Once barren, the NFL trade block now overflows.
Thanks in part to a better understanding of the league's salary constraints and a collective bargaining agreement that has increased league-wide cap space to almost $500 million this offseason, we could see the most active period of trading in the league's history.
The first of what could be several major deals – the Detroit Lions sending Pro Bowl cornerback Dre Bly to the Denver Broncos for tackle George Foster, running back Tatum Bell and a fifth-round pick in this year's NFL draft – becomes official Friday. The deal gives the Lions what they wanted heading into the draft – the flexibility to trade down for Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams.
With Foster and Bell in the fold, Detroit now has an insurance policy against the rehabilitation of running back Kevin Jones, and a two-deep rotation at the right tackle spot. The Lions actually like Rex Tucker at right tackle, but Foster gives them an additional option to shore up the position. More importantly, Detroit has now become the No. 1 trade-back option for teams looking to move up in the draft.
With Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas no longer a necessity, Detroit now has the flexibility to entertain a team that wishes to move up for any of the "elite" players in this year's draft, including Thomas, Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, or one of the two remaining quarterbacks – LSU's JaMarcus Russell or Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.
According to one Lions team source, it appears the team is eying a move back to tab Adams, whom they do not want to take at No. 2. A natural suitor could be the Arizona Cardinals, who could then use the No. 2 pick on Thomas to shore up their offensive line. And using the bounty of draft picks gained from moving back to No. 5, the Lions could take aim at moving back into the end of the first round if Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton is still available. Apparently, Detroit's staff believes Stanton could become the best signal-caller in this draft over the long term.
While the Broncos-Lions could actually be the precursor to the first big move on draft day, it likely won't be the last deal we see before the draft. Not with so many quality players clamoring for trades, and so much cap space to accommodate wheeling and dealing.
Here are 10 more players that are either on the trading block or asking to be put into play.
Randy Moss, WR, Oakland Raiders
Even with his baggage, age (30), and prohibitive contract – not to mention the fact that his dominant years are behind him – Moss will still garner interest on the market from wideout-needy teams. The Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots have shown some interest, but all three of those suitors appear unlikely to pay the first-round pick that the Raiders are rumored to seek. That said, Moss would be an instant upgrade at the No. 1 or No. 2 receiver spots for all of those teams. One troubling question about him at this point is whether he's simply not motivated or whether his lack of a workout mentality has eroded his once elite speed and made him little more than an athletic possession receiver.
Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB, Tennessee Titans
Despite his immense talent, he might be impossible to deal – even for a middle-round pick. On the field, anyone acquiring Jones would be getting a player capable of big plays in both the secondary and the return game, and a talent that looked like it was beginning to blossom as last season progressed. But all of that is insignificant when considering the trouble Jones brings off the field. Not only would any team that acquires him come under fire for adding the game's biggest trouble-maker, but it would also have to deal with whatever happens as the Las Vegas police department continues to investigate Jones' role in a nightclub shooting during the NBA All-Star Game weekend. Regardless of what happens with the authorities, it's likely the NFL will take action against Jones and suspend him for multiple games in the upcoming season.
Willis McGahee, RB, Buffalo Bills
McGahee doesn't particularly like playing in Buffalo and also wants a lucrative contract extension, despite the Bills being lukewarm to his performance last season. The team has already stated its plans on drafting another running back to compete with McGahee, and word surfaced at the combine that Buffalo was shopping their starting running back. Despite his play tailing off the last two seasons with back-to-back 3.8 yards per carry seasons and only 11 rushing touchdowns in his last 30 games, McGahee should draw interest on the market. The Giants surfaced as a suitor when new general manager Jerry Reese confirmed that he would be interested in looking at a trade for McGahee. But at 25, the price tag for McGahee is expected to be no less than a first-round pick.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chicago Bears
The Bears want Jones back, but heading into next season at the age of 29, he wants to be a starter and also wants one more big contract before his career winds down. Jones and agent Drew Rosenhaus know that's not likely to happen with him splitting carries with Cedric Benson, who is expected to become an even bigger part of the Chicago offense after splitting carries with Jones this year. Considering what he's shown the last two seasons, grinding out 2,545 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns – while playing hurt and becoming an admired presence in the Bears locker room – Jones has some value. At the very least, the Bears could get a first-round pick for him from a running back-needy team like the Giants or Broncos.
Lance Briggs, LB, Bears
Briggs was slapped with the franchise tag, but that doesn't mean he'll be returning to Chicago. Frustrated with the prospect of a one-year deal, he wants a long-term pact that would make him one of the highest paid linebackers in the NFL. Right now, there are no talks and Chicago isn't likely to give him a deal rivaling that of teammate Brian Urlacher – which Briggs wants – this year or next. As it stands, his trade value is at an apex, with the 26-year old Briggs coming off of back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and a Super Bowl appearance. Any trade would likely have to include a package of players or picks, including a first-rounder. But general manager Jerry Angelo would rather have him back for another Super Bowl run and then deal with the contract next offseason.
Jared Allen, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
Allen wants a long-term extension rather than playing next season under the tender offer that Kansas City has put forward, but the two sides are far apart on contract figures. That led Allen to request a trade through his agent last week. It's highly unlikely the Chiefs will be willing to deal Allen, particularly with so few premier pass-rushing options available and the reality that with 27½ sacks in three years, Allen's best days are ahead of him. But if the Chiefs were persuaded to give Allen what he wants, the 25-year old defensive end would draw some lucrative offers, with any package likely to include a first-round pick.
Jake Plummer, QB, Denver Broncos
Plummer was apparently involved at some point during the construction of the Bly deal with Detroit, and he clearly wants out of Denver. But any team that takes him knows there is little chance of changing what he is at this point: an erratic 32-year-old veteran with a great arm and mobility who can go through frustrating hot and cold streaks. But with the lack of talent at quarterback in the NFL, Plummer is a valuable player. And for a team with the right system and familiarity with the staff (like Houston and coach Gary Kubiak), he might be worth as much as a late third-round or high fourth-round pick.
Trent Green, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
With Damon Huard now in the fold for three years and Brodie Croyle being groomed as the future starter, Green has become expendable, possibly for as little as a middle-round pick. But at 37 entering next season and with his skills eroding, he's not a long-term option by any means. Instead, suitors would be looking toward Green as a Jeff Garcia-type – an experienced player that can come in for a pinch and win games. Miami has surfaced as a potential destination, with Green being a one-year insurance policy to Daunte Culpepper's rehab.
James Hall, DE, Detroit Lions
The Lions are trying to pry a middle-round pick out of teams for Hall by Friday, when he's due a roster bonus. If something isn't brokered by Friday – and as of Wednesday night that didn't appear likely – he's expected to be cut. Hall has solid size and a few years left in the tank at 30, but never matured into the impact player the Lions were looking for after notching 11½ sacks in 2004. Injuries cost him most of last season, but he could be a productive end if he's placed next to a dominant defensive tackle and used in a steady rotation.
Patrick Ramsey, QB, New York Jets
A potential salary cap cut by Friday night, the Jets are trying to squeeze a fifth-round pick out of any interested parties. But with Ramsey likely to get cut loose, someone would have to be extremely interested to give anything up. Despite having a live arm, he's never found traction in his career, largely because of suspect decision-making. His term with the Jets was a total loss, having been demoted to third string behind rookie Kellen Clemens. With 24 career starts – the bulk having come from 2002-2004 – a team that deals for Ramsey will be getting a 28-year old backup with the ability to step in for a game or two. Any span longer than that spells trouble.