I've been one of the bigger supporters for the NFL to move the trade deadline to later in the season. While roughly two-thirds of the season will be over at the trade deadline for the other three major leagues in North America, the NFL shuts the trade window before the halfway mark.
The trade deadline is a great event for most leagues as it shows which teams are making a playoff push and which teams are preparing for the next season. The early deadline prevents teams in the NFL from committing in either direction.
The NBA just passed their trade deadline and the Boston Celtics were expected to be big movers at the time. Our friends at CelticsBlog have it all covered. The Celtics have spent the past few seasons building up trade assets in both players, contracts, and draft picks, and there was a chance the team could cash in this year.
The Celtics rank third in the conference (awesome, right?) and they've been doing it without a traditional star player. The team also owns a fantastic draft pick from the Brooklyn Nets that is currently projected to be a top five pick in the upcoming draft.
So the basic idea was that the Celtics could trade that top draft pick for a star player in order to make a push through a weak conference in the playoffs and possibly make the Finals.
But nothing happened. The Celtics decided not to trade away their assets.
"People around the league respect our team, respect our roster and we do too," Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said, via CSNNE. "We have a lot of good solid young players. We have a lot of players on good contracts and the league knows that. So a lot of people tried to get those from us.
"At the end of the day, we're in a better position not to have done any of the deals that were brought to our table."
Not that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots need any lessons from the Celtics, but some Patriots fans will be sure to grumble when free agency opens up on March 9th.
In an annual tradition as old as the AFC South, prognosticators will be predicting the end of the Patriots era due to offseason moves by division and conference rivals.
The Miami Dolphins hold the current title of back-to-back-to-back Offseason Champion. The New York Jets always seem to spend big money on big ticket items that turn into big question marks on game day, and the Buffalo Bills are in a perpetual state of rebuilding.
John Elway will make sure the Denver Broncos have a quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be their usually consistent selves, and Colts general manager Ryan Grigson will try to not trip over his own shoelaces.
Belichick avoids the big ticket free agents, and that's how it will be this year. That's not to say that Belichick doesn't pay for free agents- he has a history of paying record-setting money to free agents that were groomed by the Patriots (see: Devin McCourty, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Tom Brady, Stephen Gostkowski, and many more)- but he just won't shell out the big money for a player that might not ultimately be a perfect fit.
Let the Dolphins sign the Mike Wallaces and Ndamukong Suhs of free agency. That's not the Patriots strategy.
New England can and should follow the Celtics by letting the initial rush of free agency pass. The Patriots can and will be in a better position by watching other teams throw their cap space at players that ultimately won't live up to their ridiculous contracts.
And then, as is also tradition, Belichick, Nick Caserio and the rest of the Patriots will go to work, bring in a few undervalued free agents that are still on the board, and start the path to another Super Bowl title.