The window for making trade in the NFL closes on the Tuesday after Week Eight. It opens on the first day of the league year.
It should open sooner than that.
That’s not simply because teams should have the ability at any time to make a trade (although they should). It’s because there’s no reason not to allow teams to make trades after the postseason has ended.
Every year, the waiver period begins the day after the Super Bowl. That’s when teams should be able to make trades, too.
Currently, teams are allowed to negotiate trades whenever they want. They’re allowed to tentatively complete negotiations. They’re not allowed to finalize trades until the first day of the league year, which this year lands on March 14.
Consider the situation in which Washington currently finds itself. A deal is in place to acquire quarterback Alex Smith from the Chiefs. But if the Chiefs get a better offer before March 14, they can accept that offer without consequence.
This could leave Washington in a major bind, since a renege by the Chiefs could occur after Washington has sacrificed its ability to apply the franchise tag to Kirk Cousins. Apart from the question of whether a decision to tag Cousins as protection against the Smith trade falling through would survive a grievance, Washington should be able to finalize the trade before making a final decision on whether to tag Cousins.
It’s a defect in the calendar that can affect any team, in any year. A tentative trade is arranged, making a team not inclined to tag a looming free agent. The team doesn’t tag the free agent, the trade falls through, and the team is screwed.
So why not allow teams to make trades as of the day after the Super Bowl? There’s no reason to make teams wait until the middle of March to make trades official, and there’s every reason to let teams formally complete trades before someone gets cold feet.