This appeared on Sports Illustrated. Don't know if it's already been posted before:
It's going on six weeks into the NFL season and a whopping nine teams still have no more than one victory.
Some two-win teams are not exactly storming toward a playoff push, either. I'm talking to you, Seahawks, Redskins and Texans. The separation of haves and have-nots has come early in 2009 ... could Christmas come early, too?
The NFL trade deadline, which comes Tuesday, is tempting teams with many luscious possibilities. Sure, there are built-in difficulties making in-season NFL trades. Namely, the NFL salary cap, the early date of the trade deadline, terminology issues and teams' unwillingness to move draft picks all make in-season trades risky and rare.
Teams would much rather deal in the offseason, when they know much more about free agents, the draft class and overall team needs. Nothing illustrated the potential explosive dangers of dealing in-season than what happened 20-years ago this month, when the Minnesota Vikings in essence dealt three Super Bowl titles to the Cowboys for Herschel Walker.
Still, this year is different. Bad teams are desperate to build for the future. Good teams are desperate to add that one ingredient that could turn into magic. Already, the Jets have acquired a game-breaker in Braylon Edwards from Cleveland in exchange for a couple of players and a pair of prime draft picks. Rumors are swirling in Buffalo and Chicago about a potential landscape-changing deal involving Terrell Owens. Underachieving mid-tier teams like the Cowboys, Packers and Cardinals are in need of a jolt.
So let's look at some deals that make sense. Some are based on reports of players potentially on the move. Others likely won't happen, but sure do make sense.
• Bengals T Anthony Collins for Packers DE Aaron Kampman
Talk about a trade that makes sense. This would solve some severe issues on both sides of the deal.
The popular Packers end, Kampman, is miscast in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. When he played end in a 4-3 -- which the Bengals play -- Kampman was a Pro Bowl player who racked up huge sack numbers. Since switching to linebacker in the 3-4, he has just one sack.
Meanwhile, the Bengals obviously find themselves in a unique position of being able to make a big run. They need help on the defensive line, pressuring the quarterback, and Kampman would bring great professionalism and class to the club. It could be a big-time, fate-changing type move for the Bengals.
As for the Packers, they are having big issues protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He simply does not have the time to get the ball to game-breaking receiver Greg Jennings, who has just 11 catches.
Jennings normally is not one to bark and howl like a T.O. or Chad Ochocinco, but said this week, "When I'm in the meeting and I'm looking at myself running wide open and I'm not getting the opportunity, yes, I am [mad]."
Collins would be a loss to the Bengals' line, but just how big of one? The Bengals already were showing a preference to versatile second-year lineman Dennis Roland, rotating him with Collins. Also, underachieving first-round draft pick Andre Smith is improving rapidly from the broken foot that sidelined him and apparently Bengals coaches are getting favorable reports on his conditioning.
• Bills WR Terrell Owens to the Bears for a second-round draft pick
So, you want to be a contender, Chicago? It's going to cost you. Bears fans could argue for hours over whether T.O. would be worth a prime draft pick, but opportunities like this come along very rarely. Just as important, the NFC North -- specifically the Vikings -- are not going to come back to the pack.
Even if Owens has not been the same T.O. he was in the past, the simple fact is that on good teams he commands extra attention and opens things up for other facets of the game. T.O. has just 12 receptions through five games. He hasn't said it, but rest assured he'd be ecstatic to head to Chicago.
This T.O. trade talk has been a hot Internet rumor, but really it makes sense for both sides. The Bills are a train wreck and soon will have a new head coach.
New head coaches LOVE draft picks and hate egocentric, entitled problem children. This deal helps Buffalo on both fronts.
• Browns QB Brady Quinn for Titans QB Vince Young
Whaaaaa? Yeah, you heard me right. This would be much more than trading one guy who likes to go shirtless when he parties for another guy who likes to go shirtless when he parties. The beauty of this deal is much more than -- here it comes -- skin deep.
Tennessee has a core group of talent -- specifically a superb running game and very good defense -- that one season ago went 13-3. Kerry Collins is on his last legs and VY is a quarterback who can only use his legs. It's clear Jeff Fisher and the Titans staff have exactly ZERO confidence in VY.
The same is true for Quinn in Cleveland. Head coach Eric Mangini gave Quinn a legit chance to win the job and Quinn never did a whole lot to make the decision for Mangini. But there are coaches and scouts who believe Quinn truly does have the skill set and potential to be a good NFL quarterback. Put him in a solid environment, surrounded by quality coaches and good complementary talent and he could make plays. That's Tennessee.
As for VY, a move to Cleveland would offer Mangini a nice Wildcat-type threat for the future and other options with Young on the field. Mangini already has proved he's willing to make the bold trade and he could be just the disciplinarian-type that VY needs. And make no mistake, the Browns still would draft a quarterback in 2010. VY would be an expensive role-player next year, but his cap number is roughly the same as Quinn's and his contract would be much less moving forward.
• Ravens DT Brandon McKinney and a late-round draft pick for Texans DB Dunta Robinson
The Ravens defense isn't nearly what it used to be. There remains star power with Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis, but the production has faltered. Two of the Ravens' wins have come against lowly Kansas City and Cleveland. The reason for the slip is a secondary that is in shambles.
Meanwhile, Dunta Robinson is wearing out his welcome in Houston, despite Pro Bowl talent. He whined about being franchised to the tune of $9.95 million this year. Robinson still has not yet recaptured the ferocious tackling ability he had before a 2007 knee injury. A change of scenery would do him well and pick up the Ravens' secondary.
The Texans, on the other hand, have been looking for some kind of run-stopping, two-gap big body tackle since their inception in 2002. McKinney would fit the mold, is still young and would free play-making linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing and end Mario Williams.
• Chiefs OLB Derrick Johnson for Steelers WR Limas Sweed
One player in the doghouse for another in the doghouse? Yup.
Both Johnson and Sweed clearly are on the block. The Steelers have seen enough of Sweed and are in the market more for a defensive end than a linebacker, considering Wednesday's news that defensive end Aaron Smith is out for the year with a shoulder injury.
Sweed is still young, however, and the rebuilding Chiefs' braintrust of GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley know a thing or two about rehabilitating the games of wide receivers. Ultimately, Sweed could be a good fit for quarterback Matt Cassel and a team in dire need of help at receiver.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has made it clear that he's not exactly sure how his club will fill the void left by Smith's injury. He called it defensive end by committee. Clearly, there will be situations when an athletic pass-rusher like Johnson could help, even if it's not at defensive end.