The Year of the Trade?

The free agent period begins at 11:01 p.m. local time Thursday night, but the Vikings and the other 31 NFL teams may be looking to reignite the trade as a possible way of building a team up.

Could this be the Year of the Trade?

Up until a couple of years ago, it was extremely difficult to get teams to trade away star players. About the only time it happened was when a player was clearly going to hold out or leave the team within a year or two. Then came Ricky Williams. The Saints, fed up with Williams' inability to stay away from marijuana, traded him to the Dolphins. That seemed to open the floodgates.

Since then, we've seen blockbuster trades that included Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey and a second-round pick, Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper, John Abraham, Deion Branch and several others. Players in the prime of their career – or at least clearly not at the end – have been shipped away as teams become convinced they are either being overpaid or won't agree to a long-term deal.

As a result, trades have become an important side facet of free agency. Teams are willing to part with a veteran if they can get the right price in return. This year, there could be as many trades as in any recent seasons. At quarterback, Jake Plummer and Trent Green are both likely to draw trade interest, RB Willis McGahee has made it clear he wants out of Buffalo. Bears RB Thomas Jones doesn't want to share time with Cedric Benson. Moss is again the subject of trade talk. The Lions are already getting interest in trading Pro Bowl CB Dre Bly and even a couple of top restricted free agents who would cost a king's ransom to sign – QB Matt Schaub and RB Michael Turner – could be subject to trades.

With free agency less than 48 hours away, the dash for the cash is on. But, the final result could be that, if the cards fall right, 2007 may be remembered as the Year of the Trade.

* If the Vikings are going to be active early in free agency, they may have to work out the details over the phone. A second winter storm is expected to hit the Twin Cities starting tonight, and some believe it could be worse than the storm that delayed flights over the weekend and dumped a foot of snow or more in many parts of the state.
* Former Vikings and St. Thomas wide receiver Ryan Hoag was one of five players allocated by the Redskins to NFL Europa.

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