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Trading the #1 Pick: Don't Count On It

Maybe I'm dumb, so please feel free to let me know what I'm missing.  But why in the world was yesterday's news that the Dolphins were going to shop the #1 pick in April's draft treated like it was a surprise.  The newspapers talked about it like it was breaking news.  Many, many blogs (both Dolphins related blogs and general football blogs) posted big, front-page stories about this.  But why?  Did we learn anything we didn't know already?  

Regardless, since we have a ton of time before the draft, I don't want to get into this too much right now.  But I do want to just throw out my "early" opinion on the subject of trading this pick.  First of all, if it can be done, I'm all for long as it doesn't mean the Dolphins dropping out of the top 10 all together in just one trade.  Moving down multiple times is a different story and one I'll address as it gets closer.  But to make a trade with, say, Dallas (for example) is something I'm 100% not in favor of.  We've talked about why I'm against it in the past.  Others have made very strong cases in favor of moving from #1 to #22 and picking up pick #28, as well as other picks, in the process.  If you want to disagree with me, that's fine.  I just am having a hard time coming to terms with the idea that the 1-15 Dolphins wouldn't have even a top 20 pick if they make that trade.

So who would potentially make a trade with the Dolphins for the #1 pick?  That's the one million dollar question.  And I don't understand why any team would want to.  Let's look at the teams with picks 3-5, for example (keeping in mind that these picks will be determined by a coin flip).  The Raiders don't really need to trade up.  Many believe they want either Darren McFadden or a DT.  McFadden will be there when they pick, as the Dolphins and Rams aren't likely to take him.  Also, a top DT (Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis) will likely be around for them.  How about the Falcons.  They might be in the market for McFadden, but likely wouldn't give up anything to assure they get him.  Most expect Matt Ryan to be given a long look by Atlanta.  And he'll be available when the Falcons are on the clock.  The Chiefs?  They might have interest in Matt Ryan.  They'll also probably consider Jake Long, as well as a few others.  But there is certainly no player out there that excites them enough to trade up to #1.

And that's the problem here.  For the team with the #1 pick to trade it away, there usually has to be a team who has a desperate need with a top, "once in a lifetime" type player available.  That, or you need one team to have a mancrush on a prospect.  In 2008, the first scenario really doesn't exist.  And the only time in the last 10 years a team was able to trade the top pick, the Falcons made that trade to acquire Michael Vick.  Meanwhile, the team giving up the #1 pick took future MVP LaDainian Tomlinson at #5.  Hmmm, maybe that's another reason why teams won't trade up to the #1 spot.  Now, as far as the 2nd scenario goes, it's believed that Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones has a mancrush on McFadden.  But with the team reportedly close to signing Marion Barber to a long-term deal, it's unlikely the Cowboys would want to give up what they'd have to just to have the chance to take D-Mac, and then spend the insane amount of money it would take to sign McFadden after the team just signed Barber to a long-term extension.

And that brings up another point.  No franchise really wants to make the financial commitment necessary to sign the first overall pick.  Last year, JaMarcus Russell held out for six weeks after signing a contract that guaranteed him $31 million.  This year, it's believed the top pick will get about $33 million in guaranteed money.  So what team in their right mind would want to give up all they'd have to in order to have a chance to sign an unproven, young player to a contract that pays him $33 million in just guaranteed money alone?  Not many, if any at all.

In fact, some front office executives of other NFL teams sounded off about this down in Mobile as teams prepare for the Senior Bowl.  Chiefs' President Carl Peterson had this to say:

"I always smile when they say, 'Just trade the first pick. Move down.' You have to have a trading partner."

Browns GM Phil Savage wished the Dolphins good luck in their attempt:

"The commitment is so big and it's just one player. It's not as much a blessing as people think."

Doesn't sound too promising that the Dolphins will be able to move out of the #1 spot.  But it's still early.  There's still the potential for one prospect to really come on strong and set himself apart as that truly elite "once in a lifetime" player, at least in one team's eyes, which is all the Dolphins need for them to get into serious trade talks.  

But I wouldn't hold my breath.