Each year we're met with a spate of 'What if player ___ is traded?', but the reality is that these deals rarely happen.
When we reach the half-way point of the season, the natural rosterbator center of a football fan's brain is activated, causing them to begin pondering the draft, free agency, and the biggest fallacy-- the mid-season trade. There's nothing wrong with this thinking for fun, but the reality is that these deals almost never happen, especially for teams struggling like the Carolina Panthers. Today we look at deals that happened at the deadline in recent years, and why they bear no relation to the situation the Panthers are in.
"The Panthers should trade DeAngelo Williams to free up cap space, or let Steve Smith go to a contender"
The biggest issue with sending a player to free up space is that you have to find an equivalent team willing to take on that contract. Herein lies the paradox which derails the mid-season trade thinking; the only teams desperate enough to make a deal are those looking for the final piece to the puzzle, and if a team is that close to prominence, they didn't get there making stupid trades. In 2010 the football world was convinced that the Green Bay Packers, struggling and beat up would make a deal to acquire a running back. Trade rumors got to a fevered pitch, and the Carolina Panthers were routinely linked to the Packers in the rumor mill-- DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson, and Tyrell Sutton, all were at one point linked to Green Bay.
Reality bore no resemblance to rumor, and the Packers were never interested in eating their cap space for the back stretch-- they won the Superbowl anyway.
"The Panthers need to add (insert player name here) because they really need an upgrade at (insert position here)"
There's no denying the Panthers need upgrades at numerous positions. However, there's a marked difference between how an armchair GM views team building, and how an actual general manager does. The difference is that for the armchair GM development, involvement, and understanding are of no consequence-- simply plug in a better player, and dust off your hands. There's a reason why teams don't think this way, and it's because of an understanding that it takes time to get a player up to speed. Prevailing thought is that whoever you start the season with, is who you finish with. Waiver additions are nice, but they're typically part of the long game, preparing for the next season and improving depth, rather than paying immediate dividends.
Do they ever really happen?
Head over to Google and search 'mid-season player trade', and you'll find scores of articles extolling moves that should be made, and offering perfectly salient justification why. Again, nice stuff, but mostly fluff.
In the last decade here are the list of players I was able to find who were 'on the verge of being traded!'
- DeAngelo Williams
- Jonathan Stewart
The list goes on...
A lot of great names. More than enough to populate a slideshow, but none of these players were traded. Here are the big-name players who actually changed teams: Randy Moss (2010). Yup, that's it. A veteran, malcontent receiver went from a trade-happy team, to an organization desperate for buzz, floundering while seeking a new stadium.
Are there moves the Carolina Panthers should make? In a perfect world, yes. I'd love to see them be the mediocre team who can shed contracts and get cheap. It's a basic tenet the NBA and NHL trade deadline lives by, but it takes more time for players to adjust, learn systems, and become acclimated-- this is why players rarely move in the NFL.
Over the coming days you'll see dozens of articles designed to entice you to click, hungry for a rumor, and excited for change. They're the easiest pieces to write-- find a player who kind of fits, explain why the team needs them, and you're done! No logic or source needed, the perfect schlock! Just remember that the team you have in September is almost always the one you're stuck with in December, and for the Carolina Panthers it's unlikely they'll do anything significant until a new GM is in place.