Every team would be interested in acquiring Tomlinson, a classy player who will always be a franchise face. But which team would be willing to come up with a package enticing enough for the Chargers to consider? How about the Houston Texans, who could offer Ahman Green, Andre Johnson and Dunta Robinson.
This could make sense for both parties. The Chargers would have a dynamic pair of runners (Green and Michael Turner); two massively intimidating receivers (Johnson and Vincent Jackson); and a cornerback who can finally capitalize on the team's pass rush (Robinson).
The Texans would be elated to get a player who can put fans in the seats. Losing Johnson would leave them thin at receiver, but Tomlinson scored 31 touchdowns in 2006 on a team where neither starting receiver reached the end zone. For Houston, the steep price might be worth it.
As for Merriman, his value might be even higher than Tomlinson's. He is only 23 years old and has averaged a sack per game since entering the NFL. His positive steroid test is a bit disconcerting, but the 19 tests he passed should sooth most worries. He is a rare physical specimen who makes game-altering plays on a weekly basis.
Thomas would replace Merriman in the starting line-up. Although that is a significant downgrade, Thomas is still capable of posting double-digit sacks in the Chargers' aggressive defense.
What makes this deal intriguing is Rhodes, who had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2006 with 98 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions. Throw in Cotchery -- a 24-year-old receiver who caught 82 passes for 961 yards and six touchdowns last season -- and this deal becomes downright tempting.
The Jets would no doubt make this deal, as trading for Merriman may be the best way to end Tom Brady's run of dominance atop the AFC East.
Would A.J. Smith actually pull the trigger on either of these deals? No. Tomlinson and Merriman dominate their opponents on the field and lead their peers in the clubhouse. They have earned untouchable status, and Smith knows that trading away his best players is no way to improve.
Still, it's fun to postulate what such all-world players might be worth. After all, the NFL is loaded with electrifying talent. And with assets like the Chargers have, Smith has the means to get whoever he wants.