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OT: Why are player for player trades RARE in the NFL?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by HarkDawg, Nov 13, 2009.

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  1. HarkDawg

    HarkDawg Banned

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    The NFL is like the only league that teams do not attempt to put a package together in an attempt to acquire a coveted player on a different team.


    Draft Picks are important.... I am just curious why we do not see more players involved in deals, instead of just Picks......


    sure.... on occasion a minor combination of player and pick are packaged together.... but I have not seen any huge player/pick package to land 1 elite player.
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    Re: OT:Why are player for player trades RARE in the NFL?

    One contributing factor is the salary cap. The elite player leaving a team most often would have future bonus payments accelerated into counting against the current year's cap. Then that same team as a recipient inherits their new elite player's contract, often more than an inconsequential cap hit in itself. Two cap hits where before there were none.
  3. MoLewisrocks

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    Re: OT:Why are player for player trades RARE in the NFL?

    And often since these elite players are being traded a couple of years into a multi year deal, they are at the point where each/all would want new deals (bonus/guaranteed $$) from their acquiring team further adding to the cap burden for both teams.
  4. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It has to do with the salary cap. When a player signs a contract, he receives whatever his signing bonus is up front. However, the signing bonus is prorated, so that it counts against the cap in equal portions over the life of the deal. For example, if a player signed a 4-year deal with a $4M signing bonus, the bonus itself would count against the cap $1M each year. This is also true for option bonuses, once they are triggered; if the player received a $3M option bonus in the second year of the deal, then it counts $1M against the cap for the final three years of the deal.

    When a player is traded in the NFL, all of those future bonus money cap hits are pushed into the current year. So if that same player, who had $2M in bonus cap hits in Year 2 ($1M signing + $1M option), was traded in Year 2, then not only will his Year 2 money count against the team's cap, but so will his Year 3 ($2M) and Year 4 ($2M). So when the team trades the player, they will be adding $4m (Years 3+4) to their Year 2 salary cap, while taking $2M off the books in Years 3 and 4. Most teams cannot afford to have all those cap hits be pushed into the current year.
  5. Synovia

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    Sometimes. If its a roster bonus as the option, it just counts the current year.
    You may actually be right about this because of the current looming uncapped year, but didn't the last CBA change it to bonus acceleration over 2 years, instead of 1?
  6. MoLewisrocks

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    The cap used to be smaller too... Just to stay on point, the OP wasn't asking for a cap tutorial, he was asking for a reason why blockbuster player for player trades are rare in the NFL.


    Another is the sheer value of/focus on draft picks in the NFL vs. any other sporting league. And the affordability of those picks apart from what has transpired in the top ten of round one over the last several years.
  7. Synovia

    Synovia Rookie

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    The thing is, player for player trades do happen, its just always guys with very little cap implications, and its usually trash-for-trash.
  8. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Along with the salary cap implications mentioned above, free agency plays a role too. Prior to free agency, a trade was the only way to acquire a veteran; as a result there were a lot more trades a generation ago. Now you can improve your team at a position without having to hurt yourself elsewhere through free agency.

    If you are comparing the NFL to other sports such as baseball, many of those trades are largely based on money. Teams that have figured out they are unlikely to make the playoffs are dumping salaries in order to remain profitable. Between the salary cap and the larger portion of revenue coming from television, NFL teams don't have to rely as heavily on gate receipts and making the playoffs in their business model - and therefore don't have as much incentive to trade away a player because of his contract.
  9. pats1

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    A roster bonus is not an option bonus. They are two separate things.

    I can't remember if that was for trades or just releases. Either way, it's 1-year in the final capped year (2009).

    The 2006 CBA allowed teams to make two June 1 (i.e. first day to spread hit over two seasons) cuts before June 1.
  10. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It's also worth noting that Major League Baseball does not allow any trading of draft picks, so all trades must be player for player.
  11. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Nor does the NBA (the team must draft the player first and then trade him - leading to awkward moments with the player wearing both caps). The NHL does allow for draft pick trades though.
  12. HarkDawg

    HarkDawg Banned

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    thnx for the responses.....

    1.) If you trade an equally high paid player at a different position plus draft picks in the future..... to acquire an elite talent who is already getting paid well..... I'm just surprised no NFL team is like the Pittsburgh PIRATES in the sense that they give away accomplished players and look to get younger.


    2.) a.How many NFL teams are on the low-side of the Cap?

    b. How many are at the Cap or close to it?

    pardon the MLBisms, but there are disgruntled high paid players out their.... I am surprised swapping isn't done often in the NFL (player for player) more often.

    -i'd like to expand on this more but I gotta walk into town to the Bank.
  13. jmt57

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    1 - As mentioned previously, the NFL's salary cap results in that signing bonus being accelerated; baseball doesn't have that. The teams that makes that trade are out that signing bonus in real dollars, as well as having the pro-rated portion of future years hit right away.

    2 - In baseball you can take a new player and pretty much stick him in the lineup right away. In the NFL you have a new playbook to learn and the need to get your timing down with your teammates. In the NFL a DE in a 3-4 may not adapt well to playing in a 4-3, or a player that is used to playing a one-gap technique may have trouble going to a team that plays a two-gap; there's a lot less of those type of implications in baseball.

    3 - Because of revenue sharing and the hard salary cap, you don't have a Pirates-Yankees disparity like you do in baseball in regards to spending and profits. Take a look at any of the NFL teams that are not doing well and are also in smaller markets; how many players are there that they would like to get rid of that also have trade value? And what team is going to get rid of their own player(s) to pick up that guy?

    For example, who would Tampa Bay trade? WR Antonio Bryant may be a candidate, but what team is going to give up anything for him? He's been sidelined for much of the year, he's getting paid $9 million this season, and he's a free agent next March; all three of those things make him less valuable to any other team. Maybe the Bucs could get something for Ronde Barber, but the trade partner would need to not only need a CB, but also play the same defensive scheme as Tampa so that Barber could contribute right away. The Browns' Jamal Lewis wants out of Cleveland, but how much are you going to give up for a 30+ year old RB that has stated this is his last year before he retires?


    Most of the teams on the low-side of the Cap are not very good (e.g., Chiefs, Bucs), so they don't need to dump salary. On the flip side, most of the teams close to the Cap have good records (Steelers, Colts, Patriots), so they don't have much room to take on additional salaries.

    Again, I think it's due in large part to (a) different set of rules for the salary cap, and (b) different business models regarding revenue and profit, the importance of television revenue versus gate receipts, and the importance of making the playoffs from a business standpoint in terms of revenue and turning a profit.
  14. Synovia

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    In addition to that, theres very little difference between low and high. The salary floor is 88% (IIRC) of the cap, so a team would have to be at the bottom to have any chance of absorbing the cap acceleration of trading a big contract player.


    There was some talk about Adalius Thomas being traded on here around the trade deadline, but it was pointed out by a couple of us that it was impossible to trade/cut him because of the 8M increase in his cap amount due to bonus acceleration.
  15. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'll add one more angle -- you can think of baseball's minor leagues as equivalent to football's NCAA DIV1. Thus the standard form of baseball's salary-dump trades is, in fact, pro player for "draft picks" (minor league prospects) just like in the NFL.
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