While a group of six NFL personnel executives downplayed the likelihood of any significant trades before the Tuesday deadline at 4 p.m., all of them agreed that one standout wide receiver stood out as the strongest possibility.
New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
“If you look at the whole situation, it makes sense,” an NFC general manager said. “(Giants General Manager) Jerry (Reese) is really good at finding receivers, they’ve already paid (fellow wide receiver Victor) Cruz, they have (second-year receiver Rueben) Randle and they have other players to worry about signing. It’s not really their style to trade during the season, but 1-6 is 1-6.”
Here’s a look at the top 10 players who could be in play:
1. WR Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants – Nicks is in the final year of his contract. Although the Giants viewed him as their No. 1 receiver coming into the season and as a vital cog, coach Tom Coughlin indicated Wednesday that Nicks hasn’t been as reliable this season. Considering the overall circumstances, the Giants might part with him for a lower-round pick, such as in the fourth round.
Most likely suitors: Indianapolis, New England, Detroit, Kansas City.
2. WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns – Gordon’s name is in play even though he has been Cleveland’s most explosive skill-position player this season. Gordon is averaging 16.7 yards per catch this season and 16.3 in his two seasons. He is an excellent deep threat. However, his two-game suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy (and a history of substance abuse that dates to 2010 at Baylor), makes Browns management worried. And this management didn’t draft Gordon. It will probably take a high pick to get him because he’s under contract for two more years, but if some team is willing to roll the dice, Gordon could be had.
Most likely suitors: San Francisco, Indianapolis, New England.
3. TE Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta – The Hall of Fame-bound Gonzalez has said all the right things about not wanting to be traded. But Gonzalez, who said similar things on his way out of Kansas City, is also image conscious and wouldn’t want anybody to think he’s jumping ship. The real question is whether Gonzalez will want his potential final season to be wasted out of the playoffs? If Atlanta drops to 2-5, Gonzalez will likely be in play.
Most likely suitor: Kansas City.
4. CB Will Blackmon, Jacksonville – While the focus of trade rumors with the Jaguars has been on Maurice Jones-Drew, Jason Babin and even Justin Blackmon, it’s Will Blackmon who has peaked the interest of some teams desperate for cornerback help. Blackmon has always had talent. The problem has been an injury history longer than the coast of Brazil. He’s on a one-year deal and the Jaguars are going nowhere.
Most likely suitors – Green Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati.
5. DE Jason Babin, Jacksonville – Pass rushers with even a modicum of talent are hard to find. No one is quite sure if Babin has even a modicum left, but these are times for daring and desperate measures.
Most likely suitors – San Francisco, Dallas, Denver.
6. RB Darren McFadden, Oakland – McFadden has never been able to stay healthy in any of his six seasons in the NFL, but still flashes enough talent to keep personnel men interested. His contract is up at the end of the season and the Raiders could use the draft picks.
Most likely suitors – New York Jets, Dallas.
7. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville – He is averaging a career-worst 3.1 yards per carry and doesn’t look good. The question is whether that’s him or the fact that the Jaguars offense is so bad right now.
Most likely suitors – New York Jets, Green Bay, Dallas.
8. G David Diehl, New York Giants – The injury to center David Baas likely makes it harder for the Giants to trade an offensive lineman of any ability. Beyond that, Diehl is 33 and fading. However, getting any offensive lineman at this point is almost impossible, especially one who has high-level experience at left tackle. Diehl is on an expiring contract, so there’s a chance he could move.
Most likely suitors – Denver, Seattle, Miami.
9. G Charles Johnson, Minnesota – Like Diehl, this is not necessarily about quality as much as experience and necessity. Johnson has played left tackle, albeit not particularly well.
Most likely suitors – Denver, Seattle, Miami.
10. G Wade Smith, Houston – Smith has been a solid starter in Houston for four years. While his play has declined this season, he’s dependable and his contract is running out.
Most likely suitors – Dallas, Denver.
Follow me on Twitter: @JasonPhilCole
DEC 10 Len Pasquarelli
With the way it looks in Washington, owner Daniel Snyder will soon be hiring his fifth head coach since buying the team.
DEC 09 Jason Cole
Are the Washington Redskins headed for yet another coaching change?
DEC 06 Joel Corry
An inside look at the three NFL teams with the most dead money.