- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL lockout has prevented trades this offseason. But there’s talk of progress toward a labor agreement and that could open the door for some trades.
Let’s take a look at some NFC South players who could be on the trading block.
Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith. There have been reports Smith cleaned out his locker and the game-day suite his family uses before the lockout started. There also have been reports Smith has asked for a trade. He has said that hasn’t happened, but has been non-committal about his future.
This one is complicated because Smith might be the best player in franchise history and he still has some good years ahead of him. But Smith clearly was unhappy on a struggling young team last year. There has been a coaching change, but the team remains committed to the youth movement. That means things aren’t going to turn around overnight.
If Smith doesn’t want to go through the growing pains, the team is willing to try to move him. But the Panthers aren’t going to simply just give away a valuable offensive weapon. If they’re going to part with Smith, the Panthers would want a decent draft pick (probably no worse than a third-round choice) in return. If they can’t get that, Smith could end up sticking around.
Atlanta wide receiver Michael Jenkins. He became expendable the moment the Falcons drafted Julio Jones. The Falcons wanted a playmaker to pair with Roddy White. Jones fits that profile. Jenkins doesn’t.
But Jenkins could have some value in the trade market. He’s a solid possession receiver, who also is one of the league’s best blocking receivers. Other teams could view him as a starter.
The Falcons have plenty of other depth beyond White and Jones with Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier and Eric Weems and Jenkins could be used to help bring a draft pick for the future or a player for the present.
New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas. Yes, the Saints signed him to a new contract after last season. But it’s not the kind of deal other teams wouldn’t be willing to take on. After drafting Mark Ingram, the Saints have an abundance of running backs. Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory and Lynell Hamilton also are in the stable.
Bush has a huge salary that makes him untradeable. The Saints will either sign him to an extension that spreads out his money or cut him. Ivory and Hamilton don’t have much trade value. Thomas has shown enough that some other team might be willing to make a decent trade offer.