Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) runs the ball past Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (23) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (93) during the first NFL half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Just a few weeks until the NFL trade deadline and the biggest names available have come into clarity. With several teams teetering between contention and preparing for next year, will any of them make a move?
Josh Gordon to the Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford has proven he’s not an elite quarterback when he doesn’t have a big receiver to throw to. That was proven when he managed just nine points in Green Bay without Calvin Johnson. The Detroit Lions are hurting at wide receiver with Johnson and Nate Burleson out. They sit in a tight race for the NFC North lead and can’t afford a drop off in production on offense at such a critical juncture. If Johnson’s knee continues to cause him problem then the Lions need to find help. That include going deep on the trade market. Considering where they sit on the salary cap, price shouldn’t be their biggest issue, which is why Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns is a top target. He is big, athletic and can make the tough catches for his quarterback. The trouble is it will cost a second round pick to get him. It’s steep price, but worthwhile if Detroit can pair him with Megatron down the stretch.
Kenny Britt to the Atlanta Falcons
Another team that could be favored in the Gordon race, the Atlanta Falcons normally don’t take aggressive routes to getting a receiver unless they’re certain he can help them win games. They already did that once with Cleveland when they traded up in the draft to get Julio Jones. Unfortunately the second-year star is likely out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. With Roddy White also ailing they need help at receiver, but a second round pick may be too steep considering how many high draft picks they’ve given up over the past couple years. On the other hand, they could find a much cheaper deal waiting for them with the Tennessee Titans. They are at their wits end with wide receiver Kenny Britt, a talented but trouble 25-year old. His off-the-field history and rumored laziness has gotten him benched. His best hope to see the field now is with another team. Atlanta would probably not have to surrender more than a fourth round pick for him, which is a bargain considering his potential in their offense.
Justin Tuck to the Chicago Bears
Julius Peppers got old in a hurry. Such things happen to football players once they reach their mid-30s. As a result the Chicago Bears pass rush, further hampered by injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins, ranks 30th in the league through five games. This issue has led to some uncharacteristic breakdowns in their defense. GM Phil Emery has said he’s always exploring trade possibilities but hasn’t seen anything worthwhile thus far. One player that might become available soon is New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. The Giants are 0-5 and could be 0-6 soon as they visit Chicago in week six. Tuck is a free agent next year and at 30-years old is unlikely to stay. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago but he’s a veteran with good leadership qualities who can bring depth to a defensive front that sorely needs it.
Maurice Jones-Drew to the St. Louis Rams
Everybody mildly conscious can tell the Jacksonville Jaguars are done for the 2013 NFL season. It’s approaching that time where they will start to consider unloading established veterans on the roster in order to collect as many draft picks as possible for 2014. One valuable chip they haven’t made available yet is running back Maurice Jones-Drew. At 28-years old he is set to become a free agent next year. Having recently returned from injury he’s managed to average 4.5 yards per carry despite how poorly the Jaguars offense has played all year. His value is still considerably high and must be exploited. One team that could benefit the most from getting him is the St. Louis Rams. They haven’t looked like the steady, efficient offense from last year largely thanks to no running game. Clearly the loss of Steven Jackson has hurt more than expected. With two first round picks in their pocket, they can afford to offer up a third round choice for Jones-Drew, who could become the missing piece to their offensive puzzle.
Hakeem Nicks to New England Patriots
Going 52 games with a touchdown pass says it all. Tom Brady has enjoyed an unqualified run of offensive success. Unfortunately the cupboard that once overflowed with offensive weapons has run dry. His running backs are all hurt and the great arsenal of receivers like Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd have been replaced by unreliable rookies and injury-prone veterans. That is why the streak came to an end in Cincinnati. Brady is in sore need of a go-to receiver. The return of Rob Gronkowski will help but he still lacks a consistent target on the outside. A name that might pop up on their radar is Hakeem Nicks. The New York Giants star is nearing the end of his contract and with his team struggling they may look to collect a draft pick for his services rather than simply lose him to NFL free agency. Nicks is a big, fast threat on the outside who can go get the football when it’s thrown his way. He would be awfully dangerous in the Patriots offense.