NFL Trade Deadline: Deals We Would Most Like to See
Let's be frank right from the get-go. Most of the trades we'll be discussing here have no chance of actually happening. Trades involving big-name players are a rarity in today's NFL.
However, they do still take place. Earlier this season, the Indianapolis Colts sent their 2014 first-round pick to the Browns in exchange for Cleveland running back Trent Richardson.
What if they weren't so rare, though? What if football was more like baseball and more teams made deals in advance of the Oct. 29 NFL trading deadline?
We might just see deals like these plausible blockbusters that would change the NFL landscape in a heartbeat.
Josh Gordon to the Indianapolis Colts
Of all the deals mentioned here, this one is far and away the most likely to actually happen.
With their win over the Denver Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts established themselves as a bona fide Super Bowl contender in the AFC. The Colts hold victories over the Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
However, their Week 7 victory came at a steep price, with wide receiver Reggie Wayne going down with a season-ending ACL injury. That puts the Colts in a bind at wide receiver and should make them one of a number of teams that have expressed interest in Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Gordon's two-game suspension at the start of this season underscores the risk involved in acquiring him, but he is also an immensely talented young receiver.
A second-round pick in return would probably get it done, and these teams already have each other on speed dial.
The Colts showed with the Richardson trade that they're in win-now mode, while the Browns are stockpiling picks for next year's deep draft.
Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Adrian Peterson to the Dallas Cowboys
It's likely that there's not much to these discussions. For the Vikings to consider trading the reigning NFL MVP, they would have to receive a "Godfather" offer.
If that offer were to come along, the Vikings would have to at least consider it. Yes, the 28-year-old Peterson is a phenomenal player, but he's also highly paid and is at an age where players at his position generally begin to deteriorate.
A big package of picks would be tempting. There has to be a team at the other end of that blockbuster motivated enough to gamble the future for the present's sake.
Enter the Dallas Cowboys.
Owner Jerry Jones wants another Super Bowl win in the worst way. Running back DeMarco Murray is nicked up again, and the Cowboys are just a different offensive team with a capable running back on the field.
Pretty sure that Peterson counts for a bit more than "capable."
Fans in Minnesota would be livid, fans in Dallas would be ecstatic, and the NFC would be a much different place.
Ben Roethlisberger to the Minnesota Vikings
What if the Vikings are buyers rather than sellers? What if general manager Rick Spielman believes that the 2012 Vikings are closer to the true incarnation of the team than this year's club and that they're only a player or two away? Like, say the only need a competent quarterback.
Meanwhile, while even considering such a thing in Pittsburgh is considered treason most foul, here are a few realities about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger is an icon in Pittsburgh after winning a pair of Super Bowls. He's also a 31-year-old signal-caller with a huge cap number and has taken a ton of punishment over the past few seasons. The offensive line in front of him is a train wreck.
A Super Bowl-winning, franchise quarterback being traded in-season would never happen, but it's not like the Steelers haven't considered moving on from Roethlisberger in the past.
Minnesota gets its 37th quarterback (and a veteran at that—a Minnesota tradition) and the Steelers embrace the rebuilding process whether they want to or not.
Jared Allen to the Denver Broncos
This one is actually more than a little plausible.
At the end of the 2013 season, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen's contract will expire. As Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reported, there hasn't been any discussion of an extension of late, and it's looking more and more like the 31-year-old will hit free agency.
That may lead the Vikings to consider getting something in return, and there's one potential suitor that leaps to mind.
The Denver Broncos lost their first game of the season in Week 7. Over the past several weeks, their defense has been badly exposed. That's partially due to their inability to rush the passer with the same effectiveness that they did in 2012. After leading the NFL in sacks last season, the Broncos rank 11th through eight weeks this season.
Sure, some of that is due to the absence of Von Miller, but losing Elvis Dumervil has been felt on the defensive line as well. Allen would pick up that slack, and then some.
The Broncos are close enough to the finish line (i.e. the Super Bowl) to justify risking a pick on "renting" Allen, especially given the attractive combo of security and winning they could offer him if they choose to keep him next spring.
It makes quite a bit of sense for both sides, actually.
Justin Blackmon to the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons entered 2013 as a leading Super Bowl contender after falling short in last year's NFC Championship Game.
This season has been an injury-filled disaster, and at 2-5, the Falcons' playoff chances are circling the drain.
If the Falcons are set on trying to sneak into a wild-card spot, then something needs to be done to bolster an offense that lost its vertical threat when Julio Jones injured his foot.
Atlanta might be able to get that help from the NFL's worst team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars appear headed for another top-three pick in next year's draft, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, former Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli recently singled out wide receiver Justin Blackmon as a player who could be traded.
It makes some sense. Blackmon was a pick of former GM Gene Smith. He's as troubled as he is talented, and his next scrape with the NFL could get him a one-year suspension.
On the other hand, depending on the draft pick Atlanta would give in return, dealing for Blackmon could easily be worth the risk for the Falcons.
It's not necessarily just a short-term deal, either. There's a reason why Blackmon was drafted fifth overall.
If the Falcons could keep him out of trouble, Blackmon and Jones, along with quarterback Matt Ryan, could form the foundation of a dynamic passing offense for years to come in Atlanta.
Tony Gonzalez to the Kansas City Chiefs
This is another trade that's highly unlikely.
After all, even with the Atlanta Falcons struggling through an injury-filled mess of a 2013 season, star tight end Tony Gonzalez has made it clear that he's not interested in being traded.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports, Gonzalez stated flatly, "I didn’t ask for a trade. That wasn’t me. I signed up, and this is the team that I came back to play with these guys on this team."
However, should the Falcons explore getting something in exchange for dealing the greatest tight end in NFL history, there's one team that would almost certainly be interested.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL's last undefeated team, but that doesn't mean they don't have issues. One of the biggest is at the tight end position, which has been ravaged with injuries.
As Greg Garber of ESPN.com points out, Gonzalez would be a huge upgrade over Sean McGrath and a very nice target for quarterback Alex Smith over the middle.
There's also a certain symmetry to Gonzalez making one last playoff run with the team that was his home for 12 seasons.
Dealing a pick for a player that will probably only be with the Chiefs for a few months is an aggressive move, but sometimes an NFL team needs to know when to seize the moment.
Carpe Gonzo, Andy Reid!
Hakeem Nicks to the New England Patriots
On one hand, the New England Patriots are 6-2 and sitting in first place in the AFC East.
However, all is not necessarily well in Beantown.
Tom Brady has had one-touchdown outings in two of the last four games. The Patriots, who ranked fourth in the NFL in passing offense in 2012, have dropped to 20th this year.
Granted, the Patriots just got tight end Rob Gronkowski back, but injuries and inconsistent play have combined to make the New England receiving corps a crapshoot.
In short, if the Pats are serious about another Super Bowl run, they have to get better on offense.
Meanwhile, this season has been a complete disaster for the New York Giants. At 2-6, they are effectively out of the playoff hunt at the season's halfway point.
That leaves them facing some tough questions, including about Hakeem Nicks' future.
The 25-year-old Nicks, who is in the last year of his rookie deal, has struggled in 2013, a fact that head coach Tom Coughlin readily admitted to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News:
You’ve got to get to the point where the reliability factor is there as strongly as it always has been. Has it been there up to this point? No. But we’re saying "Let’s get back to work and get this done." We count on this guy.
If Nicks' struggles are enough to have dissuaded the Giants from making a big push to re-sign him, then now is the time to move him. It would be risky to deal for a player in a contract year, but the fact remains that Nicks is a very talented player who would be "playing for his supper."
A motivated Nicks could provide a steadying force in the passing game for the Patriots, and New England would have a formidable stable of pass-catchers if they can get everyone healthy for the stretch run.
Kirk Cousins to Houston Texans
The Houston Texans entered the 2013 season with Super Bowl aspirations after taking home the AFC South title each of the past two years.
However, at 2-5, those hopes are all but dashed. Fans are burning Matt Schaub jerseys in the stadium parking lot. Calls have begun for head coach Gary Kubiak to get the axe.
Generally speaking, panic trades aren't a good idea in the NFL. There is, however, an exception for every rule.
For the Texans, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is that exception.
It wouldn't be easy. Cousins saw playing time in Week 8 when Robert Griffin was banged up in a loss to the Denver Broncos. The Redskins aren't going to be eager two part with their safety net under center, especially when that safety net has shown the ability to be an effective NFL quarterback.
However, the Redskins share the same 2-5 record as the Texans. The team has plenty of holes, especially on defense. A high draft pick (or two) could go a long way toward filling some of those holes next year.
It's a bold but unlikely move, as acquiring Cousins isn't going to propel the Texans back into the postseason hunt.
What it would do, though, is send a message to the Houston fanbase that 2013 is an aberration and the Texans are serious about it being a one-year thing.