Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Ten Pre-Draft Trade Candidates

Tuesday, March 27, 2012



5. Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck

The Titans know they can do better than the fading Hasselbeck, who in the latter stages of 2011 more closely resembled a late-career Mark Brunell than his three-time Pro Bowl old self. Tennessee swung and missed on Peyton Manning, but the organization clearly wants more at quarterback.

If the Titans are smart, they'll know 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker is ready to start and will run circles around Hasselbeck in training camp. The club remains high on Rusty Smith as a potential long-term backup. Clearing Hasselbeck's $5.5 million salary off the books wouldn't hurt, either. A phone call to old Hasselbeck pal Mike Holmgren in Cleveland may be all it takes to turn the page.

Prediction: Traded to Cleveland for a fifth-round pick.

6. Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers

The ninth pick in the 2008 draft, Rivers has been a testament to the increasingly popular notion that non-rush linebackers shouldn't be drafted so high. Rivers is a fine run defender, but he hasn't come close to living up to his draft status. He also missed all of last season with a wrist condition.

The medical will be key because Rivers recovered far more slowly than anticipated, and the wrist injury has been called "degenerative." Rivers is in a contract season, however, and the Bengals probably won't be signing him long term. He's not even projected for the starting lineup this year.

UPDATE: Rivers has been traded to the Giants for a fifth-round pick.

7. Patriots quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett

Hoyer lacks arm strength, and Mallett is short on mobility. At ages 26 and 24, however, they are tantalizing young prospects after learning under Tom Brady. Neither has a particularly prohibitive base salary. Hoyer draws high marks for intangible traits, and Mallett can sling it a country mile.

Teams likely still view Hoyer's talent as unremarkable, and will wait until he hits the 2013 market before overspending. Mallett is the more intriguing trade target, though the Patriots probably won't part with him for less than a second-round pick after Mallett cost them a third-rounder in 2011.

Prediction: Both stay in New England.

8. Texans running back Ben Tate

Tate is a logical trade candidate in that the player ahead of him on the depth chart just re-signed for $43 million over five seasons, and Houston's zone-blocking scheme can render running back a replaceable position. Tate is a beastly tackle breaker with underrated skills in the passing game. He's cheap and not yet 24, and those characteristics make Tate very enticing on the trade market.

They may bite if an unrefusable offer comes along, but the Texans' best option is to keep Tate for one more season. He's low-cost, starter-quality talent in one of the NFL's run-heaviest offenses. The club should be more amenable to trade offers next offseason, when Tate enters a contract year.

Prediction: Stays in Houston.

9. Jets linebacker Bart Scott

New York Newsday reported in early January that Scott would not be back with the Jets, and the team granted him permission to seek a trade just before February's Scouting Combine. It's not difficult to see why they've found no takers, however. Scott is a two-down inside linebacker going on age 32. His $4.2 million salary is both hefty and fully guaranteed for the 2012 season.

Coach Rex Ryan now claims the Jets plan to keep Scott, but that could be an issue either of Ryan lacking foresight, or a leverage play by the organization. Teams will have interest in Scott if he's released. They just aren't going to take on his contract. The Jets have a tough decision ahead.

Prediction: Released after the draft.

10. Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin

McKelvin was the 11th pick in the 2008 draft, so he's a holdover from an old Bills regime. And McKelvin hasn't played remotely well enough to earn a spot in GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey's long-term plans. McKelvin is entering the final year on his rookie deal. He's not getting an extension and won't be a 2012 starter, so it makes the most sense for Buffalo to move him now.

McKelvin still has talent and youth (26) on his side. Dick Jauron was Bills coach when McKelvin was drafted, and now runs the defense in Cleveland. A move like this could make the Browns more comfortable bypassing Morris Claiborne in favor of offense at the No. 4 pick. The Browns have 13 draft choices after compensatory picks were distributed, so they'll be open to wheeling and dealing. McKelvin is a right corner by nature, and a logical fit opposite LCB Joe Haden.

Prediction: Traded to Cleveland for a sixth-round pick.

More Trade Candidates: Giants DE Osi Umenyiora, Bucs TE Kellen Winslow, Chiefs DL Glenn Dorsey, Rams WR Danny Amendola, Raiders WR Louis Murphy, Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno, Eagles DE Darryl Tapp, Lions DT Sammie Lee Hill, Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen, Saints RB Chris Ivory, Dolphins DE Phillip Merling, Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Colts DE Jerry Hughes, Lions CB Alphonso Smith, Panthers RB Mike Goodson, Titans LB Gerald McRath, Dolphins LB Koa Misi, Patriots DT Ron Brace, Jets RT Wayne Hunter, Bengals DE Robert Geathers, Bucs WR Arrelious Benn, Texans SS Glover Quin, Seahawks WR Deon Butler.



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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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