Big trades coming at deadline?

Why is there unlikely to be much activity prior to the NFL trade deadline next Tuesday?

As is the case every year with the trading deadline, there will be lots of smoke but little fire. It’s the job of personnel departments around the league to check out every possible avenue to improve the team, and that will include potential trades. However, there are several reasons why, after all the talk, there is usually very little action.

There are players around the league who only want to get traded because it might mean a new contract for them. So they really don't want to be traded; they simply want a new deal. Those players will be tough to trade unless the acquiring team is willing to make a large commitment. As we’ve seen with recent trades for Richard Seymour and Braylon Edwards, a new contract is not necessarily part of the equation.

One player always looking for a new contract is Terrell Owens, now the subject of trade rumors. The Bills, however, have already paid Owens roughly $2.5 million of the $6.5 million he’s owed for the 2009 season. If they were to trade him now, they will have paid him more than $200,000 for each of his 12 receptions as a Bill. It would be hard to justify that investment so soon. Speaking of new contracts, there’s more uncertainty than ever before about the future status of player contracts in 2010. There are roughly 175 players who will be free agents if there’s a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (with the same free agency requirements as now) but who will only be restricted free agents as we currently stand entering an uncapped year. This also makes trading problematic.

Every year, there’s debate about the early date of the trading deadline. Unlike the NBA or Major League Baseball -- where there is much more buzz at the deadline and much more activity -- the NFL maintains a trading deadline after six weeks of a 17-week season, not wanting the "rent-a-player" mentality in which players are sent from non-contending teams to contending teams for the stretch run. The NFL’s early deadline usually prevents knowing which teams are also-rans at this point (although this year may be an aberration to that theory).

My sense is that there will be a few trades but none of the "blockbuster" variety that have become common in other leagues.

Why did the Packers bring back Mark Tauscher this week after he had been a free agent since February?

Have you seen the Packers’ offensive line recently?

They went back to the future on Monday and brought back Tauscher, a fixture at right tackle for almost a decade. Tauscher unfortunately tore his ACL 10 months ago heading into his free-agent year but is now ready to go.

Interestingly, this was not the first time Mark had torn his ACL. In fact, I negotiated a contract extension with him while he was on injured reserve with that torn ACL.

The circumstances were that we were in the process of negotiating an extension when he suffered the injury. After talking to our doctors about the injury and the successful surgery, we proceeded with the deal rather than scrap the negotiation, giving Mark a small initial bonus with a larger bonus after a year of proving that the injury did not affect him continuing to play at a high level.

Mark is also one of the only players I dealt with who negotiated his own contract (and did an impressive job). I’m often asked whether any players represented themselves instead of using agents. Mark started with an agent but eventually handled the key parts of the negotiation himself. We were friends and were able to separate business from personal, although I must admit I would always rather deal with an agent since the subject of a player’s worth can be very raw and emotional if not buffered through a representative.

Mark is a true success story, having barely been drafted at the bottom of the seventh round -- a true find by former general manager Ron Wolf. I remember Ron being amazed by Mark's ability to mold himself in a way to stay in front of onrushing linemen. Mark was integral to the Packers’ success, a reliable presence who was as dependable as could be.

The Packers certainly hope he can re-create that presence after his 10-month forced sabbatical from the team.

Why is all the attention on Rush Limbaugh not necessarily bad for the Rams?

Have you seen the Rams perform recently? Limbaugh is naturally a lightning rod, causing all kinds of attention due to a confirmed involvement in one of the groups seeking to purchase the St. Louis Rams. His conservative views and racist comments of a few years ago have brought out the usual suspects -- Al Sharpton included -- to rail against the possibility that he could surface in an ownership position.

The upside for the Rams, of course, is that while the news of the moment involves a certain potential member of an ownership group, there is less focus on the play of the team. They’ve scored 34 points in five games, a number smaller than five teams are averaging! Their last two games saw them lose 35-0 and 38-10. Ugh.

Despite these statistics, however, we tend to hear more about the futility of the Raiders, Chiefs, Bucs, Bills and Browns more than we do the Rams. They can thank Limbaugh -- who brings new meaning to phrases such as “silent partner” and “minority investor” -- for that.

Why did the Dolphins bring in Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas as another minority investor?

As with the recent addition of investors such as Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Venus and Serena Williams and Jimmy Buffett, the Dolphins have identified a strategy and are sticking to it. In a market with as many entertainment options as any in the NFL, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is trying to corral that elusive concept of “buzz” around Dolphins games.

Every owner would like to have the scene at their games rival that of a Lakers game, a feeling that a person has to be there because it’s “the place to be.” From those I talked to at the game on Monday, that feeling was there. Then again, it was a Monday night game where the team played well against a division rival.

Let’s see if Fergie and company can create some buzz in Week 16 against the Texans.

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