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The 5 O’Clock Club: Should the NFL open the trade window sooner?

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

We all know the awkward situation for the Redskins & Chiefs caused by the Kendall Fuller for Alex Smith trade. The two teams have an agreement that can’t be executed until the new league year begins in mid-March.

Meanwhile, Fuller’s life has been changed, Cousins has been alerted that the Redskins are moving on, Smith is mentally preparing for a new team, city and coach, but it could all fall apart if — for example — the Chiefs get an offer they like better in the next three weeks and decide to renege on the agreement.

Pro Football Talk has suggested a simple and eminently sensible solution; change the annual trading deadline so that teams can trade players after the Superbowl but before the new league year.

Consider the situation in which Washington currently finds itself. A deal is in place to acquire quarterback Alex Smith from the Chiefs. But if the Chiefs get a better offer before March 14, they can accept that offer without consequence.

This could leave Washington in a major bind, since a renege by the Chiefs could occur after Washington has sacrificed its ability to apply the franchise tag to Kirk Cousins. Apart from the question of whether a decision to tag Cousins as protection against the Smith trade falling through would survive a grievance, Washington should be able to finalize the trade before making a final decision on whether to tag Cousins.

It’s a defect in the calendar that can affect any team, in any year. A tentative trade is arranged, making a team not inclined to tag a looming free agent. The team doesn’t tag the free agent, the trade falls through, and the team is screwed.

So why not allow teams to make trades as of the day after the Super Bowl?

Some people may wonder why the NFL has a trade deadline at all. Even PFT suggests in the article that “teams should have the ability at any time to make a trade”. But there’s a very good reason why the trade deadline kicks in on the Tuesday after Week 8: the league wants to prevent teams that have little or no hope of making the playoffs from dumping players in exchange for future draft picks, and allowing teams on a playoff run to ‘stock up’. It’s an effort to keep the playing field a little more level. Major League Baseball has a trade deadline for the same reason, as do other professional sports.

So, I believe the in-season trade deadline makes sense.

But once the Superbowl is finished, what reason is there to make teams wait until mid-March to make deals?

Every year, the waiver period begins the day after the Super Bowl. That’s when teams should be able to make trades, too.

Currently, teams are allowed to negotiate trades whenever they want. They’re allowed to tentatively complete negotiations. They’re not allowed to finalize trades until the first day of the league year, which this year lands on March 14.

This is a simple and sensible rule change that the Redskins front office should propose in the annual meeting this year.

Poll

If the Redskins front office wanted to try to stock up on draft picks before the end of April, which starting player should they try to trade?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Trent Williams
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (33 votes)
  • 23%
    Josh Norman
    (64 votes)
  • 43%
    Jordan Reed
    (119 votes)
  • 1%
    DJ Swearinger
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Morgan Moses
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Brandon Scherff
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Chris Thompson
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Preston Smith
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    Josh Doctson
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    Alex Smith
    (21 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now