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The Lying Game: Good luck figuring out what’s what in the NFL

An Alex Smith trade is “effectively complete”?

Matt Barkley won’t get past the Arizona Cardinals at number 7 in the draft?

Unfortunately, a day after Ben Affleck delivered the only genuine acceptance speech of the whole Oscar telecast, my internal B.S. meter is a little out of whack. Too bad. This time of year it comes in handy.

Information. Misinformation. Misdirection. Flat out lies. You read or hear an NFL rumor this time of year and it requires not only a grain of salt, but a whole shaker. Separating fact from fiction can be as tough as separating conjoined twins, but since these two rumors directly involve the Arizona Cardinals and their quest for a QB, we’ll give it a shot.

To the best of my knowledge, Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports was the first to report that an Alex Smith trade was basically done but can’t be announced until March 12. Where he’s going and what the Niners are getting in return aren’t known.

I won’t lie, for whatever reason, LaCanfora has never been my favorite source of rumors. To me he’s the Django Unchained of NFL reporters. Good movie, but best picture good? Nah.

I can see a teeny bit of legitimacy to this story and so the B.S. meter isn’t totally pegged out. Is it possible? Of course. But if it’s true, it seems we would have heard more on the what-they’re-getting and where-he’s-going parts of the story. Without those details, the story is unusual.

More likely to me is that, with more than two whole weeks before March 12th, this report has been floated to stir the chili. Maybe there aren’t enough teams bidding. Maybe they’re not offering enough. The Niners aren’t in a huge rush to move him just yet; there’s no harm in waiting just a little bit longer to make sure you’re getting the best offer.

The Barkley rumor? Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla…don’t waste my time. The B.S. Meter is way in the red here, it’s just a question of what shade. USC or Cardinal.

Darren Urban, Cardinals beat writer extraordinaire already did a fine job chronicling the layers of nonsense on this one.

Could I buy that the Cards were impressed with Barkley in the one-on-one interview? Absolutely. But enough to decide, on February 24th, that he’ll be the 7th pick in a draft two months away? You’d have a better chance of dragging me to “Les Miserables” than convincing me of that. I just can’t see it. The rumor or the movie.

I’m much more intrigued in why this rumor exists. An agent trying to boost the value of his client by creating demand in the marketplace makes sense. The Cardinals are certainly desperate enough, which makes for an easy target. I suspect that’s what happened with the Andy Reid rumors. I suspect that’s what’s happened here.

But an alternate theory was proposed by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk; one that suggested the Cardinals were behind the rumor to serve as a smokescreen to obfuscate their real target: Geno Smith. Mind you, I like this theory not because I like Smith. But I very much like the idea of the Cardinals playing the game instead of getting played by it.

Seems hard to believe the Cardinals could be so nefarious. But hey….we live in a world where Ben Affleck is now one of the most talented directors working in the movies. Anything can happen.