by Michael Lombardi
October 07, 02009
QUOTE: “Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -- Attributed to Howard Thurman
Major League Baseball playoffs start today, which reminds me of an annual rite every summer in which losing teams trade their star players to teams making playoff runs as the trading deadline nears. Most of the time, the compensation – at least in fans’ eyes – appears lopsided in favor of the team gaining the established veteran player. But if the right trade is made, the team that gets the minor league prospects can set up its future very nicely. It all comes down to making the right deal for the right players.
In football, we have nothing similar, but frankly, I wish we did. The trading deadline is less than two weeks away, and with 28 of 32 NFL teams having played one quarter of their season, we essentially know which teams can make playoff runs and which teams need to build for the future.
Today, I thought I’d make a few suggestions to teams that might want to stockpile draft picks and teams that might want to find that one player who can put them over the top.
NOTE: Braylon Edwards was traded to the Jets this morning after I had already written this column. I’ll keep his name here so you can understand my logic when I wrote it.
CAROLINA JULIUS PEPPERS
The Panthers are paying Peppers entirely too much coin for the production he brings to the defense. He’s not Dwight Freeney in terms of getting pressure — Peppers is more of a sack man than a pressure man. This season, he has one sack in three games, and thinking long term, how can the Panthers re-sign him next year? How can they want to re-sign him next year? How can they commit that much money to one player (I realize there might not be a cap in 2010, but I believe me, teams will have internal caps)? Their choices are to let Peppers become a free agent and figure they will receive a compensatory third-round pick in another year, or trade him now, shed the cost and think for the future.
The hard part about trading Peppers is that very few teams can fit his salary cap number under their cap. So this trade might be difficult for the Panthers to make. But they need to find a way to recoup some picks next year after trading their No. 1 to San Francisco for a second in the ‘09 draft in which they picked Everett Brown. Who might be interested? I would think the Packers might want to make a call and dangle their second-round pick, figuring there aren’t many teams capable of making the deal, so why bid against yourself? The Packers could use Peppers in a role that might enhance his game, getting him matched on backs as he attacks the pocket from the linebacker position. This actually might be a good marriage, assuming you could get Packers GM Ted Thompson to spend some money and get the Panthers to admit their season is over — two very hard assumptions to make.
CLEVELAND BRAYLON EDWARDS
If I’m Browns owner Randy Lerner, I’m not sure I would let head coach Eric Mangini make a deal based on his track record of taking a bunch of players for the fifth pick in the draft. But moving Edwards does appear logical. He might not be a free agent at the end of the season if the NFL goes uncapped, which would push the requirement for free agency from four to six years.
Sources have told me the Browns are back to shopping Edwards, and I’m very confident they have interest from the Dolphins and the Jets. If they can get those two teams involved, they might get more for Edwards than he’s actually worth based on his play. However, the Dolphins are having a bad season and might not want to go all in, so this might limit their bidding.
My sense is that the Jets will not get outbid and would be willing to spend their second-round pick this year and might even throw more on the table. Edwards could really make the Jets a better offensive team and help Mark Sanchez continue to develop.
STEVEN JACKSON ST. LOUIS
Jackson is the only playmaker on the Rams and trading him would really deplete their offense — or would it? The Rams have scored 24 points with Jackson, so how much is he really helping? By the time the Rams get good enough, Jackson’s career might be over. So the Rams might want to think about moving Jackson to gain some much-needed draft picks to help the rebuilding.
Who might be interested in Jackson? Good question. If he landed in Philadelphia, he would give the Eagles the big back they need and protection against Brian Westbrook getting hurt. Plus, the Eagles might be able to get Jackson at a cheaper price than his talent level, based on his lack of durability and the lack of interest his services may generate.
DUNTA ROBINSON HOUSTON
The Texans couldn’t sign Robinson to a multi-year deal this offseason, and with him they still struggle defending the pass. Can they ever get him signed to a long-term deal? Do they want to invest in a long-term deal? I’m not sure on either, but if the Texans can interest some of the teams that need corners, i.e. the Ravens and Bears, they might be able to make a deal.
CHRIS HOVAN TAMPA BAY
The Bucs want bigger defensive tackles in their front and Hovan does not fit their new style. It might be worth a call to the Falcons, who need a quick-moving tackle to supplement the loss of Peria Jerry. I know you don’t like to do business with your competitors, but this might make sense of both teams.
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