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NFL trade deadline could be quiet as usual

10:43 AM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NFL trade deadline is later than usual this year - Oct. 30, after Week 8 of the season. Previously, the deadline had come after Week 6.

The general thought is that the later deadline could enhance the probability of trades, since teams should have a better idea of whether they have a chance to battle for playoff berths. This has been a parity year like none other, however. As we near the midpoint of the season, 17 teams are between one game over .500 and one game under .500.

As a result, there probably won't be too many teams willing to throw in the towel at the trade deadline. We might end up seeing a few deals, but not likely the flurry of blockbuster moves some would have anticipated.

Although most of these players will not likely be moved, here's a list of 10 skill-position players who have some chance to be dealt by Oct. 30:

RUNNING BACKS

STEVEN JACKSON, ST. LOUIS RAMS: The Rams have already decided to allow Jackson to void the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The leading rusher in Rams' history will turn 30-years-old in July, and his tires have plenty of miles on them.

Despite a history of nagging injuries, Jackson has been a model of consistency. He's posted seven consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has 380 yards on 101 carries so far this year.

The Rams' new coaching staff has recently been using Jackson in an almost equal timeshare with rookie Daryl Richardson, who seems to be the veteran's heir apparent.

Running back injuries have cropped up for a few teams, and one of them might be willing to rent Jackson for the final half season. He'd look pretty good as injured Cedric Benson's replacement in Green Bay, for instance.

CHRIS JOHNSON, TENNESSEE TITANS: The mercurial former 2,000-yard rusher has been awful at times, but he's also had strong games against the rugged defenses of Houston and Pittsburgh. He looked to be in top form when he ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against Buffalo.

The problems for the Titans are that Johnson's bad days have outnumbered the good over the past two seasons, and he's still owed $35 million over the next four years of his contract. He's slated to be paid $10 million in 2013, although the Titans can get off the hook for $9 million of that deal by cutting him the week after the Super Bowl.

If Tennessee doesn't plan on keeping Johnson around past this season, it might be wise to see if a running back-hungry team would be willing to give something up for his services. A team like Arizona, which has its top two running backs (Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams) sidelined with injuries, might be interested.

Then again, in a mediocre-at-best AFC, the Titans wouldn't be wrong to think they can contend for a wild-card berth with their 3-4 record. It would be tough to do so without Johnson, though.

BRANDON JACOBS, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Signed to a one-year contract this past offseason to provide depth behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, Jacobs has yet to receive a carry for the 49ers.

San Francisco also has two other young and promising backs on its roster (Anthony Dixon and LaMichael James), so Jacobs is quite expendable.

He's certainly not a highly sought-after player, since he's 30 and had already begun his decline while with the Giants last season. Still, with so many running backs being lost to injury in the league, Jacobs can probably help a team handle short-yardage work. The price tag wouldn't be much, either.

KEVIN SMITH, DETROIT LIONS: When Mikel Leshoure returned from suspension to play in Week 3, the Lions basically made Smith a forgotten man. He had been their No. 1 back in the first two games, but the Lions have gone exclusively to Leshoure and Joique Bell ever since.

Even when the Lions ruled Jahvid Best out for the season because of lingering effects of concussions, it didn't do much to improve Smith's position in Detroit's running back pecking order.

Still only 25 and coming off a fairly productive stint in 2011, Smith could probably help a team like Arizona. He's unexceptional, but he's a decent receiving threat out of the backfield and he averaged a robust 4.9 yards per carry in seven games last year.

Some running backs have been late bloomers in the NFL, and the early part of Smith's career has been derailed by injuries. He could still turn into an asset, and a team wouldn't have to commit much to him to give him essentially a half-year tryout. He's on a one-year deal with a base salary of just $700,000.

CHRIS IVORY, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: The third-year pro was rumored a couple of weeks ago to be a target of Arizona, which, because of injuries, has the league's most muddled running back situation. Ivory is just 24, and he'd be a restricted free agent after the season.

When called upon during his first two seasons in New Orleans, Ivory has done a solid job. He actually rushed for 716 yards as a rookie in 2010. This year, Ivory has yet to get a carry, as he sits behind Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas on the depth chart.

For a Saints team that routinely throws the ball 40 times per game, a solid fourth-string running back is a luxury. If he went to a team like Arizona, Green Bay or maybe even the New York Jets or Pittsburgh Steelers, given their backfield injuries - he would take on a major workload.

WIDE RECEIVERS

DWAYNE BOWE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Last week, Yahoo's Jason Cole reported that Bowe "very badly" wants to get out of Kansas City. His one-year, $9.515 million contract represents the price of the wide receiver franchise tag. He would be a free agent next year.

Bowe is an intriguing option for plenty of teams. Miami and St. Louis immediately come to mind as teams that could challenge for playoff spots if they can significantly upgrade at wide receiver. Bowe would represent the kind of upgrade they'd need; he's a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

Even receiver-needy teams that aren't contenders, such as Cleveland, might be willing to look into acquiring a player like Bowe. He's still in his prime, having just turned 28, and a team like the Browns could trade for him and then try to negotiate a long-term deal.

Of all the skill players potentially being shopped at the deadline, Bowe would probably have the biggest impact. He's consistently put up No. 1 wide receiver numbers on a run-first team that has the perpetually mediocre Matt Cassel at quarterback.

GREG JENNINGS, GREEN BAY PACKERS: It's hard to say whether Green Bay would seriously entertain thoughts of trading Jennings, but a team that also employs Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Donald Driver can surely afford to part with a wide receiver.

A groin injury has limited Jennings to three games this season. If he doesn't get healthy enough to play this weekend, it's unlikely any team would give up fair value to obtain him. Remember, he's still not all that old (29) and he has averaged better than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns per season during the last five years.

Green Bay doesn't fit the definition of a trade-deadline seller, since it figures to remain in the playoff hunt all season. However, Jennings becomes a free agent this offseason, the Packers have the talent to replace him in the lineup, and maybe they can use him as a chip to fill a more pressing need.

DEVERY HENDERSON, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: It's not all that likely the Saints would deal Henderson, who is essentially their No. 3 receiver. If they decide they're out of contention, though, he's a possible trade candidate because he's going to be 31 next year, and he's also going to be an unrestricted free agent.

What would receiver-needy teams like St. Louis or Miami give up for Henderson, if those squads feel that a wide receiver of his ilk could put them over the top and into the playoffs?

QUARTERBACKS

COLT MCCOY, CLEVELAND BROWNS: There were trade rumors surrounding McCoy during training camp, after the Browns decided to go with rookie Brandon Weeden as their starting quarterback. Trade talk died down when the season began.

It's unlikely Cleveland would deal McCoy now, given that he's the only quarterback on the depth chart behind Weeden. However, with a new front office to soon be in place, if new chief executive officer Joe Banner doesn't think McCoy fits into the Browns' future, the team might as well see what he could bring back in a trade.

McCoy would be a good fit as a backup for West Coast offense teams. Two such teams - Philadelphia, with rookie Nick Foles, and Green Bay, with untested Graham Harrell - could use a more experienced backup who is well-versed in that style of offense.

MATT MOORE, MIAMI DOLPHINS: Pressed into starting duty in previous seasons with both the Dolphins and Carolina Panthers, Moore has proven to be a serviceable NFL quarterback. He's probably one of the top five backups in the league, and he'd probably be an upgrade as a starter for a couple of teams.

Miami decided in training camp to turn the offense over to first-round draft pick Ryan Tannehill, who has been impressive thus far. Moore hasn't yet attempted a pass this season. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, it's unlikely he'll be back in Miami next year.

Trading Moore would leave the Dolphins with untested Pat Devlin as their No. 2 quarterback, but it might be worth exploring to see what he could bring back in a trade. Considering that he threw for 16 touchdowns against just nine interceptions last season, Moore could be a solid addition for plenty of teams. If any team loses its starter to injury this weekend, Miami will probably get a phone call.

Jeff Saukaitis is a former Sports Network writer/editor who has been a professional sports writer since 1985.

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