This post compares trades made in the NFL between the end of the draft in April and the beginning of training camp. We’ll compare these trades using a 10-point scale, with 10 marking the most significant trades and 1 marking the least significant. We’ll update this post until training camps begin.
For a comparison of players traded during the NFL draft, check out this post. And for a comparison of the many offseason trades before the draft, click on this link.
10 – Saints trade OT Jammal Brown and sixth- or seventh-round 2011 pick to Redskins for third- or fourth-round 2011 pick and conditional sixth-round 2012 pick – The Saints won the Super Bowl last year with Brown on the sidelines with hip and sports-hernia injuries, and despite missing the former two-time Pro Bowler New Orleans’ offense moved on just fine. So with Jermon Bushrod in place to play left tackle, and with Brown making noise about wanting a new contract or leaving via free agency after the 2011 season, the Saints decided to get something in return for Brown now. The price – either a third- or fourth-round pick – isn’t great, but that should be a roster player for New Orleans. Getting 60 cents on the dollar for an unhappy player trying to come back from an injury isn’t the worst result in the world. Brown moves to Washington, and he’ll probably move positions as well from left tackle to the right side, where he will be a bookend to fellow Oklahoma product Trent Williams. Brown is good enough to excel in that role, the Redskins (who had a horrible offensive line last year) are now starting to address a problem area. If Brown proves he’s healthy, and if the Redskins are able to resign him, he’ll be well worth the price. But taking a gamble on a name tackle with two big ifs is the kind of approach that has blown up in the Redskins’ faces in the past, so it bears watching whether the franchise can actually make this situation work. There’s potential for success in his move for the Redskins, but Washington hasn’t always been able to turn such potential into production, so we view this move with just a bit of skepticism.
9 – none
8 – none
7 – none
6 – Panthers trade S Chris Harris to Bears for LB Jamar Williams – The Bears once had a strong safety combo in Harris and Mike Brown, but they grew disenchanted with Harris and dealt him to Carolina two years ago. Harris proved to be a solid player against the run, and he started for the Panthers for three years. Harris is good against the run and forces more than his share of fumbles, but he needs to stay near the box instead of being a regular coverage option. Now the Bears, who haven’t found solid replacements for Harris or Brown, bring Harris back as a stop-gap option. He’ll be able to start until a youngster emerges. Williams played well behind Lance Briggs but wasn’t going to find much playing time in a crowded linebacker corps. In Carolina, he could compete for the vacant strong-side linebacker job and provide depth on the weak side in case Thomas Davis’ recovery from ACL surgery goes slowly.
5 – Dolphins trade OG Justin Smiley to Jaguars for conditional late-round draft pick – Smiley got a big-dollar deal from the Fins when Bill Parcells first arrived in 2008, but he didn’t provide the kind of smashmouth approach in the running game that Miami hoped. Shoulder injuries limited Smiley’s playing time, but what he put on the field wasn’t stellar. So Miami moves on with free-agent signee Cory Procter or rookie John Jerry as a starting option. For Jacksonville, Smiley joins young tackles Eben Britten and Eugene Monroe on a line that is coming together. Smiley doesn’t have to be dominant to help Jacksonville, because the tackles are what makes that line go.
4 – none
3 – Rams trade OT Alex Barron to Cowboys for LB Bobby Carpenter – St. Louis and Dallas swapped disappointing first-rounders in this deal. Dallas gets Barron, who never worked out as a left tackle or right tackle for the Rams. But Barron does have talent, and he can at least fill in at left tackle if Doug Free doesn’t develop as Dallas believes he will. Barron’s better than any tackle on the free-agent market at this point, so giving him a whirl for a year is a reasonable risk for Dallas. Carpenter never fit into Dallas’ 3-4 defense, but moving to St. Louis puts him in a 4-3 defense where he may have a better chance to fit in. Instead of cutting these guys, both teams gave change of scenery a try, which is a smarter way to play it because there’s at least a chance of getting value.
2 – Bears trade S Kevin Payne to Rams for conditional 2011 seventh-round draft choice – After trading for Chris Harris and drafting Major Wright, the Bears had no room for Payne, who had a strong 2008 season but struggled in ’09 after moving from strong safety to free safety. Payne was probably on his way to the chopping block when the Rams stepped in and gave up a conditional draft choice to get an early look at Payne in their OTAs. Payne is good enough to make the Rams; the question is whether he can adjust to the system.
1 – 49ers trade WR Isaac Bruce to Rams for conditional 2012 draft choice – In a symbolic trade, the 49ers sent Bruce back to St. Louis, where he spent most of his career, so that he could retire as a Ram. San Francisco will only receive compensation if Bruce takes the field for St. Louis this year, but that’s not going to happen. For perspective on how Bruce compares with other NFL players who retired this offseason, check out this post.