Analyzing NFL trade deadline deals
San Francisco-Tampa Bay As noted weeks ago by scout.com, the 49ers, specifically head coach Mike Nolan, weren't happy with the performance of quarterback Tim Rattay and he could be dealt by the trading deadline. On Tuesday, the team traded him to Tampa Bay for 2006 sixth-round selection. Most teams that had inquired about Rattay weren't offering more than a seventh-round selection, but Tampa Bay was willing to part with a higher pick after starting quarterback Brian Griese was lost for the season during last week's victory over Miami. After two consecutive disappointing seasons after winning the Super Bowl - including last year's 5-11 disaster - the Bucs have bounced back with a 5-1 start this year and are leading the NFC South entering Week 7. But that might be the NFL's most competitive division, with Atlanta and Carolina both hot on the Bucs' heels at 4-2, so Tampa Bay - which has serious playoff intentions this season - needed Rattay as insurance behind two unproven youngsters. From San Francisco's standpoint, the 49ers don't have an experienced signal caller behind rookie starter Alex Smith, so they're taking some risk there. But let's be honest about it: The Niners aren't trying to win games. They're looking to develop Smith and they're not concerned with who would replace him should he get hurt. Third-year quarterback Ken Dorsey does have some experience, albeit limited, and it wasn't pretty last season. Third-stringer Cody Pickett impressed scouts a few years ago during Senior Bowl practices and he does have a good arm, but he also needs a lot of work and hasn't even taken a practice snap at quarterback since the season began, working most at scout-team receiver and defensive back while playing special teams in the games. If Dorsey doesn't pan out as a legitimate backup, the 49ers will address getting some experience at the position in free agency next year. As for Tampa Bay's situation with this deal, they desperately needed to get a veteran with experience after Griese's injury. New starter Chris Simms only has two starts in his three seasons as a pro so there's a bit of an unknown there. Rattay has extensive work in the West Coast offense and has 16 NFL starts in his six seasons of play. He has an average arm but is also a good manager of the game and could do well if called upon for five to six games. But any more than that is taking a risk, because he is injury prone and has been hurt often. So the trade gives both teams something they want and need. The Bucs need Rattay's experience now, and the 49ers want the sixth-rounder next year to continue rebuilding for the future. Minnesota-San Diego The Chargers made two deals on Tuesday. First, they traded G Toniu Fonoti to Minnesota and received a conditional 2006 draft pick. The conditions, according to a league source, are based on how many games he's active/starts the rest of the season. The pick would be a seventh if the conditions aren't met and would be as high as sixth if they are. The fact is, Fonoti is on the final year his contract and the he's had two procedures done on his broken hand so the Chargers should be happy that they were able to at least get something in return for him. While he's a very good player, he's also not the easiest to deal with and the team is high on his replacement, Kris Dielman. The third-year player was signed as an undrafted free agent and put together a pretty solid training camp this year and showed the team that he's more than just a work in progress, he's capable of starting. As for the Vikings' end, they, in a sense, will get an extended tryout with Fonoti. Once he gets that hand to 100 percent or is able to play efficiently with it, they'll be able to evaluate his performance on tape and see if they want to get him signed to a new deal before the season ends or if they want to pursue re-signing him after the season ends. When healthy, he's a road grater in the running game and can be a difference maker. He has his some issues, but overall, he's a very good player and Minnesota made a smart deal. They hardly had to give up good compensation to acquire him and he'll be a major upgrade at right guard with his new team, though he played on the left side with the Chargers. Miami-San Diego This one seemed to be out of left field but once we took a closer look, it made a lot of sense. Miami traded quarterback A.J. Feeley and a 2006 seventh-round selection to San Diego for QB Cleo Lemon. From Miami's standpoint, they had no use for Feeley, who fell out of favor with the new coaching staff. He clearly wasn't a good fit for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's passing game. Feeley needs to be in a more structured passing game with less downfield throwing. Believe it or not, Lemon was actually looked upon as a quarterback who other teams around the league liked. In fact, some team observers note that San Diego kept him on the active roster last year when they carried four quarterbacks because they didn't want another team to sign him should they have placed him on the practice squad. Lemon has a gun of an arm but it's also very erratic. Feeley is a better fit for the Chargers' passing game and could serve as the primary backup next year as most see either Drew Brees or Philip Rivers playing elsewhere in 2006, though there's still a chance both will be back with San Diego again next season.
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