Because of the NFL lockout there aren't any trades going on right now, but that doesn't mean folks aren't speculating on where certain players may end up. Once the lockout ends, the trade market will open and teams -- having not yet had a free agency signing period -- will be scrambling to acquire players they need for the 2011 season.
The lockout could really hamper some of the trade activity because, if the season doesn't open until August or September, teams may not want to make a trade if they don't have the time to get that player acclimated to their offense.
But there will be trades at some point.
So when I look at possible trades, especially with quarterbacks, it's important to note that the team making the trade needs to be in a position to make the playoffs. It doesn't make sense for a team, like the Bills, to trade for Carson Palmer because they're likely a couple of seasons away from competing for the playoffs. So if you're going to make a big move and give up a draft pick, it needs to be because you're on the cusp of making the playoffs.
With that said, here are five trades that should happen.
Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals. Kolb makes sense for a lot of teams -- who doesn't need a quarterback? -- but especially the Cardinals. Kolb's future isn't in Philadelphia if the Eagles are tied to QB Michael Vick for the foreseeable future so they need to get value out of him while they still can and, in a market like this, his value is higher than it probably should be so the time to trade him is now. The Cardinals aren't that far removed from their Super Bowl run so there's definitely some talent on the team -- just no quarterback. Plus, a trade for Kolb may convince WR Larry Fitzgerald to stick around after 2011, when his contract runs out.
There are already plenty of rumors of this move happening so don't be surprised if Arizona pulls the trigger on a package that could start with a pair of second round picks.
Kyle Orton to the Dolphins. It's unclear how much he would cost another team in a trade but the Broncos would be wise to do what they can to trade him. He clearly doesn't have a future in Denver and he's not going to have an eight-plus million dollar salary as a backup.
I would suggest the Miami Dolphins as a good destination for him. Orton would quickly have a top receiver in WR Brandon Marshall as well as a solid running game, which should help ease him in. He may not be a long-term solution but the Dolphins have enough pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs and Orton would be worth the risk. I'd predict he can be had for a third round pick.
Steve Smith to the Chargers. Maybe it's a third round pick. Maybe it's a fourth rounder that can slide up to a third if he meets incentives. Whatever it is, the Chargers should think long and hard about adding Smith to their roster. They had a number of injuries at the position in 2010 yet QB Philip Rivers still put up big numbers.
Think about what he would do with A.) a healthy receivers group and B.) one of the better receivers in the game. Sure, Smith will turn 32 this summer and hasn't put up 1,000 yards since the 2008 season but look at who his quarterbacks have been. He still has talent and the Chargers are ready to win the AFC West right now. There's already some chatter about this trade and, if Smith and the Chargers can agree to re-work his contract which calls for $15 million over the next two years, the move would make a lot of sense.
Carson Palmer to the Seahawks. This one may make sense more than any other. It appears that QB Matt Hasselbeck may be on his way out in Seattle, although that's still to be determined. If he is gone, then the Seahawks need a quarterback for the 2011 season and Pete Carroll's former pupil, QB Carson Palmer, could be available. The Bengals are hesitant on whether they'll actually trade Palmer but I think if they're given the right offer he's for sale (though other signs say they won't trade him in any scenario). The Seahawks won the NFC West last year so they're not in a position to blow it all up and start over. They can win the (weak) NFC West but they can't do it without a quarterback.
Palmer's play has declined a little bit but is that because he's aging or is it because, well, it's the Bengals? Palmer will be 31 years old when the season starts with several productive seasons ahead of him. The Seahawks shouldn't hesitate to make this move. As for the price tag, the Bengals will undoubtedly ask for a first round pick but Palmer should realistically fetch a second round pick.
Donovan McNabb to the Vikings. I could really name several teams for McNabb because he won't be in Washington. He's owed a $10 million bonus if he's on the roster after Week 1 so the smart money is on him actually being released before the season, and not traded (because a trade would also trade his contract with that big bonus). But because teams know he almost certainly will be released, the cost of trading for him will be very low. Another team, like the Vikings, can step in and possibly offer a late-round pick under the condition McNabb restructures his contract.
Would he do that? I'm not sure but rumors have connected him to the Vikings and I think that would be a desirable place to play so I could see that happening. The Vikings make a lot of sense for a veteran like McNabb -- lots of talent but no quarterback for the moment.
Obviously they drafted QB Christian Ponder but I'm not sure he's ready to start right away. McNabb could step in for a year or two while Ponder gets some time to sit on the bench so this would not only help the Vikings in 2011, but in the future by properly preparing Ponder for his career as a starting quarterback. We saw what they could do in 2009 with a capable quarterback in Brett Favre. With McNabb, they have a chance at putting up some of those monster numbers again. The Vikings clearly have the talent to put together a playoff-caliber team and with McNabb they have a shot at returning to January football next season.