The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, leaving players like Carson Palmer and Ronnie Brown in new places. How will each team alter the remaining 10 weeks of the 2011 NFL season for the teams and players involved?
We'll tackle the trade deadline by breaking down each trade and it's implications as only an experienced scout could. I'll evaluate the five deals that went down and let you know the value of what was traded, how the new player(s) fit and what can be expected long term from each.
The St. Louis Rams sent a 2012 sixth-round draft choice to the Denver Broncos in exchange for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. When looking at Lloyd's 2011 season, this seems like a steal for the Broncos.
Take a step back and look at Lloyd's play in 2010, when Josh McDaniels was head coach of the Broncos. During the 2010 season, Lloyd caught 77 passes for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. He played well enough to receive a Pro Bowl invite and was ranked by my good friends at Pro Football Focus as the No. 1 receiver in the NFL based on regular season play.
That talent didn't disappear. Lloyd was playing in an unfamiliar system and in an offense that had no threat in the run game or opposite him. Lloyd has been targeted just 32 times this season. By comparison, Wes Welker has 79 targets and Calvin Johnson has 54. The Broncos didn't make an effort to get Lloyd the ball this year.
It's obvious that Lloyd is a great fit in the offense ran by Josh McDaniels—which is fitting since McDaniels is running the offense in St. Louis.
The McDaniels offense is based on timing—look at what Tom Brady and Matt Cassel do in their offenses—but also on taking smart chances with the deep ball. Lloyd is not a deep threat, nor he is a threat to make big plays after the catch, but he is a solid possession receiver. Lloyd is a savvy route runner who is able to get open against press coverage and can fight for the ball. In this offense, where timing is so important, Lloyd's ability to separate in the first five yards are key.
The Rams don't need a big receiver or a sprinter at the position. Much like Deion Branch has been for the Patriots, Lloyd simply needs to get open fast so Bradford can get the ball out to him on quick reads.
The major hurdle in this deal's long-term viability is the fact that Lloyd's contract expires after the 2011 season. With his move out of Denver it would seem that Lloyd knows his value isn't as high as it would have been this past year. He will be smart to sign a long-term deal in St. Louis, where he's valued and knows he can be used in the offense. They also have a great young quarterback for Lloyd to work with in Sam Bradford.
The best deal for both sides would be a long-term deal.
The Oakland Raiders traded a 2012 seventh-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2013 to the Seattle Seahawks for linebacker Aaron Curry.
Curry, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, has been a major disappointment in Seattle. Just two-and-a-half seasons in, it was too early to call Curry a bust and ship him out of town. The Seahawks will receive a seventh-round pick and at best a fifth-round pick in exchange for a player they used the No. 4 overall pick on.
I call that great value for the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders have made a roster out of rehabilitating the careers of former first-round picks. One such example is the play of Kamerion Wimbley at outside linebacker. Wimbley, a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2006, has evolved into one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL. Aaron Curry is now lining up opposite him.
The Raiders defense asks their outside linebackers to be flexible. Curry will be asked to rush the passer, drop into coverage and set the edge against the run. Thankfully, this is what he does best.
When reviewing Curry for the 2009 NFL draft, I had him ranked No. 3 overall, with his best attribute being the all-around game needed to play three-downs in the NFL. Curry had 45.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage during his time at Wake Forest. His ability to crash the line and make stops was legendary. He is still that same player.
Curry will be served well by a change of scenery. As a player he never meshed well with the Pete Carroll regime and his play suffered because of it. During his rookie season, Curry played well enough as a pass rusher, but struggled against the run and was penalized too often, but there was hope. In his second season, and first with Carroll, Curry's play was markedly better against the run, but again he was too often penalized. Curry needs a strong leader on defense, something Seattle lacks. He'll find that in Richard Seymour. Seymour and the other nine starters on defense will do something Curry never had in Seattle—help him make plays.
Curry's rookie contract is set to expire after the 2012 season. He is due $5.7 million next season and could see his contract re-worked if he plays well enough over the next 10 games. Curry is young and the type of athlete the Raiders needed opposite Wimbley at linebacker. With one year left on his existing the deal the Raiders are in a great position to extend him long-term at a team-friendly number.
The New York Jets sent wide receiver Derrick Mason to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2012 seventh-round pick. Should Mason have less than 32 passes, the Jets receive nothing in return.
In one of the oddest trades I have ever witnessed, the Jets essentially gave Derrick Mason to the Houston Texans free of charge. This is a fair deal for the Texans, as they only pay for Mason is he produces.
Mason is on his last legs as an NFL receiver, but he can still be a productive bit-player in a larger offensive scheme. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison runs a complex system that Mason has not been exposed to in his NFL career, but he can play a role here.
Dennison's offense is much like the Mike Shanahan system, which is largely a West Coast offense. Mason will play the role of an inside option in multiple-receiver sets, but mostly he will be a depth player and fourth or fifth option for Matt Schaub.
What Mason brings to Houston, more than catches, is experience. The Texans have a group of young receivers who are still learning, On a team with playoff aspirations, Mason is the strong veteran voice of reason for a young of youngsters. Mason was added to help Houston get to the playoffs, but also because of his experience in the post-season.
The signing of Mason will pay off down the stretch when the Texans need a big play late in a playoff game. His value in the two-minute offense will become evident come January.
At 37-years-old, Mason is largely nothing more than a one-year fix, but if that one year includes a playoff run he will be worth it.
Mason will not be expected to play beyond this year, but if he can keep his head down and stay out of the headlines, he'll have a chance to make one last playoff run on a very talented team.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded running back Ronnie Brown to the Detroit Lions for running back Jerome Harrison and a 2013 seventh-round draft pick.
Brown is a former 1,000 yard rusher, but so far in 2011 he's been ineffective. The Lions needed help at running back after injuries to Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure, making a move to add a running back a necessity.
The Detroit Lion offensive line has been less than stellar this season. This team needs a hard-nosed runner who can put his pads down and run through traffic. Ronnie Brown isn't that player.
Flash back to Brown's goal line attempt against the San Francisco 49ers on October 2. Brown, running from the one-yard line, couldn't get it done. A hard-nosed runner Brown is not.
The Lions would have been wise to call the Cleveland Browns about Peyton Hillis, or even talked to the Dallas Cowboys about Tashard Choice. Trading for a running back who will turn 30 this season isn't going to help Detroit this season or in the long run.
The best case scenario for the Lions is that Best recovers from a concussion in time to reprise his role as the lead back and Brown can help as a back-up only.
Ronnie Brown turns 30 in December, which in NFL years is a good indicator of when a running back's talent diminishes. Brown hasn't rushed for over 1,000 yards since 2006. On the season he's averaging just 2.9 yards per carry.
Brown signed a one-year deal with the Eagles before the season. It will be a surprise if the Lions choose to re-sign him following the season.
The Oakland Raiders traded a 2012 first-rounder and a conditional 2013 first-rounder to the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer.
A first round pick in 2012 and a conditional first in 2013 is a lot for any player. Sending that to Cincinnati for a 31-year-old quarterback who hasn't played this season seems rather risky. Add in that Palmer has experienced two serious injuries (knee and elbow) in his career and you can really start to worry about giving up so much for a quarterback.
There is no questioning whether or not Palmer is a good fit with the Raiders. Oakland's head coach, Hue Jackson, was a wide receiver coach with the Bengals from 2004-2006, during which time Palmer made two Pro Bowl appearances. Jackson's offense in Oakland is based on many of the same fundamentals of the Cincinnati offense from the mid-2000s.
Palmer's strengths are his vision, mid-to-long range accuracy and arm strength. Since hurting his knee in 2004 he has been gun shy in the pocket, and since hurting his elbow in 2008 he has shown inconsistencies in velocity.
The Raiders were forced into this situation when Jason Campbell broke his collarbone. Now they are in a situation where they have a true franchise quarterback and clear upgrade at the position. The 4-2 Raiders are loading up for a playoff run, and Palmer has the talent to get them there.
Palmer turns 32 this December, meaning he could play three to six more years in the NFL, barring injury. Palmer is an improvement at quarterback over Campbell, whose contract expires after the 2011 season.
With Palmer agreeing to re-work his contract in Oakland, it seems like the team plans to keep him around long-term, and they should. Palmer is a proven commodity and the Raiders are banking on him returning to his previous form under Jackson.