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Trade Deadline Deals Becoming More Common In NFL

Cardinals get in on action by adding RB Kenyan Drake

CB Jalen Ramsey was traded from the Jaguars to the Rams in a rare midseason blockbuster.
CB Jalen Ramsey was traded from the Jaguars to the Rams in a rare midseason blockbuster.

The Major League Baseball trading deadline has long spurred game-changing deals.

Now NFL franchises are beginning to swing for the fences.

The past few weeks have been chock full of significant in-season trades as contenders add to their war chest. The Rams dealt for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the 49ers for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the Patriots for wideout Mohamed Sanu, the Cowboys for defensive end Michael Bennett, the Ravens for cornerback Marcus Peters and so on.

The Cardinals joined the fray with a deadline deal on Monday, adding Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake for a conditional draft pick.

For decades, the trading deadline came and went with a whimper, but there has been major movement this season, with time still remaining before Tuesday's 1 p.m. Arizona cutoff time.

"I think the entire mindset of the league has changed," Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "It used to be build, build, build. It's no longer build, build, build. It's now win, win, win. If a team's close, and they are a player or two away, they're trying to make moves to win championships while the window is open. Because when it closes, it's dark."

A confluence of factors have led to the increased activity. The deadline was moved back from Week 6 to Week 8 in 2012, which allows teams extra time to consider their Super Bowl viability.

The steadily rising salary cap also plays a part, as it no longer takes financial gymnastics to squeeze in a large contract. The rising player empowerment era also seems to have a role. Ramsey did not want to remain in Jacksonville, and once the Jaguars' price was met, they were willing to ship him out.

Teams also seem to be getting smarter. A 16-game NFL season is a small sample that can swing on close outcomes, but underlying metrics help tell organizations when it's best to push now or compile assets for the future.

"Teams maybe that are in a rebuild-mode are willing to part ways with a good player, and teams that are trying to make a run are willing to sacrifice or find a way to improve their roster," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I think we've seen it already, and I wouldn't be surprised if you still saw a few more deals."

The Cardinals' trade for Drake was borne out of necessity, with David Johnson, Chase Edmonds and D.J. Foster all battling injuries.

Drake was available because the Dolphins have been more than willing to trade off pieces this season as they rebuild. They previously dealt left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills and cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick for a cache of draft picks.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury played in the NFL from 2003 through 2006, when deadline deals were rare. He has noticed a philosophical shift.

"There's moreseo, in recent years, the baseball feel," Kingsbury said. "The selloff-type stuff is going on. That's not how the entire league operates, but you definitely see certain teams that are making moves that are, to me, similar to baseball."

The trades have been fast and furious this season, and there is still time left for more action.

"Teams that are close, they're trying to win now," Joseph said. "I don't blame them, because if you don't win, you're going to be out."

Images from the Week 8 contest in New Orleans

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