The NFL trade deadline is kind of like an annual version of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight: there’s always a whole lot of build up to it, and then nothing really happens.
Or at least nothing of consequence, really.
Take last year’s trade deadline for instance. The 49ers traded tight end Vernon Davis to the Broncos in what was pretty much unarguably the biggest deadline deal of 2015.
Sure, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, but Davis? He had one total target and zero total catches in the postseason for the Broncos.
Maybe the problem isn’t general managers’ desire to get big time deals done… maybe it’s just a lack of creativity. So, to help out the league’s struggling GM’s on that front, let’s throw some trade deals out there that would be mutually beneficial for both teams involved AND would completely rock the foundation of the NFL as we know it.
1. Cowboys trade Tony Romo to Los Angeles Rams for 2017 and 2018 second round picks
Case Keenum has been playing more effectively than I think anybody really imagined he would when Jeff Fisher announced he’d be starting over No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. That being said, his limitations are obvious and the Rams — who have the make up of a good team that could be on the precipice of a playoff berth their first year in LA — need more from the QB position if they’re going to make the playoffs.
Dallas, on the other hand, is playing some fantastic football and the only real issue emanating out of Big D is what to do with Tony Romo.
The simplest solution is to trade him. Don’t let him start over Dak Prescott — who has been lighting it up early in his NFL career — and risk him getting injured or being inefficient and killing the Cowboys’ momentum. Nip it in the bud, get what you can for him and make way for Prescott to lead this team into the future.
This makes sense for the Rams as well from a long-term perspective seeing as they seem more inclined to give Goff the Aaron Rodgers treatment (let him sit and learn for a while) rather than the Jameis Winston treatment. Romo’s contract expires after the 2019 season at which time he’ll be 40. If he can stay healthy, he’ll give the Rams a few good years as an above average QB and will provide the tutelage that Goff will need to grow into a franchise QB.
It’s a win-win that helps both teams win now.
2. Panthers trade 2017 first round pick to Browns for CB Joe Haden
They might be a day late and a dollar short in addressing their glaring need for a cornerback for the 2016 season, but Joe Haden’s contract is team-friendly enough and he’s young enough to still become a franchise cornerstone for the Panthers if they choose to move on the Browns’ DB.
The need with the Browns is clear: they need capable bodies at as many positions as possible, IE, top-tier draft picks.
If Carolina is willing to part with a No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, surely Haden could be theirs. Personally, I’m a fan of parting with a No. 1 pick for a known commodity, especially when they’re Haden’s age and have his contract.
It might be too little to fix whatever ails the entire Panthers defensive unit this year (hard to believe it’s just Josh Norman’s absence) and it may be too late to save their season at 1-5, but Haden could be the piece they need moving forward to get things back on track this year and provide optimism for years to come.
3. Colts trade 2017 and 2018 2nd round picks for Joe Thomas
Colts GM Ryan Grigson has abjectly failed at protecting his franchise quarterback Andrew Luck by consistently neglecting to address the team’s glaring issues on the offensive line.
But, it’s not too late.
Many thought the Colts had shored up Luck’s blindside with a long-term extension of left tackle Anthony Castonzo, but Castonzo and the rest of the o-line has failed to live up to expectations.
Castonzo is still a valuable lineman and perhaps a shift to the right side of the line would help him regain his footing. Plus, Joe Thomas is unquestionably an upgrade over Castonzo even when he’s at his best even though Thomas is on the wrong side of 30.
With Thomas being 31, the Browns won’t be able to extract a first round pick from any team in all likelihood, but two second rounders for a team that desperately needs bodies (as mentioned above) should be enough for them to pull the trigger.
4. Jets trade Sheldon Richardson to Denver Broncos for Trevor Siemian and 2017 4th round draft pick
The Jets have one of the most dominant defensive lines in the game but will have to make a decision this offseason. Sheldon Richardson will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and represents an $8 million-plus cap hit for the Jets in 2017, meaning he has to go.
The Jets have an abundance of talent locked up on the d-line already and clearly have too many other glaring needs that need to be addressed this offseason (secondary, offensive line, running back, quarterback) to consider retaining Richardson after 2017 anyway, so they might as well try to address other needs while they can in the midst of a lost season.
Assuming the Jets don’t believe their next quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick is in the building (which must be the case since Fitz is starting in Week 7 for some reason), they can exchange Richardson for a quarterback that has shown promise and could become something special rather than lose Richardson for nothing at the end of the year.
While Elway might be reluctant to deal his current starter who has shown promise in his starts this season, the belief in Denver is that Paxton Lynch is the guy. So the Broncos have a real opportunity to sell high on Siemian and secure Richardson, who would be a major addition to an already devastating Broncos defense and could be their missing piece in 2016.
Siemian, meanwhile, could be the Jets’ new franchise quarterback for a long time to come.
5. Vikings trade Teddy Bridgewater and 2017 4th round draft pick to San Francisco 49ers for Tackle Joe Staley
Here’s another team with a brewing quarterback controversy and a need that grows more and more pressing by the day.
The fates are cruel and the football gods are a fickle bunch, but Teddy Bridgewater’s career in Minnesota may be over. Sam Bradford has stepped up in the biggest of ways and looks right at home in Viking purple where I’m sure he’d like to stay for quite a while.
However, he could use some extra protection if he’s going to stay on the field and his predecessor might just be the perfect offering to help the Vikings get him some.
T.J. Clemmings has been brutal at left tackle for the Vikings and Joe Staley would immediately stabilize the position for Minnesota.
Meanwhile, for the 49ers, they get a potential franchise QB that they’ve needed — one that’s mobile and might fit perfectly into Chip Kelly’s uptempo system — and they also get to shed themselves of Staley’s massive contract that they’ll be tied to until 2019 when Staley turns 35 years old.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for a championship for any of his other three teams.