FOXBORO -- Traditionally, on the day of the NFL trade deadline, there is not a flurry of activity around the league. Those hoping to see blockbuster deals can't hold their breath; even trades for bit players seem rare.
The deadline is today at 4 p.m. after being moved back two days by the NFL in order to allow teams to recover from the effects of Sandy, the storm that ravaged the East Coast earlier this week. Though the deadline often comes and goes without much in the way of news, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said today that there is some work being done behind the scenes.
"I think there are always a few conversations, a few phone calls," he said. "I think that's normal."
For multiple reasons, though, trades between NFL teams rarely occur, especially relative to other professional sports.
NFL systems can be difficult for players to pick up without a full training camp. (Remember the struggles Chad Ochocinco had when he joined the Patriots after last year's lockout?) Getting a grip on a new team's playbook eight weeks into the season only makes that transition tougher. Teams often add free agents at different points during the season and hope that they can grasp new schemes, but those kinds of acquisitions do not require giving away compensation to another team in exchange.
Belichick said he thinks compensation is often the sticking point in trades and perhaps the reason why there aren't more deals that get done near the deadline.
"Evidently," he said, "two teams can't agree on either the compensation of the trade, or there's not a motivation to do it."
The Patriots have made trades before the deadline in the past. They dealt Randy Moss and a seventh-round draft pick to the Vikings in exchange for a third-round pick in October of 2010. That same season, they acquired Deion Branch from the Seahawks for a fourth-rounder.
Those kinds of deals for big-name players are very rare, as is any trade, it seems. But that doesn't mean the Patriots aren't working the phones today in the hours leading up the deadline, keeping their ears open for a chance to make themselves better.