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Packers Trade Rumors: ESPN writer proposes LeSean McCoy trade — but why?

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The Packers already have a versatile, productive running back. Why would they make a move for an expensive veteran?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers Wisconsin-USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL’s trade deadline is nearly here. All trades must be complete by 4:00 PM Eastern time on Tuesday, October 30th, and writers for outlets all over are trying to project some ideas of trades that would make sense around the league.

Naturally, they’re going to get some things wrong, and one of the biggest outlets, ESPN.com, has a major trade idea involving the Green Bay Packers that looks patently absurd for both the Green and Gold as well as their potential trading partner. Here’s the proposed trade: the Packers send safety Josh Jones and a conditional late-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for running back LeSean McCoy.

From the Bills’ perspective, acquiring a safety makes little to no sense. ESPN’s Mike Sando, who put forth the idea, quotes an anonymous talent evaluator when discussing Jones’ fit in Buffalo: “Jones could be a safety or dime ‘backer and a nice pickup for Buffalo.”

However, Matt Warren of SB Nation blog Buffalo Rumblings described his take on the situation to APC:

Micah Hyde was a Pro Bowler. Jordan Poyer should have been. They already invested in Tremaine Edmunds as their three down linebacker...I don’t see the sense in getting Jones.

Beyond the lack of sense for the Bills, there’s the question of why the Packers would want to acquire McCoy. Here are the two notable quotes that Sando gathered from anonymous league sources, regarding the Packers’ offense:

Are they ever going to get a dynamic running back, ever? It is so obvious that you forget.

McCoy would change them overnight. They would immediately have a run game and possibly more so than if they went after Le’Veon Bell, just based on coordination with the linemen. You would go from whatever they have, which I hardly even know, to an absolute game plan consideration, a guy who catches the checkdown on the screen and is dynamic as f---.

(Emphasis added by APC.)

The problems with these lines of reasoning are legion. First of all, if you hardly even know Aaron Jones, then you haven’t been paying attention to the Packers’ offense between week three of 2017 and today — it’s as simple as that. Jones is absolutely a dynamic playmaker, as his breakouts against the Cowboys and Saints last season demonstrated. Sure, he does not have a 100-yard day yet this season, but you can thank Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff rather than Jones himself. And although Sando’s article points to the safety on Sunday as an example of the Packers’ poor running game, he and his sources need only look one quarter later at Jones’ 33-yard touchdown to see an example of dynamic running happening in this offense.

Using Jones as the featured runner and pairing him with a tough, physical runner like Jamaal Williams — particularly when both players can catch the ball out of the backfield — is a fine recipe for an effective running game with Aaron Rodgers under center. The problem isn’t the personnel, it’s how the coaching staff is using them, an issue that would not be solved by the arrival of a 30-year old back. Besides, the Packers came into week 8 with the fifth-ranked rushing offense by DVOA. Would McCoy improve that number up into the top two or three, and if he did, would it make any significant difference?

Then there’s McCoy’s contract. While Jones, Williams, and Ty Montgomery are all on their rookie deals — and the first two being in just their second seasons — McCoy comes with a huge price tag. He would be owed about $6.5 million in salary next season, and he’s still due about $3 million over the rest of this year. Can you imagine a team with Russ Ball holding the purse strings being willing to dish out that kind of money for a running back on the wrong side of 30?

Adding a further complication to this is the fact that McCoy is currently in the concussion protocol, though he may end up being cleared to play tonight against the New England Patriots.

Fundamentally, this trade idea is based on a lack of knowledge about the Packers’ current running backs and how the team does business. The compensation for Buffalo is also a flawed, failing to understand the workings of that team’s defense. It should serve as a reminder that an active trade market in the NFL is still a new concept, and the media has not yet caught up to the dynamics of the market — nor do national writers or their sources really have any feel for how individual teams tend to operate.