"Player X is terrible! We should trade him or package him with picks to move up in the draft!"
You've heard that one before. Or something close to it. Too often, NFL fans think of their favorite sport like the NBA or MLB, where players get traded and thrown into existing deals willy nilly. It's just not how the NFL works.
It's worth taking a realistic look at some of the names that are most often mentioned for trade. Could the Texans get anything for them? It depends. Let's break this into two groups: The Much-Maligned, and The Expendables. First, the Much Maligned:
DT Amobi Okoye
Maximum Trade Value: 5th round pick - Okoye has been a huge disappointment, but he has two things going for him. First, he's still very young. Second, arguably, he was better in 2010 than he was since his rookie season. With the Texans shifting to the 3-4 defense, Okoye's role is unclear. A 4-3 team may look at his youth and recent (again, arguable) improvement and see a guy worth a late-round pick. If you're really down on Okoye, you may think a 5th is too high, but let's not forget the Texans managed to get a 6th-rounder for Travis Johnson, who is twice the bust Okoye has been.
RB Steve Slaton
Maximum Trade Value: 7th round pick from the Redskins, NOTHING from anyone else - The only thing that could get a pick for Slaton would be his rookie success under Kyle Shanahan, now Washington's offensive coordinator. After two terrible years, Slaton has no value whatsoever, especially since he also turned out to be a miserable failure as a return man. The best thing Steve has going for him is that his lack of playing time in 2010 will hopefully make people forget about his fumbling problem. I'm a huge fan of Slaton. As a fan, I am very sad to see him slide back - but he has no value.
QB Matt Leinart
Maximum Trade Value: 6-7th round pick - This would be an easy one to laugh off and say "ZERO VALUE," but this league puts a crazy premium on quarterbacks. After learning under "QB Guru" Gary Kubiak, Leinart's value has probably gone from nothing to just above nothing. A QB-desperate team could absolutely make a play for Leinart as a backup, and unless the Texans are planning on cutting Dan Orlovsky, they'd be smart to take any offer. Leinart is one of those guys who has "all the talent in the world," and I guarantee there are coaches who think they can get more out of him than he's already shown. The old "change of scenery" cliché could come into play as well.
The Expendables. These aren't necessarily my expendables, but names I've seen thrown around as hopeful trade bait:
TE Joel Dreessen
Maximum Trade Value: 6-7the round pick - Dreessen has been a solid back-up and capable starter in his time with the Texans. He's shown consistent hands, for the most part. He's probably the teams' best blocking-TE (no, I'm not counting anything done in practice by Anthony Hill), and he's only 28. Teams already know his ceiling, and he certainly benefits from the offense he is in - but if there's another team out there as crack-cocaine-addicted to tight ends as the Texans, they could offer up a late pick.
TE James Casey
Maximum Trade Value: 4-5th round pick - I will not even LISTEN to an argument to trade Casey, regardless of Owen Daniels' situation on the team. You might think a 5th rounder is a bit high for a guy who hasn't proven anything, but teams see the tape. Casey is a ridiculous athletic freak with great hands and dangerous speed. He is a matchup nightmare for defenses, and off the field is a great character guy who is very intelligent. Unfortunately, he can't crack the starting lineup and he hasn't had an opportunity to prove what he can do. I have no doubt that a team with a need for a speedy, pass-catching TE would part with a 5th for Casey, who was projected as high as the 2nd round in the 2009 Draft.