Making up for time lost during his six-week long suspension, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is already looking into the NFL trade market to boost his first-place AFC South squad. According to the Indianapolis Star, Irsay, who was suspended for the first six weeks of the season by the NFL following his guilty plea in a driving-under-the-influence case, spoke to team general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano about how to improve a 4-2 squad that’s already a major threat in the conference.
"Obviously we're taking it a game at a time, but this week Ryan and Chuck and I met and talked about anything we can do before the trade deadline (or) past the trade deadline in terms of having some young, ascending players who might be able to help us. . . and do whatever we can to get that edge," Irsay said to the Star. "Obviously health is going to play a big role in how we move forward. If we can stay relatively healthy, I think this team really has something special. That's what I'm focused on. It's exciting to see."
The trade deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. EST, and the Star indicated that Grigson is more interested in acquiring draft picks than adding highly paid veterans. Younger players won’t eat up as much cap room, which will allow the Colts space to extend the contracts of quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
In order to obtain those picks, which are better than gold in the NFL, the Colts will have to give up some player of value. A number of players will be free agents in 2015, including wide receiver Reggie Wayne, cornerbacks Cory Redding and Darius Butler, and inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
There have been no reports linking him to any trades, but of that free agent group Freeman seems the most expendable. The Colts have dispelled the loss of defensive end Robert Mathis with linebackers D’Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden and Bjoern Werner, and have plenty of depth at the position.
However, its unclear what the Colts could get for Freeman. Several teams like Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, who are all near the bottom of the league in rushing defense, could certainly use a 28-year-old linebacker like Freeman to clog up the frontline.
There are several other players and teams that could be active before the deadline. And though trades are rare in the NFL, here are four players that might be available.
Buffalo Bills, WR, Mike Williams
Though healthy, the Bills kept Williams out of Week 6’s loss to New England. He was acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason, but has been used sparingly this season totaling eight receptions for 142 yards and one touchdown. The Bills haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, and are 19th in passing offense this season, but Williams remains on the sideline.
There have been several conflicting reports that Williams is happy in Buffalo, but also that his agent has been given permission to explore trade options. The New York Daily News reported that the Giants have some interest in Williams after Victor Cruz was lost for the rest of the season. The Giants have Rueben Randle, rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and Preston Parker in the receiving corps, and could certainly use more depth. However, Williams contract runs until 2019 and he’s still owed more than $20 million.
Buffalo Bills, RB, C.J. Spiller
The Bills could be very busy prior to the trade deadline, and the free-agent-to-be Spiller could go after Williams. Spiller, to his credit, said to The Buffalo News after Sunday’s game that he hopes to stay with the Bills, but understands that the team will do what it thinks is best.
Spiller is first on the Bills in rushing attempts (68) and yards (234), but he’s done little to validate his role as the No. 1 back. And the Bills pulled back on his touches in Week 6, limiting him to 12 snaps.
Several teams are in need of depth at running back, most notably the Jacksonville Jaguars, but with Spiller being a free agent shortly no team is likely to give up more than a late-round draft pick for him.
Arizona Cardinals, WR, Larry Fitzgerald
Over the last few years Fitzgerald’s been tied to many teams, including the Patriots and Packers, but nothing has materialized and the Cardinals have largely refuted the reports. Arizona’s hesitated to trade Fitzgerald due to his considerable production on the field, but its likely also been difficult to move him and the four years and $50 million left on his contract.
If Fitzgerald truly wants out of Arizona, where the quarterback situation is constantly in flux, he could agree to restructure his deal and make it more trade friendly. The Patriots do seem like an obvious fit, given their need for another receiver for Tom Brady and their success after acquiring Randy Moss from the Raiders back in 2007.
Detroit Lions, DT, Ndamukong Suh
An absolute force along the defensive line with 30.5 sacks in his first five years in the league, Suh is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. But while there’s been no incidents on the field this season, Suh’s been called a dirty player and been fined and suspended by the league for numerous infractions throughout his young career. He and the Lions reached an impasse in contract negotiations before the season began, and the talks were tabled.
He’ll be a free agent in 2015, and late last month ESPN reported that Suh intends to leave the Lions and prefers either the Giants or Jets. The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears were also mentioned in the report as suitors for Suh.
The Lions could get something in return for Suh, but any team that trades for him will need him to sign a new contract before giving up any assets. In all likelihood, Suh will stay in Detroit until the end of the season.