With the NFL trade deadline just an hour away, general managers across the league are evaluating their rosters, as well as those of other teams, in order to determine whether a deal can be reached that is adequately beneficial to both sides. For playoff contenders and Lombardi hopefuls, this can mean acquiring a big name player on an expiring contract in the hopes that he is the missing piece to put a team over the edge. A number of franchises have struggled mightily this year, and while coaches and players can’t afford to have the same mindset, some GM’s are already looking ahead to next season. This strategy usually entails a team “shopping” a playmaker who is either producing at an unusually low rate, or has off-the-field concerns that do not fit into a team’s core building philosophy.
Trades are far less common in the NFL than in other professional sports, specifically baseball and hockey. Last-minute deals are even rarer; with the season halfway over, coaches wonder about a multitude of factors, including a player’s ability to get acclimated to an entirely new system, how their skill sets will translate to a different scheme, if they will flourish in the locker room, so on and so fourth.
Asked specifically about the challenges inherent in bringing in new players during the course of the season, Belichick went into depth.
“How quickly can you get him ready? How productive will he be? Is it really worth it to the team to just trade away the player to get not very much for somebody versus just keeping him and playing with him? It’s so hard to get a guy ready in a short amount of time.”
However seemingly unlikely though, sometimes the phone rings with an offer that is just too good to pass on. Such was the case at this time last year when Belichick reached an agreement to send a 2013 4th round draft pick to Tampa Bay for the talented Aqib Talib. While some people questioned the deal due to Talib’s checkered past and the fact that he was suspended at the time of the trade for violating the club’s drug policy, it has paid massive dividends for New England’s secondary and helped to shore up a positional group that had been historically bad the season prior.
With that in mind, a few names are currently circulating among NFL insiders who could find themselves with new team colors in less than 24 hours. Do any of them make sense for the Patriots?
Josh Gordon continues to make explosive plays for a Browns offense that has other viable receiving threats in receiver Greg Little and tight end Jordan Cameron. Publicly, head coach Rob Chudzinski has denied that the team is actively looking to move Gordon, but not that they wouldn’t entertain offers at the right price.
Gordon, like Talib, is a boom or bust trade prospect. While his talent is undeniable, most teams will shy away from seeking out his services due to non-football related incidents and maturity issues. If Gordon fails a drug test for the remainder of the year, he will have to serve a yearlong suspension, effective immediately. That’s a tremendous risk for any team to take on, especially the Patriots. The club has received a great deal of criticism in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation, and common sense would say they will be taking fewer fliers on players with behavioral concerns, at least for the near future.
On the field though, the Brady to Gordon duo could be just what the doctor ordered. With Brady now nursing a banged up right throwing hand (though not according to him), the passing attack has a lot of room for improvement. Gordon is a borderline number one receiving threat with the ability to spread the field and make plays in space.
Sticking to the receiver position, Hakeem Nicks is a logical trading chip for a Giants team with just two wins. The 25-year-old North Carolina product is set to become a free agent at season’s end and there is no guarantee that New York will be able to re-sign him to a long-term deal. Hampered with a foot injury sustained last season, Nicks hasn’t been the same player and has seen a big drop in productivity. The asking price for Nicks is thought be a third or fourth round pick, given his expiring contract. While this seems like paltry compensation for arguably a team’s number one wideout, the Giants aren’t even guaranteed any compensatory picks, the earliest of which would come in 2015 if Nicks decides to leave town, meaning they would nothing in return.
Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt is also an option. Given the uncertainty at the quarterback position with Jake Locker’s injury, Britt has recently stated that he would be open to a trade. Unlike Gordon and Nicks, the asking price for Britt would be extremely reasonable. ESPN analyst John Clayton believes that a conditional seventh round pick could be enough to woo Britt from Tennessee; if that’s the case, his chances of being dealt are fairly good.
If Belichick and player personnel director Nick Caserio are fielding offers, receiver is the most likely place to start. The defense has played above expectations given the injuries, and with Tommy Kelly and Talib expected back shortly, they should only get better. With Amendola’s tendency to be in and out of the lineup, Brady needs another viable receiving threat to help make plays and put points on the board if this team wants to make a late playoff push.
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