NFL Free Agency: 6 Players Who Could Create Boom or Bust Trades
As teams see holes in their rosters, many will look to the free-agent and trade market to strengthen their squads for the upcoming season.
While there’s no sign of when free agency (and trades) will be coming back, here are six potential trades that could play a major role in a team’s success (or failure) in the 2011 season, along with a best and worse case scenario to come from the trade.
Kevin Kolb: Philadelphia Eagles to Washington Redskins
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Quarterback Kevin Kolb, whose starting play last season with the Philadelphia Eagles was overshadowed by the emergence of Michael Vick, is the target for several squads looking for a quarterback.
If Kolb were to land in the nation’s capital, it would also mark the second offseason in a row that the Eagles would dish a quarterback to their NFC East division rival.
The Skins, who were disappointed in the play of Donovan McNabb, have not had a quarterback ranked in the top 10 in efficiency since Mark Brunell was ranked 10th in 2006.
Kolb would not come cheap, with the consensus that he wouldn’t be moved from The City of Brotherly Love for anything less than a first-round draft pick.
Best case: Kolb, teamed with an high performance offensive line, shreds stat lines and defenses as Washington collects its first high powered offense in years.
Eagle fans grit their teeth as their backup quarterback hands them two regular season losses over Kolb’s replacement Michael Vick.
Worst case: Lousy offensive line play outside of Kolb’s control cuts into his stat line and the team’s win percentage, and a impatient Redskins fanbase calls for his immediate benching.
That, or Kolb is benched as the Skins coaching staff feels he isn’t ready to run the team’s two-minute drill.
Kyle Orton: Denver Broncos to Arizona Cardinals
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Kyle Orton, the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has drawn interest from teams looking at Kevin Kolb, but they have been turned off by his high price.
Orton, who was 10th in the league in passing yards in 2010, would be an immediate ugrade ot the quarterback situation in Arizona, which has been dismal since the retirement of Kurt Warner.
The Broncos may also feel confident to make the move based on the progress of second-year quarterback Tim Tebow, although team general manager John Elway (not a bad quarterback himself) says Orton is still in the running to start.
Best case: Pairing with receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Orton excels in Arizona and puts up career highs in yards and completions.
With arguably the division’s most successful quarterback under center, Arizona confidently rolls through the NFC West.
Worst case: Orton joins a prestigious list of recent quarterbacks who couldn’t get the job done in the desert, including Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson and Tim Rattay. Fitzgerald demands a release.
Carson Palmer: Cincinnati Bengals to Minnesota Vikings
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Carson Palmer, starting quarterback for the Cincinatti Bengals, requested a trade out of town following the team’s 4-12 finish last season.
While Bengals ownership has not listened to any of Palmer’s demands, his services could be most desired with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings, whose fortunes swung heavily on the health of Brett Favre, would be happy to bring in a proven
Palmer could also be a high quality mentor to newly drafted Christian Ponder.
Best case: Palmer, stymied by flamboyant receivers and inefficient management, finds new life in Minnesota in a return to the form he showed before his crushing injury in the 2005 playoffs.
Worst case: Carson Palmer gets acquainted with the pine in Cincy as Bengals owner Mike Brown refuses to entertain offers, no matter the value.
Donovan McNabb: Washington Redskins to Miami Dolpins
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Quarterback Donovan McNabb had one of his worst seasons as a pro after his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Washington Redskins in the summer of 2010.
In addition to a series of confusing benchings and public callouts, McNabb could not replicate the success that carried the Eagles to a Super Bowl and four NFC championships in a row.
With that said, the veteran quarterback still has drawn interest from quarterback hungry teams. The Miami Dolphins may be a top landing spot for McNabb if team management labels current starter Chad Henne unable to carry the load in a treacherous AFC East division.
Best case: McNabb, thrilled to escape the football swamp that is Washington Redskins’ football, returns to the level of play he showed in leading the Philadelphia Eagles.
Worst case: McNabb follows in the footsteps of fellow big time Dolphin signee Daunte Culpepper, struggling out of the gate after taking his talents to South Beach.
Following a humbling two-minute drill benching and cut by the Dolphins, McNabb makes a beeline to the UFL.
Reggie Bush: New Orleans Saints to Anyone but the New Orleans Saints.
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After a disappointing 2010 campaign marred by injury, Bush drew criticism after tweeting about a possible departure from New Orleans.
While the Saints may struggle to get full value for Bush, teams interested in a second back may consider offering mid-round draft picks for the back.
Best case: Bush, freed of the high expectations in the Big Easy, settles into a running back platoon system.
Avoiding the punishment and pressure of playing every down, Bush excels using his speed and athleticism to have his best statistical year.
Worst case: Bush, signing a big contract with his new team, struggles to remain healthy while proving again to critics that he’s just not the back that can handle the load of being an every down back.
As teams ignore the run threat, Bush is given the blame for his team’s failure.
Steve Smith: Carolina Panthers to Oakland Raiders
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Super talented receiver Steve Smith has signaled his desire to depart from the Carolina Panthers, including emptying his home and locker.
Smith, whose All-Pro talents have been squandered on developing quarterback talent in recent seasons, requested to play with either the Oakland Raiders or San Diego Chargers.
While San Diego would be interested in Smith’s services, Oakland’s desire for a No. 1 receiver option makes them more likely to pony up for the veteran wideout.
This may be a win-win situation for all parties. Smith would get the opportunity to play for a rising contender (closer to home), Carolina would be able to recoup some value for a player not in their long term growth plans, and his new team would get a strong first or second option to boost their passing attack.
The main thing holding back a trade of Smith is his contract, scheduled to pay him over $15 million in the next two seasons.
Best case: Smith becomes the lynchpin of an uptempo offense with new head coach Hue Jackson and quarterback Jason Campbell. The Raiders show the ability to the beat teams outside of their division and return to the playoffs.
Worst case: Smith’s numbers dwindle as Jason Campbell’s regression creates another carousel under center, and Smith is heard fondly reminiscing of the days when he caught passes from Matt Moore.