How the Landscape of the NFL Could Have Changed with 5 Trades
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The NFL trade deadline was not a complete dud, with two trades happening before the extended time frame elapsed. Due to Superstorm Sandy, the Tuesday deadline was moved to Thursday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded wide receiver Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions earlier in the week. Right at the deadline, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded suspended cornerback Aqib Talib to the New England Patriots.
One question that will be interesting to find out in the coming days is if Talib would have been dealt without the extra two days. That extension led to much speculation on who may or may not be on the move.
All those rumors were just that, but for fun, I am looking at five trades that realistically could have made sense. Each trade would benefit each trading partner, as one team looks to make a playoff push this season and the other looks to the future.
St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson to the Green Bay Packers
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If you know anything about Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, you know he loves having draft picks and building through the draft. Thompson rarely even dips his toes into the unrestricted free-agent market. But Thompson did try to find a quick fix for his team’s lack of running game by signing Cedric Benson this offseason.
Benson has not been healthy and the Packers run game has been anemic. The Rams restructured Jackson’s deal so he can more or less be a free agent after the season. If the Rams could have snatched a mid- to late-round pick for the power runner, both teams would have benefited.
Jackson fits the one cut and go blocking scheme of the Packers and is very good as a pass blocker. Jackson would not be asked to carry the football 30 times a game, but he would help balance out the run-to-pass ratio for the Packers.
The timing is different of course, but the move could have been similar to running back Antowain Smith jump-starting his career in New England in 2001 and helping Tom Brady win a Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe to the Minnesota Vikings
Bowe is playing on the franchise tag and according to Yahoo's Jason Cole, the star receiver has been unhappy for awhile. Much speculation was that Bowe was headed out of town at the trade deadline and one of the prime rumors was playing for the Miami Dolphins.
A better location for Bowe would have been Minnesota. The Vikings are 5-3 and in the hunt for the NFC North crown. Minnesota has one of the best playmakers in the NFL in wide receiver Percy Harvin. Running back Adrian Peterson is one of the best to ever play.
What the Vikings are missing is an outside receiver to complement Harvin. The team signed Jerome Simpson in the offseason from Cincinnati, hoping the former Coastal Carolina star could be a weapon. But Bowe is simply a better option and better player.
Bowe would have given head coach Leslie Frazier and quarterback Christian Ponder a weapon unlike any currently on the roster and could have been the difference-maker in swinging the NFC North in the Vikings favor.
Green Bay Packers WR Greg Jennings to the Miami Dolphins
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This idea will send the Packer faithful into an uproar because Jennings is one of the best Packer receivers in team history and a huge fan favorite. But the Packer great has missed a majority of the season with injury and is expected to be out for at least another month.
Jennings tweeted a picture of himself after successful surgery on his abdomen on Thursday, so he is on the road to recovery, but Jennings is also in the last year of his contract with the Packers and more than likely will move on after the 2012 season.
Trading for an injured player would have been a major risk for any team, but like Patriots Bill Belichick showed by trading for a suspended player in Talib, Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland is a risk taker. Ireland traded away Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and starting cornerback Vontae Davis.
Trading for Jennings would not have been such a risk for Miami as other teams due to head coach Joe Philbin’s familiarity with Jennings and Jennings' knowledge of a similar offensive scheme.
The Packers have shown they can win without Jennings. To have gotten a fifth- or sixth-round pick for a player who may only play four more games is a Packer uniform would have been a coup.
New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram to the Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Steelers are similar to the Packers' philosophy in terms of rarely trading for players or signing big-name free agents. The Steelers are a home-grown team who believes in drafting well and coaching the players well.
Ingram, a ballyhooed selection for the Saints last year, has been miscast in the Saints offense and is rarely used. Ingram is tough, finishes runs and would be a perfect addition under head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
With the injuries to starter Rashard Mendenhall, the running game of the Steelers has been hit-or-miss. Ingram would bring the physicality back to the offense that the Steelers got from a healthy Mendenhall.
At 4-3 and in a tough AFC North, Ingram could have helped the Steelers offense much like his Alabama backfield mate, Trent Richardson, is doing for the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers could have used the likes of Ingram come December and January.
Cleveland Browns WR/KR Josh Cribbs to the New England Patriots
Cribbs is an afterthought as a receiver in Cleveland, yet is still one of the most dynamic returners in the NFL.
The Browns are more than likely cleaning house after the season with new president Joe Banner already making sweeping changes in the organization. Cribbs is in the last year of his contract and the asking price would have been minimal.
The Patriots are solid in the receiving corps with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. New England also has tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
What the Patriots lack is a major threat as a returner on special teams. A trade for Cribbs relieves a starting cornerback, Devin McCourty, from doing kickoff returns. The Patriots' best punt returner is also their best receiver, Welker.
Trading for Cribbs would have added a completely different dimension to Patriots in the return game as well as special formations and packages on offense. This trade could have swung the balance of the AFC into New England's favor.