NFL Trade Deadline? For the Broncos, easier said than done.

The TRADE deadline is here (4:00 pm EST, Tuesday, October 18th).  It might behoove us to discuss some of the does and don’ts of what has become a bit of a forgotten transactional art in the National Football League.

Any and all means

TRADES can be extremely fruitful for a Club and pay off nicely with the proper asserted aggressiveness.  Interest in a particular player is usually generated by an enhanced Pro Scouting Department, on the same page and looking out for the proper players that can fit within your system.

It’s a must to keep communications throughout the season with key decision makers at every club and allow for open dialogue.  TRADES are difficult  (otherwise you’d see more) but success can come through a straight forward “win-win” approach.  You can add key talent to your roster and improve your overall draft positioning to maximize leverage.

Prior to my final season in Denver, we moved 24 players on/off the roster the previous five years.  Only the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns were more active in peddling back and forth over the same time frame.  Needless to say, I’ve done my share of TRADES.

The NFL’s definition of a TRADE

…A transaction involving two more clubs resulting in an outright or conditional assignment or exchange of player contracts, selection rights to players, and/or selection choices, which transaction is not effected through the waiver system, the First Refusal/Compensation system, or other special assignment procedures of the Constitution or Bylaws.  There shall be no TRADES for past, future, or nominal consideration.

What’s in it for me?

Throw out anything you know about TRADES from MLB or the NBA.  The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and resulting CAP limitations have all but made TRADES a difficult, if not unlikely proposition.

For starters, the immediate proration of Signing Bonus and other guarantees makes it difficult to unload a high salaried veteran player.  If a player has multiple years remaining on his existing contract, those dollars prorated for CAP purposes across the remaining years accelerate back to the current League Year.  Same rules apply if you try to cut a player in-season.  This CAP consequence can be too much for most trading clubs.  The receiving club is only responsible for the remaining contract obligations.

Once clubs become aware a team is interested in moving a player (via any format) they usually just wait for the player to be placed on waivers.  The risk is you get trumped in the claiming order (should the player be assignment eligible) or the player becomes a free agent and can sign with whomever he pleases.

Draft choices are much too valuable to relinquish for a quick fix and many coaching staffs feel reluctant to disrupt team chemistry in the middle of the season with a TRADE.  Players are more likely to be moved with this method just prior to the draft.

Making “chicken salad” out of…

The Houston Texans recently acquired veteran WR Derrick Mason from the New York Jets.  Mason is 37 years old, on a two year contract that has already paid him for 5 weeks of the 2011 season (reported $1.3 million).  His veteran experience and past production (avg 74 receptions per season) were probably appealing enough to Coach Gary Kubiak at the agreed upon price of a conditional 7th round pick.  Well worth the cost for a quick fix in this case.

Mason is healthy and not going to be relied upon to be the primary target in the Texan offense.  The Jets seemed on the verge of releasing Mason and were able to secure something for an off-season deal gone bad.  “Win-Win”

Closer to home 

The Denver Broncos announced this week that they were shopping WR Brandon Lloyd.  Lloyd has a history of less than exemplary behavior in Dove Valley and was brought here by the preceding regime.  His production has been outstanding, though before becoming a Bronco Lloyd could have been described as a #3 WR at best.  His career season prior to 2010 was his third in San Francisco (48 rec, 733 yds, 5 TD).  Lloyd crossed the NFL’s version of the “Maginot Line” turning 30 years old this summer and local media is reporting the Broncos are looking for a 3rd and a 5th, or anywhere between a 3rd and a 5thLloyd was selected 8 years ago by S.F. with a 4th round choice.

Furthermore Lloyd isn’t under contract for 2012.  The receiving team would have to extend Lloyd at some point prior to the start of the 2012 Free Agency period.  Most players don’t like being sent anywhere.

A couple things strike me with this situation.

  • Lloyd has been Denver’s most dynamic offensive player for two seasons.  What’s up?
  • His recent production has been more “the exception than the rule” over his career.  Consistency?
  • Lloyd turned 30 years old this July.  He’s missed 32 games in his career, started only 63.  Durability?
  • He has a documented history of locker room type problems.  Character?
  • The asking price of a 3rd, and or 5th round draft choice is a bit steep for only 11 remaining games.  Worth it?
  • No contract in 2012.  One year fix?
  • The majority of these negotiations are not played out in the media (i.e. announcing the asking price).  Perception, if not desperation?

No doubt Brandon Lloyd has the potential to help a club in need at the WR position for the remainder of the 2011.  But it’s been my experience that the rest of us usually find out about the COMPLETION of a TRADE after the transactional agreement is complete.

Not with the price tag still dangling from the jersey.

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  1. Great job on the website so far! It is very interesting to learn about this side of football.

    About B. Lloyd. It seems like the concerns about him are pretty much universally known throughout the league. Is the whole goal of putting him on the block to see if those couple of teams that need WR help and are playoff contenders would bite?

    What do you think will happen if he doesn’t get traded?

    From a business perspective it really seems like they are trying to get value for him before he is just let go at the end of the season.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Ted Sundquist Ted Sundquist says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I agree with you 100%, there’s nothing that I mentioned that the rest of the NFL doesn’t already know. But that’s the reason I pointed that out. You don’t gain anything publicly by putting a player on the block and then advertising the asking price. I’ve personally found that keeping that between teams is the better route to take.
      If I’m an interested team I immediately go for a 5th round (max) but start even lower. Denver has lost all leverage. There’s just too much on the board to question about the player. Even if EFX knows this, they’ve painted themselves in a box. Fans and media will ask “Why did you give away our best offensive player for a 5th?”. “Why didn’t you fight harder for the 3rd”. Then if they only get a 7th (like the Mason deal), they really got beat. Asking for a 3rd AND a 5th? I would never give two picks for a player with just 11 games left on his contract.
      As for Lloyd, no player wants to feel unwanted (justified or not). Now you’ve got a disgruntled player in general and one that won’t want to be around too long if he doesn’t get traded. My bet is they’ll either out right release him or if things get dicey, deactivate him each week. However if he does play, it would be in his best interest to interview on the field; play hard for next year’s opportunity.

  2. Ted Sundquist Ted Sundquist says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

  3. I think it’s interesting to look at the difference between words and actions. The words here demonstrate willingness to trade. Going off of your experience, the actions actually make a solid trade less likely.

    So the question becomes, why would a team make a trade less likely, while announcing a willingness to trade?

    One possibility is that Lloyd requested a trade, and Denver wants to both keep him and make him happy by responding to his request. That way Lloyd feels like Denver did right by him, and Denver gets to keep Lloyd the rest of the season. The same might go for Royal.

    What do you think of the possibility that Denver wants to re-sign either Royal or Lloyd for next year, hasn’t decided which, and has in turn ticked off both receivers with the lack of contract movement?

    • Ted Sundquist Ted Sundquist says:

      Good questions both;

      Why would a team make a trade less likely, while announcing a willingness to trade? Not sure. Some teams just have a better understanding of how to do business through experience in doing so. But there are 32 different ways being implemented in an attempt to win a championship, not all methods are comfortable and work for everyone.

      Possibility of re-signing Royal or Lloyd for next year, haven’t decided which, and have ticked off both? Perhaps. My understanding is that attempts were already made to re-sign Lloyd. Not sure of the current philosophy but Denver has been reluctant in the past to enter into extension negotiations during the season. Sort of the “carrot and stick” approach.

  4. Was losing C Chris Myers (traded to Houston for a 6th rounder) something that got you in trouble with the Denver Broncos?

    • Ted Sundquist Ted Sundquist says:

      Chris Myers was traded to Houston after I had left the Broncos, so I don’t think it had much to do with anything concerning me.

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