The NFL trade deadline is this Tuesday, and a lot of teams have glaring needs. Injuries and lofty performances are encouraging deadline moves.
Teams must now decide if they’re better off throwing away 2011 in hopes of acquiring draft picks to bolster their chances in 2012, or if they still have enough juice left to make a playoff push.
Very few players have been officially placed on the trading block, but anything could happen. The clock is ticking toward Tuesday's deadline.
The Miami Dolphins head into Monday night’s game against the Jets without their starting quarterback, Chad Henne.
Even with Henne, the Dolphins appeared to be front-runners in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They’re stuck in one of the toughest divisions in football, and could be the only team in the league that will be handicapped as underdogs in all of their games left in 2011.
A single victory would be a surprise.
Matt Moore is not the answer at QB, but the Dolphins are already out of it.
They won’t be bringing anyone else on board this sinking ship. The only move Miami should be making is at the head coach position. Tony Sparano needs to go.
The Colts are 0-6 without franchise QB Peyton Manning, and things won’t get much better as long as he’s out.
Curtis Painter has done an admirable job keeping the Colts in games, but they’ve lost four straight in the fourth quarter.
Jim Caldwell is going to have a tough time keeping these guys motivated as the season moves forward. Without Peyton Manning, they’re all but lost.
The Colts have a lot of guys who would be valuable in acquiring draft picks for 2012.
Receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie could help a lot of other teams, but the Colts need to decide if they’re worth saving for Manning’s return.
The St.Louis Rams were an early favorite to take the NFC West in 2011.
They now sit at 0-5 and have virtually no chance at salvaging their season.
The defense is inconsistent and can’t shut down both the run and the pass in the same week.
Steve Spagnuolo is one of the better defensive coaches in the league, but the personnel just isn’t there.
Since the season is already over for the Rams, they should stand pat as far as trades/signings are concerned and let rookies like defensive end Robert Quinn and safety Jermale Hines see more snaps as they prepare for 2012.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have one of the better rush defenses in the league, and Maurice Jones-Drew remains a top-tier running back.
Outside of these positives, they are one of the worst teams in the league.
Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback of the future and will continue to develop as the season progresses.
Mike Thomas and Jason Hill are formidable options, but Gabbert needs a go-to guy.
Since the season is a lost cause, the Jags won’t make a move. However, if a stud receiver becomes available at a reasonable price, they could pounce on him for the future.
Christian Ponder has arrived for the Minnesota Vikings, which can only mean one thing—they’re rebuilding.
After Donovan McNabb got chased out of their Week 6 loss in Chicago, the Vikings must now endure a quarterback controversy.
Guys like Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin will make Ponder’s transition to the NFL a lot easier.
The Vikings will finish at the bottom of the NFC North, but there are no moves worth making in 2011.
It’s Tebow time.
The Denver Broncos have finally gave into the demands of their fans and are ready to see if their 2010 first-round pick can live up to the hype.
These Denver Broncos seem inspired when Tebow is on the field
There has been a lot of talk about veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd being moved at the deadline. However, Tebow and Lloyd showed excellent chemistry during his brief tenure as starter in 2010.
If he moves, Eric Decker becomes the No. 1 receiver. Decker is talented, but he’s a lot more valuable in the slot.
Lloyd wants out, but his departure will hurt the Broncos.
The Arizona Cardinals will come off their bye week to face the Steelers and the Ravens in consecutive weeks.
If they fall in each of these contests, they’ll be looking at an embarrassing 1-6 record.
After acquiring Kevin Kolb following the lockout, the expectations for this Cardinals team were the highest they’ve been since the departure of Kurt Warner. That optimism has disappeared.
Beanie Wells and the Cardinals’ running game has been the only bright spot on an otherwise dreadful football team.
Arizona could move a guy like Andre Roberts or Early Doucet for a late-round pick, but they probably won’t make any moves.
Cam Newton is making an excellent case for NFL Rookie of the Year.
The Panthers are hanging with the NFC’s best and have given their fans plenty to cheer for. They just aren’t winning games.
There won’t be any playoffs for the Panthers in 2011, but they need to feel good about their future.
The Panthers recently signed DeAngelo Williams to a ridiculous contract extension. If they don’t plan on over-paying for his backup, Jonathon Stewart, then they should move him for a third-rounder while his value is high.
Colt McCoy is doing all he can with a patchwork offensive line, a nameless receiving corps, and a disgruntled running back. It just isn’t enough.
The Browns sit at the bottom of the AFC North and will probably spend the rest of the season there.
With Evan Moore emerging as a solid tight end, Benjamin Watson becomes expendable.
If the Browns can pull in a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick for him, they’ll pull the trigger.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost their best defender in Eric Berry and their most dynamic offensive weapon in Jamaal Charles to devastating knee injuries.
Even so, they’re coming off two straight victories. Arrowhead Stadium will keep the Chiefs in almost any home game, but the Chiefs seem destined for third place in the AFC West, as the Chargers are rolling and the Raiders are drastically improving.
If the Chiefs were entirely healthy, they would be a contender.
They’re likely to keep their roster as it stands for the rest of 2011, looking forward to a fresh start in 2012.
Even if they lose the rest of their games, gutting the roster wouldn’t make sense.
After shocking the Giants in Week 5, Pete Caroll and his Seattle Seahawks have got to feel like there is still hope for 2011.
However, with the 49ers on absolute fire, the NFC West seems like a long shot, and the Wild Card doesn’t look much better.
They currently stand at 2-3, but they have one of the easiest schedules left in the league. Playoffs may be out of the question, but they could finish with their first winning record since 2007.
Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson are both ordinary quarterbacks. The Seahawks will need to acquire a more formidable signal-caller. It won’t happen in 2011.
Without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, the Texans won’t dominate the AFC South the way they were expected to following Peyton Manning’s neck injury.
The Titans are emerging as a favorite out of the division, as the Texans wait for the return of Johnson, their No. 1 receiver.
With Williams out for the year, the Texans could test the market for help at linebacker.
However, since the market is very thin at the position, they’ll likely continue to address the void from within.
Cincinnati is still far off from serious playoff contention.
Even so, the Andy Dalton to AJ Green connection has revived a franchise that seemed built for last place in 2011.
The Bengals' offensive attack is growing as a unit, and there is a lot of promise for this team moving forward.
The Bengals’ front office needs to swallow their pride and trade Carson Palmer.
His value will continue to decrease every week he remains out of football. With the Raiders likely losing Jason Campbell for the rest of the season, they could scoop a second- or third-rounder.
Michael Vick and the Eagles came out swinging in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins.
They picked off Rex Grossman four times and moved the ball on the ground and through the air, totaling 422 yards of offense.
This team has a lot of talent, but their inconsistencies could doom them if they don’t straighten out fast.
The Eagles’ Achilles heels are their linebacking corps and their offensive line. There aren’t going to be any lineman on the block, but look for Philly to sign a veteran or two to provide some depth via free agency.
Lofa Tatupu is an intriguing free agent option at linebacker.
It seems that Rex Grossman may have taken his last snap as the Redskins starter in 2011.
His four interceptions were enough to inspire Shanahan to call on John Beck to take over in Week 6.
The Redskins remain in the thick of the NFC East race, but they’ll need consistent QB play to stay there.
Mike Shanahan will stick with his guys, even though neither seems poised to lead Washington to a division title. If Brandon Lloyd is indeed on the market, expect the Redskins to try and address the passing game at the receiver position instead.
Tony Romo minimized mistakes against the Patriots in Week 6, but the Cowboys still came up short.
Rob Ryan and the Cowboys defense stepped up big time, as they turned in the best performance against the Patriots thus far in 2011.
If Dallas’ defense can continue to perform at the high level they did against New England, the 2011 season will come down to the play of Tony Romo.
Dallas will probably get a late-round draft pick for Tashard Choice. This will likely be the only move they make. They just need to stay healthy to succeed.
The New York Jets are considered one of the most talented teams in the NFL.
They are dramatically underperforming. They head into their Monday night contest with Miami at 2-3 and have a lot of ground to make up on both the Patriots and the Bills.
The Jets are struggling on the ground. Ladanian Tomlinson has shown he remains valuable, but not as a primary back.
Shonn Greene doesn’t seem to be improving at the rate the Jets may have hoped. It seems like it’s time to bring in a new RB.
If the Jets can pry Stewart form the Panthers, they’d be in much better shape. More realistically, Tashard Choice can be had for a late-round pick out of Dallas.
Matt Ryan has struggled to find a groove in 2011.
The Falcons are 3-3 heading into their bye week and find themselves at a disappointing third place in their division.
While Ryan has struggled, the Falcons' main problems come with their pass defense.
The Jaguars’ Rashean Mathis is rumored to be on the block. Mathis would be the perfect fit for the Falcons and could likely be had for a mid-round draft pick.
They should pursue him aggressively.
The Chicago Bears remain one of the better teams in the NFC.
Unfortunately, they’re in the same division as the 5-1 Lions and the undefeated Packers.
The Bears need to protect Jay Cutler as they continue to look elite on defense and special teams.
With the offensive line struggling, Matt Forte is the focal point of the Chicago offense. Thanks to him, the Bears will likely find themselves in the Wild Card hunt at the end of the season.
Whether they remain in contention or not, re-signing Forte should be the priority. They need to keep him happy.
The Raiders have already lost their owner and the face of their franchise, Al Davis, in 2011.
Now, they’ll be without their starting quarterback.
Jason Campbell went down in the second quarter against the Browns, and there are rumblings that he is likely out for the rest of the 2011 season.
The Raiders are already trying to get the Bengals to part ways with the disgruntled Carson Palmer. Palmer on the Raiders could mean a serious playoff push in 2011.
If the Bengals’ front office remains stubborn, David Garrard wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.
Chris Johnson finally seems to be coming around, and Matt Hasselbeck is playing like he’s five years younger.
The Titans fell to the Steelers in Week 5, but they should come out ready to contend following a Week 6 bye.
The Titans have a relatively easy schedule moving forward, and they look like the team to beat in the AFC South.
With Kenny Britt done for the season, the Titans need a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Nate Washington is a solid option, but he is much more effective as a complement to a more dominant target.
Brandon Lloyd is intriguing if available. If Terrell Owens returns in 2011, the Titans seem like they could be the perfect fit.
The Bills are exceeding expectations at 4-2, but they’ll need to improve to make the playoffs out of the AFC East.
The Patriots aren’t likely to be caught, and the Jets have too much talent to simply lie down.
Buffalo’s offense has been explosive. Their defense has been suspect at best.
The Bills are improving up the middle with the additions of Shawne Merriman and rookie Marcell Dareus.
Their secondary has been vulnerable. If the Jaguars are dangling Rashean Mathis, he’d be worth the mid-round draft pick.
The Chargers are supposed to be the odds-on favorite in the AFC West.
However, with the way the Raiders have been improving, they could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time.
San Diego is 4-1, but they’ve looked vulnerable against weak Kansas City and Denver teams. Their second-half schedule is brutal, so they’ll need to step it up to stay on top.
Philip Rivers hasn’t been as effective as he usually is, and a lot of that can be attributed to the absence of Antonio Gates.
If the Chargers can get a healthy Gates back and contributing for the rest of the season, there are no moves they need to make.
The New York Giants continuously play down (or up) to the level of their opponent.
They don’t get blown out by superior teams, and they don’t blow out the teams that they should dominate.
Eli Manning has been playing excellent football, and the Giants sit atop the NFC East in spite of countless injuries.
The Giants’ pass defense has been their greatest flaw. Luckily, rookie cornerback Prince Amakamara should return following the upcoming bye week.
It seems as though Osi Umenyiora is happy as long as he’s playing football, so the Giants will most definitely keep him for the remainder of 2011.
There is no one available that really makes sense for the G-Men.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-2 and are finally finding positive momentum in 2011.
Rashard Mendenhall looked excellent in Week 6, coming off his hamstring injury.
He ran for 146 yards and a touchdown as he helped Pittsburgh control the tempo of the game. If Mendenhall can return to his 2010 form, the passing game will drastically improve.
The Steelers remain one of the better defensive teams in the league, but they are getting old. There aren’t going to be any young defensive guys available at the deadline, so expect Pittsburgh to stay quiet.
The Lions are on the upswing, and Matthew Stafford is developing into one of the league’s best young quarterbacks.
After falling to the 49ers in Week 6, Detroit still sits at an impressive 5-1 and should feel great about where they stand through six games of the 2011 season.
They have a dominant pass rush and have had no trouble moving the ball, but they have given up crucial plays on the ground.
When the Lions over-pursue on the pass rush they leave open lanes for huge runs. Frank Gore emphasized this point in Week 6.
The Lions don’t need to make any roster changes. However, they do need to run a slightly more conservative defense in order to prevent these monster plays.
The Saints expected to go into Tampa Bay on Sunday and come out with a victory.
Instead, they fell to their division rivals and are now tied for the division lead.
Drew Brees looked shaky in Week 6, but the Saints' loss must be shouldered by the entire team.
The Saints have the personnel to make a Super Bowl run, but they need to improve their tackling in the secondary, and Brees needs to take more time in the pocket.
New Orleans gets a soft schedule for two weeks against the Colts and Rams—they should use these games to build momentum for a late-season run.
By handling the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers solidified themselves as the team to beat in the NFC South.
Josh Freeman finally returned to 2010 form and lead the Bucs to a 26-20 victory over their division rivals.
Tampa Bay is the youngest team in the league and is quietly emerging as an elite team in the NFC.
The main reason for their success is the chemistry they are developing through their youth. Several players are emerging as leaders, and no ego has grown too large.
A major transaction could harm this chemistry—expect Tampa Bay to stick with their guys.
Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers playing inspired football.
After defeating the undefeated Lions on the road in Week 6 and improving to 5-1, they became the odds-on favorite to win the NFC West. They’re the only team in the division with a winning record.
Michael Crabtree looked good in Week 6, but San Francisco could still use some help at the wide receiver position.
If Lloyd is available, the 49ers could make a move. If not, they could go for a guy like Eddie Royal.
Tom Brady is automatic in late-game drives, and the offense continues to impress.
However, the Patriots continue to struggle on defense, especially in the secondary. By allowing so many points, they are putting additional pressure on Tom Brady and forcing him to put the team on his back week after week.
There has been some talk about the Patriots acquiring a receiver, but it doesn’t seem necessary.
If the Pats are to make a move, it should be for the Jaguars’ Mathis or another cornerback. If they can slow down opposing offenses through the air, everything else will fall perfectly into place.
The Baltimore Ravens dominated the Texans in Week 6 and are emerging as a favorite in the AFC.
Joe Flacco is finding a variety of his receivers and finally seems to be utilizing his excellent arm strength.
Ray Rice looks as good as ever behind fullback Vonta Leach, and the defense seems to be the most dominant in the NFL.
The Ravens seem poised for a Super Bowl run in 2011, as they have no glaring issues. It’d be very surprising to see them make any changes to their current roster.
The Green Bay Packers are now the only undefeated team left in the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers continues to impress, as he is solidifying himself as the best quarterback in the NFL.
The defense continues to force crucial turnovers in spite of allowing the occasional big pass play.
Green Bay could go out and look for a cornerback, but they’re finding ways to win without one. As the season progresses, the secondary should continue to improve.
Green Bay remains the best team in the NFL—at least until someone can take them down.