For a man who helped engineer what is shaping up to be one of the top trades in NFL history, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson didn't seem all that interested in gloating about the move to get Brett Favre.
"We've had a number of moves we made that have had to work out for us to get here," Johnson said as he walked from the Jets locker room to his waiting car following New York's 34-13 win over Tennessee in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday. "There's a lot that has gone into this … getting Brett, yeah, that was the biggest move from a standpoint of attention. But it wasn't the only one."
"There's a lot that's gone into this. A lot of moves and a lot of work to make those moves successful."
Without question. Trades in the NFL are difficult to pull off, in part because of the massive number of moving parts. There's no better proof than the series of significant trades made this year, ranging from the late high-profile deals of Favre, Jason Taylor and Jeremy Shockey to the more traditional moves featuring Jared Allen, Jonathan Vilma and Shaun Rogers.
"The key to making any deal is to know exactly what you're getting and how you're going to make it work because the dynamics of any trade are so difficult to work out," said Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, who swung an important deadline deal for defensive tackle Anthony McFarland in 2006 on the way to a Super Bowl win and then cancelled a deadline deal this year when Buffalo defensive tackle John McCargo failed a physical.
"You also have to have patience, because it takes a long time for you to see how it's really going to work," Polian said.
That may explain why Johnson kept his happiness with the Favre deal under wraps. Yeah, things look great right now, but much can change.
Amid the overreaction that goes with all things in New York – Jets fans and the media have gone from ripping Favre after he threw seven interceptions total in Weeks 6-8 to proclaiming the Big Apple the center of the football universe this year – there's a tendency to lose sight of the fact that if not for another trade with a huge payoff, the Jets wouldn't be here.
Trading for defensive tackle Kris Jenkins has been almost as significant as getting Favre on offense. Given the massive changes the Jets made on defense in the offseason (dumping Dewayne Robertson and Jonathan Vilma), getting Jenkins and having him experience a career renaissance has been incalculably significant.
Now of course, there were some trades made that went far from expected. Can you say: DeAngelo Hall to the Raiders? And there's that ongoing saga in Dallas with Adam "Pacman" Jones. Hall has already been shipped out of town while Jones is hanging on by a thread.
With that said, here's a look at the 10 most significant trades of 2008:
10. Leigh Bodden (now with the Detroit Lions) for Shaun Rogers (now with the Cleveland Browns)
There were some picks also thrown into this deal, but the basics right now are Bodden for Rogers and the sum total of this deal is that neither team got much out of this. Bodden hasn't done a single thing to make Detroit better and the same goes for Rogers. That said, the extremely talented Rogers has a chance to make a greater impact next year, particularly if the Browns change coaches and find someone who can motivate him every week.
9. Brian Griese (from the Chicago Bears to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
There is nothing particularly wrong with Griese, who has carved out a respectable career. There's also nothing terrible about the deal. The big problem with this trade is that it's proof Jon Gruden can't develop a quarterback. Gruden simply doesn't want to deal with young quarterbacks who he has to teach, which is why he continues to vacillate over every 30-something passer from Griese to Jeff Garcia. But there's a silver lining for Griese – if he's still in Tampa next year, Gruden could be calling his number again.
8. Jeremy Shockey (from the New York Giants to the New Orleans Saints)
Shockey showed some signs of life in New Orleans' win over Green Bay on Monday night, but he's pretty much been a bust to that point. Moreover, Shockey's melodramatic style has already started to weigh on teammates. Ultimately, Shockey needs to just shut up and play. If he does that, he'll be worth the second- and fifth-round picks that the New York Giants got for him. If not, the Giants will have gotten a steal … even more so if the picks become a first-rounder depending on how much Vilma plays.
7. Jason Taylor (from the Miami Dolphins to the Washington Redskins)
When Washington gave Miami a second-round pick to get Taylor after an injury to Phillip Daniels on the first day of training camp, the Redskins knew Taylor wasn't a perfect fit at left end. What they didn't expect is that Taylor, who hadn't missed a game in the previous eight years and had missed only four in his first 11 seasons, would get hurt. He has missed three games and has been limited to one sack all season. Still, when he's on the field he has to be accounted for and the Redskins are 7-4, so there's still a chance for upside before Taylor heads to Hollywood for his next career.
6. Jason Ferguson (from the Cowboys to the Dolphins)
This trade, which also involved the swapping of sixth-round picks, didn't get much attention. Ferguson, who turns 34 on Friday, doesn't have much long-term value and he only has 13 tackles this season. But he has helped set the tone defensively for a 6-5 Dolphins team that is vastly improved from last year's 1-15. Ferguson is a pro's pro, a guy who understands the little things it takes to win. You don't want to pay a lot for guys like that, but you have to have them.
5. Jonathan Vilma (from the Jets to the Saints)
Vilma has been a steady, although decidedly unspectacular, player for the Saints after they picked him up from the Jets in the offseason. He has 87 tackles and one interception for a defense that hasn't gotten much better over the past two years. That's an acceptable trade, for now. The problem is that Vilma could end up costing the Saints a second-round pick in 2009, which is not a great deal. Not terrible, but certainly not worth the overall results the Saints have gotten so far.
4. Marcus Stroud (from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Buffalo Bills)
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio makes a lot of moves by feel. In 2007, those moves paid off as the team went 11-5 after releasing quarterback Byron Leftwich. This year, dumping Stroud, who missed four games in 2007 after testing positive for a banned substance, may have been a bad move for a team that thrives on physical play. Stroud is playing very well in Buffalo, which remains in the playoff hunt at 6-5. Moreover, he's badly missed by a Jacksonville team that has lost too much of its mojo from last year.
3. Jared Allen (from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Minnesota Vikings)
One of the most discussed moves of the offseason was Kansas City trading Allen in the prime of his career. This move featured all sorts of intrigue, including a record contract for a player who was still in the league's substance-abuse program. Allen has held up his end of the bargain with eight sacks and has made the Vikings' defense better. The problem is that the Vikings haven't made his presence pay off enough just yet. They're tied for the NFC North lead at 6-5 and face a crucial game with Chicago on Sunday. As for the Chiefs, who got three draft picks in return, they're rebuilding. However, they will likely miss a pass rusher who is only 26 years old.
2. Kris Jenkins (from the Carolina Panthers to the Jets)
The Jets take the top two spots right now, which is a big reason why they're in control of the AFC East. They picked up Jenkins for a couple of draft picks and all Jenkins is doing is playing like a Pro Bowler. He has 3½ sacks, the most he's had since 2003 and he's on pace for the second most of his career. More important, the highly emotional Jenkins dominates the point of attack in the middle. In short, he's a beast. Carolina came out of the deal with a starting safety (Charles Godfrey) and a backup tight end (Gary Barnidge). Not terrible, particularly given that they'd grown tired of Jenkins' moody ways.
1. Favre (from the Packers to the Jets)
This deal probably won't ever measure up to the Herschel Walker trade in terms of historical significance and it's not as if Green Bay got ripped off (Aaron Rodgers looks like a good quarterback for years to come). But this trade could be along the lines of St. Louis getting Marshall Faulk from Indianapolis in 1999, when Faulk helped lead the Rams to a title. Anytime you deal for a guy who is worth discussing as an MVP candidate, you're getting a good deal, even if the guy retires after one season. For those who thought Favre would be a dud in the second half (yours truly included), you're looking really wrong right now.
- Jonathan Vilma
- Jason Taylor
- Jeremy Shockey