Trading in the NFL is not like fantasy football
OK, so your starting tailback goes down injured and is out for the season. Then his back-up goes down as well.. And you've already lost your all-time leading touchdown scorer before the season even started.

So if you are playing fantasy football, then you find the weakest owner in the league (too easy to make a Bucs UK FFL reference here) and offer him a deal for a back. The following week, you plug his 100 yards and two touchdowns into your line-up and away you go to the playoffs.

But this is the NFL which can stand for Not Flipping Likely when it comes to stealing away another team's top back. All over Buc message boards, people have been suggesting every back from Michael Turner to Mewelde Moore, from Barry Sanders to Ricky Williams. And you don't think that Bruce Allen has been thinking along the same lines?

The price for a current back just went up - don't you think that the other NFL teams know that the Bucs are desperate now for backfield help. You can add an extra round on to any deal that was potentially being on the table seven days ago.

Right now Michael Turner is the most sought-after property in the league - based on potential. The guy comes off the bench for the best back in the league, and rips off a 75-yard TD pass and goes over the ton in less than 10 carries. And he's done it before. So without ever being really tested, he is the second coming of Walter Payton.

He is a free agent at the end of this season and will want some kind of long-term deal. So the Bucs give up a 1st or 2nd round pick and then sign him to a four-year, multi-million deal. What does that mean next year when Cadillac comes back?

Same with a potential deal for Moore or even the Jaguars' LaBrandon Toefield. The price would probably now be a 3rd round pick. Do you pay that just for the rest of this season? Of course being a division with a winless team (Saints), a hopeless team (Falcons) and a QB-less team (Panthers) mean that the division is up for grabs. 8-8 may well win it come the end of December.

But don't think for a minute that Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden can arrange any kind of deal on their own. This is going to have to go past the Glazers first and they are committed long-term to the success of the franchise (hence Chris Simms still being on the roster). They are not going to chuck away a first round pick in the style of John McKay and Ray Perkins from the past.

Perhaps the Bucs could throw in a QB to sweeten the deal. Notice how Bruce Gradkowski got some playing time Sunday? Or perhaps the rights to that Plummer guy. And maybe even a crate of beer at next year's draft. But no - remember, this isn't fantasy football.

Paul Stewart, October 2007