One of my favorite aspects of fantasy football is trading. I routinely make the most trades in just about every league I’m in (I just made another one today!), and in my opinion it’s with good reason that I do so. Circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and often times our expectations for certain players remain unmet. When that happens, it’s in our best interests to constantly pursue the optimization of our rosters by any means possible.
However, as we all know, the shot callers in the NFL don’t exactly operate in the same manner that we “minor league” general managers do. Rarely, if ever, do we see big name players switch teams via the trade market, as there are generally significantly more factors that go into each and every deal at the professional level. Ultimately, events like former Cleveland running back Trent Richardson being shipped off to the Colts for a future first round pick represent the exception, not the rule.
Well let’s throw all that aside for a moment. With the NFL trade deadline just around the corner (4:00 PM on October 29), I want to examine some potential deals that just make too much sense not to happen. I’m talking about players who possess the ability to help contending teams inch closer towards a Lombardi Trophy, and more importantly, players who are already rumored to be on the trading block. In other words, the following are deals I’d like to see if I was an NFL GM for a day.
Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG to the Indianapolis Colts
Over the past few years, the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks has been one of the most frustrating wide receivers in the league. He possesses top flight talent, but it’s unfortunately been matched by an alarming predisposition towards getting injured. This has resulted in nine missed games during his first four years in the league, as well as Nicks playing at significantly less than 100% in several others. Simply put, he’s yet to live up to his first-round billing on a consistent basis.
Though this is likely the main reason as to why the Giants would seek to make a deal, there are other influencing factors as well. The first is that following the conclusion of the 2013 season, Nicks is a restricted free agent. Though New York still has plenty of time to craft a new, desirable contract for the young pass catcher, they already recently inked fellow receiver Victor Cruz to a six-year contract with nearly $16 million guaranteed.
Another potential hang-up is the emergence of sophomore Rueben Randle, who has played arguably as well as Nicks (albeit with a smaller sample size), and is only 22 years old. If the Giants believe Randle could seamlessly step in for his receiving counterpart, why not get what they can now via trade? This would alleviate any type of contract-related headaches in the near future, including whether or not Nicks is worth slapping with the franchise tag.
For their part, despite being perched atop the disappointing AFC South, the Colts now have a giant void at receiver due to Reggie Wayne’s recent ACL tear. Upon learning the offense, Nicks would likely step in as the team’s immediate number-one option in the passing game, soaking up the majority of Wayne’s team-leading 8.3 targets per game. Indy would receive the playmaker they currently lack and the Giants would receive some sort of draft pick compensation, so truthfully – what’s not to like? With Colts GM Ryan Grigson’s propensity for big moves, let’s make this happen.
Josh Gordon, WR CLE to New England Patriots
Despite him being one of the game’s best young pass catchers, the Cleveland Browns have been more than willing to listen to offers for receiver Josh Gordon. Currently stuck in roster purgatory, the Browns appear resigned to the fact that they’ll be rebuilding around the 2014 NFL Draft class. Despite his combination of youth and talent, Gordon could very well be a casualty of that venture.
Enter the New England Patriots.
First and foremost, the Pats are no stranger to taking on players with “baggage.” Only one more strike away from a year-long suspension, Gordon certainly qualifies for that category. However, unlike Cleveland, New England has a tantalizing tradition of winning that helps keep their players in line, and the combination of dictatorial coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady ensure there will be no locker room discord. Teaching Gordon the how to be a professional both on and off the field shouldn’t be a challenge.
What has been a challenge for Tom Terrific is getting decent play out of his wide receivers. Top target Danny Amendola has only been active for three games, and rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have only caught a combined 44.6% of their targets. Julian Edelman remains as a solid, if unspectacular chain mover, but the overall offense lacks explosion. The addition of Gordon would open of the offense in a big way, alleviating pressure to the run game and possibly keeping double coverage away from star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gordon, along with every current Pat, would see an increase in value.
Fred Davis, TE WSH to the Green Bay Packers
Much like with Nicks above, here’s another case of a player struggling in his current locale. After finishing the preseason as the nominal starter at the tight end position, Fred Davis has seen his value plummet. Already returning from a torn Achilles tendon, he’s battled an ankle injury while losing playing time to impressive rookie Jordan Reed. It hit rock bottom in week seven, when Davis was a healthy scratch.
On the other side of the coin, Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley was enjoying arguably his finest season as a pro before a scary shot to his neck and spine has shelved him indefinitely. Having already lost receiver Randall Cobb to the short term injured reserve, as well as potentially James Jones for a few more weeks, the Pack is low on pass catchers. Penn State product Andrew Quarless is the next man up, but he only brings all of 28 career receptions to the table.
For what would likely be a low-round pick, Green Bay could obtain the services of Davis. Both he and Finley are operating on one-year contracts, so they could decide at the conclusion of the season who, if either, to re-sign. Given that their championship window is still wide open, it’s a deal that makes sense for both sides.
Kenny Britt, WR TEN to the Carolina Panthers
If you paged through the dictionary until you found the word “disgruntled,” you’d undoubtedly find a picture of the Titans’ Kenny Britt right next to the definition. After committing numerous mental errors and drops in the first few games of the 2013 season, Britt has been effectively deactivated the past few weeks. Given how well Britt played only a few short years ago, it’s been a disappointing turn of events. With the Titans seemingly moving on with Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright, and Britt entering free agency at the conclusion of the season, it makes sense for them to get what they can now.
The Panthers seem to be a logical trade partner, as they have an electric young quarterback in Cam Newton, but have paired him with arguably the worst collection of receivers in the league. The venerable Steve Smith seems to have lost a step, and Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn just aren’t viable secondary options. The Panthers already boast an impressive defense, but the offense has continually lagged behind. When fully healthy and motivated (no guarantees here), Britt has the ability to stretch the field, and he could help usher in a transformation to a more dynamic passing offense.
So, what trades would you like to see?
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