The NFL trade deadline is just over 24 hours away, and while there aren't a lot of trade rumors floating around, that doesn't mean that the trade market won't heat up prior to tomorrow's deadline.
In a season in which we're already two weeks removed from an undefeated team existing, there are several imperfect playoff contenders that could stand to acquire some reinforcements at the trade deadline. We've got five teams in particular that would do well to target upgrades at specific positional groups over the next couple of days, but the trade market may or may not provide for those needs.
Green Bay Packers (3-3): Running Back. The season-ending injury to running back Ryan Grant has clearly had a much bigger impact on Green Bay's offense than many, including head coach Mike McCarthy, predicted it would. Battered starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers might be the team's most consistent ground option, as a timeshare between Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn has left the Packers' offense very one-dimensional. This is still a good offense, but it won't be a truly elite one without a bigger threat at running back.
Assessing the RB market: Baltimore backup Willis McGahee did not play at all in Sunday's win over New England, leading to some speculation that he may be on the trade table. A big back, McGahee still has enough wiggle to make Green Bay's running attack viable again. The going rate, set by Seattle's acquisition of Marshawn Lynch, is roughly a fourth-round pick; McGahee might be had for slightly less if Baltimore is willing to make such a deal.
Houston Texans (4-2): Safety. It's playoffs or bust for Gary Kubiak and the Texans, but they'll have serious trouble getting there without massive improvements defending the pass. Through six games, the Texans are giving up 306.2 passing yards per game, good for dead last in the league - and they've still got Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Kyle Orton left on their schedule. They could use help at both corner and safety, but it's the latter group that is of particular concern - Eugene Wilson and Bernard Pollard are not playing well at all.
Assessing the S market: Green Bay just made a move to acquire Jacksonville's Anthony Smith for a seventh-round draft pick. There aren't any rumors currently floating around at the safety position, but the type of deal the Packers just made could be around the corner for Houston.
Indianapolis Colts (4-2): Defensive Tackle. It seems the Colts struggle to defend the run annually, and are constantly looking to fortify their run defense. In 2006, they acquired Anthony McFarland at the trade deadline, and he helped them win a Super Bowl. They had a deal in place for Buffalo's John McCargo in 2008 before a failed physical derailed the acquisition. This year, Daniel Muir and in particular Fili Moala aren't getting the job done. Can Bill Polian find another player for his beleaguered run defense at the trade deadline?
Assessing the DT market: There's not much rumored to be out there, at least in the way of a bigger-name acquisition. Still, it wouldn't shock us if Polian made a move for a younger player, even if it's not via the trade market. Unless, of course, he's interested in taking a shot at Albert Haynesworth. (Yeah, probably not.)
Kansas City Chiefs (3-2): Wide Receiver. Even if the Dwayne Bowe that showed up and excelled in Week 6 against Houston continues to play that well, the Chiefs need more receiving weapons if Matt Cassel is ever going to live up to his mega-contract (and make the Chiefs a factor in the post-season). Tony Moeaki is playing well at tight end, but Bowe's inconsistencies are compounding the problem at receiver, where Chris Chambers has been a flop this year, and where depth is virtually non-existent.
Assessing the WR market: Receiver is typically where trade deadline action occurs - see Randy Moss, Deion Branch, Braylon Edwards and Roy Williams for recent examples - but the Chiefs may be out of luck. Vincent Jackson isn't going anywhere thanks to A.J. Smith, and certainly not to a division rival. The have been very up front about their lack of any desire whatsoever to deal Steve Smith. There just isn't a lot out there now that several trades have been completed.
St. Louis Rams (3-3): Wide Receiver. Who'd have thought that the Rams would be sitting at .500 after Week 6 in a wide-open NFC West? Led by rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, this Rams team actually has a shot at a division crown. Fathom that. Problem is, they're still not particularly explosive offensively, and Mark Clayton's season-ending injury makes them even less so. They lack a playmaker at receiver (or even tight end), so like Kansas City, they'd be wise to try to find their young, unproven quarterback another weapon as they shoot for a division title.
Assessing the WR market: See above. Clearly, the V-Jax trade is minimally more likely here, but the chances are about as remote as Pluto's chances of being named a planet again. One move that we've expected for some time that wouldn't require a trade: the Rams should snag Juaquin Iglesias off of Chicago's practice squad. Iglesias, a third-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, was Bradford's go-to target at Oklahoma in both 2007 and 2008, when he combined to catch 142 passes for 2,057 yards and 15 touchdowns as a Sooner.