Buy or Sell Every Trade of the 2011 NFL Offseason
With the lockout lifted just barely shy of the first preseason game, teams are scrambling to fill the roster holes that have been found gaping in the last moments of the offseason.
Some teams haven’t been able to modify their plans for short training camps, and some are making rash decisions in an effort to find the quick fix.
Free agent signings have been a blur, but the trade route has gone less traveled. Each of the few trades made seems to have a make-or-break quality to it and a story that will extend at least until October.
Donovan McNabb to Minnesota Vikings
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Prior to the 2010 season, former Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb found himself the subject of a controversial intra-division trade that landed him in Washington and promptly in the doghouse with the Shanahan family.
Of course, he lasted long enough to come out of it with a contract worthy of the savior billing the Redskins’ front office gave him at the time.
Now, McNabb has been traded to the wayward Minnesota Vikings for a 2012 sixth-rounder and a conditional 2013 sixth-rounder (garage sale prices compared to the second and fourth-rounders Washington gave up for him).
Unlike the Redskins, Minnesota isn’t posing McNabb as the team’s next big thing, or even an immediate fix to their weak rotation under center.
McNabb is only filler to give Christian Ponder time to develop—to keep him from being a rookie bust a la Alex Smith and Ryan Leaf, and all parties seem to understand that.
McNabb’s $78 million contract will be restructured and pared down, so Joe Webb is taking snaps until McNabb is eligible.
As for Ponder? He has tweeted his excitement at the prospect of learning at a Pro Bowler’s feet.
Albert Haynesworth to New England Patriots
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Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth chronically has attitude issues on the field and league troubles off it. His well-publicized problems with the Redskins stemmed largely from their switch to a 3-4 defense—the style New England runs.
One can wonder, even, about his commitment after reports Haynesworth missed practice on Saturday for undisclosed reasons.
Though he’ll only cost the team $5 million of the enormous salary he suckered the Redskins into, plus a 2013 fifth-rounder, his attitude and pending court dates are not worth the return the Patriots, Belichick and all, will get from him.
This doesn’t even qualify as a quick-patch for the shortened offseason.
Chad Ochocinco to New England Patriots
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Chad Ochocinco is being labeled as another reclamation project for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. But Ochocinco, though a media slut, does not invite legal trouble or spread locker room cancer.
He has stated already, humbly, that he plans to tow the line in New England and it can be assumed that, with his big break finally here and a true opportunity in Brady to become an elite receiver, Ochocinco intends to do just that.
He’s been asking for this trade for a long time and, since he’ll be 36 by the time this contract expires, this could legitimately be his last chance to be remembered as a footballer instead of a showboater.
Jeremy Jarmon to Denver for Jabar Gaffney
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Here is a trade that truly benefits everybody.
After their switch to a 3-4, the Redskins needed to let loose Jeremy Jarmon, who is better suited for a 4-3 defense.
Jabar Gaffney, a veteran receiver and college target of quarterback Rex Grossman, is expected to make an immediate impact alongside Santana Moss and Donte Stallworth.
Reggie Bush to Miami Dolphins
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2005 Heisman Trophy winner and 2006 second overall pick Reggie Bush magically became a third-down back once he joined the the New Orleans Saints. He hasn’t lived up to his hype throughout his entire career.
That same hype, in turn, earned Bush an incredibly lucrative contract (he was due $11.5 million in 2011 from New Orleans), which earned him a trade to Miami.
The Dolphins, who managed to restructure Bush’s contract to just under $10 million over the next two years, expect Bush to be a highly valuable complement to rookie Daniel Thomas, and the tandem is slated to be the replacement to Ronnie Brown and 34-year-old Ricky Williams.
By ridding themselves of Bush’s contract, New Orleans was able to sign RB Darren Sproles, who is a more complete option for a similar role to Bush’s and will be a valuable mentor to rookie RB Mark Ingram.
Tim Hightower to Washington Redskins
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Tim Hightower became expendable to the Cardinals when they picked up Ryan Williams in the second round of this year's draft.
Of course, Hightower’s touchdown (five) to fumble (four) ratio may also have something to do with it, which won't help Washington at all. The Redskins, on the other hand, have Ryan Torain, whose stats are comparable, already lined up as the team’s starter.
Arizona doesn’t gain much by the addition of Vonnie Holliday plus the conditional late-round draft pick, either. Holliday, while proven, is 36 and can’t have much more in the tank.
This trade between two of the only teams participating in preseason trades almost seemed to come out of Sunday night boredom more than tangible gain for either party.
Greg Olsen to Carolina Panthers
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The Chicago Cowboys—er...Bears have made many questionable moves this offseason, but one that makes sense from all angles is the trade of tight end Greg Olsen to Carolina for a 2012 third-rounder.
Olsen, who had 60 receptions in 2009 and averaged 10-plus yards per catch in his first three seasons in the league, suffered a sharp decline in production when offensive coordinator Mike Martz joined the Bears last season.
Olsen, who thrives as a receiving tight end, simply does not fit into an offense like Martz’ which calls for tight ends to serve more as blockers than red-zone threats.
In Carolina, Olsen joins offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who started his career as a tight ends coach and then OC for Olsen’s alma mater, University of Miami (Fla.)
The common ground, Chudzinski’s area of focus, and rookie quarterback Cam Newton’s need for veteran targets is sure to provide a surge for Olsen’s stats while adding a kick to the Panthers’ offense.
And the price for Olsen? Under the circumstances, the former first-rounder was an absolute steal.
Kevin Kolb to Arizona Cardinals
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Ken Whisenhunt must not be a big-picture kind of guy. In one move, it seems, the possibly desperate Arizona head coach destroyed any chance the Cardinals had of improving their secondary without guaranteeing any improvement to their tragic offense.
Taken in by the Eagles' increasingly awesome marketing power, Arizona agreed to hand over Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plus a second round draft pick to Philadelphia.
Arizona then, inexplicably, signed the former Eagles backup to a $63 million contract with $22 million guaranteed, taking a chunk out of cap space that will soon prove vital to the team’s rebuild.
All this for a guy who only has seven uninspiring career starts over four seasons in the league. And, all this to a team who promptly (and cheaply) upgraded their QB2 slot with a former starter who was dealt a bad hand and added yet another top-tier cornerback to an already formidable secondary.
It must sting Cardinals fans to wonder what Andy Reid plans to do with that second-round draft pick.