When and if the 2011 league year actually gets started, with free agents and trades ready to go, remains to be seen. Personally, I have my doubts. One target that gets continually linked to the St. Louis Rams is New York Giants DT Barry Cofield, a former Spagnuolo player and one that would fit a big need along the defensive line.
Cofield is in limbo right now. He should have been an unrestricted free agent last year, but the no-cap season and the six-year rules for free agency got him a one-year tender from the Giants. Faced with the unknowns around this season, the Giants tendered Cofield another RFA offer in the spring, a second-round tender to boot. Cofield is pretty adamant about not playing on one-year tender again, as he made clear recently. That leaves the Giants with two options, trade him or release him. Of course, they could take the chance of a holdout, but that seems unlikely.
Given that the Giants and the Saints had worked out a trade last year for Cofield, it stands to reason that they'll try to move him and get some return on their investment. Cofield rejected the offer based on the contract New Orleans was offering him. What the potential cost be for the Rams to make a deal for Cofield?
Going back through recent history isn't exact science, but it does offer some guideposts. Last year, the Cleveland Browns traded DT Corey Williams to the Detroit Lions a 5th and a 7th round pick in the 2010 draft. Williams started just 2 games with Cleveland in 2009 after starting all 16 the year before, but he did get 4 sacks, the same sack total as Cofield had last year.
With a second-round tender, it's safe to say that the Giants value Cofield more than the Browns valued Williams. And why wouldn't they? A five-year starter with an excellent track record for staying healthy...that counts for something.
Another trade of note is the move by Detroit to swap DL Corey Redding and a fifth-round pick to Seattle for LB Julian Peterson. Peterson has since been released, but at the time of the deal he was coming off three Pro-Bowl seasons and 14.5 sacks over that same span. At the time it was considered more of a dump-off trade for the Seahawks, getting out from under a massive contract for a declining player. Redding spent a year in Seattle. Baltimore signed him as an unrestricted free agent last year.
The Rams don't have much in the way of players to trade. Of all the positions where they have depth, wide receiver might be the easiest to include a player to sweeten the pot. The tendency to rule out the top players on the roster at that position should be ignored. The Rams have a new offensive coordinator, which means turnover. I'm not sure what kind of value Donnie Avery would have after missing a full season (not much) but he could be attractive to the Giants who face questions on Steve Smith's health.
As far as straight draft picks go, with second-round tender, it's hard to imagine the Giants entertaining offers for much less than a third-round pick. But motivations can change. And the pace at which the lockout is getting resolved should give teams plenty of time to think about it.