Hey, NFL? How about some trades?
The NFL season is a damn short one and, while we may bemoan the enormous offseason, 16 regular season games means every single one usually matters.
Teams cannot afford to have bad days at the office, yet even some of the most exciting franchises in the league continue with glaring vulnerabilities. The Seattle Seahawks have the lowest paid offensive line in the league (and they are not great value), but compensate for it in other areas to remain as perennial challengers.
Similarly, the Indianapolis Colts have the highest-paid quarterback in the league in Andrew Luck, but poor offensive line play and an appalling defense often stops them from competing. If every team really is hoping to win the Super Bowl (excluding the Browns, obviously), why persist with a deeply flawed team?
Forget dynasties focus on now
Everyone hears the talk of dynasties in the NFL. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are the poster boys for the elusive dream of long-term success. Such prolonged results have only been achieved by a tiny majority of franchises over the course of the league’s history, but so many teams still use buzzword-filled excuses such as “we have a vision” or “we’re building something great” to cover up their mediocrity.
Obviously, an effective football team takes time to develop and you can’t expect franchises to be able to pluck superstars out of thin air regularly, but the trade market offers opportunities to pick up good or great players and let them make a difference straight away.
For example, the Denver Broncos have an excellent defense. As an all-round unit, it’s superb, though it’s almost unfair of them to put their offense on the back of Trevor Siemian, especially without great protection. The addition of Joe Thomas could have made a massive difference to their season, but they couldn’t commit to a move and now they may struggle to reach the playoffs.
You don’t need to trade away your future
The main reason teams opt out of trades is because they don’t want to give much up. It’s understandable. Losing valuable players in a trade can mean taking one step forward and two back, particularly if it means giving away those priceless first round picks.
However, some teams are so close to becoming playoff contenders that a trade could be the difference between winning and losing a Super Bowl. When teams are close to being the finished article, they should do everything they can to improve their chances.
It may be the case that trading a first round pick for a new center will damage a franchise’s development down the line or, on the other hand, you may not be able to afford to pay one of your best players the next season anyway – Carolina certainly found that out the hard way with Josh Norman.
Building through the draft may guarantee playoff contention year-after-year, but the salary cap means personnel can change drastically from one season to the next. While one player doesn’t win a Super Bowl on his own, sometimes, an effective run blocker or a dynamic receiver could make all the difference.