
It may be in Panthers coach Ron Rivera’s best interest to look for help in his old San Diego stomping grounds and trade for veteran tight end Randy McMichael. Getting that two-headed tight end monster back could help the struggling Newton get back on track.
New Orleans Saints: Vonnie Holliday, DE, Cardinals
It’s safe to say the Bountygate scandal has had an especially negative effect on the New Orleans Saints’ defense. Without Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma in the front seven, the Saints’ defense ranks among the worst in many of the NFL’s major defensive categories.
The Cardinals certainly aren't having problems with their front seven unit, which means they likely could afford to part ways with veteran end Vonnie Holliday. The 15-year veteran still has something left in the tank and could give the New Orleans defense the shot in the arm they desperately need.
San Francisco 49ers: Nobody
While the San Francisco 49ers certainly looked abysmal in their NFC Championship Game rematch against the New York Giants, one bad loss doesn't take away from the fact that the 49ers are still arguably the NFL's most complete team.
They’re as stout as they come on defense, with playmakers on all three levels. They have a bruising offensive line, great backs and receivers and two capable quarterbacks in Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
That’s why San Francisco doesn't need to pursue anyone at the NFL trade deadline. And that’s why 49ers GM Trent Baalke can just sit back and watch the league’s most complete team do its thing for the remainder of the season.
Arizona Cardinals: Jason Smith, OL, Jets
The pendulum that is the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback situation has swung back towards John Skelton.
That’s not because current Cards’ QB Kevin Kolb was struggling. It’s because offensive line coach Russ Grimm’s unit is playing so badly that Kolb was bound to get hurt sooner than later.
That’s why Arizona needs an upgrade in the offensive line department.
With former No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Smith riding the pine with the Jets, the Cardinals may be well inclined to trade for him. Having Smith in Arizona could give him the motivation he needs to stick it to the Rams team that drafted him during the Arizona-St. Louis grudge match on November 25.
Seattle Seahawks: Lestar Jean, WR, Texans
Even after carving up a bad Patriots secondary, the Seattle Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson still rank in the bottom part of the NFL in terms of passing yards per game.
Perhaps giving Wilson another weapon at wide receiver will help his development further. Second-year Texans wide receiver Lestar Jean could be had on the cheap, since he’s coming off recent arthroscopic knee surgery and Houston boasts quality depth at the position. It could be a win-win for both sides.
St. Louis Rams: Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
With reliable slot receiver (and Sam Bradford’s go-to target) Danny Amendola expected to be out several more weeks with a collarbone injury, it would make sense for the Rams to acquire someone in Amendola’s mold.
Nobody plays the slot better than New England’s Wes Welker. But Welker is making $9 million this year and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
So will fellow Patriot slot receiver Julian Edelman. But he’s going to come at a much cheaper price, which is why Jeff Fisher and the Rams should pursue the latter.
And for those Rams fans who argue that St. Louis doesn't need two diminutive slot guys, doesn't offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense thrive under receivers like Amendola and Edelman?