Trading places? Tampa Bay Bucs say they're ready for all NFL draft possibilities

TAMPA — This is the week of the NFL draft when the trade winds start to blow. Is there a real deal stirring or is it just a lot of hot air?

At No. 5 overall, the Bucs are in a prime position to make a move — either up to No. 3 with the Vikings for Alabama running back Trent Richardson; or down if both Richardson and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne are gone by the time they pick in the first round.

Leaguewide, over the past 10 years, there has been an average of six draft-day movements in the first round.

In 2009, the Bucs moved two spots to No. 17 overall to select quarterback Josh Freeman, who remains the team's only starter from that class.

From a league perspective, the blockbuster trade already occurred when the Redskins sent the Rams their 2012, 2013 and 2014 first-round picks, plus a 2012 second-rounder, for the rights to the No. 2 overall pick — Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will almost certainly go No. 1 to the Colts.

That removes some of the guesswork for the Bucs, who know they stand to get a good player if they exercise their No. 5 overall pick. But general manager Mark Dominik said the Bucs will be ready to deal.

"I think it's a rare year where you know the first two picks," Dominik said. "I think we probably all know the order, too. I think it makes it a little different. But I don't think it makes it easy. I think there's a lot of work that goes into that to make sure you make the right pick. And the reality is you have to be prepared not only to move up, but to move back, and you can't all of a sudden say, 'What's that pick look like?' You can't sit there and just say, 'What are we going to do at 5?'

"You have to be ready to go to 6, to 18, hopefully to 24 if you had to or you wanted to. It's not just that pick. As crazy as it sounds, it's not an easy pick — ever."

Trades in the first round are a lot easier to pull off than they used to be. The new collective bargaining agreement has instituted a rookie salary cap, so moving into the top five is no longer so cost prohibitive.

"The top of the draft has changed dramatically," Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. "You know the price, the fixed cost that you have there, you know that you're going to be able to get a good player at a much different price than you had a couple of years ago."

Of course, any team that wants to do that dance has to have a partner and that's where the trouble lies.

"I think there's always a lot of talk right now about trading picks because nobody knows who's really going to be there so everyone's trying to cover all their bases," Roseman said. "So people will act like they want to trade back or up and then they get to their spot, there's some — I use this word loosely — insecurity about who's going to be at your pick. So you always want to cover back to make sure that if a good player's not at your pick you have those bases covered in advance."

With the Redskins having pulled the trigger on the biggest trade in the first round, there's a general feeling that the only players who might entice a move up to the top five would be Richardson, Southern Cal tackle Matt Kalil or Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins, picking eighth overall, might want to make a move for Tannehill, who played collegiate ball for new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

Selecting a quarterback in the top 10 can become costly in this sense: Each first-round pick can be signed to a four-year contract with a club option for the fifth year. If exercised for picks one through 10 in the first round, the fifth-year salary will be a transition number, the average of the top 10 salaries at the position in 2015.

For the Bucs, the intrigue of the first round begins at No. 3 with the Vikings, who say they've narrowed their choices to Kalil, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and Claiborne. Browns GM Tom Heckert says his team will not deal the No. 4 overall pick.

And the Bucs?

"If no one calls, no one calls," Dominik said. "And then we're ready to pick because I do like where we're at, at No. 5."

Trading places? Tampa Bay Bucs say they're ready for all NFL draft possibilities 04/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 10:21pm]

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