Now I know I'm typically the one to rail against trading for veteran players, but if the 'price is right' I'm always interested. Steve Slaton has fallen out of favor in Houston and is now 4th on their depth chart. Not only does this mean that Slaton is available, but that his price is likely to be at the bare minimum.
Case for Making the Trade:
- Slaton is still very young, he will play next year at the age of 25
- Shouldn't cost too much in a trade, great buy low candidate
- Slaton is a very good 'one-cut' back, who can excel in the zone blocking system
- He's different from Torain and Williams, good change of pace type of back
- He has good speed and can break out some long gains
- Very good at catching the ball out of the backfield, in 2009 in 11 games he had 44 catches
- Ran for nearly 1,300 yards as a rookie, at 4.8 ypc.
- Not only does he know the ZBS and WC offense, but Kyle Shanahan was his O.C. in '08 and '09.
- Cheaper than most free agents, only makes $1.2 million this season
- Only under contract for one more season
- While he has done it, Slaton isn't a 25 carry a game type of back if Torain goes down
- Would cost the Redskins resources via a trade, might not be much, but there isn't a lot to spare
- Rushing numbers went down and he had some fumbling issues in 2009
- Very new to playing special teams, won't make the impact most backup running backs are expected to make
- Has limited kickoff return experience and didn't look good doing it
I think Slaton's positives far outweigh his negatives. The only real concern for me is his contract status, though that is part of the reason he is so cheap. The Redskins might be able to extend him cheaply for a year or two, to help protect their investment. As for the rest of the negatives, I don't see them as much of a hurdle. The Redskins were going to use resources on a FA running back or a late round draft pick anyways, so that makes it basically a wash (though they would be under contract for longer).
His numbers going down in 2009 is worrisome, but at the same time it seemed a little overblown as a concern. I think teams focused on him more that season, and as a whole the Texans running game struggled, as their top three backs all averaged under 4.0 ypc. Also, while his rushing totals faltered, he was very good at catching the ball out of the backfield and still was a significant contributor.
I think Slaton, with his speed and quick cutting ability, is the perfect fit for the Redskins system (as was proven in 2008), and could excel in more of a change of pace role. If we try to keep his carries in the 10-15 times a game category, he should be more effective. I am also a big fan of pass catching ability. Although Keiland Williams did a good job in the passing game, Slaton has more home run ability and brings a completely different threat to a defense. Knowing Kyle Shanahan's system is a big plus in my book, and also a primary reason why I think this could become reality.
Given Slaton's perceived low value, I would propose the Redskins to use a similar frame work as the Adam Carriker trade last year. Instead of trading away a late round pick for Slaton, I'd propose the following deal to the Texans: Our 5th round pick from the Saints, number 152 *(note pick numbers will change slightly as there will likely be compensation picks earlier in the draft that will push these down a couple of spots) for their 6th rounder, number 173. and Slaton. The Redskins would essentially lose 21 (plus a few more based on the number of comp. picks at the end of round 5) spots of draft positioning, but gain Slaton for their troubles.
Will it be enough? Honestly it is hard to say. The Texans are very likely to move him, and while there will be a market for his services, it won't turn into a bidding war. I don't think they will get anything above a late 6th or early 7th rounder for Slaton. That would be slightly more value than the Skins deal, but not by much.
What do you think? Is Slaton worth swapping picks for?
Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.