Preseason NFL Trade Targets: A Wish List for All 32 Teams
Hope springs eternal this early in the NFL year; so too does the feeling that just one more player could put a team over the top.
Generally, promoting from within and drafting your own players is the best way to build a team, but there's always that nagging feeling that a team should just bite the bullet and take a risk on a player who could put it over the top.
Here's who each and every team in the NFL might be targeting to give its 2011 campaign a nice jump-start.
Arizona Cardinals Trade Target: Matt Shaughnessy, Raiders
The Cardinals are a good deal worse than they were a few years ago when Kurt Warner led them to the Super Bowl. Back then they were a younger, faster team with a quarterback who could carry them on his shoulders. It remains to be seen if Kevin Kolb is that kind of quarterback, but he at least fills their needs for now.
Their defense is lagging now, more specifically their pass defense. That leaves them with two options: Build a better secondary or build a better defensive line. Calais Campbell is getting older and is their only pass-rushing threat off the end.
Oakland and New York both have a glut of young talent up front. Adding Matt Shaughnessy, who contributed seven sacks for the Raiders in 2010, wouldn't be an overwhelming move, but it would be a small, cheap move that could make a big difference in the long run. They'll want to avoid making any huge moves after the Kolb trade cost them a starting cornerback and a second-round pick.
Atlanta Falcons Trade Target: Sean Jones, Buccaneers
The Falcons, coming off a 13-3 year, don't have too many needs. Their offense is stacked with talented players: a great, young QB in Matt Ryan, a solid one-two punch of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling at running back and plenty of young WRs, including new draftee Julio Jones. Their defense is young as well.
If they're looking anywhere for help, it would be at safety (where they are solid but unspectacular) or along the offensive line.
With all the talent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have in their secondary, the Bucs might be receptive to an offer for Sean Jones, an Atlanta native, who could compete for a starting job in the Falcons secondary. Tanard Jackson and rookie Ahmad Black could hold down the fort for the Bucs.
Baltimore Ravens Trade Target: Larry Foote, Steelers
The Ravens lost some pieces on offense this offseason, mainly Derrick Mason, but added a lot of young offensive weapons to replace their losses.
Their biggest concern is age on the defensive side of the ball. Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson (who is currently slated to start as their Sam linebacker) are all pushing 30 or more. They could certainly stand to get younger at the spot.
The Steelers drafted linebackers early this year (even though they needed offensive line help badly) and could have some talent to spare at the position. It would be odd to see a trade between these two teams, but not unheard of, and Larry Foote would be a good, versatile linebacker for the Ravens to add.
Buffalo Bills Trade Target: Fred Davis, Redskins
The Bills have the misfortune of being in the same division as two of the best teams in the AFC in the Patriots and Jets. Both teams have the firepower to build leads, and what really worked for the Bills last year was their passing game. They traded away Lee Evans in a surprise move but still have Stevie Johnson and Roscoe Parrish, as well as some other young options at WR.
However, their projected starting tight end, Scott Chandler, has more catches this preseason (two) than in his entire pro career. That's right—he only has one catch in his three-year career.
You know who has a lot of catches in his career as a tight end? Fred Davis of the Redskins. Davis struggles mightily as a blocker, which is why the Redskins aren't a huge fan of his, but has snagged 72 catches for 852 yards over the past three years to Chandler's...one. Davis won't beat out Chris Cooley for playing time, so he is in a situation where he could be moved.
The Bills have decided they are sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB this year; the least they could do is get him a weapon like Fred Davis to work with.
Carolina Panthers Trade Target: Chris Kuper, Broncos
The Carolina Panthers have spent a lot this offseason to retain guys in their defensive front seven. In fact, they paid out more than $100 million for defensive end Charles Johnson and linebackers Jon Beason and James Anderson. They also added a tight end for new QB Cam Newton to throw to and re-signed DeAngelo Williams to a long-term deal.
The Panthers are expected to be a running team with Williams and Jonathan Stewart. It would help them to add some talent along the offensive line. The Broncos' Chris Kuper would help them step up their running game, and the Broncos could handle losing Kuper if the price is worth it.
It's not quite as flashy a move as Panthers fans might like to see from their team, but it all starts up front in the running game, and the Panthers will need a solid running game as they rebuild from a terrible 2010 season.
Chicago Bears Trade Target: Osi Umenyiora, NY Giants
The Bears throughout this past decade have been a strong defensive team, largely because they've always had a stockpile of effective pass rushers on their roster. For the first time in a while, however, the Bears DE talent is not all that deep.
Aside from an aging Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, Chicago has a former first-round pass-rusher (Vernon Gholston) who has yet to record a sack in his three years and Corey Wootton. That's not going to scare too many quarterbacks around the league.
Osi Umenyiora and the Giants are at odds right now, and the Giants were willing to hear trade offers and could be again. The Bears won their division, but it took a bit of luck on their part and some bad luck on the part of the Packers. If the Bears want to fend off the Packers again, they should try to snag Osi. Nothing brings a superhuman passer back down to earth faster than getting hit. Ask Jay Cutler.
Cincinnati Bengals Trade Target: Pierre Thomas, Saints
The Bengals are in trouble. They have a rookie QB in Andy Dalton who isn't ready to carry a team as low on talent as the Bengals are and a defense that lost a key piece in Johnathan Joseph after already struggling last year.
They will need to be a run-first team to survive Dalton's growing pains. Re-signing Cedric Benson is nice and all, but Benson is not a bell-cow kind of guy; he can't carry the team.
The Saints have stuffed their roster full of talented running backs: Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and the new first-round rookie Mark Ingram. There's no way they have a use for all four of those players. Thomas was a very valuable asset to the Saints during the team's Super Bowl run and would be a great change-of-pace guy for the Bengals to add. The less pressure on Dalton, the better.
Cleveland Browns Trade Target: Vincent Jackson, Chargers
Vincent Jackson is not especially happy in San Diego. He held out until October 29th last year, hoping to sign a deal much bigger than the barely $600,000 one-year deal he was stuck with last year.
The new kickoff rule (in addition to ruining the fun of kickoffs) handcuffed the Browns' Josh Cribbs more than most, and the Browns wide receiving corps never had too much firepower to begin with.
Vincent Jackson is no Larry Fitzgerald, but he is a very good receiver who can be a team's primary target and get open in an opponent's secondary. For a team that currently has a whole lot of nothing at the position, targeting Jackson isn't a bad idea at all for the Browns.
Dallas Cowboys Trade Target: Richie Incognito, Dolphins
Jerry Jones usually doesn't draft offensive linemen in the first round. He broke that rule this year when he drafted Tyron Smith at No. 9 overall.
Romo's return from season-ending injury would be a lot more comfortable if the Cowboys added Richie Incognito from the Miami Dolphins. He's a big 'un and a very physical blocker, and the Cowboys could use the help up front.
Denver Broncos Trade Target: Albert Haynesworth, New England
This one is really a shot in the dark. Before you roll your eyes and change slides, however, just sit back and imagine an effective Haynesworth rushing up the middle with No. 2 overall pick Von Miller coming off the corner. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty strong pass rush.
Haynesworth may not be as loud about his role in New England's 3-4, but don't be naive enough to assume that he's any happier about playing nose tackle than he was about playing NT in Washington. He'd much rather be in a 4-3, and if he can prove his worth for a few weeks in New England's system, Denver should make a play.
There's no better way of easing the pain of a bad 2010 than beefing up the league's 31st-ranked run defense with a potential All-Pro. The Broncos just need to make sure Haynesworth passes muster with the Patriots. If he does, then he should definitely be on the Broncos radar.
Detroit Lions Trade Target: Leon Washington, Seahawks
When the Lions drafted Mikel Leshoure in the second round of the 2011 draft, the team probably figured its running back issues were a thing of the past. Being able to split carries between Leshoure and Jahvid Best would keep Best healthier and add a spark to a rushing offense that was ranked 23rd in the league last year.
Then Leshoure went down with an injury, and Best ended the weekend with two rushes for minus-one yard and a fumble. They could use some help at running back.
The Seattle Seahawks backfield pecking order is Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch first, Justin Forsett second and Leon Washington third. Washington was great when he was a change-of-pace back for the Jets, and he could easily be that good again with the Lions if the team pulls the trigger on a deal.
Green Bay Packers Trade Target: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots
Green Bay had everything going for it last year during its remarkable Super Bowl run. Everything, that is, except for a functional running game. Yup, the Packers struggled running the ball, and it wasn't because of their O-line; it was a lack of talent at running back.
The Patriots have a lot of talent at running back, which makes a player like BenJarvus Green-Ellis a guy who could be on the move. The Law Firm has been effective for the Patriots and a good option as a receiver out of the backfield. He would fit in well with the Packers, whose main option on the ground was on injured reserve last year.
Ryan Grant is a good runner, but put Green-Ellis in that backfield also and the Super Bowl champions would add another strong piece to an already potent offense.
Houston Texans Trade Target: Randy Starks, Miami
The Houston Texans recently changed their defense over to a 3-4 in the hopes that they could improve over last year's shortcomings. Of course, it would be hard for them not to improve after allowing a truly embarrassing 267 yards passing per game.
They added a lot of pieces in the secondary, including Johnathan Joseph from the Bengals. However, switching defensive fronts often takes time. Adding J.J. Watt in the first round of the draft will help them up front, but they could use some more beef up front in that defense.
The Dolphins are a fine supplier of extremely large defensive linemen, like DE Randy Starks. At 6'3" and 305 pounds, Starks would bring some needed beef to the Texans' front seven.
Indianapolis Colts Trade Target: Matt Flynn, Packers
I think for the first time in 10-plus years, the Colts have to begin considering Peyton Manning's mortality. He's slated to return in Week 1, but he had offseason surgery for the second consecutive year and isn't getting any younger.
Given that they are in a division with three of the top five running backs in the league (Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson), they should look for some run-stuffers at the DT or OLB position. They lost Clint Session and replaced him with Kavell "never heard of him" Conner and were gashed by the Redskins' running game, which is not exactly a top-10 unit.
Of course, the Colts have a history of ignoring the OLB position and focusing almost entirely on defending the pass.
The team is built to play from ahead, so nothing would ruin this team faster than having to play Curtis Painter at QB. Even though Peyton is expected to return by Week 1, the Colts should try to snag a suitable backup. Matt Flynn could be that and more.
Jacksonville Jaguars Trade Target: Limas Sweed, Steelers
The Jaguars rebuilt their defense this past offseason, not through the draft as many fans were expecting, but through free agency. This past week against the Falcons, the Jaguars defensive line performed well and really powered a strong effort from the entire defensive unit.
On the other hand, the offense was hindered by drops and inconsistency on the offensive line. Starting right tackle Guy Whimper would make Jaguars fans cry, but you gotta go with what's out there, and there isn't a lot of O-line talent to spare right now around the league. There are, however, some very capable receivers.
The Steelers added Jerricho Cotchery to their receiving corps, which now includes Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, Limas Sweed and Cotchery. The Steelers like adding draft picks and probably wouldn't miss one receiver too much if the price was right.
The Jaguars could use a big receiver (Sweed is 6'4", 220) since Mike Thomas and new weapon Cecil Shorts III are both shorter than six feet tall. Adding a receiver makes sense for the Jaguars, and a young guy like Sweed sounds better for the Jaguars than the geriatric, team-chemistry serial killer Terrell Owens.
Kansas City Chiefs Trade Target: Chris Hope, Titans
The Chiefs don't really have any needs on offense. Between the potent running back pair of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, receivers Dwayne Bowe and new addition Steve Breaston and the unique playmaking skills of Dexter McCluster, they should again have a strong offensive team.
Defensively, they built their young 3-4 team well but could still stand to add some more talent in the secondary. The Titans brought in Jordan Babineaux to create competition at the safety spot. If they are satisfied with Babineaux, the Chiefs could swoop in and snag Chris Hope for themselves. Eric Berry can't play both safety spots, and Hope would be a solid pickup.
The more players the Chiefs have in their secondary, the better, because the Chargers aren't going to have the same issues they had in the passing game last year.
Miami Dolphins Trade Target: Tim Tebow, Broncos
The Dolphins tried to trade for Kyle Orton from Denver, but that trade fell through because the sides couldn't agree on a price. The Dolphins might want to try taking another angle with the Broncos.
Good old Timmy Tebow isn't catching on in Denver. After getting drafted in the first round last year, it was thought that Tebow would take over the starting role for the Broncos in 2011. Of course, the team did not expect Orton to look as good as he did last year.
With Orton staying atop the depth chart and Tebow clearly falling behind, the stage is primed for a team looking for a quarterback to swoop in and grab a face-of-the-franchise-type player at QB.
Miami fans are not convinced that Chad Henne can ever be the answer at quarterback. The superstar ownership of the team (the team is partially owned by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony) could at least try to bring some star power into the fold, since, as much as I'm rooting for them, the Dolphins likely won't be able to compete again in their division.
Minnesota Vikings Trade Target: Bernard Pollard, Baltimore
The Ravens are one of the few teams in the NFL who still have three potential starters for two safety spots. That's great news for the Minnesota Vikings, because they could certainly use one.
Ed Reed is likely to keep his starting job until he says he's done in the Ravens defense, and Bernard Pollard might be the odd man out. While the Ravens might want Pollard as a backup plan, a strong offer from the Vikings might get Pollard into a purple uniform—I mean...a lighter purple uniform.
Anyway, if the Vikings are serious about winning this year, they'll need to add whatever they can to that secondary. Pollard would be a good pickup.
New England Patriots Trade Target: None
Seriously, what more do the Patriots need?
They have incredible talent on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Brady has Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch and Wes Welker at wide receiver, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are receiving threats at tight end, and between the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, little Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley, a preseason performer, they're stacked at running back as well.
Let's not forget that the team has had 21 draft picks over the last two years and has used eight of those picks on defense, including grabbing cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham all within the top two rounds in the last two years.
This team is stacked with talent, and even if it was forced to trade for somebody, who would be an upgrade over the players on their roster right now?
The Patriots are scary, people. The Patriots are scary.
New Orleans Saints Trade Target: Dashon Goldson, 49ers
It's time for Saints fans to face the facts: Their defense has deteriorated. Even in their '09-10 campaign, when they won the Super Bowl, the team was never a stifling defense—just an opportunistic one. After being gashed in the preseason, it's the other team that's getting the opportunities.
The Saints need to get tougher up front and faster on the back end. That's why they should go after Dashon Goldson of the San Francisco 49ers. Goldson is a quality safety who might be on the outs in San Fran. The Saints have the passing offense you look for in a winner but just haven't been able to cover on the back end. Goldson would help a defense that has gotten very old, especially at safety.
New York Giants Trade Target: Joel Dreessen, Texans
The New York Giants lost wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss over the offseason. To compensate, they picked up...nobody. If you think Bear Pascoe can fill Boss' shoes, you are out of your mind. That's why the Giants should make a play for Texans TE Joel Dreessen.
Dreessen managed 518 yards on 36 catches in 10 starts last year and filled in admirably for the injured Owen Daniels. Eli Manning, who had 30 turnovers last year, could really use a reliable safety valve like Dreessen, who has the potential to be a great pass-catching TE.
The Texans will keep Daniels and should be willing to pull the trigger on a Dreessen trade because Dreessen's stock won't be this high any time in the future. Jacob Tamme was another option, but he's likely a byproduct of big brother Peyton's greatness, and I don't think Eli wants big brother's sloppy seconds.
New York Jets Trade Target: Brian Cushing, Houston
A lot of Houston fans just got very, very angry at me for suggesting that Brian Cushing might be on the trade block. I think he wouldn't be if the Jets weren't so old at linebacker and feeling so close to a Super Bowl.
The Jets have gotten older and older at linebacker each of the past few years, and walkers and playoffs do not mix. If they could add a young linebacker like Cushing, they'd be in business.
For the Texans, Mario Williams and draftee Brooks Reed are cemented at two of the four linebacker spots, and the Texans had three good linebackers last year when they were in a 4-3. That makes one of their linebackers expendable, and if one of their guys has to go, the team would be wise to unload the players who is one drug test away from a missed year.
The Jets aren't afraid to take that risk; they've already done it with Santonio Holmes. Adding Cushing would make an already strong defense even better.
Oakland Raiders Trade Target: Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
If there's anything the Raiders like more than speedy players, it's paying a whole boatload of money for someone else's talent. Brandon Lloyd has had an up-and-down career, but his stock is way, way up after leading the league in receiving yards last year.
The Raiders have gotten past the JaMarcus Russell years and played well enough to get to .500 last year. They have great running backs, great talent and depth along the defensive line and, most importantly, a competent quarterback in Jason Campbell. Adding Lloyd would give the Raiders a much-needed boost in the passing game.
Philadelphia Eagles Trade Target: Mike Peterson, Falcons
The concept of a "dream team" is little more than a fantasy in the NFL, and the Eagles' nightmares came true last week, as their defense was pounded by the Steelers.
The Eagles need to make a play for someone who plays tough up the middle, gets to the ball quickly and has enough experience to train the young guys on their roster. That's where Mike Peterson comes into the picture.
Peterson has been very productive everywhere he's been in his career, be it Indy, Jacksonville or Atlanta. He's been demoted to a backup role for the Falcons, however, and doesn't seem very happy about it. A productive player like Peterson could jump right into the starting lineup and make a difference for the Eagles, and he wouldn't come with a huge contract or cost the Eagles a high pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers Trade Target: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eagles
The Steelers have all the pieces in place to make another run at a championship. They have a star quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, great receivers, Rashard Mendenhall and Troy Polamalu to lead their defense. Then again, that defense was neutralized in the Super Bowl by the Packers' ability to spread the field with four receivers and pick the Steelers secondary apart.
If the Steelers can get DRC from the Eagles, they'd be a clear Super Bowl favorite. Rodgers-Cromartie plays the kind of physical, press defense that the Steelers love, and he'd be a huge addition for an already good team.
San Diego Chargers Trade Target: Asante Samuel, Eagles
If the Steelers get Rodgers-Cromartie, then obviously this won't be possible, but as it stands right now, the Eagles secondary is a little crowded these days. Most of Philly is happy about the addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona; Asante Samuel is not.
The Chargers couldn't win their own division last year, much less a Super Bowl, and their window to make a playoff run might be closing. Getting a top-five cornerback would be a great way to keep that playoff window open for a few more years.
This would be a bold move by the Chargers, but Samuel is a high risk, high reward player, and he won't want to play in the slot. There are several teams who would like to add a cornerback, and the Chargers are certainly in that group.
San Francisco 49ers Trade Target: Matt Flynn, Packers
Uh-oh, Matt Flynn is the same guy the Indianapolis Colts might be targeting...
The 49ers are a team that has seen the past few years fall by the wayside due to a distinct lack of quality quarterback play. They are one of the few teams who really should sell out and give up a high draft pick for a player this offseason. They could really use a QB. Defenses don't last forever, and the QB position has really let San Fran fans down.
Matt Flynn is only 26 and showed some potential when filling in for Aaron Rodgers late last year. In the right situation, Flynn could be a good quarterback, and Packers fans are raving about his performance this year in training camp.
I'd put Flynn's value as greater than Charlie Whitehurst's (the Seahawks gave up a third-round pick for him a few years ago) but less than Kevin Kolb's, who went for a star corner and a second-round pick. Who knows—with a solid starter at QB, I could see the 49ers beating out the Rams to win their division this year.
Seattle Seahawks Trade Target: Jimmy Clausen, Panthers?
The Seahawks added a couple great receiving threats during this offseason in Sidney Rice and tight end Zach Miller...now all they need is someone to throw the ball to them.
All they have on their roster right now is Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. I guess that Pete Carroll's plan is to just throw a whole bunch of mediocre quarterbacks at the wall and see what sticks.
In that case, the Seahawks might as well make a play for a guy like Jimmy Clausen. I mean, he could eventually develop into a legitimate starting...nope, sorry, couldn't get through that statement.
The Seahawks really need help at QB, but there's nobody really out there. They could get into a bidding war for Matt Flynn, but really there's nothing to even guarantee that he's any better than Whitehurst. Sorry if this is raining on your parade, Seahawks fans, but I don't see much of anything out there for you at QB.
St. Louis Rams Trade Target: Darren Sharper, Saints
The Rams have a solid defensive front seven and an up-and-coming quarterback in Sam Bradford. Offensively, they're just fine. The reason they were 7-9 last year in a historically bad division is because they lacked wide receiver talent and couldn't stop the pass either.
The team currently has six safeties on the roster, and four of them are rookies from what was considered a very weak rookie safety class. They need somebody to jump-start their defense, and Darren Sharper is certainly good for that. He's a little on the old side, but he's a great player, and the Rams' situation seems to be pretty desperate at safety. He's worth a look.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Trade Target: Frank Gore
The Buccaneers are already a strong team. They drafted a few good defensive ends in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers and might want to put some improvements in on the offensive side.
Rumors are out there that the 49ers' Frank Gore is getting frustrated with contract talks and might request a trade. Gore is a top running back who, when healthy, would be an upgrade for any team, even one with LeGarrette Blount.
Gore has been beaten up quite a bit in his time in San Francisco, so it would be good to pair him with a strong, young back in Blount. If the Bucs did make that play, they would have the kind of offensive firepower that would get them into the playoffs.
Tennessee Titans Trade Target: Albert Haynesworth, Patriots
Back in 2006, Albert Haynesworth was an unstoppable force for the Tennessee Titans. It's been a few years, and Haynesworth has landed in New England as a sideshow. But that's in New England. The Patriots know talent when they see it, and they acquired Haynesworth thinking they could make him back into the player that earned a $100 million contract.
The Titans have a pretty good defensive line already, so adding Haynesworth would be a low risk, high reward move. The Patriots might even end up releasing Haynesworth. Seeing Fat Albert back in the Titans' 4-3 defense might be worth all the grief people gave him over the past few years of his career.
Washington Redskins Trade Target: Tamba Hali, Chiefs
The Redskins love spending money. They also love other people's players better than their own. Makes sense from where I'm standing...
They have enough talent to squeak by on offense, but they could really use a player or two for their 3-4 front, which is in its second year. The Redskins would get a big boost from having a pass-rusher like Tamba Hali on the roster. They'd have to give up a heck of a lot to get him, but if they could snag Hali, I'd like the Redskins' chances a lot better in 2011.
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