The National Football League experiences numerous trades each offseason in which key players are often traded for future draft picks. But it’s rare that in-season trades are made, and even less likely that major deals are announced.
That will likely happen again this season with the trade deadline just 48 hours away.
There are some intriguing names on the trade block, however, the biggest of which is Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
With the Cardinals currently sitting at 3-4 and with hopes of a playoff spot rapidly diminishing, it would make sense for Arizona to deal their All-Pro receiver. They could definitely land a lucrative package in return. Fitzgerald has not put up typical numbers this season as the Cardinals offense has sputtered, catching just 32 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns heading into Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Sunday that Fitzgerald will be a highly-regarded target this offseason is he’s not dealt by the Tuesday deadline.
Fitzgerald, who has played for his entire 10-year career for the Cardinals, would be a huge upgrade for several teams still in the playoff hunt, including the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.
It’s not just receivers like Fitzgerald who are on the trading block—running backs could be made available for the right price as well.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden tops the list of available running backs. McFadden ran for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns back in 2010, but injuries have curtailed his production over the past three seasons, including this year. McFadden has appeared in five games for the Raiders in 2013, averaging just 53.4 yards rushing per game with two touchdowns.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice-Jones Drew is another intriguing name who could be had for the right price. Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing in 2011 when he racked up 1,606 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns.
With Jacksonville suffering through a miserable 0-8 start to the season, it certainly makes sense to deal Drew and start a rebuilding process. However, Jones-Drew’s hefty salary and injury concerns make him a less-than desirable target with the trade deadline looming.
Both Drew-Jones and McFadden are set to become free agents at the end of the season, making them in essence rental players. It’s unlikely that any team looking for an upgrade will be willing to part with an attractive return package.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram is reportedly up for grabs as well. Ingram, a former first-round draft pick never reached his potential in New Orleans, and injuries have limited him to just two games this season. In today’s pass-happy NFL environment, Ingram isn’t likely to warrant receiving teams giving up wanted draft picks in exchange.
One more name to add to the mix—New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks—could also find himself in another uniform by the end of the day on Tuesday. Nicks, who amassed over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons with the Giants in 2010 and 2011, is also a free agent at the end of the season. According to John Clayton of ESPN, Nicks could be targeted by the Patriots in their effort to strengthen their depleted corps of receivers.
By the end of the day on Sunday, injuries could play a role in just how active the trade deadline could become in the NFL. As of right now, while big names can be had, Tuesday is more than likely to come and pass with no significant news. In that case, it will be business as usual in the NFL.