Friday, April 25, 2003
Ten trades that could happen
By Len Pasquarelli
NEW YORK -- Forget the rumors that the Cleveland Browns are preparing to trade Tim Couch, the first overall player selected in the 1999 draft, to the quarterback-needy Dallas Cowboys.
There is more smoke surrounding that alleged deal than you might find in a Cuban cigar factory.
But in a lottery that figures to be marked by dealing first-round picks, and with the New York Jets and Chicago Bears having already begun the swap-fest Friday afternoon by exchanging early selections, there figures to be at least a few deals involving veteran players as well.
There were just three trades involving four veterans during the 2002 draft and, of course, the only blockbuster was the deal that sent quarterback Drew Bledsoe from New England to the Buffalo Bills. No one should count on any veterans of Bledsoe's magnitude changing teams over the weekend, but that doesn't mean there won't be some trading, especially on the second day of the lottery.
Here are 10 veterans who could be in new uniforms by Sunday evening:
DT Shaun Rogers, Detroit: The Lions began the week seeking a first-round pick for the two-year veteran, discovered quickly they set the bar too high, and would now take a No. 2 for him. They have an offer from a team late in the second round but will wait until Saturday to see if anything better comes their way. A second-rounder in 2001, Rogers played great as a rookie, but got out of shape and overweight in 2002 and wasn't the same player. With all the trade talk surrounding him, his representative, Kennard McGuire, has now requested that Detroit deal his client.
RB Ron Dayne, New York Giants: General manager Ernie Accorsi has said the team could keep the former Heisman Trophy winner, even though the Giants signed Dorsey Levens as the backup to Tiki Barber. Dayne has been a first-round failure for the Giants, rushing for only 1,888 yards in his three seasons with the team, but some other franchise might figure he is worth a middle- or low-round draft choice. Dayne has two seasons remaining on his original contract, at $616,000 for 2003 and $704,000 in 2004, and would be a relatively cheap addition for another team.
CB Fred Smoot, Washington: A second-round choice in 2001, Smoot has cover skills and has played well for the Redskins in two years. But he has been a frequent no-show at the offseason conditioning program this spring and, at some point in his career, is going to want to be paid the money that he feels he missed out on as a rookie, when his draft stock plummeted in the days preceding the lottery. Owner Dan Snyder has said that Smoot will not be traded but, for the right offer, he would certainly consider it.
LB Dexter Coakley, Dallas: It actually is a longshot that Coakley will be dealt away. But the former Pro Bowl performer, undersized at 5-feet-10, does not fit the mold for the kind of linebackers Bill Parcells prefers. The consummate overachiever, Coakley is still an effective player and that is why the chances of a trade are no better than slim.
LB Derrick Rodgers, Miami: The six-year veteran became extraneous the day the Dolphins acquired Junior Seau and has been on the trade market ever since. The Green Bay Packers demonstrated some interest early on, then backed away once they took a look at Rodgers' contract, and figured that Miami would eventually release him anyway. One team that is taking a strong look at Rodgers now, and which could certainly handle the two years left on his existing contract, is Arizona. The Cardinals, who will likely deal down in the first round, could pull the trigger on a Rodgers trade. One caveat: Rodgers must serve a one-game suspension in 2003 after pleading "no contest" to an assault charge earlier this year.
RB Jamel White, Cleveland: The backup to William Green is a very good back, has started at various junctures for the Browns, and has quietly been pushing for a deal to a team where he would be able to start. White recently signed a one-year deal, for $1.318 million, as a restricted free agent. The Browns have made a long-term offer, but not to his satisfaction, and he took a few swipes at Cleveland management earlier this week. There have been a lot of rumors linking White to Dallas, where he might be the best tailback on the roster, by default. The talks haven't heated up as much as has been reported, but the two teams could do something over the weekend.
WR Tai Streets, San Francisco: General manager Terry Donahue insists that Streets, who had a breakout 2002 season with 72 receptions, is not on the market. But there were several teams interested in Streets when he was a restricted free agent this spring and their ardor could be regenerated over the next few days. Should the 49ers select a wide receiver in the first round, they might be more inclined to move Streets to another team. One 49ers wide receiver the club would trade in a heartbeat is J.J. Stokes, but they've had no action on him, and will eventually release the eight-year veteran.
RB Thomas Jones, Arizona: An enigma, because virtually every team felt he was no worse than the second-best back in the 2000 draft, but the former University of Virginia star has been a flop. Three straight seasons he went into the year as the starting tailback. Three straight years he lost the No. 1 job on the depth chart. The Kansas City Chiefs have pitched a proposal to the Cardinals but haven't offered enough yet. Still, the hunch remains that Jones will be traded before the end of the draft.
QB Marques Tuiasosopo, Oakland: Another longshot to be dealt away, but the current Raiders staff isn't nearly as enamored with him as was the Jon Gruden staff. Gruden wouldn't mind having Tuiasosopo, who he feels is better than any of the three backups currently on the roster. Don't be too surprised if the Raiders grab a quarterback in the first couple rounds. And if that occurs, they could hang a "for sale" on Tuiasosopo.
LB John Fiala, Pittsburgh: The Steelers are dangling the special teams ace in an attempt to acquire another middle- to late-round draft choice. Fiala is a bit too expensive just to play just on special teams and Pittsburgh is loaded at the linebacker position, which means he logs little scrimmage time.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.