The end result of any draft trade is a transaction between two teams where human bodies are exchanged, and ideally they’ll be used to play football. But when trades first happen during the draft, the process feels a little crude. Pick X is swapped for picks R, W, M, B, L, O, and D, and later on–often a year or sometimes two years later–real people emerge from that alphabet soup, and they have real feelings.
A few of those trades that at first involve nameless numbers will no doubt take place tonight, with the Jaguars still eager to move out of the No. 7 hole. Bill Belichick has two picks in the back half of the round, and he’s a chronic trader.
It may not happen tonight, but sometime over the next three days we could see an actual person traded, and the three players below are the leading candidates.
The Giants defensive end is both disgruntled, and expendable. The latter adjective is debatable, because although he limped through parts of last season with an ankle injury and missed seven games, he was still effective when healthy. Umenyiora averaged a sack per game during the regular season, getting to the opposing quarterback nine times.
But with the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks in 2011) and a hopefully much healthier Justin Tuck, Umenyiora has moved from being a valued contributor, to a valued trade chip. Even without Umenyiora for nearly half the season, the Giants’ front seven still finished with 48 sacks, just two behind the league-leading Vikings.
The 30-year-old Umenyiora is set to make $3.975 million in 2012, and he’s never been shy about his desire for a re-worked contract. But given his age, his lack of durability, and the depth behind him, there’s little motivation for the Giants to make a commitment, and give Umenyiora the four-year deal worth roughly $40 million he’s seeking, which is on par with contracts recently signed by Robert Mathis and Trent Cole.
Earlier this week NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora tweeted that he thinks things “could get interesting” if a team offers a third-round pick, and the appeal of Umenyiora was drastically increased yesterday when he said that any team wishing to acquire his services wouldn’t have to negotiate a new long-term deal. He’d be happy to play out the final year of his contract before cashing in as a free agent, and he’d be even happier to move somewhere and be a starter again, something he can’t do in New York with Pierre-Paul now blocking his way.
Another aging pass rusher, Freeney is set to earn a painful paycheck next year ($14 million) during the final season of a six-year deal, and that cash commitment could quickly become an anchor for a rebuilding team that’s making a transition on both sides of the ball.
The defensive transition to a 3-4 could decrease Freeney’s value in Indy further, providing new GM Ryan Grigson with another convenient excuse to move a 32-year-old asset before his play inevitably begins to fade, and his value decreases. Freeney has been able to stay healthy, missing just three games over the past four years, and he’s still productive, with 42.5 sacks over that stretch.
Earlier today Peter King noted that although the Asante Samuel deal that involved the exchanged of several peanuts for a top end corner has deflated the trade market, the Colts are still looking to move Freeney for a top pick. Ideally, that pick would contribute to the effort to build a defense that’s more suited for the 3-4, which is anchored by a nose tackle, and supported by speed at linebacker.
Marty Hurney can deny any intention to trade Stewart until he turns several shades of blue, but we’ll believe it when he’s still on the Panthers’ roster Sunday. Hurney inexplicably signed Mike Tolbert during free agency, which makes the contract he gave DeAngelo Williams last August even more ridiculous.
More importantly, Tolbert’s signing made Stewart expendable, even after Mike Goodson was traded. Stewart’s status as a trade block resident is also furthered by his expiring contract. He’s slated to become a free agent next March, a month when he’ll also turn 26. Sadly, that means he’s starting to age as a running back, and with Tolbert now aboard to play in the exact same short-yardage role where Stewart’s excelled, logic states that now is the time to cash in and make a move.
Unfortunately, there’s never been an abundance of logic in Carolina.