Why Haven't We Seen Any Trades?

Today’s Brandon Marshall trade got me thinking. We were all pretty sure the Chiefs weren’t going to make any big-time acquisitions this offseason. But with some talent on the roster that doesn’t fit what Pioli/Haley want in a team, why haven’t we seen any players traded away?

Here’s what we wrote nearly two months ago:

This is an offseason where most teams are wary of free agency to stockpile their teams with talent, and thus will be looking to throw tons of Draft picks at potential teams who are looking to stockpile picks. Teams like us. 

In short, Pioli has decided to capitalize on the fact that (a.) he has no allegiance to most of the talent of the team from previous regimes, and (b.) everybody’s looking to trade for talent. Of course, this means virtually every GM in the NFL has Pioli on speed dial–because the Chiefs could potentially be trading away tons of young, promising talent, which makes us the most attractive trade partners in the league this year. No team can match the quantity of talent Pioli is prepared to put on the block.

That could make this offseason downright explosive for the Chiefs franchise, while blowing a few minds along the way.

We went on to guesstimate over seven players who are likely on the trading block for this rebuilding Kansas City Chiefs team. We even estimated their worth on the market. And it simply hasn’t happened. Precisely zero of them have been moved.

What gives?

More after the jump.

No one’s been moved. Not talented players who fit the Edwards’ game schemes far more than the Haley schemes (Dorsey, Carr, Page), not underachievers (Johnson, Croyle), and not players that simply haven’t meshed well with the new regime (Bowe, Waters). We haven’t even seen rumors of any of these players being moved.

Several guesses as to why we haven’t seen players get moved:

GM Scott Pioli has not been proactive this offseason. It’s possible that Pioli simply has not been proactive with offering the talent on his roster out to the teams who can use it. For instance, Missouri OLB prospect Sean Witherspoon has been mocked out to half a dozen teams over the course of the offseason. If Pioli’s dying to move Derrick Johnson, can we know for sure that he’s had each of these teams phoned up with an offer on the table? “Don’t want to spend a 1st on a 4-3 OLB? I’ve got one who can play now that you can have for a third…” And so on.

We read in the wake of the Santonio Holmes trade that the Steelers contacted everyone in the league to get the best deal they can manage (though they still got raped by the Jets, IMO). That’s called due dilligence. Now, I understand the argument that seeming overly interested in bargaining hurts your leverage. But this isn’t a garage sale, this is an NFL franchise. And that crappy mattress isn’t doing us any favors in the garage.

Teams are incredibly wary of trading picks away with a Draft loaded with talent.  We’ve discussed this before, but as the new players-owners agreement looms in the background for next season, it will definitely hurt how much any given rookie can make in their first seasons in the league. Meaning, of course, that this Draft is loaded with prime talent that didn’t want to risk losing money under the future agreement.

That translates into a draft year that is actually very strong into the fifth round, and it’s possible that there are a lot of teams who are predisposed to overvaluing the remaining picks they do have. This could have the effect, one imagines, of making a typical 3rd round pick have the net worth of a 2nd round pick in other draft years, and thereby far less likely to be traded off.

The market for our players is worse than we thought.  The sad truth is many of the players we’re thinking of moving simply haven’t been valued that much by other teams. Nobody wants a dropaholic receiver for “a first rounder plus other picks,” as we valued him back in February. Especially as Brandon Marshall, an actual Pro Bowler, warrants a 2nd rounder plus future picks. Same goes for wildly inconsistent linebackers, constantly injured backup QBs, and a defensive tackle that haven’t proven their mettle yet. We simply may not have the firepower for the picks that we want.

These players could be reserved for Draft Day trades.  Pioli has shown no hesitation with trading up and down in the Draft for either the Patriots or the Chiefs. Usually, you do that by trading picks, but you can do it by trading with players as well. And by keeping some of the better talent on his roster by Draft Day, Pioli may have poker chips that he can use to move up and down the Draft without having to sacrifice many (if any) of our own picks at all.

This is especially necssary if Pioli uses the “short board” approach that Belichek and McDaniels use with their respective teams, where instead of ranking all the talent in the Draft, you single out a few dozen and then manipulate your way through the Draft to get those players. (For what it’s worth, based on his performance in the 2009 NFL Draft, I do not gather that this is his approach…)

Both the Pioli/Haley regime and these players have come around on one another.  We’ve seen it. The rhetoric from the fiery Brian Waters has cooled. Players have shown up in shape to the offseason program. There’s been zero grumblings in the LJ mold from the usual suspects. And really the only player that’s seemed to be particularly disappointed has been Derrick Johnson, who’s said he’s willing to play where ever, even if isn’t Kansas City.

Which is something you see with Todd Haley everywhere he goes. For all the bluster about Haley having spats with his players and throwing too many tantrums, he does genuinely seem to be a coach players respect. Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin both lamented his departure from Arizona, for his drive and competitiveness. Both of these were players that Haley had tons of arguments with on the sidelines, many of them visibly heated.

Truth is, however, we can’t really know why we haven’t seen much trade movement. But we had huge expectations for trades, to the point where Warpaint Illustrated released a mock in February that traded away five of these seven players (as well as a trade down from the #5 overall) that gave us 15 overall selections.

As we wait, time will tell if Pioli’s had a plan. But I can’t help but feel like he’s wasted a golden opportunity this offseason.

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