Indianapolis’ trade with Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson this week wasn’t a “Holy Cow’’ moment solely for what happened, but also that it happened at all.
What happened, to review, is that the Browns threw up the white flag on the season two games in, dealing a player thought to be a centerpiece of their future for a 2014 No. 1 pick while making a concession they are again starting over.
The Colts, meanwhile, now have the No. 1 (quarterback Andrew Luck) and No. 3 (Richardson) overall picks from the 2012 draft. They’re also delivering a statement they are serious about making a run at the Super Bowl this season in a jumbled AFC. The Broncos can’t seem to keep any offensive linemen healthy, and traditional powers like the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers appear vulnerable.
That it happened at all, however, was just about as eyebrow raising.
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Such in-season trades just don’t occur often in the NFL. Nothing at all like in baseball or the NBA, where in-season player swapping is simply part of the deal.
A few of the generally accepted reasons for the lack of in-season NFL trades are: 1, that it’s harder than in baseball or the NBA for a new player to get fully acclimated into an NFL system to make it worthwhile to make a trade during the season; 2, the salary cap and its assorted complications; and 3, the value of future draft picks versus the production of a veteran. A recent study by FootballPerspective.com, for instance, detailed that 46 percent of a team’s production comes from players in the first four years of their careers.
How rare are in-season trades? The Seahawks have made just 16 such deals since beginning play in 1976.
Most weren’t earth-shattering and often involved low-round picks for a veteran who could fill an immediate need.
A few, though, rank among the more memorable deals in Seahawks history. Here’s one ranking of the top five:
1. Oct. 5, 2010: Seahawks acquire running back Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo for a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 undisclosed pick. This might go down as one of the best trades Seattle has ever made, given Lynch’s career turnaround and ascension as one of the best running backs in Seahawks history. The two picks turned into left tackle Chris Hairston, who has been a starter for Buffalo but is currently injured, and linebacker Tank Carder, who is now with Cleveland. And there is no truth to the rumor that the Seahawks also got a year’s supply of Skittles in the deal.
2. Oct. 13, 2011: Seahawks trade linebacker Aaron Curry for a 2012 seventh-round pick and a 2013 undisclosed pick. Seattle unloaded Curry, who has already retired, for picks they turned into guard J.R. Sweezy, now a starter who could be a bedrock of the offensive line for years, and cornerback Tharold Simon, who remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Curry for Sweezy alone makes this one a big winner for Seattle.
3. Sept. 8, 1988: Seahawks deal linebacker Fredd Young to Indianapolis for first-round picks in 1989 and 1990. Young was embroiled in a contract dispute with the Seahawks, who eventually decided to cut their losses and trade him. Young had been an All-Pro player for Seattle. But his career fizzled out in Indy. The two picks for Seattle turned into OT Andy Heck, who became a 12-year NFL starter (the first five with Seattle) and the other pick the Seahawks packaged in a trade with New England to draft Cortez Kennedy and Terry Wooden in 1990.
4. Oct. 12, 2010: Seahawks deal WR Deion Branch to New England for 2011 fourth-round pick. The pick became linebacker K.J. Wright, now a key part of Seattle’s defense and maybe for years to come.
5. Oct. 10, 2004: Seahawks acquire WR Jerry Rice from Oakland for a conditional 2005 seventh-round pick. I mention this one solely because it involves maybe the greatest WR in NFL history. The trade, though, didn’t amount to much. The 42-year-old Rice had little left and was released after the season. And the teams later agreed to not to bother swapping the pick, the Raiders happy that the Seahawks had paid the rest of Rice’s salary for 2004.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta