NFL Trade Deadline: The 5 Neediest Playoff Teams
With the NFL's trade deadline just hours away, executives around the league are scrambling to make one last deal that will help their franchise in the short or long term. Teams who have fallen out of serious contention already may try to unload some dead weight, while those vying for playoff position will try to add at spots where they have need.
The NFL deadline is not a bonanza on par with Major League Baseball's deadline, but it usually yields a minor deal or two as teams re-shuffle for the season's second half.
With so many teams left in the hunt this year, there are holes to fill on a dozen or more playoff contenders. Five such teams, though, could really use a boost at one or more positions to make a deep playoff run realistic.
5. Miami Dolphins
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The Dolphins are in third place in the AFC East, but stand at 3-2 after a big overtime win on the road against Green Bay Sunday. They have a strong defensive unit and a few playmakers on offense, but the Dolphins also have some weak points.
The defensive line is a bit of a chink in their armor, especially with rookie defensive end Jared Odrick battling an ankle injury. A number of 3-4 linemen could be available, but none will come cheap. Miami could also use an upgrade on the back end of their receiving corps, though with a ball hawk like Brandon Marshall in place, that guy would likely get relatively few touches anyway.
4. Green Bay Packers
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Injuries have torn into this preseason Super Bowl darling and helped set them back to a mildly disappointing 3-2 start. The Packers have wide receivers galore for stud quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the losses of running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley have put the clamps on what might otherwise have been the league's best offense.
The obvious area of need here is running back, but the Packers could also use a bit of help at linebacker, where the absence of Nick Barnett is conspicuous. Missing out on Marshawn Lynch may have been the big missed opportunity for Green Bay.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chiefs started the year 3-0, but consecutive losses put their playoff hopes a bit more in doubt. Of course, they have relatively little competition in the AFC West, but to get past the first round of the playoffs, they will need to beef up some things.
The offensive line has been inconsistent, which spells trouble for a rhythm offense with no marquee outside receiving threat. Kansas City could get help at either guard spot, or try to open things up by adding to a receiving corps that already features occasional big-play threats Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers.
2. Houston Texans
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If the Texans are serious about winning the AFC South this year (and why not, after beating Indianapolis handily in Week 1?), then they need to shore up some areas that have been weakened badly by injury.
DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing are a great linebacker duo, but the Texans should add some depth at the position to keep the two fresh: Each are battling nagging injuries. The same goes for the strong safety spot and for the wide receivers. Obviously, the Texans cannot address all these things, but if they shore up one and the strong players they have already in place at the others can get healthy, they could get on a roll.
1. Chicago Bears
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Bears quarterbacks have been sacked 19 times in the past three games, and Jay Cutler's brains continue to slosh around his skull while the offensive line tries to get things together. O-line coach Mike Tice had better whip them into shape or risk losing his job.
Instead of counting on a modestly talented group to suddenly discover another gear, though, the Bears might explore trading for a big body who can protect Cutler on the left side of the line.
Aside from offensive line, the team's worst deficiency is on the defensive line, where the disappearance of Tommie Harris has left them without any push in the middle of the trench. Albert Haynesworth, for all his personal turmoil this August, has to look somewhat tempting.