Reluctance rules at trade deadline

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was watching recently when ESPN featured a documentary on the 25th anniversary of the landscape-altering Herschel Walker trade.

"And Jimmy Johnson says, 'I always wondered why everybody in the NFL didn't want to trade,'" Roseman said.

Then Roseman laughed.

Maybe it's because the Oct. 12, 1989, deal that involved myriad players and draft choices turned out to be the equivalent of a stagecoach robbery by the Dallas Cowboys. By making Walker, their gifted running back, the centerpiece of a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys got a haul of picks they would use to build the foundation of a dynasty that would win three Super Bowls in four years.

Or perhaps it's Roseman's uber-aggressive nature; he's made a staggering 34 trades since landing the personnel job in Philadelphia in 2010. That's second only to the Seattle Seahawks over that span.

"In today's NFL, it seems you have more teams willing to find trades that are mutually beneficial to both teams," said Roseman. "With coaching changes, you'll have guys that don't fit their [new] schemes as well. I think there's more guys coming into the league who think along those lines and are willing to consummate deals."

This year's trading deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and with 19 teams at .500 or better through Week 7, there could be movement this season.

Last Friday, the Seahawks and New York Jets got the ball rolling, with Seattle sending enigmatic wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2015. The surprising move clears cap space -- not to mention concerns about team chemistry -- for the Super Bowl champions and gives the Jets a needed offensive weapon.

So to take the temperature of the market and help create a few plausible trade scenarios, ESPN.com spoke with more than two dozen sources in and around the NFL, including current and past general managers, scouts and personnel types.

"If you're going to make a trade this time of year, it's got to be a marquee player you think can win you a couple of games," said Gary Horton, an ESPN analyst and former NFL scout.

Marquee players, you say? How about these tantalizing possibilities for your consideration:

Proposed trade No. 1: Tom Brady from the Patriots to the Texans for a package that includes Andre Johnson.

Proposed trade No. 2: Ndamukong Suh from the Lions to the Bengals.

Proposed trade No. 3: LeSean McCoy from the Eagles to the Raiders.

Proposed trade No. 4: Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks to the Chargers.

Since January 2012, here are the teams with the most trades: 49ers (22), Eagles (21), Buccaneers (16), Seahawks (16), Colts (15) and Dolphins (15). While many of those were draft-day trades, it's striking that four of those teams made the playoffs last year and all but the Bucs are in the hunt this season.

But why are some teams so averse to trades, particularly in October?

"It's a good question," Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said. "You have to wonder if people are afraid of being taken. Nobody wants to overpay for a guy. Nobody wants to look bad."

Even with the influx of younger, more aggressive personnel men, such as Roseman, 39, and Licht, 43, the NFL remains a bastion of conservative thought. Also, the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that drastically reduced rookie compensation is important factor.

"Now," explained ESPN analyst Bill Polian, the former general manager in Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis, "draft choices are worth so much more because the contracts are less expensive. So teams like to hang on to them."

Unlike most sports, football relies on complicated strategies and playbooks that can differ greatly from team to team. That's why the NFL will never have as many trades as the NBA or MLB.

"Bill Parcells always used to say that you could take the third baseman for the Phillies and plug him in with the Yankees and he'd still produce," Roseman said. "In baseball, there's no new schemes to learn, no players that you have to mesh with when you're doing your job.

"But what we ask our left guard to do isn't the same as other teams."

The biggest trade of the 2013 season didn't happen at the deadline. After two games, the Cleveland Browns sent running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round draft choice. Cleveland used that pick as part of the deal that secured the No. 22 overall choice from Roseman's Eagles and was used to draft Johnny Manziel. Richardson averaged only 2.9 yards per carry over the Colts' final 14 games of 2013.

Two trades were consummated leading up to last year's deadline, neither of which made much of an impact for either side. The Miami Dolphins acquired Bryant McKinnie from the Baltimore Ravens for what ended up being a seventh-round pick in 2014. The New England Patriots acquired Isaac Sopoaga and a 2014 sixth-round pick from the Eagles for a 2014 fifth-round pick.

One of the most memorable deadline deals occurred in October 2011, when quarterback Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders. Palmer forced the Bengals' hand by refusing to play the first six games, threatening to retire rather than play again for Cincinnati. Bengals owner Mike Brown relented on his vow not to trade Palmer when the Raiders offered a first-round pick in 2012 and second-round pick in 2013. Oakland was 4-2 at the time and had just lost starter Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone. The Raiders finished 8-8.

In another notable deadline deal, the Cowboys sent first- and third-round picks to the Detroit Lions for Texas born-and-bred wide receiver Roy Williams in October 2008. It is widely perceived as one of the worst trades in Cowboys history. Williams, who signed a hefty contract extension, went on to catch just 94 passes in 40 games for Dallas.

Today, with the ever-expanding salary cap, there is more money to spend. Here are the teams with the most room to maneuver: Jacksonville (approximately $23 million), Cleveland ($19 million) and Philadelphia ($16 million). A number of playoff contenders have surprising surpluses: New England ($11 million), Cincinnati ($9 million), Denver ($8 million), Baltimore ($6 million), Arizona ($6 million) and Carolina ($6 million).

One reason we might see more trades going forward: Teams are now permitted to roll their salary-cap cushions into the next season.

"It's not even close," said NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, the former Redskins and Texans general manager. "You're not back to square one anymore, which makes it easier all the way around."

Heading into the Eagles' bye last week, Roseman was eagerly anticipating a few phone calls.

"You've got a lot of people trying to make things happen, trying to make their teams better," he said. "You're looking for the opportunities on both sides. Going into any deadline, you're excited for the action."

Said Licht, "I like rolling the dice."