Teams are running out of time.
With September closing in, the NFL preseason hits its zenith with this week's slate of starter-heavy games, affording players one more chance to vie for a No. 1 role.
Every roster, though, has issues. General managers must think creatively about filling a handful of season-impacting roster voids caused by injuries or lack of available talent.
Big-name trades in late August are rare, but after seeing a much more swap-heavy offseason than ever before, here's a handful of deals we can envision:
Jets QB Teddy Bridgewater to the Jaguars
There's an argument to be made for New York ignoring this avenue entirely. For the first time in countless Earth eons, the Jets have their hands on two totally serviceable, young signal-callers: Bridgewater and Sam Darnold. Back in March, general manager Mike Maccagnan had no way to crystal ball the notion that Darnold would be available for him in the draft, wisely padding the roster with a back-from-injury Bridgewater at the outset of free agency. Playing under a one-year, $6 million pact, though, Teddy's also a short-term answer for a club that already has its quarterback of tomorrow.
With Darnold being groomed to start right away -- and reliable veteran Josh McCown due to make $10 million this fall -- Bridgewater is one of the league's most swappable signal-callers. New York could stumble onto a hefty haul if a playoff-hungry team suddenly loses its starter, but Bridgewater has a market either way. Not to completely dismiss Blake Bortles, who played strong football in the playoffs, but Jacksonville would make perfect sense. Even if you choose to stick with Bortles out of the gate, Bridgewater would give the Jaguars an exciting, accurate option to turn to if the wheels come off the QB1 on this otherwise Super Bowl-ready roster.
Raiders DE Khalil Mack to the Seahawks
Trading away your finest player makes zero sense, but what if he refuses to suit up? Last we heard, there was "no end in sight" on a long-term extension between the Raiders and their pass-rushing whirlwind. Docked more than $1.6 million for missing a pair of preseason games, Mack looms as a growing threat to hold out into September.
Ideally, both Mack and Rams quarterback-killer Aaron Donald will see new deals before Week 1. But while Los Angeles has "increased dialogue" with Donald, Mack -- scheduled to make $13.846 million in the final year of his rookie deal -- is barely in communication with the team and carries zero shared history with coach Jon Gruden.
While refusing to acknowledge Mack's absence as a distraction, Gruden sits in a unique spot. Where 90 percent of the men in his position would be forced to think about the job-security angle of shipping Mack out of the building, Chucky is operating under a 10-year, $100 million guaranteed pact from owner Mark Davis. In the NFL, that doubles as pure power.
This offseason revealed Gruden's desire to part with certain players he doesn't align with (read: accomplished punter Marquette King) while injecting the roster with a heavy veteran presence. The Raiders are a lesser team without Mack, but Gruden might listen to a suitor floating multiple high draft picks in return. It would be fascinating to see which clubs might play ball, but for the sake of providing a destination in this piece, perhaps the rebuilding Seahawks -- in need of a foundation-changing pass rusher -- would view this as their first massive acquisition of a new era.
Just make this happen already: Seahawks S Earl Thomas to the Cowboys
The ponderous tug of war between the Seahawks and their star safety has doubled as a fruitless stalemate with no end in sight.
"If you're risking your body to deliver all of this value to an organization, then you deserve some sort of assurance that the organization will take care of you if you get hurt," Thomas wrote earlier this month in The Players' Tribune. "This isn't new, and this isn't complicated. It's the reason I'm holding out."
With talks nonexistent and the 'Hawks harboring no plans to offer an extension, it's high time to move on. Besides, Thomas promises to look almost out of place in a post-Legion of Boom secondary bereft of his former teammates.
Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said in July that no recent talks had unfurled, but front-office types enjoy playing coy. NFL Network's Jane Slater reported that there had been "no movement" as of Monday, but made clear that this could change in the wake of a preseason bout that featured multiple injuries in Dallas' secondary. When this deal finally happens, it'll feel dangerously anticlimactic after doubling for months as the most obvious of swaps.
Lions RB Ameer Abdullah to TBD Team In Need
Come August, injuries are a genuine fear. Bottom line: Someone is bound to suffer a running back setback over the next two weeks. Washington already did, losing promising rookie Derrius Guice to a torn ACL in the Redskins' preseason opener. On Monday, though, the 'Skins scooped up Adrian Peterson. When the next backfield blow hits, why not kick the tires on Detroit's former second-rounder? Could he be worth a conditional Day 3 pick?
You still see flashes from Abdullah, but Lions general manager Bob Quinn spoke loudly when he signed LeGarrette Blount and drafted the impressive Kerryon Johnson. With Theo Riddick still in house as a passing-down specialist, the Lions have plenty to work with.
A trade target remains hazy. Abdullah isn't about to generate major interest or a big price, but instead land somewhere with a fresh opportunity to play a supporting role. It's an unfriendly way to end this missive, but a handful of inevitable injuries will dictate where that need exists.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.