NFL

10 Candidates To Be Moved Prior To The Trade Deadline

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There were several significant trades this offseason (thanks in large part to Chip Kelly’s rise to personnel power) and the wheeling and dealing may not be done yet. There is a handful of players who are at risk of being traded early in the season, depending on how things play out with their respective franchises. Here’s a look at 10 players who may be on the move before the Nov. 3 trade deadline.

QB E.J. Manuel (Bills) — The Bills selected Manuel in the first round just two years ago with designs on handing him the keys to the franchise. A lot has changed since that time, including Buffalo bringing in a new general manager and head coach. The new regime has no ties to Manuel and thus no inherent loyalty to a player who has completed less than 60 percent of his passes (58.6) and has nearly as many turnovers as touchdowns (15 to 16).

Manuel is engaged in a three-way battle with Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor for the starting quarterback position. But he fails to win the top spot — or struggles to meet expectations once there — the Bills will not hesitate to cut their losses and trade him away on the cheap.

RB Toby Gerhart (Jaguars) — After flashing power and big-play ability as Adrian Peterson’s backup in Minnesota, Gerhart looked in over his lead when thrust into the starting role in Jacksonville. It was a surprising letdown, given that Gerhart averaged 19 touches and 99.4 yards from scrimmage in eight games filling in for Peterson in Minnesota. He averaged just 3.2 yards per carry in 2014, down from 7.9 ypc the season prior.

Gerhart registered fewer touches than the shifty Denard Robinson. Carries will be even more difficult to come by in 2015 after Jacksonville spent a second-round pick on Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon. If Gerhart cannot rediscover his burst and carve out a spot in the rotation, he may wind up playing for a third team in as many years.

WR Vincent Jackson (Buccaneers) — Jackson, 32, was a candidate to be traded in the middle of last season, as the Buccaneers struggled to find an offensive identity on their way to the league’s worst record. GM Jason Licht opted against trading Jackson (and his expensive contract) earlier this offseason, hoping the tandem of Jackson and Mike Evans would put No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston in prime position to succeed.

However, even with one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL, the Buccaneers are a long way from contending. If Tampa Bay realizes early in the season it will not be able to right the ship before Jackson’s deal expires after the 2016 campaign, it may send him elsewhere and save approximately $17 million in the process.

WR Anquan Boldin (49ers) — Next we have another aging, physical receiver on a rebuilding team. The 49ers traded for Boldin prior to the 2013 season to help get over the proverbial hump in pursuit of a sixth Lombardi Trophy. But that goal seems a long ways away now following an offseason that saw four starters leave in free agency, four veterans opt for retirement and a questionable change at head coach.

Boldin can still get it done — he has gone over 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons — but the five-year deal he signed upon joining the 49ers can be voided after this season. With his future uncertain and his age (34) becoming an issue, it’s possible GM Trent Baalke could swap him for future draft picks to help jump-start a rebuilding process that seems inevitable.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings) — The 2013 first-round pick is quickly running out of opportunities. His leash got a little bit shorter last season when Minnesota stole Charles Johnson off of Cleveland’s practice squad. There figure to be fewer opportunities this season after the Vikings traded for Mike Wallace and drafted Stefon Diggs.

Patterson is still an explosive talent … he just needs to hasten his development. If he can run more disciplined routes and do a better job of diagnosing defenses, he has a chance to author a 40-catch, 650-yard season. If not, the Vikings will not hesitate to move him to another team more willing to gamble on his potential.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) — Wilkerson has not been shy about his desire for a new contract. However, that seems unlikely after Leonard Williams, regarded by most analysts as the best prospect in the draft, fell into the Jets’ laps with the No. 6 overall pick. Wilkerson has been skipping OTAs because of his displeasure, and although he plans to report to mini camp and training camp, it’s clear this situation is untenable.

What happens with Wilkerson will depend on how the Jets fare coming out of the gates. If New York gets off to a fast start, it becomes likely that Wilkerson will play out his contract and go back to the negotiating table next offseason. However, if the Jets struggle in the suddenly retooled AFC East, new GM Mike Maccagnan will be forced to consider trading Wilkerson for a pick or two rather than risk losing him for nothing next offseason.

ILB Mychal Kendricks (Eagles) — Really, just about anyone on Philadelphia’s roster could quality for this list. We’ll go with Kendricks, though, as he’s been involved in trade rumors ever since the Eagles acquired Kiko Alonso in the LeSean McCoy trade. Kelly tried diligently to swap Kendricks for a second-round pick during the draft but was unable to find any takers, largely because Kendricks has only one season left on his contract.

Kelly has shown time and time again that when he doesn’t want someone on his roster, that person will not be around for long. Kendricks need look no further than former teammate Evan Mathis to see what his future might hold. Mathis was released instead of traded, because no one wanted to take on his sizable contract. Kendricks, however, is still on his rookie deal, greatly bolstering the odds of a trade. .

ILB Donald Butler (Chargers) — Butler signed a new seven-year contract prior to last season (although, for all intents and purposes, it was really a three-year deal). And, as often happens, his play fell of as soon as he got paid. Part of that was due to injuries (he recently revealed he underwent “a couple of surgeries” this offseason), but part of it was just a lack of aggression.

The Chargers showed just how displeased they were with Butler’s performance by drafting Miami product Denzel Perryman in the second round. Perryman is a physical specimen who plays downhill and and hits with force. Perryman also seems to be a more compatible running mate for San Diego’s other starting inside linebacker, Manti Te’o. If Butler plays like he did last season, he won’t have a job for long. But if he plays up to his previous high standards and reestablishes his trade value, the Chargers could pull the trigger on the right deal.

LB Wesley Woodyard (Titans) — Woodyard, like Kendricks, appears to be the odd man out in his team’s inside linebacker rotation. Zach Brown returns from injury and will likely start alongside Avery Williamson, who had the better 2014 campaign.

Woodyard struggled against the run last season, but is a proven playmaker (over the last three seasons he’s racked up six interceptions, three forced fumbles, 9.5 sacks and 13 pass breakups). He also has three years left on his contract at palatable salaries (including $2.75 million in 2015 and $3.5 million in 2016). If Woodyard fails to crack the rotation, the Titans could trade him to a team that will better utilize his skill-set (likely a 4-3 team that runs a lot of zone).

DE Bruce Irvin (Seahawks) — Irvin was direct in his desire to join former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta. He’s also been fairly clear about his displease with the fact the Seahawks declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. He has tried to do some damage control on his inflammatory comments since, but his true feelings are obvious.

Seattle GM John Schneider has shown he is not afraid to trade away a player who becomes a locker room cancer (just ask Percy Harvin). If Irvin insists on acting like a malcontent and making everything about him situation and his contract, Schneider may just give him his wish and send him off to the Dirty South.


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.