Several trades have been mooted as possibilities as soon as regular league business is allowed to resume. As usual, quarterbacks have dominated most of the trade headlines.
The quarterback needy NFC West features at least two teams who will be giving serious consideration to potential swap deals involving Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton and Kevin Kolb.
All of these deals have some merit, but if as long as the lockout continues and the 2011 season remains in jeopardy, the shelf life of these trades is threatened. Teams with trade-able commodities realise that that making them available in 2011, represents their best chance to achieve favourable value for these players.
Attempts to deal away the same talent in 2012 is only likely to fetch less as potential suitors will realise teams wanting to trade are obviously desperate to part ways with certain players.
Here is a list of seven players possibly up for trade, whose teams should hope to deal in 2011 in order to achieve maximum value.
With a new quarterback to install, now is the ideal time for Minnesota to look at refreshing its stout defense. The Williams Wall is not going to last forever in Minnesota. Kevin and Pat Williams are the Vikings two best run stoppers. As the foundation of an ageing unit, this is the first area Vikings coach Leslie Frazer should look to inject some youth.
Dorsey has failed to live up to the status of being the second overall selection in the 2008 draft. Being thrust into unfamiliar systems in Kansas City, has done little to aid the development of this more natural, gap penetrating 4-3 tackle. At 6'1" Dorsey seems ill suited to the two gap responsibilities of Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's traditional, Parcells-style 3-4.
A trade in 2011 makes sense for both parties. The Vikes would receive a young potential filled defensive tackle, hungry to prove himself. Dorsey would return to a system which suits him and he could add some valuable speed to the interior of the Minnesota defensive line.
For the Chiefs moving quickly on Dorsey would allow them to find and acclimatise a more suitable replacement at the five technique position. Kansas City would also find it easier to fetch a settlement more fitting to their original investment in Dorsey, if they deal in 2011.
Allowing Dorsey to provide another year' s film of sub-par performances in a system he doesn't fit, might only serve to solidify the growing concerns that he is a draft bust, in the minds of interested general managers and coaches.
It may be too soon to give up on Dorsey though. Especially as the exisiting system might easily be tweaked to accommodate his talents. The Vikings would need to be fairly certain that system has been Dorsey's only problem.
As talented a player as Osi Umenyiora is, his now annual outbursts about playing time and fiscal respect, must surely be beginning to grate the nerves of the Big Blue hierarchy. In 2009-10, Umenyiora was upset about his lack of playing time and the defensive system. Now in 2011 his grievances concern his salary.
Already possessing a deep defensive line rotation and with Umenyiora scheduled to turn 30 during the season, the Giants could reasonably decide that Osi is no longer worth this much hassle. If the Giants were to opt for a trade, one of the teams who should certainly pounce on Umenyiora are the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Desperately in need of a more credible pass-rush after registering a measly sacks combined in the last two seasons, the Jaguars could transform their defense if they paired Umenyiora with fellow edge rusher Aaron Kampman. Jacksonville has some decent young talent and defensive tackle with Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu. Manufacturing more pressure would give them a dangerous front seven and alleviate the stress suffered by an over exposed secondary.
On his day Kampman can still dominate. But his recent injury record raises serious doubts about his ability to last a full season. With playmakers on offense, adding a playmaker like Umenyiora to the defense, would make the Jaguars a legitimate dark horse in the tough AFC South.
The longer the Giants leave a disgruntled Umenyiora in place, the more they risk his griping alienating the locker room and the more his insistence on starting, delays the development of Jason Pierre-Paul. But it's hard to deny that Umenyiora is a productive player. The Giants are built to win now and this team's window for a second title will only be closer to shutting in 2012.
If the Bengals are really serious about changing the pace and image of their offense, then there is no better time than now for them to consider dealing Chad Ochocinco.
Ochocinco's frustration in Cincinnati increased during last season, when he often complained about the small number of passes coming his way. His off the field antics are probably becoming tiresome for the Bengals front office. Ochocinco's erratic behaviour hardly offers an endorsement to the coaching staff that the veteran would make a suitable leader to a young receiving corps.
In Washington the chief offseason priority for Mike Shanahan is to resolve a murky quarterback situation. As things stand streaky Rex Grossman and unproven John Beck are the leading candidates. If Santana Moss departs in free agency the Redskins lose their only dependable receiver to aid an uncertain triggerman.
A deal involving Ochocinco would appear ideal for both the Bengals and the Redskins. Shanahan would get a highly durable, proven number one receiver to help expand a mediocre passing game. Cincinnati would remove a large salary from the payroll and begin a true fresh start on a rebuilding offense.
But follwing the Redskins experiences with Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth, trading for another diva would threaten the new culture of accountability Mike Shanahan is attempting to create. At 33, Ochocinco would also seem a bad fit for Shanahan's desire to get younger. Trading away Ochocinco would rob Bengals rookie Andy Dalton of his only experienced target.
One year older at 34, Ochocinco would be that much harder for the Bengals to shift in 2012, especially if his on the field sulking continues to undermine his production. Cincinnati would almost certainly find themselves in the situation of having to release Ochocinco for nothing, rather than collecting a future draft pick for him now.
There may be mixed signals emerging from Carolina about the future of Steve Smith, but the one thing that is clear is that if the Panthers are considering a deal, 2011 is the time to do it.
Coming off a 2-14 season and embarking on rebuilding project with a rookie head coach in Ron Rivera and a rookie quarterback in Cam Newton, it's clear the Panthers have many needs to address. Engineering a trade for Smith would allow the franchise to accrue valuable picks in 2012, which could help accelerate Carolina's return to the playoffs.
While Smith would no doubt offer some benefit to a rookie quarterback, his frustrations at the lack of a competent passing game for the last two seasons could finally boil over. Forced to embed a lot of young talent, the Panthers must be wary of the affect an unhappy senior player could have on a developing, delicate team chemistry.
Smith has become such a senior figure in Carolina, that if Newton and junior receivers like David Gettis fail to match his demanding style of play, the youngsters risk chafing under the ire of the all pro receiver.
But Carolina must be wary about trading away their best weapon as Cam Newton begins his NFL career. The chances of resurrecting the league's worst offense would be greatly reduced without a playmaker the calibre of Smith. His absence would undoubtedly increase the pressure on Newton to make things happen himself during his first pro season.
A player of Smith's talents would certainly generate a lot of interest on the trade market. The Patriots are an intriguing possible trade partner. With Smith and Brady both 32, the Patriots could see pairing both veterans together as an ideal combination to ensure delivery of a fourth Super Bowl.
Smith would enhance the big play potential of the New England passing attack. If the Patriots went through 2011 without a credible deep threat who can truly stretch the field, defenses would be encouraged to adopt the same blanket, press coverage that served the New York Jets so well in the Divisional Playoffs.
At the same time the Patriots have always valued their stockpiled draft picks and Bill Belichick would be loathed to part with any. Given their recent move to get younger on defense, trading for an ageing player on offense may create a puzzling discrepancy on the roster.
New Broncos head coach John Fox has to decide if Tim Tebow is the future. If so, then Kyle Orton is unlikely to want to warm the bench in Denver after a career year in 2010.
The Arizona Cardinals have a glaring need at quarterback. They have been widely fancied to make a play for Philadelphia Eagles second-stringer Kevin Kolb. But the Cardinals will face strong competition for Kolb from within their own division. The Eagles demand for first round compensation might also be too a high a price to pay for a player with a limited number of starts.
Orton would bring valuable starting experience and he proved last season that he is capable of putting up impressive numbers in a pass first offense. If the Broncos are not going to start Orton then there best chance of achieving fair market value for him in a trade is now.
Letting Orton sit on the bench for the 2011 season could diminish the value of his productive 2010 season as a bargaining chip in any deal. Teams contemplating a move for a player used sparingly or not at all, are likely to offer less.
Trading Orton while his banner year is still fresh in the minds of league general managers is betting than forcing them to concentrate on his uneven tenure as a starter for the Chicago Bears, in the search for game material.
John Fox's ability to produce a quick turnaround is well known. His chances of doing the same in Colorado could be seriously undermined if he chose to rely on a quarterback as untested as Tebow.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has a lot of young talent on offense. It would seem more sense to pair his fledgling playmakers with a youthful quarterback. Installing another short-term solution in 2012 could leave the Cardinals stuck in transition.
Retaining Kevin Kolb as insurance against injury to starter Michael Vick for another year, only diminishes any trade value he might have in 2012. With the Eagles determined to secure a king's ransom for Kolb, their only option is to try and push through such a deal in 2011.
The Seattle Seahawks are the team often mentioned as the most likely landing spot for Kolb. With Matt Hasselbeck's future in doubt, the reigning NFC West Champions certainly have a need. The danger of this trade for both teams lies in Seattle's prospects for 2011.
After managing to win the division with a meagre 7-9 record, the Seahawks face the prospect of having to navigate a division winners schedule. This is a daunting scenario for a team with a shaky defense and a patchwork offensive line.
With the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams both possessing more talent, 7-9 is unlikely to win the division in 2011. The Seahawks could well need a first and second round draft choice in 2012.
If the Seahawks find themselves positioned in the early part of the first round at the 2012 draft, their draft picks will be that much more precious to them. They would be much more likely to draft a rookie passer, than mortgage valuable selections to land a career backup.
With the Eagles determined to secure a king's ransom for Kolb, their only option is to try and push through such a deal in 2011 or set a more realistic value.
Trading a player initially given a contract worth $100 million would be a tough pill to swallow. But the Washington Redskins rebuilding project is only likely to gain momentum once the distraction of Albert Haynesworth has been put to rest.
Keeping Haynesworth on the roster only increases the tension at Redskins Park. Haynesworth's attitude and performances in Washington will have severely culled the field of potential trade suitors. The redskins best bet is to encourage interest from teams already familiar with what Haynesworth can do on those rare occasions he is motivated.
When the Detroit Lions drafted Auburn standout Nick Fairely to partner the dynamic Ndamukong Suh, it was clear that Haynesworth's former defensive coordinator Jim Schwarz had no attention of luring him to the Motor City.
Haynesworth's old team the Tennessee Titans have a new coach and questions and more pressing questions at quarterback. The best bet for the Redskins is Philadelphia, where Haynesworth may jump at the chance to reunite with his mentor and new Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
Haynesworth's selfish antics have made it impossible for the Redskins to expect fair trade value for the disgruntled defensive tackle. Subjecting the NFL to another year of Haynesworth's tantrums would likely result in Washington receiving only a seventh round pick as compensation in 2012. Trading him to division foe and being subjected to him twice a year, would be a difficult sell in the absence of premium remuneration.
The Eagles could be the one team most likely to offer the Redskins a deal at least closer to what Mike Shanahan might desire. With a glowing recommendation from a coach like Washburn and everything else seemingly in place, Philadelphia may decide that adding Haynesworth is the necessary ingredient to put the franchise over the top.
With the expectation and pressure for the Eagles to win their first Super Bowl at its highest, Andy Reid could be forced into offering a healthy sum to snare Haynesworth. With egos like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy already on the team, adding Haynesworth may not provide the best environment for Michael Vick's continued rehabilitation.
If Haynesworth's temperament gets the better of him again, Reid could find himself in the same boat as Shanahan. Washburn may even develop an existing talent in 2011.