Amid the flurry of trades over the three days of the NFL draft -- 27 deals in all, eight in the first round, -- there was an ominous silence in the veteran category of the bartering process.
For the second consecutive year, there were no trades involving veteran players during the draft itself.
According to several personnel directors and general managers, there was not even the usual level of discussion about such trades.
Credit the spate of early trades to the rookie wage scale that is a key component of the new CBA extension negotiated last summer. Because expenses for the higher slots are essentially locked in by the wage scale now, clubs weren't nearly as reluctant to move up in the first round, since the fiscal consequences aren't as debilitating. Clubs were able to be more specific about targeting players to fill needs, minus the financial ramifications that used to exist.
The lack of veteran trades, though, is perhaps a little more perplexing.
"People were locked in on (draft choices), and teams weren't even calling about guys they wanted to trade," said one NFC personnel boss. "Hardly any dangling at all."
In 2010, seven veteran players changed teams during the draft, in six deals, and the list of players sent to new clubs included quarterback Jason Campbell (Washington to Oakland), cornerback Bryant McFadden (Arizona to Pittsburgh), and kick return specialist Leon Washington (New York Jet to Seattle), among the more notable.
But there hasn't been a veteran trade during the draft since the final day of the 2010 event.
Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel went from Philadelphia to Atlanta in a classic salary dump, saving the Eagles about $8 million in cap space, but that took place a day before the draft kicked off. There were suggestions during the draft that Cleveland, after choosing quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick, might dump incumbent Colt McCoy.
But as the Browns confirmed with The Sports Xchange Saturday, there were no substantive negotiations about trading McCoy.
Last week, Washington wide receiver Jabar Gaffney publicly acknowledged that he was personally told by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan that the team was trying to trade him. Anyone hear Gaffney's name mentioned, even in passing, during three days of draft coverage? For that matter, were there any veteran names mentioned as potential trade bait, beyond that of McCoy, during the seven rounds?
The suggestion from a few general managers since the end of the draft is that veteran deals are difficult to consummate during the lottery, since clubs are so fixated on the process. But that wasn't always the case, as evidenced by the half-dozen trades in 2010.
Indeed, the dearth of dealing might reflect the mounting importance of even low-round draft choices, the desire to amass cheaper labor at fixed costs, and the growing notion that teams looking to trade veterans will either do so after the draft or simply release them.
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