Each week SB Nation NFL sites are all asked a question. This week we have been asked to name a trade we would make. I am going to cheat a little bit. I am not going to name a specific deal. With the trade deadline less than a week away, I am going to lay out some philosophical parameters of the types of trades that are likely, those the Jets should make, and those they should avoid.
Rule 1: Teams want to trade for productive players on favorable contracts, not players who are overpaid and unproductive.
Four years ago, virtually every trade proposal I saw from Jets fans around the deadline included Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. Two years ago, almost every idea involved dealing Geno Smith and Quinton Coples. It should be no surprise that none of those players was actually traded.
Sanchez and Holmes were high priced and didn’t produce. Geno and Coples weren’t high priced, but they weren’t productive.
This year, two names who frequently come up are Matt Forte and Muhammad Wilkerson. The reasons Jets fans want to trade these two are obvious. They both have relatively large salaries and aren’t living up to them.
The thing is, trades are a two way street. If you don’t want a player because he makes too much money and doesn’t produce, odds are the other team won’t want to trade for that player for the same reasons. Other teams don’t want overpaid players any more than the Jets do.
The opposite is also true. If you don’t want to trade a certain player because he is a good value for his contract, the player will likely have trade value.
In any avenue of life, people want to get something for nothing. Rarely do you get it. I have seen too many bizarre NFL transactions through the years to totally rule out some team wanting to trade for Forte or Wilkerson, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Rule 2: The Jets aren’t contenders right now.
One of the things that curse teams in their roster decisions is believing they are closer to being a contender than they really are.
The Jets are currently overperforming expectations in terms of record. They sit 1.5 games behind the last AFC Playoff spot.
Things haven’t changed from the start of the season, though. This is still a team beginning a rebuild. If you look at this roster, there isn’t a very good chance of making a run this year.
Rule 3: If the Jets get any offer for a player 27 or older, they should probably take it.
Rule 2 colors the thinking the Jets should have. This is a team that should be looking to sell at the deadline if it makes any deals. Few of the players 27 or older figure to still be around and productive by the time the team is ready to seriously compete so they all should be made available. The only two players I might exclude from this are Kelvin Beachum and James Carpenter, who are both solid players on good deals. They aren’t untouchable, but the Jets should extract a meaningful package if another team has interest in making a deal for them.
Aside from that, the Jets could use more Draft capital. I’m not sure any of their veteran players have any trade value. If a team makes an offer, though, the Jets should jump on it.
It is tough not to love Bilal Powell. He is a homegrown player who has developed into a quality piece of the offense. He is 28 years old, though, closer to the end of his career than the beginning. I cannot say whether a team would be interested in dealing for him. NFL teams in need of a back have a way of finding internal solutions, but if anybody comes calling, the Jets should listen and be willing to part with him. Powell isn’t the future. A Draft pick is.
Morris Claiborne might have some interest. He plays a premium position on a good value contract. That contract only lasts 9 more games, though. He will be a free agent again after the season. With the Jets unlikely to contend, dealing Claiborne to an interested team would be a nice way to use a one year deal to create a Draft pick out of thin air and help with the rebuild.
I tend to doubt anybody would want to trade for veterans like Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley, or Josh McCown, but in case anybody is interested, the hypothetical pick the Jets would acquire will surely be more likely to turn into a long-term asset than any of those players.
It would be tough for the front office to sell at the deadline and give up on a season just at the point fans started to believe. Running a franchise successfully requires tough calls, though. This team as constructed probably cannot succeed in a meaningful way. If the Jets can turn soon to be expiring parts into assets for the future, it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity.
Rule 4: There are almost no situations where the Jets should trade a pick.
I would never rule anything out definitively, but it bears repeating that the Jets are at the beginning phases of a rebuild. Draft picks are the lifeblood of any rebuilding team. There just aren’t many scenarios where the Jets should be willing to part with one of these important assets.
For it to make sense, a trade would probably have to be for a proven quality player on a good value contract that runs through at least 2019.
The deadline needs to be about the future.
For all of the speculation, the most likely scenario is always that no major trades are done. If the Jets are part of any deals they should be focused on tomorrow, even if it comes at the expense of today.