There's a buzz growing around this year's trade deadline. After the busiest offseason of trade activity ever, there were still a lot of long-lingering rumors that have been growing on the vine through six weeks of the season. Now, with the trade deadline upon us, there seems to be a genuine feeling (or is it just hope?) that this deadline will be unlike the many dormant ones that have come before. Well, it's not going to happen. As far as movement is concerned, this deadline will be less Phil being taken out at a gas station and more Tony enjoying Journey over onion rings.
Regardless, here's a look at which players have the most trade-deadline buzz:
Tony Gonzalez: The new Jason Taylor (active Hall-of-Famer seeks new team with legitimate championship hopes) wants to be a veteran leader on a Lombardi team instead of a veteran leader teaching kids how to play pro football. The Chiefs claim that they're willing to oblige for the right price, but is the right price really the third-rounder they're reportedly asking for? I take it the answer is no, since the Giants, the team most heavily in pursuit of Gonzo, are offering a sixth-rounder. This seems like the perfect opportunity to employ conditional picks to protect both sides, but Carl Peterson has never been a GM really willing to play ball, and at this point I think the "willingness" to do what's right for Gonzalez is conjecture.
Jon Kitna: The Lions have clearly decided to forego the vacant talk of still having plenty of season to play and have started looking towards 2009, which clearly won't involve Kitna. But despite rumors that the Cowboys and 49ers might be interested, neither of them are. There are other teams that could use a quarterback, but the Lions won't deal him to Minnesota, the Bengals are in the same go-nowhere mode as the Lions, and the Seahawks appear willing to gut it out with Charlie Frye and Seneca Wallace until Matt Hasselbeck comes back. The Lions seem to have accepted this, as they're reportedly ready to put Kitna on the IR and release him when healthy in a couple of weeks.
Roy Williams: Kitna's teammate has been told by Lions brass that he won't be moved, but he's been told that since last season and it hasn't quelled the flames any. There might be a few receiver-needy teams out there (such as the Titans), and Williams is the type of perfect commodity -- young, proven, solid character, primed for a rebirth after leaving a football hellhole -- that could push a contender over the top. Still, the asking price is going to be high (if Chris Chambers went for a second-rounder last year, Williams would fetch at least a first, and Chambers didn't provide much return over the balance of last season). Plus, with a voidable year in 2009, any team that acquires Williams will have to work out a long-term mega-deal to keep him or risk losing him by season's end. That's asking a lot of a team almost midway through the season.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: See: "Williams, Roy", except make him four years older.
Lito Sheppard: Unfortunately, Lito is going to have to sit and take it from the Eagles on this one. Though he's been lobbying for a new team since the Eagles signed Asante Samuel, Andy Reid hasn't had much motivation to move him. Fact is, ethics aside, Sheppard is under contract with the Eagles and Reid would be idiotic to deal a valuable piece (especially at Sheppard's price) at a premium position, especially when the long-rumored return -- a high-end receiver -- is unneeded with DeSean Jackson's emergence and the returns of Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis.
Larry Johnson: A 29-year-old running back with a mega-contract, attitude problems, a pending assault accusation, and a 416-carry season on his resume? Um, no.
Michael Bush/Justin Fargas: With teams always in need of spare legs and the Raiders holding three valuable pairs in Bush, Fargas, and Darren McFadden, rumor has had the Raiders sending one of the former two for an early Day-2 pick. But Tom Cable will probably want to hitch his apple wagon to one of the two as a power complement to McFadden, and he hasn't had enough time to gauge which he'd like to keep, especially with Fargas missing the first few weeks of the season with injury. Also, both players have their injury concerns, no matter how minor, and while 2006 was the year of the two-headed rush attack, teams like the Saints and Giants are now using three runners often. Oakland is wise (there's a phrase I never thought I'd type) to hold onto their pieces.
Sinorice Moss: Santana's little brother has been a major disappointment as a second-round pick in 2006, and has seen the role originally planned for him given to Steve Smith. He was inactive for last night's game against Cleveland, leading some to believe that if the Giants followed through on a deal for Gonzalez he'd be involved (sensical, since the Chiefs need a receiver, or five of them, but it probably had more to do with Plaxico Burress being back and Domenik Hixon being healthy). Still, even if it's not to the Chiefs, Moss has the best chance of the group of being dealt (if any). He's got the name, buzz out of college, and upside to still develop into something worthwhile for a team needing a receiver, and while he might not be the most talented potentially available he brings the best return on what would be a minimal investment.
So a deal could conceivably happen today, but with all of the recent buzz, is a guy with 31 career catches really what you were waiting for?