Year of the Trade

More than 20 players have changed teams (or been asked to) as part of trades between clubs this offseason. What was once a dying breed of working the phones to ship off a player has become the new free agency.

There was a time not that long ago that trades in the NFL were almost non existent. They would happen, but were far from the norm. Those days have clearly changed.

Since the opening of free agency a month ago, there have been almost 20 players traded in the NFL, ranging from superstar names to those that are made by teams but not supported by the players involved, like Jake Plummer and Dan Wilkinson. No longer do teams have to wait for free agency or the draft to acquire a top talent. A one-on-one trade partner works just as well.

Need a quarterback? The Texans did until they flopped first-round picks and then some to get Matt Schaub? Want a difference-making linebacker? The Eagles needed at least one and swung a deal to get Takeo Spikes.

Want some help at running back? This has become the fashionable trading position, with Willis McGahee, Thomas Jones, Tatum Bell and Reuben Droughns all changing addresses. The same is true at cornerback, where Dre Bly was shipped off to the Broncos. Even kickers have become part of the fun, as the Dolphins shipped off Olindo Mare yesterday for a sixth-round draft pick.

There's something to be said about free agency, but it has become clear that, if a team wants to address needs before the draft, the trade is back, and back with a vengeance.

WEDNESDAY NOTES
* Two years after being suspended by the league, Onterrio Smith is attempting to return to the league. He filed his reinstatement paperwork with the league late last week and is awaiting word whether his application will be approved.
* Mike Doss completed his visit to Winter Park without signing a contract. He is expected to meet with the Eagles today.
* The Vikings and Giants are two teams that have shown some interest in converted Siena basketball player Michael Haddix. The team apparently is looking at a couple of basketball prospects in hopes of finding the next Tony Gonzalez of Antonio Gates.

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