The trade conversation initiated Tuesday picked up momentum quickly and hasn't slowed.
"I'm in St. Louis," killah2 wrote, "and we don't have many blockbuster players to offer. Given our No. 1 draft slot and the possibility of drafting Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, my first thought is to offer Adam Carriker. ... Given that the St. Louis receiving corps was basically the Philadelphia practice squad, I'd look for a team who could offer a wide receiver."
The trade market has a chance to be much more interesting than usual this offseason as teams head into the March 5 signing period without a salary cap in place. In past years, cap considerations restricted trades in general and player-for-player trades in particular, especially those involving prominent players.
Take away the cap, however, and the cap considerations disappear. With players needing six accrued seasons instead of four to become unrestricted free agents, the UFA market will be weak, leaving trades as an even more appealing avenue for player acquisition.
That is my thinking, anyway. No one is quite sure how things might play out.
"The truth of the matter is that with the uncertainty of the uncapped year and possible work stoppage ahead [in 2011], I am not sure we will see much movement at all in the way of trades," miked2300 wrote.
Now that we've allowed for the possibilities, let's indulge the original concept: singling out one reasonably conceived trade to benefit each NFC West team, with an emphasis on player-for-player trades, not just trades involving players for draft choices.
The setup: Receiver Anquan Boldin lacks trade value commensurate with his production. Durability concerns and his desire for a fat, new contract depressed the market for Boldin last offseason. Arizona finally decided to keep Boldin. But with Boldin entering the final year of his deal and the offense leaning more heavily on the ground game in a post-Kurt Warner period, the time is right to move him.
Sando's trade proposal: Boldin to Kansas City for linebacker Derrick Johnson
The reasoning: The Cardinals could lose Karlos Dansby in free agency, so they'll need help at linebacker. Johnson won't solve Arizona's problems at the position, but he would give them another talented linebacker at a reasonable price. Johnson, a 2005 first-round choice, didn't seem to fit very well with the new regime in Kansas City. Perhaps a change of scenery would help. Johnson will be a restricted free agent, giving the Chiefs the ability to trade him. The Cardinals have shown little interest in extending Boldin's contract, so we can presume he's gone after the 2010 season anyway. This trade lets Arizona determine whether Johnson might fit into the Cardinals' longer-term plans, while helping depth at a position of need.
The setup: I had a hard time finding a decent trade scenario involving the 49ers. The team's return game was a big problem last season. The 49ers could also use an offensive tackle, but I'm not sure they'd be able to trade for a good one. And so I'm deferring to the earlier suggestion from daddyleek125 in a move sure to satisfy some 49ers fans, minus the fourth-round pick in return from Cleveland (figuring we might need to sweeten this one for the Browns).
Sando's trade proposal: Receiver Brandon Jones and a third-round choice to Cleveland for running back/returner Joshua Cribbs
The reasoning: This one is for all the 49ers fans who continue to ask about Cribbs' availability. Jones' place in the 49ers' offense changed once the team unexpectedly drafted Michael Crabtree in the first round. Jones has good size, runs routes well and can catch the ball. Perhaps he would fit in the offense Mike Holmgren envisions for Cleveland. Cribbs is a dynamic special-teams player, both in the return game and in coverage. He can also play a bit role on offense.
Sando's trade proposal: Branch, second- and fourth-round choices to the Broncos for Brandon Marshall.
The reasoning: The Broncos have soured on Marshall. Branch is much lower maintenance and he knows Broncos coach Josh McDaniels from their time together in New England. Branch might fit better in Denver and he would help fill part of the void left by Marshall's departure. The Seahawks might have a better chance at getting the most from Marshall because several of their coaches, including offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, worked in Denver previously. This trade would leave Seattle without draft choices in the second through fourth rounds, but the team could recoup picks by trading back from the sixth and/or 14th overall spots. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The setup: The Rams need a quarterback with more potential than Marc Bulger and a lower price tag. They could also use a playmaking receiver, among other needs, but the quarterback situation is most important and there's just no way the Rams can justify paying the $8.5 million in salary Bulger would earn under his current deal.
The reasoning: The Eagles could use a safety and Atogwe can be a solid starter, giving them someone to pair with Quintin Mikell for at least a season. If the Rams saw Atogwe as a dominant playmaker, however, they presumably would have paid him accordingly on a long-term deal last offseason. Instead, they franchised him for about $6.3 million. Atogwe reverts to being only a restricted free agent this offseason. Vick has a $3.75 million base salary for 2010, the final year of his deal, with another $2.75 million in incentives. Vick would give the Rams life and a quarterback already familiar with their offensive system (Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur brought Andy Reid's offense to St. Louis). If you're the Rams, why not?