Trade deadline needs to keep moving


Last year, the biggest trade occurred in many respects by chance.  A broken collarbone suffered by Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell gave Oakland the nudge it needed to acquire Carson Palmer from a place he swore he’d never play again.

This year, the NFL wisely moved the trade deadline from the Tuesday after Week Six to the Tuesday after Week Eight.   The move reflects a recognition by the league that parity makes it impossible for most teams to know whether their best interests are served by dangling veterans who aren’t in the long-term plans for draft picks or other potential help in the future.

But here’s the problem.  Two weeks won’t mean much when it comes to making the inherently delicate decision to fold the tents on the current season.  And while the league surely would prefer that there be no tent folding at all, the reality is that, once a team is willing to accept its fate, it should have the ability to improve its prospects.  Given the proliferation of parity in the NFL, Week Eight is too early to know with confidence that it’s over.

So move the deadline back, to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  Week 12.  That’s enough time for a bad team to know whether it makes sense to make a deal.

Of course, the other side of this particular coin comes from the competitive advantage that a contender can acquire by mortgaging the future in the hopes of grabbing the silver trophy.  But every team has the same opportunity to improve itself via trade.  If they choose to, so be it.  If they choose not to, so be it.

Either way, giving teams the ability to make arm’s-length transactions beyond an artificial deadline in October is good for the game.  It drives interest and intrigue and it fosters hope, both for the team that in the present season doesn’t have it and for the team that is willing to go all in to win now.

34 responses to “Trade deadline needs to keep moving

  1. I always thought one of the best attributes of football was that players generally stayed with their team, unlike baseball and basketball. That has gradually chhanged over the years, and diva players (it’s a business) is the result.

  2. I disagree. The trade deadline should be week 4 of the pre-season. The NFL doesn’t need to emulate MLB with its roster and salary dumps.

  3. A bad idea. Teams like JAX, CIN, Buffalo and others would become farm teams for the richer teams as we see in MLB. This would be an opportunity for the Mike Browns of the league to stockpile cheap draftpicks and then sell them off to the highest bidder in a couple years if they worked out. And we’d see similar competitive balance to MLB.

  4. There are three inherent problems with trading in NFL during the season – regardless of when the deadline is. 1) Most teams can’t fit a good high-salary vet player (which is normally what a trading team would want to dump) into their current cap during the season, 2) no team is going to trade a young prospect or quality backup (say, Ben Tate for example) so you’re mostly looking at vet high salary dumps (see #1), and 3) depending on the position of need, it’s pretty difficult to integrate a new player into the scheme mid-way through the season. I know it doesn’t sound all that complicated, but most coaches are pretty conservative and would rather go with a backup who’s been there for all of camp (or years) rather than integrate a new player into the scheme.

    However, it’s mostly cap issues, IMO. The NFL needs to figure out a way where teams can trade that where a team can spread out the cap hit.

  5. I disagree with the notion that this would lead to MLB style salary dumps. First off, there is a salary cap and floor which changes the dynamics of salary dumps. Plus the 16 game season coupled with “difficult to learn” schemes makes it riskier for NFL teams to be flat out buyers at the deadline.

    I think a later deadline would add intrigue without drastically altering the NFL landscape.

  6. This proposal says more about the lack of football knowledge of the writer than anything else.

    Players cannot be integrated into a team within a couple of weeks. Just look at the size of each teams playbooks that have to be learned.

    Daft idea whose only purpose is to drive up PFT page hits.

  7. I wish they moved the deadline this year to the day before they traded Brandon Marshall for two 3rds.

    Awwww I’m just busting your chops Jeff. All in all, you’ve put together a good team (but if we had Marshall………)

  8. The ONE thing the NFL doesn’t have is an intriguing trade deadline.

    The NBA, NHL, and MLB have trade deadlines that are usually more entertaining than the first half of their respective seasons.

    I think moving it to week 12 would grease the wheels a bit, but it seems unlikely that a league with a cap could realistically see a lot of mid-season movement of anyone significant.

  9. I agree with Florio. A week 12 deadline would be great theatre. I do not think the majority of owners would agree though.

  10. The NFL has the deadline this early for the exact opposite of the reason you want it moved back. Having teams give up on a season and “sell” ruins the rest of the season. Sure, there are times when a team is out of the running anyway, but having a Week 12 deadline would lead to teams that are 5-6 giving up on the season early to get something for their veteran on the last year of his deal.

    By the way, the later champion Giants were 6-7 at one point last season, which is a worse situation than being 5-6 in week 12.

  11. The NFL is dominating the sports world.

    The trade deadline is fine.

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke.

    Unless the deadline is removed all together, the “well if we move it back 2 more weeks” will never end.

    You can’t use a situation that worked out timing wise as if it will continue to happen.

    Should the Jets be able to trade for a real QB mid season when they put their eggs on 2 50% completion QBs?

    Injury replacement is one thing, but that’s what free agency is.

  12. I disagree. So many rich teams will trade for key pieces at week 12 to get what they need for a strong playoff run. We love the underdogs. We love the small market tough teams who do the right thing, you know, build a team through the draft, develop coaches who are interested in coaching and not just “winning the big one.”

    You want to make the NFL the MLB with the Yanks. How about we let good teams become great teams down the stretch? And we let teams with problems fall apart on their own?

  13. the NFL, over all leagues, should have the latest trade deadline; because of the high rate of injury. teams shouldn’t be disproportionately punished for random outbreaks of injuries in a debilitating cluster (like the Giants have had in their defensive backfield, for instance, even though I HATE the Giants…).

    teams trade for their own benefit; one team has a NEED, the other team, perhaps, has a LOST SEASON and wants to grab a prospect or a draft pick or yes, LOSE A CRAPPY SALARY, but I think the league would be MORE FUN for us meager viewers and fantasy football nerds if they added a few weeks to the trading “season”.

  14. This so happening….the NFL will enact anything that will draw attention and interest to its product. And lets face it…a “trade deadline” ala MLB, would do that.

  15. The NFL has the best system going among itself, MLB, and the NBA, and while tweaking is sometimes necessary, bumping the trade deadline back again would not help the league as a whole. Individual teams, yes, but we need only look at the “top heavy” structure of MLB and the NBA to see how the NFL differs, and is far better for all fans.

  16. Either way, giving teams the ability to make arm’s-length transactions beyond an artificial deadline in October is good for the game. It drives interest and intrigue and it fosters hope, both for the team that in the present season doesn’t have it and for the team that is willing to go all in to win now.

    So, who cares if something destroys the game as long as you can make a few dollars more now, eh?

  17. If it moved back that far, it gives a team the chance to dump it’s talent and tank the season. Could you imagine last years Indianpolis SuckForLucks with such a late trade deadline?

  18. I didn’t think I’d be in the minority, but just to offer a dissenting opinion:

    While several good points have been made about the differences between MLB and the NFL, I still love the idea of moving the trade deadline to week 12.

    It will help bad teams improve by getting draft picks for a player they’d probably lose anyway. And of course it will help good teams make that final run.

    But it will also provide all of us with a lot of entertainment as we get to be hyper critical of the trades that would occur.

    If the Jets some how pull to 6-6 at week 12, does anyone not think that they’d offer the Chiefs an arm and a leg for Bowe? Or the Jags for MJD? or the Steelers for Wallace? And we’d all get to sit around playing keyboard-GM.

    That sounds like more fun to me than having the trade deadline pass by with about the same amount of excitement as the Pro Bowl.

    It will never be like the MLB because of injuries, the importance of draft picks, the lack of a minor league system, and the salary cap, but it can stand to get a little more interesting.

  19. What parity are you talking about? The Patriots are perennial contenders and they still have among the weakest (if not the weakest) schedules in the league year in and year out. This has been going on pretty much since the NFL changed how they scheduled games/realigned the divisions from six divisions to eight.

    Last year, the Patriots didn’t face a team with a winning record until they played the Ravens in the playoffs. Going into that season, it was widely known that the Patriots had a weak if not the weakest schedule.

    Yeah, yeah, the Patriots are now 4-3 this year with the weakest schedule. That is true, but that is only because Belichick has been wasting their boatload of draft picks on players that didn’t live up to the hype.

    Still, Mike you ought to write an article on how horrible the scheduling procedures are when it comes to parity in the league now. Then compare that to the way it used to be..

    As for the trade deadline, it should be moved to no later than week ten. Weak teams should be able to rebuild if they can by dumping contracts late, but there does becomes a point where those late trades can have undue influence on the playoffs. In other words stocking up for the playoff run and then dumping those players after the playoffs are over.

  20. I’m surprised so many are against dumping players. I was all for it before reading the comments. My feeling was that if you were a 1 or 2 win you certainly weren’t playing in Jan and even most 3 win teams were no better than .500 for the remainder of the year. So why not grab picks and try for the following year?

  21. Week 12 seems to be too far into the season. Week 10 is the max I could see. Teams can’t really abuse the potential system unless the league alters the cap rules. I do not want to see a MLB/NBA type system where good players are constantly moved around. I also think that a player trade demand would hold more weight with a later deadline but that is not a good thing.

  22. What about the poor schlepps left behind? What would it be like to be on a “team” where all the talented players were traded with 4 weeks remaining. How much fun would it be to have your butt beat into the ground for 4 straight weeks because every position player is Joe Average? And knowing that there is no alternative because You are not considered to be trade bait. Every team has players who are better than their individual talent because they work as a team. How much entertainment would a no-talent team be? The richest owners would be perpetual winners – think George Steinbrenner.

  23. A truly bad idea. In fact, unless you think it would be good to have no trade deadline, an obviously bad idea, since there’s no reason given for stopping at week 8. “[T]he league surely would prefer that there be no tent folding at all…”? No, it’s the ticket buyers who are entitled to see the team they bought tickets to see actually trying to win. You want the trade deadline early enough so that the team is making trades to win that year, as much as possible. Duh.

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