|Ben Margot / Associated Press|
|The Texans dealt for veteran WR Derrick Mason in what could be the first of many moves before the trade deadline.|
The NFL trade deadline usually falls far short of the excitement and anticipation other sports bring. However, that could change this year for one big reason. The lockout has shown players don't need as much time to get ready as teams have thought in the past.
Teams would hesitate to pull the trigger on a deadline deal because the common belief was a player needed a month or more to get acclimated. Considering players had only about a month with their respective teams after the lockout ended, that theory might be obsolete and make teams more aggressive.
We've already seen an example of that when the Texans added veteran receiver Derrick Mason in a trade with the Jets on Tuesday. Then Wednesday, the Raiders acquired former first-round pick Aaron Curry in a deal with the Seahawks.
There are generally two types of teams that should be looking to make a move before Tuesday's deadline: Ones that feel they are a player away from going to or making a deep playoff run -- the Texans and Raiders for example -- and those who are already out of contention and need to think about the future. There are also cases of a team with high expectations looks to shake things up after a poor start -- the Jets.
I made more than 50 trades during my time in the NFL and realize there's a lot that goes into finding a fit for both sides. With that in mind, I have come up with a list of deals that would make sense for all involved. One caveat: these trades are irrespective of what the cap situations are for each team because organizations know how to massage the numbers to get things done.
Bengals send Palmer to Seahawks
Andy Dalton's development has made Carson Palmer more expendable. Palmer played for Pete Carroll at USC, so there's already a working relationship, and he would be able to help a team lacking a quarterback potentially win the NFC West.
In turn, Seattle would send receiver Doug Baldwin, the undrafted free agent who is off to a great start, and draft choices. The quality of the picks would be based on Palmer's performance over the next two years. I'm not talking about numbers here, I mean wins and losses. If Seattle makes the playoffs in either year and Palmer starts 50 percent of the games, Cincinnati could get a first rounder. If he doesn't start much, Seattle could potentially only give up a third-rounder.
This trade would give Seattle a QB for some years to come, as Palmer is only 31. Baldwin gives Cincinnati a good young receiver to pair with Dalton and A.J. Green.
Patriots must address defense
If New England is going to make a Super Bowl run, it must get add a pass rusher and get help at corner. Fortunately for the Patriots, they have ample draft picks to go after upgrades at both spots.
First, the Patriots should reach out to the Vikings to see if they would be willing to part with Jared Allen. He has 8.5 sacks this season, but Minnesota must start over at 1-4, so adding a first-round pick from New England would help that process. Second-year end Everson Griffen can take Allen's spot and the Patriots could also throw in Mark Anderson to help depth at the position.
New England shouldn't stop there. The next call ought to be to Philly in a potential swap of defenders.
Sending linebacker Gary Guyton along with a draft pick to the Eagles for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would benefit both sides. I realize New England's linebacker depth would be weak in the short-term with Jerod Mayo hurt, but it's something worth exploring.
The Eagles need a linebacker and Guyton would help shore up their poor run defense. Even at 1-4, Philly isn't out of the playoff race. Rodgers-Cromartie is good, but time is running out and cornerback is a position of strength.
Adding Allen or Rodgers-Cromartie would help New England. Getting them both would make the Patriots scary.
The Broncos named Tim Tebow their starter this week, but this move would give them two young QBs to develop and let the best one win. Coach John Fox drafted Clausen, who started 10 games as a rookie, when he was at Carolina.
Swap between NFC East rivals
If the Eagles don't do my proposed deal with New England, they still need to find a way to improve defensively. Philadelphia has already proven the organization isn't afraid to deal with a division foe, so this time, the Eagles turn to Dallas for help.
A deal of Rodgers-Cromartie for Bradie James helps both teams. The Eagles fill a void at linebacker. The Cowboys would get a necessary upgrade at corner and will soon have second-round pick Bruce Carter healthy and capable of stepping in for James.
Texans not done dealing
Houston would like to get someone to replace Mario Williams, who is done for the year with a torn pectoral. There's not a starter available to pick up his production, but rookie Brooks Reed can help fill the void.
Adding a situational pass rusher like Jason Taylor makes sense. He wouldn't cost much, potentially a seventh-round pick that escalates if he plays and produces, and might get fired up to move from a last-place team to one with a good chance to make the playoffs.
Secondary issue in Detroit
The Lions have a weakness at safety, and it needs to be addressed if they're going to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Detroit finds a trading partner in the Jets. New York carries 10 defensive backs on its roster and can afford to deal safety Brodney Pool. In return, the Jets get Nate Burleson, who would become the third receiver with Mason now in Houston.
Packers have to protect Mr. Rodgers
When you have a team like the Packers, capable of winning a Super Bowl, you have to fill a need. Green Bay is only carrying eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster. With Chad Clifton out for an extended period of time, the Packers need another big man.
The Packers trade Tom Crabtree, one of five tight ends on the team, to the Saints for offensive tackle Charles Brown. This doesn't sound like much of a deal, but when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, you have to keep him upright. Brown buys them time until Clifton returns.
» For the sixth time in team history, the Packers have started a season 5-0. The previous five times that has happened, they went on to win the NFL title (1929, '30, '31, '62 and '65).
» Cam Newton is the first player in NFL history to pass and rush for at least five touchdowns in his first five games.
» Calvin Johnson is the first player in NFL history with nine touchdown catches in the first five games of the season.
» The Cowboys will wear their blue uniforms for the first time since 2009 when they played at New England.
The demand for a kicker who can combine accuracy and leg strength has become increasingly important. With 19 of 64 games decided by three points or fewer after Week 4, it shows you how little separates teams these days.
We've had three kickers drafted in the first three rounds over the past 10 years. From Rounds 4-7, 51 have been taken over that same time. Figuring out who to take from that large pool is where scouting is so important.
Top senior kicker prospects
Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss
Justin Tucker, Texas
Eric Folk, Washington
Will Snyderwine, Duke
Carson Wiggs, Purdue
To show you how far the NFL kicking game has come in recent years, there were 38 makes out of 40 (95 percent) attempts in Week 5. For the season, collectively, kickers have an 86.5 percent conversion rate, including 70.7 percent on tries of 50-plus yards.
Game of the week: 49ers at Lions
Another key component of the game will be Lions left tackle Jeff Backus trying to slow down 49ers rookie sensation Aldon Smith, who had two sacks last week and kept pressure on Josh Freeman all game. Detroit needs to give Matthew Stafford time in the pocket.
I see the Lions winning a low-scoring game, and moving to 6-0.