5 Players That Could Be Traded Before 2012 Draft
We’re gotten through the troubled waters of free agency (for the most part), leaving only a few pre-draft and potential draft day trades to ponder before the 2012 NFL Draft hits us with full force.
Most NFL players know where they’ll be playing in 2012, but position battles and contract woes have some facing fairly uncertain futures. Here’s a breakdown of who has the shakiest outlook, as we analyze the top five candidates to be traded before or during this year’s draft:
5. Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans
Hasselbeck battled injuries and inconsistency down the stretch in 2011, but before his season hit a snag, he looked like a terrific free agent signing by the Titans. I think he can still start in this league, but the Titans are wasting their time by having an open competition, when second-year man Jake Locker is oozing with talent and is arguably already better than Hasselbeck.
With clipboard duty likely in his future in Tennessee, Hasselbeck could be on the trading block, giving quarterback-needy teams like the Dolphins and Browns something to think about. In the end, a reunion with Mike Holmgren in Cleveland makes the most sense if Hasselbeck does get traded.
4. Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett, QB, New England Patriots
I still don’t see how Hoyer dominates the backup quarterback trade rumors, when Mallet is quite obviously a passer to build your franchise around. Mallet lacks mobility, but he has a cannon for an arm and is not without booming confidence. I’m not sold on either player being shipped this off-season, but if the Patriots part with one, I like the odds for the more unproven option with the undeniable talent (Mallet).
3. Asante Samuel, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Samuel has a meaty contract and wants out of Philly. End of story. He is still a talented cover man who can be a big piece for a title contender, so I think the odds increase dramatically this season for a trade to go down. Why spend a high pick on an unproven corner, when you can get a veteran guy in Samuel?
The writing is on the wall for Samuel and the Eagles, and with Samuel open to restructuring his contract if he’s traded, he just got a lot easier to move. The Detroit Lions seem to be the favorites here, as they had talks about Samuel last year, but don’t rule out several corner-needy teams like the Bengals, Cowboys, and Steelers. Teams looking to shore up their secondary like Green Bay and Denver could step in at the last second, as well.
2. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Forte hasn’t been happy with Bears management for over a year now, and despite playing out of his mind in a contract year in 2011, he still only got the dreaded franchise tag. Tack on an unfortunate knee injury to end last season, and Forte wants nothing to do with any type of one-year deal. The guy wants a long-term contract, and he wants to get paid what he’s worth.
It doesn’t look like that will be happening in Chicago – especially when the team went outside of the franchise and paid someone else (Michael Bush) to come in and play the same position. While the backs would actually complement each other well, this has to be the last straw for Forte. Look for teams starving at running back like the Colts and Broncos to take interest, while the Steelers could listen with Rashard Mendenhall possibly on the shelf for 2012.
1. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Matt Forte is the higher profile case, but Stewart is much more likely to be moved. The Panthers have big money tied up in the more explosive DeAngelo Williams, and basically replaced Stewart’s power and red-zone value in free agency addition Mike Tolbert. In other words, Stewart is suddenly the third wheel.
The funny thing is he’s actually arguably more talented overall than both Williams and Tolbert, but the fact that he’s in a contract year kills him in Carolina. After signing Williams to a huge deal in 2011, there is just no way the Panthers could give the same big money to Stewart.
Rather than let him walk in 2013, the team has to trade him now and get some nice value in return. The move that makes a lot of sense is a trade to Denver, where Stewart would reunite with former Panthers’ head coach John Fox. His presence would allow Wills McGahee contract talks to quiet, and would immediately make the Broncos’ ground game and overall offense that much more formidable.
Other possibilities: Dwight Freeney, Ben Tate, Bart Scott, Santonio Holmes