Unlike other professional sports, the day of the NFL’s midseason trading deadline doesn’t usually make for a lot of headlines.
If deals are to be struck in this league, they usually happen in the offseason during the free-agency period or in the days leading up to or days of the NFL draft.
And that’s what we’re forecasting here.
Yes, these are trades we would like to see happen. We’re not checking the chart for ultimate value.
Will they occur? Obviously there are no guarantees. But the key here is trades we "would like to see," meaning moves that would improve both teams either immediately or over the course of time.
As a famous Don once put it, "It’s not personal. It’s just business."
Can’t recall if that was Shula or Knotts?
Yes, we know that in 2004, the San Diego Chargers drafted quarterback Eli Manning with the first-overall pick. The Bolts later traded the rights to him to the New York Giants for the rights to quarterback Philip Rivers (selected fourth overall) and other considerations.
Here, we’re talking about dealing the pick before the selection is made. The last time that happened was back in 2001, when the Chargers dealt their first-overall choice to the Atlanta Falcons, who went on to pick quarterback Michael Vick.
And we’re going to play a hunch and say the Kansas City Chiefs send the No. 1 pick to the Miami Dolphins, who’ve enjoyed an aggressive off-season. For that top choice, Miami sends a first- (12), second- (42) and fifth- (146) round choice to the Chiefs for that first-overall choice and select tackle Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M).
That would be ironic, considering the last time a quarterback wasn’t the first overall pick in the draft was 2008, when these same Dolphins took Michigan tackle Jake Long with the pick.
General manager Reggie McKenzie’s second season with the Silver and Black still has him busy playing housekeeper.
As in reworking the Oakland Raiders roster and hopefully using the draft for this once-proud franchise. McKenzie has used free agency to basically rebuild his team’s defense, literally from top to bottom.
The Raiders have seven picks in this April’s draft but none in the second and fifth rounds. The former was still payment for now-former Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer. The fifth-rounder was partial payment for linebacker Aaron Curry, another deal made by the old Oakland regime back in 2011.
In need of more picks, the Raiders turn to the team with the most in the San Francisco 49ers (13), which have multiple selections in every round except the first and the fifth. McKenzie sends the third-overall pick to the Niners for the 31st- (first round) and 34th- (second round) overall selections, as well as the 128th pick in the fourth round. McKenzie continues his rebuilding with more choices.
The 49ers select talented University of Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.
Could the New York Giants actually be considering dealing away their top pass-catcher?
Wide receiver Victor Cruz has led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown grabs each of the last two seasons. But the former undrafted free-agent find is currently a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his one-year tender.
Even so, the Giants would obviously like to get him under contract long term. But that doesn’t appear to be in the cards any time soon.
Meanwhile, the two-time AFC South champion Houston Texans do have a need at wide receiver. Hence, general manager Rick Smith flip-flops first-rounders with the Giants, who move down from 19th to 27th but also get the Texans’ second-round pick (57th) in exchange for Cruz.
It’s back to business for the New England Patriots.
Last April, Bill Belichick and company would forego their recent trend of stockpiling future picks and not only moved up but moved back in the first round to grab defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower with the 21st- and 25th-overall selections, respectively.
Those young players, combined with the recent additions of defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (Oakland Raiders) and strong safety Adrian Wilson (Arizona Cardinals) have to have Belichick feeling better about his defense.
The Patriots have only five selections in this draft, including no picks in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. But look for the team to orchestrate a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals and secure that team’s first-round pick in 2014.
Just for old time’s sake.
In 2012, the New Orleans Saints gave up more total yards in a season than any team in NFL history.
Hence, that’s one reason defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is now history in the Crescent City.
While no one person is to blame for that kind of a performance, someone apparently had to take the fall.
Now it’s suddenly well-traveled coordinator Rob Ryan to the rescue, late of the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones’ defense is now under the guidance of coach Monte Kiffin.
So since the trip from Dallas to New Orleans isn’t overly far, we’ll say that the Saints (with only five picks in this draft) deal defensive end Will Smith to the Cowboys for the team’s third-round selection (80th). Kiffin gets a solid defensive end, Anthony Spencer moves back to outside linebacker and New Orleans gets another pick to aid that defense.
Nice and easy, lemon squeezy.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has always done a great job securing talent for the team.
And the executive’s track record in the first round is as good as it gets.
Usually the Steelers stand pat and let the draft fall to them. There are exceptions to the rule, like in 2006 when the team moved up a few spots in the first round to grab wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
We see something similar this season as Pittsburgh moves up three spots to No. 14 and gives the Carolina Panthers not only the No. 17 selection but a third-round pick (79th).
And the Steelers grab University of Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Here’s some kudos for Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who didn’t stand pat last April when it came to improving his team.
When it was all said and done, the Purple Gang wound up with two first-round picks and it’s safe to say both left tackle Matt Kalil and free safety Harrison Smith made their presence as rookies. Other picks, such as cornerback Josh Robinson (third round) and wideout Jarius Wright (fourth round), could play bigger roles in 2013.
The Vikings have a pair of first-round picks with their own (23rd), as well as the Seattle Seahawks (25th), part of the compensation for sending wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Pacific Northwest.
We won’t try and predict just which team Minnesota will make the deal with. But Spielman has 11 selections at his disposal this year and don’t be shocked if the 25th pick and perhaps another selection are invested into a first-round choice in 2014.
This offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs gave left tackle Branden Albert the franchise tag and the veteran blocker has signed his tender.
But that doesn’t mean Albert will still be with the Chiefs in 2013.
Meanwhile, it’s safe to say that the Arizona Cardinals could use some help on the offensive line. The team finished dead last in the NFL in rushing offense and gave up a league-high 58 sacks.
In fact, over the course of the last three seasons, the Cards have allowed a whopping 162 sacks, 50 or more in each of those campaigns.
So the Chiefs send Albert to the Cardinals for a second-round pick in 2014. As we know, Andy Reid also knows something about stockpiling future selections.
Who would have thought that the Buffalo Bills would become a pipeline for the Tennessee Titans?
The irony is amazing, considering the last time we saw the Bills in the playoffs it came in the famous (or infamous) “Music City Miracle” loss to the Titans in the 1999 Wild Card round.
But consider that both quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and safety George Wilson—released by the Bills this offseason—each signed with the Titans. And steady guard Andy Levitre took the free-agency route to Nashville in March.
So now it’s time to return the favor. The Titans trade talented but sometimes troubled wide receiver Kenny Britt to Buffalo for a third-round pick in April (71st overall). He’ll pair with Stevie Johnson to give new quarterback Kevin Kolb a pretty nice tandem.
A year ago at this time, the Atlanta Falcons were without first- and fourth-round selections due to general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s work in 2011. A trade with the Cleveland Browns enabled the Falcons to grab wide receiver Julio Jones.
It’s safe to say that deal has worked out for Atlanta. Jones has been as good as advertised and did wind up being selected to the Pro Bowl last year.
Now the Falcons, tied for the NFL’s best record in 2012 (13-3) but still looking for its first Super Bowl appearance since 1998, has 11 overall selections in this year’s draft. It’s worth noting that four of those are compensatory picks, which cannot be traded.
That doesn’t mean that Dimitroff can’t part ways with some of his other selections. And we’ll play a hunch here that the team moves its second-round pick for some future considerations in 2014.
But not before the Falcons add to their pass rush this year with the 30th-overall selection in 2013.