The NFL Trade Deadline Approaches — But Don’t Hold Your Breath

(Philadelphia, Pa) — One of the quietest moments on the NFL calendar will be October 14th at 4 PM EST as the NFL Trade Deadline approaches for another year. If you are waiting for a Dikembe Mutombo type deal, forget about it. Mutombo came to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Trailblazers in 2001 at the trade deadline just in time to solidify their run at the NBA finals, but unlike the other three major sports (baseball, basketball and hockey) the NFL trade deadline usually passes with little or no movement.

The non-moves are a byproduct of

  • Cap ramifications – Trades in the middle of a player’s contract causes an acceleration of the contract (Signing Bonuses Given, Incentives already paid, etc) against the trading team’s in-season cap. With most teams at or near the limit of the cap for the year there is little wiggle room for teams to absorb a major hit.
  • Quality of Depth – With injuries mounting every week on every roster like a ten car pile up, NFL teams are unwilling to part ways with players, even malcontents.
  • Help needed now – Most times a team sending away a player will get a draft pick in return, but most coaches, GM’s and Owners operate on a “win now” philosophy and April is a long way from helping them this season.
  • The “System” –  Players usually take at least a year to learn a system and feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
  • The NFL Draft is Trading Central – Most trades in the NFL are done at the draft or near the end of training camp.  The draft is when everyone is thinking of uprgrading their roster and not game planning.  In fact, there were 14 trades in the first 31 picks of the 2008 NFL Draft.

One player whose name has come up in trade talks is Kansas City Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez. The 12-year veteran seems to be moving toward the end of his distinguished career and wants a chance to win now.  Apparently the Chiefs are willing to part ways with the future Hall of Famer for a 2009 NFL Draft 3rd of 4th rd pick.  Gonzalez’s numbers are down so far this season  as the Chiefs have crawled to a (1-4) start — only 21 catches and two touchdowns — but most of his struggles can be attributed to injuries at the quarterback position. 

Several teams are rumored to be interested in the nine-time Pro Bowl tight end, including Buffalo, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.  Gonzalez holds almost every tight end record imaginable — receptions (841), touchdowns (68) and yards receiving (10,075).  If the trade happens, it will be good news to the charasmatic pass catcher, but many Chiefs hope the veteran is around longer.  “It was business as usual,” said left guard Brian Waters. “We were back to work. When we had the walk-through, Tony was in there as our starting tight end. Nothing had changed. Until his jersey changes, he’s still going to be a Kansas City Chief and we’re going to treat him as such.”‘

Other rumored players on the block include: Dolphins QB John Beck, Lions WR Roy Williams, Chiefs RB Larry Johnson (very big contract), Bengals WR Chad Johnson, and Eagles CB Lito Sheppard.  If we do see some movement it will probably be something minor like the 2005 trade deadline deal where the San Francisco 49ers sent backup QB Tim Rattay to the Tampa Buccaneers for a late 2006 draft pick.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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