Five trades that need to happen when lockout ends

by | Senior Writer

I don't know when the NFL lockout ends, and I don't know how it ends. But I do know this: When it's over look for blizzard of activity, and I'm not talking about minicamps, OTAs or summer workouts.

I'm talking about free-agent signings and trades, and while trades aren't that common in the NFL there are a few that should be addressed once the lockout is lifted.

They make too much sense not to happen, which is why I'm here -- to propose five deals that should occur when the lockout is lifted:

Donovan McNabb could give the Vikings a bridge to Christian Ponder. (Getty Images)  
Donovan McNabb could give the Vikings a bridge to Christian Ponder. (Getty Images)  
Donovan McNabb to Minnesota: The Vikings chose Christian Ponder with their first draft pick, the 12th overall, which means somebody there must think he can start. OK, fine. But why does it have to be now? It doesn't, which is why acquiring a veteran to serve as a bridge to Ponder makes sense. Minnesota needs a reliable starter like L.A. needs mass transit, and the Redskins seem willing to dump McNabb -- probably at a cheap price. So what are we missing here? Make the deal, people. The Vikings were 26th in passing last season and led the league with 26 interceptions. The year before they were eighth in passing, with seven interceptions.

Draw your own conclusions. I have, and, apparently, so did Minnesota -- which is why it reached for Ponder. But give the guy a chance. Translation: Give him a mentor. When Leslie Frazier was a secondary coach for Philadelphia, McNabb was the team's quarterback -- so there's a familiarity there. Plus, new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave runs a West Coast offense, so there's not much of a transition there, either. But the biggest reason for Minnesota to make this move is because they -- no, Ponder -- need a veteran who can step in while their rookie quarterback is knee-deep in his playbook. The longer the lockout lasts the more the Vikings need a safety net, and I'm not talking about Joe Webb. I'm talking about Donovan McNabb.

Steve Smith to San Diego: In case you missed it, the Chargers were so beaten up last season they wheeled out 74 players, tying a league record. No position was affected more than wide receiver, where there were nine with at least one catch and none with more than 37, and where there was not enough Vincent Jackson. The team's star pass catcher, Jackson sat out most of the season in a contract dispute. Now he's the team's franchise player, which means he's back for at least one season. But then what? Malcom Floyd is a potential free agent. So is Legedu Naanee. Buster Davis can't stay healthy. I think you get the idea.

The Bolts need a reliable target for Philip Rivers, and that's where Smith comes in. He languished the past two seasons in Carolina while the Panthers held auditions at quarterback. Smith didn't like it, and you can't blame him. Once one of the game's most feared receivers, Smith watched his numbers plummet. His catches were down. His yards were down. Heck, he was down, and you would be, too, if you produced two TDs. Smith wants out, putting his house on the market, and San Diego should pay attention. Smith is a difference maker, and he grew up in Los Angeles -- so the guy would be going home. San Diego needs a threat opposite Jackson, and I'm not talking about Antonio Gates. I mean another wide receiver. Their leading pass catcher last season was a running back. Their second leading receiver was Gates, and he missed six games. Adding Smith to a lineup that already includes Jackson and Patrick Crayton could change all that.

Kevin Kolb to Arizona: When Arizona stepped up to make its first draft pick last month, University of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert was still on the board. But the Cards passed, choosing cornerback Patrick Peterson instead. Smart move, especially if you're going to acquire a veteran later, which the Cards must. They have no choice. I mean, look at their depth chart: Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton. Given the choice of the group, I probably take Skelton -- but not with much conviction. There must be something better out there, and there is. His name is Kevin Kolb, and he’s eager for a chance to start somewhere. Welcome to Phoenix, Kevin.

Kevin Kolb could be the much-needed QB answer for the Cardinals. (US Presswire)  
Kevin Kolb could be the much-needed QB answer for the Cardinals. (US Presswire)  
The Cards stunk on offense last season, ranking 31st overall, and adding a veteran like Kolb not only improves the passing game it helps the league's worst rushing attack. Free-agent Marc Bulger makes sense. But so does Kolb, who is seven years younger and has his best football ahead of him. I know the cost could be high, but look at it like this: The Cards have one of the NFL's elite wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, but his effectiveness is minimized without a bona-fide quarterback. John Skelton is not a bona-fide quarterback. Kevin Kolb is. The Cards last year ranked 31st in passing, and while Fitzgerald caught 90 passes for 1,137 yards his touchdowns dropped from 13 in 2009 to six. We all saw what happened to Arizona when it had a franchise quarterback. So find one again. I don't know if Kolb is the answer, but I do know he's better than anything the Cardinals have now.

Carson Palmer to Seattle: This one's a longshot because I don't think Cincinnati -- OK, owner Mike Brown -- is going to budge on Palmer, which means I don't think the Bengals make a deal with anyone before next year -- if at all. Nevertheless, the Seahawks should press them into doing something. Palmer won't play again for Cincinnati, and the coaches there know it, his teammates know it and, frankly, I think Brown knows it. But there's a precedent involved, and if Brown lets Palmer walk, guaranteed, the line starts forming today at the company exit. That will make Brown reluctant, but it should push Seattle that much harder into making Brown an offer he can't refuse.

Look, the Seahawks surrendered their second-round position and a third-round draft pick for Charlie Whitehurst, and from what I've seen of Whitehurst he's not the answer. Palmer is. He played for Pete Carroll at USC, he's 31, he's at home on the West Coast and he could mentor Whitehurst. I know, Matt Hasselbeck could, too, but he's an unrestricted free agent, and the Seahawks seem lukewarm about re-signing him. So Seattle should push hard for Palmer as it pushed hard for Whitehurst, and who cares if they overpay? You must solve this position, especially now that St. Louis is armed and ready to take back a division it once controlled. I can't imagine a better or more logical solution than Carson Palmer.

Kyle Orton to Minnesota or San Francisco: Yeah, I know, the 49ers aren't mentioned as a destination, but tell me: Who's their next starting quarterback? Alex Smith? The guy's been there six years, and he needs a change of scenery. People keep telling me Smith might be OK if he didn't have a different offensive coordinator each year, and maybe that has something to do with it. But this just in: There's a new coaching staff in San Francisco, which means there's another new offensive coordinator, and, I'm sorry, it's time for Smith to play his football outside the 415 area code. So let him walk and hire Orton, who proved he can put up big numbers if he has to but is more suited to commanding a club that can run the ball, play defense and allow him to play within himself -- that is, not risk mistakes. The 49ers could be that club.

Of course, so could Minnesota, where Orton would be a bridge to Ponder and where Adrian Peterson would carry the offense. Orton is a strong leader and a tough guy whom offensive linemen love, and while he's not a pinpoint passer he's accurate enough that in his past two seasons he had nearly twice as many touchdown passes (41) as interceptions (21). San Francisco needs to revitalize the quarterback position, and the 49ers believe rookie Colin Kaepernick could be the answer. But most people I trust tell me he's two to three years away, which means there's a hole there waiting to be filled. I know a quarterback in Denver who could do it.


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