Raise your hand if you saw Trent Richardson getting traded to the Colts. How about Eugene Monroe to the Ravens, or Levi Brown to the Steelers? The NFL deals that usually happen are the ones no one sees coming. NFL personnel people are super paranoid about keeping things a secret, so the stuff they're willing to leak to local beat reporters are trades that probably won't occur.
This happens for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to guage the other team's reactions, or perhaps they want the market value to drop for a player they want to acquire in the future. Regardless of why, the point remains is that the trades that transpire are the ones we don't see coming.
With that in mind, I want to discuss
nine possible trades that make sense to me. I'm not saying any of them will happen, but in a perfect world, they would.
Broncos to acquire DE Jared Allen from Vikings for conditional Day 2 pick
The Vikings want to trade Jared Allen, but to where? All of the contending teams have 3-4 defenses or 4-3 units that don't need help at the defensive end position. All of the contending teams, that is, except for Denver.
The Broncos have to upgrade their pass rush because it's their weakest element right now. Shaun Phillips has just been OK, while Derek Wolfe has been a disappointment this season. Having Allen complement Von Miller would obviously provide a huge boost to this Denver defense that is currently ranked 25th against the pass in terms of YPA.
What would the compensation be? I could see it being one of those deals where if the Broncos reach the Super Bowl, Minnesota would get a second-rounder; otherwise, the trade would be good for a third-round selection. Perhaps just a third-rounder will be good enough, though it's worth noting that the Vikings will likely receive a third-round compensatory pick for Allen in the 2015 NFL Draft
if they just let him walk this spring. However, Leslie Frazier and the front office need to win now, so a pick in 2014 will be much more valuable.
Update: NFL.com's Gil Brandt tweeted that Denver is trying to acquire Allen. This scenario makes the most sense for the Minnesota defensive end.
If this deal happens, I'll have grades for both teams. Follow me @walterfootball
Colts to acquire WR Hakeem Nicks from Giants for 4th-, 5th-round picks
I'm adding this one for obvious reasons. The Colts fear Reggie Wayne tore his ACL, leaving Andrew Luck with Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton as his top options.
Jim Irsay and his front office have shown that they're willing to be very aggressive when it comes to acquiring pieces for a potential Super Bowl run. They dealt a first-round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson, so why wouldn't they send two early Day 3 choices (or perhaps even a third-round pick) to the Giants for Hakeem Nicks?
The Colts have beaten the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos this season, proving that they are a legitimate title contender. However, they now need to give Luck a No. 1 wideout in the wake of Wayne's injury. Nicks could definitely fill that role.
As for the Giants I noted earlier that they are annoyed with his injury issues over the years. Nicks will be a free agent in March, so New York could very easily lose him.
Packers to acquire S Jairus Byrd from Bills for 4th-, 5th-round picks
Jairus Byrd is one of the top safeties in the NFL, but he'll be an impending free agent in March. He'll demand a big contract, and it doesn't appear as though Buffalo will give it to him.
The Packers are in desperate need of safety help. Their pass defense stinks, as they've surrendered an average of 307.3 passing yards per game this season. Byrd would obviously be a huge boost.
The Ravens acquired a good left tackle for two early third-day selections, so a stud safety should be worth the same.
Chiefs to acquire TE Tony Gonzalez from Falcons for 4th-round pick
All right, this one has been discussed ad nauseum - but only because it makes way too much sense. Tony Gonzalez says he came back for one last season to compete for a Super Bowl (I'll be shocked if he doesn't play in 2014, to be honest.) He won't be doing that in Atlanta. It makes zero sense for the Falcons to hold on to him if they truly believe that he won't return next year.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, could really benefit from having a talented tight end. Tony Gonzalez would be a huge upgrade over Anthony Fasano, who hasn't even been on the field because of an injury. Alex Smith struggles to throw the ball downfield, so he would love to check it down to Gonzalez, who would obviously be warmly welcomed back to his old team.
Saints to acquire RB Maurice Jones-Drew from Jaguars for 5th-round pick
Sean Payton has stated that he desperately wants to establish a strong running game. He hasn't been able to do that because his backs, outside of Darren Sproles, are incredibly pedestrian. Pierre Thomas is a nice change-of-pace runner, but Mark Ingram stinks, while Khiry Robinson can't be trusted just yet.
Maurice Jones-Drew, an impending free agent, makes a ton of sense. Unlike Ingram, he can be a big factor in the passing game. Also, having him as a threat in the backfield would certainly keep defenses honest.
Ravens to acquire WR Kenny Britt from Titans for 6th-round pick
The Titans want to get rid of Kenny Britt as soon as possible. They've had enough of his antics and will be more than happy to unload him for 10 cents on the dollar.
The Ravens should think about acquiring Britt. They lost a big, possession receiver in Anquan Boldin this offseason. Britt is younger and currently more talented. He would be an awesome complement to Torrey Smith and would really open things up for Baltimore's offense.
Note: I initially had Nicks going to Baltimore, but the Ravens don't have a fourth-round pick.
Lions to acquire WR Hakeem Nicks from Giants for 4th-, 5th-round picks
Hakeem Nicks hasn't been the trouble-maker that Kenny Britt has been, but he has certainly annoyed the Giants with his injury issues over the years. Nicks will be a free agent in March, so the Giants could very easily lose him.
Detroit would be a good match for Nicks. Matthew Stafford would love having a strong No. 2 receiver at his disposal. With Calvin Johnson drawing double coverage, Nicks would be open on plenty of occasions.
Patriots to acquire WR Josh Gordon from Browns for 2nd-round pick
Josh Gordon doesn't have an expiring contract, so he would command much more in return than Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks. He's very talented, so if the Browns are truly in rebuilding mode, they may think about trading their No. 1 receiver because they can acquire a lucrative selection for him.
Michael Lombardi and Bill Belichick are good friends, so perhaps they could strike a deal. If you've watched any New England games this season, you know how desperate Tom Brady is for a reliable receiver.
Bears to acquire DE/DT Antonio Smith from Texans for 4th-round pick
The cap-strapped Texans are likely to lose Antonio Smith this offseason. Depending on what happens this weekend, they could be three games behind Indianapolis, so it might be time to sell off some pieces.
Smith, who has played in the 4-3 before, is an excellent pass-rusher. That's exactly what the Bears need. They're off to a 4-2 start, but their defense is reeling because the defensive front can't get to the quarterback.
Chicago may also consider the Giants' Justin Tuck, but he's struggling this year.
Broncos to acquire DT Sen'Derrick Marks from Jaguars for conditional late-round pick
Here's another piece the Jaguars could give away. Sen'Derrick Marks has been a lone bright spot in Jacksonville's defense this season. He can get to the quarterback on occasion, which could help a Denver stop unit that lacks an interior pass rush. Marks is a free agent this upcoming March, so the Jaguars might as well get something for him.
Marks also makes sense for the Bears, who have issues at defensive tackle.
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