It will be "trick or treat" day next Tuesday in the NFL. While most trade deadlines pass without much - if any - movement, this "All Trades Eve" may have a few surprises. Let's take a look at a couple of teams who could be shopping for players, and some of them may be St. Louis Rams...
Wheeling and dealing - I love it! After the Rams general manager, Les Snead, pulled the trigger on the huge deal with the Redskins, I tried to find a Snead jersey online. When the Rams went in search of Billy Devaney's replacement, the one thing on my wish list for the job was a deal maker. Snead has shown his willingness to dive into trades, and as the Rams morph into the team Jeff Fisher wants moving forward, will a mid-season trade be on the table for the Rams? How about other teams? Who could be moving, and what price tag would they carry?
While I am just this side of a maniac when it comes to making trades in Fantasy Football, I don't have to deal with cause and effect down the line, year to year. The Rams have a boat load of first round picks over the next two years, and with the current youth movement sweeping the team, would they be willing to trade picks to win right now?
We've all read the rumors about the Rams shopping star running back Steven Jackson. It's caused an emotional response in the Rams' fan base. The undeniable leader in the locker room and on the field for the Rams, Jackson holds most of the franchises rushing records, as well as the hearts of the fans. Some hope he'll get a chance to play for a winning team before his career winds down to its great end. Others see rookie 7th round pick Daryl Richardson as capable of doing Jackson's job, and are willing to let the SJax legend fade away for a draft pick in the middle rounds.
This is just my opinion, but letting Jackson leave this young team would be a mistake. Each week we've seen the mistakes young players can make, and at this point in the season players look for team leaders to carry them past their miscues. Right now for the Rams, there simply isn't another leader on the offensive side of the ball other than Steven Jackson. Sam Bradford, for all his talent and promise, doesn't strike me as "the guy" his teammates look too when things get rough. But just for the sake of fun - or argument - let's make a pretend move or two with Jackson and a couple other players and see if the Rams come off better or worse?
Right now, there are only a few team I see needing a guy like Jackson to make a post season run: Pittsburgh comes to mind, but don't discount teams like the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals and yes - the Baltimore Ravens. I may have missed a couple teams, but for now I'll limit my trade pool to these teams. Since it seems apparent Jackson's value in draft picks has been set in the 4th or 5th round range, I'm going to shop for players too from each of these teams in a trade.
First up is the Steelers, and they are probably the team in the worst shape at running back right now. Both Mendenhal and Redman are injured, and the team depth at the position doesn't inspire me. The problem here is this team has been crushed by injuries this season, so I can't see them parting with a player of any caliber. Unless... How about a trade of aging players - Jackson for Troy Polamalu? The Rams need help at safety, and the oft injured "man of hair" may be worth a look.
The Jets are a team that could quite simply move EVERY player on their team. None have inspired their fans with a "Oh no! Not him!" passion. They do have position players who would improve the Rams, and Jackson would definitely improve their running game. The Rams are already chocked full of former Jets right now, so why not one more? How about tight end Dustin Keller for Jackson? Lance Kendrick isn't the answer at tight end, and a pass catching alternative like Keller would be interesting, but probably little off in trade value. The Rams would probably have to pony up a low round pick along with Jackson to make the deal. Hmm?
Detroit has serious issues at running back. They need a guy like Jackson in the worst possible way, as both a play maker and lock room leader. With Jackson's contract being voidable after the season, this is a great pairing for both teams. In my opinion, Jackson would have the highest trade value here. A third round pick wouldn't be out of the question, or a trade for tight end Tony Scheffler wouldn't be a bad pick up here either. He'd improve the red zone problems the Rams have currently.
The Minnesota Vikings are kind of a stretch here, but the only guy standing between Adrian Peterson's knee and no running game is Toby Gerhart. They'd benefit from Jackson's leadership should Peterson's knee have problems, and they'd be more than likely to let a 4th or 5th round pick go to secure number 39's services. I haven't heard what the NFL has done - or has planned for - fullback Jerome Felton after his June DUI arrest, but he's shown a nose for the goal in the red zone. Worth a look?
Ben-Jarvis Green Ellis cost the Bengals a few shiny pieces of free agent gold in the off season. He still doesn't strike me as a #1 running back. This team is sorely in need of leadership on both sides of the ball. If the Bengals are going to make a run at the injury riddled AFC North, Jackson is the perfect call here. The biggest problem is the team's wacky owner/general manager Mike Brown. Let's face it, he's just plain nuts and a terrible GM. But the Bengals do have quite a few receivers that might be interesting. Would "Mad Mike" be willing to let rookie tight end Orson Charles go? Hmm?
The Raven make my list because they've lost their leadership blankie. This team looked stale against Houston on Sunday, and Ray Rice could use a solid guy backing him up. Ray Lewis's loss for the season hit this team harder than it should have, but there's no denying a guy like Jackson could change the lock room paradigm. The bad news here is that the Ravens cherish their draft picks, so I can't see anything above a 5th roundereven being worth mentioning. The Ravens do have a TE they may be will to move though: Ed Dickson. This would be a great deal for the Rams, and Dennis Pitta appears to have a lock on the position right now for the Ravens. Yeah, a bit of a stretch for Jackson since Dickson's only been in the league since 2010, but I can dream, right?
I saved the best for last: The New England Patriots. This would be a clash of two wheeling and dealing guys in Les Snead and Bill Belichick. The Pats need someone to make their running game legit in short yardage. Rookie Brian Bolden has shined a bit, and Stevan Ridley is a decent option in the passing game, but neither present the whole package the Patriots desperately need down the stretch. Now here is where I take a wild leap ( I never do that, do I?). With all the off season moves to acquire a stable of tight ends, what if the Patriots were willing to let go say... Aaron Hernandez for Jackson and a corner back? Bradley Fletcher? I think a deal could be made for Jackson, Fletcher, and maybe a 5th round draft pick. True, the Ram would have to absorb Hernandez's huge new contract - $40 million over 5 years - $16 million guaranteed - but this is a special player, and one Sam Bradford would give his eye teeth to have on the team. Interesting or far fetched?
As I said earlier, I really don't like the idea of losing Steven Jackson. Young teams can be fragile, and to take away his presence may turn out to be a one step forward, two steps back scenario. Still, while rumors of a trade are flying about, we may as well add to the chaos, right?
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