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Why is there a trade deadline in the NFL?

It’s hard to be an NFL quarterback. It’s even harder to be a third-string quarterback and start against the Seattle Seahawks. Taking no personal shots at Ryan Lindley, his accuracy is not close to NFL-quality at this time.

After evaluating Logan Thomas for months, the Cardinals decided a quarterback they cut earlier in the year was more qualified to start against Seattle. Although we have no clue how Thomas will play Sunday against San Francisco, he has not earned the start through his own merit. Cardinals coaches made the decision after watching Ryan Lindley on film. Either Thomas can’t be any worse or they can’t win with Lindley, therefore any mistakes made by Thomas are part of the educational process and worth the pain.

Either way, in this desperate time, I’d rather trust Brian Hoyer’s ability to learn the offense quickly and deal with the consequences.

There’s one catch to the idea. The Cardinals can’t trade for Hoyer to start during the 2014 season because the trade deadline has long passed. It raises one simple question: why is there a trade deadline?

The NFL is scared a team like the Patriots will pillage a weak team and steal a great player late in the season completely changing the balance of power. There’s also a fairness issue. The Falcons could be a 7-9 division champion but imagine if they pulled off a trade for J.J. Watt this week. Their first week opponent in the playoffs might go from favorite to underdog immediately.

In response to the NFL’s feelings on the issue: suck it up!

The magic of the NFL is the last-to-first phenomenon. A dramatic trade at the end of the season completely energizes the playoffs. The true benefit is for the bottom-dweller. The turnaround from a bad season could be even faster with a late season trade as preparation for the offseason. The weaker team could stock up on draft picks.

Arizona would have paid much more for Hoyer now versus anything the Browns will get in the offseason if they had his rights. Since Hoyer will be a free agent, Cleveland would actually be turning nothing into something.

Eliminating the trade deadline also gives hope to fans like Arizona. Despite a roster ravaged by injuries, the Cardinals earned a playoff spot. How is it good for NFL playoff ratings to send a team to the playoffs starting their fourth-string rookie quarterback? If the Cardinals are down 21-0 twenty minutes into the game, everybody loses.

The fear standpoint isn’t a strong argument because there are also difficult prerequisites to work around making major deals a huge undertaking. It’s a near impossibility a player as good as Watt could fit under Atlanta’s salary cap. That’s not a reason to stay with the status quo. If a GM can find a way to make it work, why should an organization be hamstrung just because of an arbitrary rule forbidding trades? Anything that eliminates creativity in any line of work should not exist.

A team like Houston wouldn’t be in a hurry to trade a player like Watt. The public relations hit, compensation requested and salary cap ramifications on the accepting team would be such a hindrance that this isn’t an idea to be feared that it will happen on a regular basis.

It is a Hoyer situation in which the idea makes the most sense. The Cardinals are a playoff team with a terrible situation at quarterback caused by something completely out of their control. The Browns are a team that gave up on going to the 2014 playoffs because they believe in pre-conceived hype. Hoyer is not a Hall of Fame-quality injection at the end of the season to be feared by other teams. Cleveland would pick up draft picks from a desperate team to make it’s team more competitive next year.

I have always declared the rule forbidding the kicking team to advance an onside kick as the dumbest rule in sports. That opinion is amended and the onside kick rule has been demoted to number two in my personal rankings.

The dumbest rule in sports is having a regular season trade deadline in the NFL.

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