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Running backs could be hot commodities at NFL’s trade deadline

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Steven Jackson's trip to England could mark a farewell to St. Louis. (Getty Images)

This year, the NFL pushed the trade deadline back two weeks, moving the annual non-event from the Tuesday following Week 6 to the Tuesday following Week 8. (Due to Hurricane Sandy, the NFL has moved the trade deadline back to 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 1.)

While we expect this year's deadline to be quiet, coming and going without any big deals taking place (we also agree with Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that the NFL needs to push the deadline back to even later in the regular season), there are some notable names, particularly at the running back position, who may be on the trade market and a few more who should be moved to new locales.

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson

In their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, the Rams are at 3-5 and are in last place in the NFC West. Prior to the start of the season, the Rams and Jackson agreed to a renegotiated contract that allows the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yardage to void the final year of his contract after Super Bowl XLVII and become a free agent. Even if Jackson doesn't exercise his option (which was inserted after Jackson came up short of performance goals that would have given him that option), it's unlikely that the rebuilding Rams will bring back a 30-year-old running back at a $7 million base salary in 2013. So Fisher & Snead are wise to see if they can get something in return for Jackson before the deadline. Any team that acquires Jackson must account for the $3,705,882 that remains on Jackson's 2012 base salary.

[More NFL: Slideshow: Week 8 NFL touchdown celebrations]

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams

Signed to a five-year, $43 million contract that included $21 million in guaranteed money on July 29, 2011, Williams is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry this season and has logged just 19 snaps over the last two weeks. The Panthers made a large financial commitment (five years, $36.5 million, $23 million guaranteed) to running back Jonathan Stewart on Aug. 13 and there are no guarantees on the three years that remain on Williams' contract. Whoever the new general manager in Carolina is will likely part ways with Williams, who turns 30 next April, and interim general manager Brandon Beane could help his own cause by getting a pick back in return for Williams.

Williams has $2,779,412 in base salary remaining in 2012. If the Panthers are able to trade him, they'll save $2.779 million in cash and cap space this season, and free up $18 million in cash from the three years that remain on Williams' contract. From a salary cap perspective, however, a trade now means Williams would count $9.6 million against the Panthers' 2013 cap, a $1.4 million increase over an $8.2 million number if he remained with the team through next season. (If Williams were simply released next offseason, and it were designated as a "post-June 1" transaction, he'd count $3.2 million against the Panthers' 2013 cap and $6.4 million against the cap in 2014.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount

Rushing for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns in 2010 after being claimed off waivers from the Tennessee Titans helped Blount put the image of him sucker-punching a Boise State player behind him. Blount ran for 781 yards in 2011, but concerns arose about his work habits and the Buccaneers traded back into round one of the 2012 NFL draft to select Doug Martin out of Boise State. Thus far, Martin appears to be the real deal, running for 543 yards and leading all rookies in yards from scrimmage (767) on the 2012 season. Martin has dominated the playing-time, playing on 72.4 percent of the Buccaneers' offensive snaps, while Blount has just 66 snaps (14.93 percent) on offense and offers no value on special teams, where he hasn't logged a single snap this season. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Blount is making the league minimum ($540,000, is due $285,882 in non-guaranteed base salary over the final nine weeks of the season) and will be a restricted free agent* next offseason.

(*-With the salary cap expected to remain flat in 2013, restricted free-agent tenders are projected to increase by the 5 percent minimum stipulated in Article 9, Section 2(b)(ii) of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. The three restricted free-agent tender amounts in 2013 figure to be: Right of First Refusal/Original Round: $1.323 million; Second Round: $2.024 million; First Round: $2.879 million)

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe

Franchised in the 2012 offseason, the Chiefs and Bowe were unable to reach agreement on a multi-year contract. Bowe missed the OTAs, minicamp and the team's training camp before signing the $9.515 million tender on Aug. 17. Despite the turmoil at the Chiefs' quarterback position, Bowe has posted respectable "back of the bubblegum card" receiving numbers, catching 37 passes for 492 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, when you're team is always trailing, there's nothing else to do but air it out. Entering Week 7, Bowe ranked 58th among qualifying receivers in Football Outsiders' receiving DYAR metric, which "gives the value of the performance on plays where this WR caught the ball, compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage."

It would cost the Chiefs $11.418 million to franchise the 2007 first-round pick out of LSU again in 2013, so the 1-6 Chiefs would probably have interest in moving him this week. Bowe is unlikely to be traded, however, as receivers tend to need too much time to adjust to a new offensive system and quarterback for it to be worth a team to trade for him. In addition to the draft choice cost, an acquiring team would need to be willing to spend over $5 million ($5,037,353 to be specific) in fully guaranteed base salary this season on a potential half-season rental. If that team wanted to franchise Bowe next offseason, it would cost $11.418 million as the ruling Stephen Burbank made in the Drew Brees case in July makes a 2013 franchise tag the second of Bowe's career and subject to the mandatory 20 percent increase.

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow

Last week, Shutdown Corner touched upon the Tebow issue as the New York and national media called for the Jets to admit defeat and move the former Heisman Trophy winner off the roster. While we remain skeptical of Tebow's long-term feasibility as a starting-caliber quarterback, there's little doubt that the Jets have misused a potentially versatile offensive weapon. Through eight games, Tebow has played just 54 snaps on offense, carrying the ball 23 times for 78 yards, completing 2 of 3 pass attempts for 32 yards and serving as a decoy the rest of the time. No, Tebow won't be the quarterbacking savior in another NFL city, but his versatility could certainly help a playoff-caliber team down the stretch.

[More: Michael Silver: Put Peyton Manning on early MVP candidate list]

New Orleans Saints running backs Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis remains suspended through the team's Nov. 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, so a trade of Ingram, a first-round pick in 2011, is an unlikely, but not far-fetched notion. Ingram has played in just 17.94 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps this season and has 133 yards of total offense (134 rushing, -1 receiving) with one touchdown in 2012. Ingram is signed through the 2014 season and his salaries in 2012 ($712,125, of which $377,007 remains) and 2013 ($1,049,250) may be fully guaranteed, but are appealing figures for a potential three-down back.

As for Ivory, the team's leading rusher as a rookie in 2010 was inactive the first four weeks of the season, as well as Week 7, and was active, but did not play in Weeks 5 and 8. The Saints did right by Ivory in the offseason when they gave him a $72,900 signing bonus on May 14 to make up for the salary he lost by spending the first part of the 2011 season on the physically unable to perform list. They should do right by him again by giving him an opportunity for playing time elsewhere.

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