The preseason games are over, and the cuts to 53 man rosters have been made. That can only mean one thing...the NFL season is finally right around the corner!
But as fans eagerly await the first kickoff, there are many who are nervous about their favorite team for a whole variety of reasons. Maybe their team has a big weakness, a star is disgruntled or they made a poor decision cutting a veteran. Frankly, it's a certainty that no matter who you cheer for, you're concerned about something with your team.
With the trade deadline prior to the sixth week of the season, teams have the opportunity to try and improve their team through trades. While this has been uncommon in the past, trades have occurred more often in recent years, and with adjustments to player salaries and salary caps since the lockout, it's anyone's guess to see how often this type of transaction is utilized.
One thing for sure is there are trades to be had. Here are 10 trades that will benefit both teams involved.
We know two things thus far about C.J. Spiller. First, he has some of the best game-breaking speed in the NFL. The other thing we know though is he's been a big disappointment in Buffalo, having been outperformed by veteran Fred Jackson.
Jackson is one of the best (and only) weapons the Bills have, so trading Spiller while he still holds potential value makes a ton of sense.
Detroit is looking for a running back after Mikel LeShoure went down with a season-ending injury early in training camp. They did bring in veterans such as Mike Bell but would be a much more dynamic threat. While the two are similar backs, Spiller and Jahvid Best would certainly make the fastest duo in the NFL.
The Bills have a need at almost every position. For whatever reason, they created another large one after they traded speed receiver Lee Evans to the Baltimore Ravens. The Lions have a surplus here being led by "Megatron" Calvin Johnson.
Maurice Stovall had a very strong 2011 NFL preseason and has the size to be a very dangerous receiver at 6'5" and 220 pounds. The Bills have a potential Pro Bowler in Stevie Johnson, but with no real No. 2 threat, his stats could take a drastic cut.
Stovall could provide that second receiver, or at the least, draw coverage to help open up a slot guy like Roscoe Parrish.
One reason the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl last year was due to their incredible depth. Despite the fact they had an astounding 15 players on injured reserve, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While the Packers will contend for another Super Bowl in 2011, one area of concern could be at the cornerback position. They have two potential Pro Bowlers in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, but are very unsure after that. Woodson got hurt in the Super Bowl and is now 34 years old, so one has to worry he might have a down year.
It's why a trade like this would make sense as Javier Arenas is only 23, yet is not cracking the starting lineup. Arenas would fill the same role in Green Bay but could be mentored by Woodson and take over eventually.
James Jones, meanwhile, is an interesting case. Some feel he is the Packers second receiver as he did have 50 receptions last season. But it appeared that Rodgers developed a very strong chemistry with Jordy Nelson last year in the postseason. Donald Driver meanwhile never seems to get old.
If Jones were to be a fourth receiver, it makes a lot of sense to bring in a guy like Arenas. James Jones would be penciled in at No. 2 for the Chiefs, allowing Steve Breaston to become a very serious threat as a slot receiver.
It's been a rough year for Jimmy Clausen. Drafted in the second round in 2010, he felt he was taking over the reigns at quarterback for the struggling franchise. He eventually took his lumps as his team limped to a 2-14 finish.
His reward for these growing pains? Watching Cam Newton get taken No. 1 overall and being sent to the bench.
No one knows how good Clausen is because no one had a real opportunity to see him play with a healthy lineup. The Panthers best receiver Steve Smith, was out of the lineup much of the time Clausen started. With all that said, this seems like a player Al Davis would love to have.
The injury to Smith was a scary look at how thin the Panther receiving core is. They did bring in two receiving tight ends in Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, but after Smith, they still have hardly anyone at receiver.
Louis Murphy, like so many other receivers at Oakland is quite speedy, but he doesn't have the upside of Jacoby Ford and wasn't an early-round pick like Darrius Heyward-Bey. Of the three, he's the most expendable. Murphy would immediate step in as the No. 2 receiver for the Panthers.
Clausen could take this year to hone his skills and work with Hue Jackson. In 2012, he could take over this team, and if the Raiders could work to put together a strong offensive line, could actaully develop a very competitive offense moving forward.
This is a trade for backups that could be starters on other teams.
Pierre Thomas helped the Saints rushing game during their 2009 Super Bowl season, but injuries derailed his efforts last season. Now with Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles in town and a returning Chris Ivory, it appears Thomas is on the way out.
Jacob Tamme on the other hand is a trade commodity the Colts probably did not envision having. Tamme went from an unknown player to being a great target for Peyton Manning after Dallas Clark went down to a season-ending injury. With Clark back, Tamme's playing time is bound to take a drastic cut.
The Colts have one of the worst running games in the NFL, and the Saints cannot be 100 percent sure that first-year starter Jimmy Graham will pan out. This trade defines a win-win situation.
Two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers let Shaun Hill know he was no longer in their long term plans. Since his departure, the 49ers have continued to be mired in quarterback uncertainty, while Hill has arguably become the best backup in the NFL.
Hill started 11 games for the Lions last year, replacing the oft-injured Drew Stafford. He threw for nearly 2,700 yards and 16 touchdowns. If brought back to San Francisco, new coach Jim Harbaugh would most likely give him the starting nod immediately.
The Lions are an up-and-coming team with a very scary defensive line with the potential to become the best in the NFL. However, their defensive backfield leaves a lot to be desired which is why Dashon Goldson would be a perfect addition to the Lions.
The 49ers have newly-signed safeties Madieu Williams and Donte Whitner which has upset the 26-year-old Goldson. While he is slated to start right now, the 49ers could certainly survive without him, especially if they could bring in a starting quarterback.
How about another reunion?
Asante Samuel left the New England Patriots in 2007 to become the franchise cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles. While he's made some highlight reel plays in Philly, the team felt the need to not only sign Nnamdi Asomugha but also acquire Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade for Kevin Kolb.
Samuel now sees himself playing nickel packages, which surely wasn't what he signed for. Since his departure from New England, cornerbacks have arguably been the weakest position for that Patriots. They ranked near the bottom last year in passing yards surrendered and allowed Mark Sanchez to look like Peyton Manning in their playoff game last year.
Bringing back Samuel would allow the Pats to have a new starting cornerback and someone who will help create turnovers for the Super Bowl hopeful. The Patriots could send Gary Guyton, an unspectacular yet solid linebacker back to the Eagles who are absolutely starting for starting talent at that position.
It's a trade that will help both teams. What would make it more interesting is it's a trade that could help these two teams play each other in a Super Bowl rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX.
The Steelers are a team that is a model for consistency while the St. Louis Rams are doing all they can to return to the glory days of a decade ago.
The Rams are moving in the right direction and are just a piece or two away from winning the NFC West. An area of need is finding another few proven linebackers. That just happens to be an area of tremendous strength for the Steelers.
What the Steelers could use now and will certainly need in the future when Hines Ward eventually retires is a possession receiver to go with the explosive deep threats of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
Danny Amendola would be a perfect fit as the third-down receiver to move the chains. His 85 receptions for 689 yards and three touchdowns show he's tailor made for the role.
It would be a move to help now but in the future as well.
Meanwhile, Larry Foote is a very good player on the Steelers, but his questionable recent injury history may make him more expendable than other linebackers on the roster. Even without Foote, they'd still have four super linebackers that any team would love to have.
Foote would go from fighting for a starting job to playing every week in St. Louis. His experience could do wonders for a guy like James Laurinaitis who is emerging into a very solid linebacker.
It's a risky trade for the Rams, but they do have newfound depth at receiver, and bringing in a veteran like Foote could also do wonders for their team chemistry.
Let's get one thing straight right away. There is nothing close to equal value in this trade, so there would most likely be a mid-level draft pack coming to the Giants too. However, this trade would solve a lot of needs for both teams.
The Denver Broncos are a rebuilding team and had a defense that hemorrhaged yards and points last year. While Bailey still has a lot in the tank, he's not exactly in their long-term plans at 33 years old. He's penciled in right now to be their nickel-package cornerback.
With the Giants, he'd be put right in as an every-day cornerback because the G-Men have been absolutely decimated injury wise at this position. The season-ending injury to Terrell Thomas two weeks ago was the unfortunate icing on the cake for the Giants secondary woes.
With a healthy secondary, the Giants could return to the playoffs. And while Umenyiora would be a big loss to the defensive front, getting rid of his continual antics may actually help the team. Don't discount what happened to the Giants in 2007 when Shockey got hurt, and in effect, left the team.
With Justin Tuck and the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants could afford to send Usi away, especially if its out of conference.
The Broncos would love to bring in Umenyiora who with Elvis Dumerville and promising rookie Von Miller, could all of a sudden be putting pieces together for a scary pass-rushing defense.
This trade would help the Broncos with their rebuilding while also helping the Giants currently, who have a roster that looks to have a win now mentality.
This is a trade that would hurt them in some ways but vastly improve them in others.
As discussed before, the Eagles are a team that has top-tier talent at almost every position except linebacker, where they're razor thin. Bringing in a guy like Lance Briggs, a six-time Pro Bowler would bring in instant respect and fear to the Eagle linebacking core. They would take a hit at receiver for sure, but with DeSean Jackson, Steve Smith and Riley Cooper, the gain at linebacker may be worth the loss.
The same could be said for the Bears. While they can't really replace Briggs, one has to believe the nearly annual squabbling about his contract is wearing thin. It got especially bad three years ago when the Bears signed him to a six-year contract.
Now, he wants another one and is requesting a trade though he swears his performance won't be affected. Perhaps, now is the time to give Briggs what he wants and get rid of what could be turning into a cancer on the team.
If you're going to trade a perennial Pro Bowler, then you might as well bring in a game change. Contrary to popular belief within Halas Hall, Roy Williams is not a franchise No. 1 wide receiver. Jeremy Maclin could be one for the Bears.
Imagine Maclin, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester on one team with reliable Earl Bennett around to be a possession receiver. The addition of Maclin would give the Bears the fastest wide receiver core in the NFL.
The trade would provide risks for both teams, but it's one that could also pay off big rewards.
This may not have near the impact of Briggs for Maclin, but Tim Tebow is one of the more discussed players in the entire league.
One of the most lopsided quarterback "competitions" in NFL history took place this summer when Kyle Orton bested Tim Tebow for starting quarterback. Despite fans passionately rooting for Tebow to start, new coach John Fox saw the writing on the wall; and that writing said that Tebow was not only a starter, but not even the backup.
It's clear the new regime in Denver does not see Tebow as a franchise quarterback. The problem is if the Broncos struggle, you'll absolutely see fans and even media clamoring to see him start. The best thing they can do now is trade him as soon as possible.
In my eyes, Tebow would fit on three teams. Miami could use him because of the Wildcat and their unconventional offense. The 49'ers could use him as they have a former college coach, but do they need another unconventional QB?
That is where Seattle fits in. They have Pete Carroll who is one of the quirkier coaches you'll find in all of sports. He's used to dealing with college players and if anyone is going to give Tebow a chance at quartberback, it could be Carroll. After all, it's not like the Seahawks have great options.
Coming back to Denver would be John Carlson. Everyone talks about his talent, yet the Seahawks went and signed Zach Miller. It's made Carlson expendable, and would be a welcome addition to Denver, who have no proven option at tight end.
Tim Tebow showed flashes of talent in 2010, but he also is still incredibly raw. The Broncos have decided that they'd rather take their chances with Kyle Orton. You have to ask yourself if the Seahawks would come to the same conclusion with guys like Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst.