While I'm willing to believe that everybody who gets paid to make NFL roster decisions grew up swapping football cards on the playground and was in on the pre-Internet versions of fantasy leagues, I'm also aware that these GM's and VP's fully realize that they're now dealing in the business of real people and real football teams.
So on that note, I would presume that NFL deal-makers know better than to engineer trades just for the sake of making things interesting.
If you're running any pro sports team, there are five reasons you should make a trade:
* You have depth at one position, lack of talent at another, and another team has something you want to fill that void. (Example: Philly trading Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick.)
* You have a player in the final year of his contract who seems like a good bet to leave in free agency, so assuming he isn't going to lead you to a championship in the near future, you'd rather get something for him now instead of nothing later. (Example: Denver Nuggets trading Carmelo Anthony.)
* You're in rebuilding mode and can afford to swap some expendable veterans for youth and/or draft picks. (Example: Any trade the Pittsburgh Pirates made between 1993 and 2010.)
* You can immediately improve your team. (Example: New England trading for Randy Moss.)
* You don't have a choice because a player has either become an unmanageable problem or is refusing to play until you trade him. (Example: New England trading away Randy Moss.)
Notice how Chris Johnson doesn't fit into any of those categories? That's why the Tennessee Titans should not trade their franchise running back.
Johnson is currently holding out for a huge contract, and with each day he stays away from the team, more trade rumors rise to the surface. But as much as it would shake things up for fans and media to see Johnson switch teams, it doesn't make sense for the Titans as long as they can afford to pay him what he's worth. Which they can.
So while I'm not saying Johnson won't be traded soon—I'm not inside Tennessee's front office and can't gauge their panic level—I don't think he should be traded. That said, here are 10 deals that I think do make sense and should happen before the beginning of the NFL regular season:
At the moment, Smith is the front-runner to win San Francisco's starting QB job. Which is kind of like winning the Showcase Showdown on "The Price is Right" when the prizes are an '85 Honda Prelude, a year's supply of frozen Tater Tots, and a some-expenses-paid trip to the South Bronx.
With the impending acquisition of veteran Daunte Culpepper and the inevitable rise of rookie Colin Kaepernick, Smith is expendable. The only reason it seems the Niners are keeping their former savior at QB1 is that they don't want to serve the new savior, Kaepernick, to the wolves right away.
But if this rebuilding franchise can score a decent draft pick or a player who helps fill another area of need (of which there are plenty), why not at least look into it?
Among the potential trade partners in need of a backup quarterback, Kansas City makes a lot of sense. Rookie fifth-rounder Ricky Stanzi is second on the depth chart to Matt Cassel, meaning that if Cassel goes down, the defending AFC West champs are probably screwed. Smith isn't a Pro Bowler or anything, but he does have some experience and has won a few games as a pro.
Knee injuries have limited Gonzalez to just two games over the past two seasons, and during that time he went from a promising young target for Peyton Manning to just another guy in the Colts' receiving corps.
Indianapolis doesn't need him any more, but Gonzalez is still talented enough to bring back value in a trade, and the Colts could use help in areas such as their offensive and defensive lines.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are still looking for the right combination of receivers to make their offense go. A healthy Gonzalez would be a solid option for Oakland QB Jason Campbell.
There is nothing wrong with the Eagles having three great cornerbacks. Just because Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all on the roster, it doesn't mean somebody has to be traded. It just means that whoever winds up No. 3 on the totem pole will be the best backup corner in the NFL.
That said, the Eagles are strong enough in the secondary to make one of the corners expendable. And as the 30-year-old with the big contract who isn't a new acquisition, Samuel would be the obvious one being shown the door if the Eagles want to stock up on draft picks.
Detroit is on the verge of being a problem for the rest of the NFC, so maybe Philadelphia wouldn't want to help them. But if the Lions can convince the Eagles to make a deal—Philadelphia reportedly wants two second-rounders for Samuel—they'd bring in a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback to bolster a secondary that will be tested more often now with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley making it tough for opponents to run the ball.
Just because the Kyle Orton-to-Miami deal is dead, it doesn't mean the Dolphins are out of the market for a quarterback. It also doesn't mean the Broncos still don't have three QB's on their roster with trade value, plus a number of other areas to address in their rebuilding efforts.
Quinn would be a 6'3", 235-pound bronze medal, but he has a lot of talent and would conceivably push current Dolphins starter Chad Henne for the top job.
The Redskins need a quarterback. The Bengals need a cornerback. So theoretically, everybody would benefit from disgruntled QB Carson Palmer being traded to Washington for veteran CB Phillip Buchanon.
Buchanon will have to miss the first four games of this season due to an NFL suspension, but considering that Cincinnati was going to get zero games out of Palmer anyway, what do they have to lose?
(Side note: It's funny how Bengals owner Mike Brown stands on the foundation of loyalty and commitment when he's asked to defend his refusal to budge on Palmer's trade demands. How many times has Brown and every other NFL owner evoked loyalty and commitment when they're cutting a player before his contract has run out?)
Once upon a time the Lions needed Corey Williams, but that time has passed.
Again, it wouldn't be a bad thing for Detroit to have three good defensive tackles on the roster, but with the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley inevitably turning Williams into a $5 million per year backup in his 30s, he becomes expendable for a team that has other holes to fill.
The Colts have already brought in D-line reclamation projects Jamaal Anderson, Tommie Harris and Tyler Brayton during the offseason, but Williams is actually a proven commodity who can help shore up Indy's run defense.
I feel like we've been saying this since the '90s, but the Browns don't have enough playmakers on offense.
Henderson averaged 24.8 yards per reception in 2008, and while he's still a talented home run threat, since that breakout year fallen to about fourth place in New Orleans' hierarchy of receivers. The Saints are loaded with playmakers, and could afford to give up Henderson for help on the defensive side of the ball.
Between returning vets Lardarius Webb and Chris Carr, and rookie Jimmy Smith, the Ravens have depth and talent at cornerback. Foxworth is trying to fight his way back into the rotation after missing all of last season with a knee injury, but Baltimore doesn't exactly need him now. They may want to capitalize on his value now that he's shown to be healthy.
The Cowboys would be interested. They need help in the defensive backfield, and Foxworth has experience making plays in a 3-4 scheme. He made four interceptions and defended 16 passes for the Ravens in 2009.
Before Chris Johnson made it known that he's looking for Diddy money, Umenyiora was the most intriguing individual story of the NFL offseason. Coming off a career year in which he made 11.5 sacks and forced a league-record 10 fumbles, Osi's brief holdout and potential trade could shift the power balance of the league.
Umenyiora is back in the fold with the Giants and supposedly not demanding a trade anymore, but that doesn't mean a deal still won't happen, especially considering that NY's backup defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul, looked strong with two sacks in the Giants' preseason opener.
Umenyiora has been linked to the Seahawks since the first time his name came up in trade rumors, and they're still arguably the best fit for him.
Seattle needs a big-time pass rusher, while New York needs a tight end and some depth along the offensive line. The Seahawks' former starting tight end, John Carlson, has become expendable after the signing of Pro Bowl TE Zach Miller, and could be part of a deal for Umenyiora along with a draft pick.
Like I've said before, I think the Texans are giving up on Slaton too soon. But clearly they've seen something in him they don't like, or just aren't impressed anymore with what they used to like about him.
So rather than let Slaton sit on the bench, Houston might as well deal their fourth-string tailback while he can bring them back something in a trade.
The Buccaneers have draft picks, but more importantly, they always have a slew of talented defensive players stashed away that the defensively-challenged Texans could use. Meanwhile, Tampa needs a change-of-pace back to complement LaGarrette Blount, a role suited for Slaton.