Summer 2016 NFL Trade Targets

My little brother has been staying with me for the past week, and the other day he got me a bag of Elvis Coffee peanut butter and banana, aka The King‘s Favorite.  After the initial joy of seeing such a bizarre and fantastic product, I couldn’t stop some questions from creeping into my brain.

Why? Why make peanut butter and banana coffee? Who? Who on this green earth would make peanut butter and banana coffee?

In the end I was only able to answer to discern who would buy such a product (my brother) and who would drink such a product (me). In the spirit of peanut butter and banana coffee, I would like to delve into the realm of possible trades.

Summer 2016 NFL Trade Targets

Every year there are trades that occur during training camp and the preseason. Last year the 49ers traded tight end Derek Carrier to the Redskins, and the Seahawks traded wide receiver Kevin Norwood to the Panthers. Neither of these trades were particularly earth-shattering, but they happened nonetheless.

The purpose of this peanut-buttery-banana-infused article is to identify players likely to find themselves shipped off to new teams in the coming months. WARNING: the range of players that follows may elicit responses ranging from “Who?” to “No way, what the heck have you been smoking?” Y’all have been sufficiently apprised…enjoy.

Wait, wait, wait a minute. Before we embark into some wondrous-and-stupefying player analysis, I am afraid I’ve got to bog the whole thing down to a halt with some technical mumbo-jumbo regarding offensive lineman. While this might bore some (virtually all) of you, I promise that even if you do not find this paragraph nor the next interesting or entertaining, it will introduce information necessary to a better understanding of the rest of this article, as well as future articles.

Offensive lines and offensive lineman are usually evaluated as individuals or all five as a singular unit. This leaves out the fact that all teams use double teams (aka combo block(ing), blocking in tandem) to varying degrees of frequency. The Carolina Panthers combo blocked quite often, usually with the right tackle and right guard in tandem, the center and left guard in tandem, and the left tackle alone on island (they varied their approach for the Super Bowl by leaving both right and left tackles by themselves, and we all saw how that worked out). How well two lineman block together is what I’ve taken to calling “lineman synergy”, or “synergy” if I’m in a hurry. Thanks for reading these specifically ordered blocks of letters all about “synergy,” I’ll hurry up and get to some players already.

James Stone, Center, Atlanta Falcons

I thought he outplayed former starter Mike Person in 2015, and Dan Quinn’s decision to go with Person down the stretch was one of two personnel decisions I found myself at odds with (the other will be appearing in Am I Insane, Or Is That An Idea I Smell? Volume 1 coming soon!)

Stone played a lot of snaps early in the season but wound up riding the bench down the stretch. He’s a quick and athletic center with the ability to get to the second level and engage linebackers. He can also play too upright at times and lose leverage. Stone has long arms but must improve his technique and/or upper body strength to better handle bigger defensive tackles.

With the signing of Alex Mack to start center, the coaching staff is clearly committed toward a center position that doesn’t include James Stone. However, he is capable of starting for at least one-third of the teams in the NFL. Given the Falcons’ depth at the position, trading for him might just require a conditional draft pick.

He displayed great synergy (there, I told y’all it’d be important. Now, just for fun, I probably won’t mention it again in this article) with right guard Chris Chester, the two of them forming a formidable run blocking duo. Chester had an excellent season at right guard for the Falcons in his own right. If some kind of cunning mastermind (I’m looking at you, David Caldwell. The Jaguars would be getting two starting offensive lineman) were to try and acquire both of them, he might find the terms quite agreeable.

Keith Mumphery, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

The Texans took Mumphery in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, and he spent part of last season as a returner in addition to his time at receiver. He has quick feet and a good acceleration at the snap and runs crisp routes. Mumphery also has solid hands, and good agility for his size.

That said, he does not have elite speed or an outstanding leaping ability. This means he’ll have to make a living going over the middle and making defenders miss after the catch. There is absolutely no reason to doubt Mumphery’s ability to do just that.

Sadly, it probably won’t be for the Texans. But the Buffalo Bills would provide him with the opportunity to challenge for the third, and even second , receiver spot once he got acclimated with the offense.

Dennis Kelly, Offensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s not groundbreaking analysis to say the Eagles offensive line suffered a lot of injuries last season, so I’ll spare us all the details. The proverbial silver lining is that there were opportunities for backups to see the field, and audition for starting roles for themselves.

Obviously I’m referring to Dennis Kelly, a fifth round selection of the Eagles in 2012. Kelly has great size and long arms, and uses his strength to open holes in the running game. He struggled some with speed rushers in spot starts in 2015, but I believe that to be correctable with more game experience as opposed to an incurable issue.

With an influx of new lineman this year and sufficient depth, and the fact that Kelly is entering the last year of his rookie contract, the Eagles could be motivated to get something for Kelly before he becomes a free agent. The Baltimore Ravens could stand an upgrade at right tackle, and Kelly could be just that.

Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, Minnesota Vikings

Lull them all into a false sense of security by droning on about obscure players and then bury the fact that Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft who will make $11,096,000 in 2016, and who happened to start every game last year, is your last potential traded player this summer and slink away back into the abyss…

Busted.

Kalil’s development has plateaued since his solid rookie season, and this the last year on his contract. The fact is T.J. Clemmings,who started at right tackle in 2015, is the only one of the Vikings top four offensive tackles who is under contract after this season. Phil Loadholt, the former starter at right tackle, is healthy after missing last year with in an injury he and is set to battle free agent addition Andre Smith (who is familiar with Mike Zimmer as a former Bengal) for the starting spot on the right side.

This leaves Kalil and Clemmings at left tackle, where Clemmings is younger, more athletic and has higher upside. The hope in Minnesota, which none of the coaches are willing to say aloud and jinx, is that Clemmings will beat out Kalil for the starting left tackle spot in training camp/preseason. This would give the team an opportunity to trade Kalil for something instead of letting him walk after the season.

The loser of the right tackle battle obviously would be the reserve/swing tackle. While he is due a good chunk of dough, the San Francisco 49ers have the money to spare, and have a starting spot at right tackle that screams for Kalil. It would be sort of a homecoming for Kalil, who starred at the University of Southern California, and schematically he would a solid fit in Chip Kelly‘s uptempo attack.

This scenario might be more pipe dream than reality, but in the end that is what summer is all about: endless joy and boundless optimism; a warm and pleasant time where dreams are free to soar… before the cold hand of autumn sends reality crashing back down upon us once again. But at least by then it’ll be football season. Until that day let’s all be good to each other.