The 2018 NFL trade deadline is heating up. For years the NFL's lagged behind the NBA and MLB for the entertainment coming from roster movement in this spot, but thanks to the current NFL economics (both workforce and salary cap-wise) it's easier than ever to send a high-priced veteran packing to a contender for a middle-round draft pick.
We're tracking every single trade from the 2018 NFL trade deadline right here, but let's go ahead and imagine some other big-name deals we want to see. Here are 10 deals that would be delightful to see, with the bonus addition that we're grabbing comments from CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora that he dropped on the Wednesday edition of the Pick Six Podcast.
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1. Le'Veon Bell to Texans
You can make a case for a pretty good number of teams who should consider trading for Bell. The Eagles still make the most sense of anyone, but we've written about them fairly ad nauseum. Instead, let's look at the Texans as a possibility. In order for a Bell deal to work, you need a contending team willing to be aggressive in need of running back help. Houston fits the bill: the Texans are first in their division (somehow!) and are a very viable AFC South champion, even if you don't buy into their current four-game winning streak. Houston got bold last year in the draft, giving up future picks to acquire Deshaun Watson.
Watson badly needs pass protection help and Bell is one of the best in the game. Houston ranks 25th in rushing DVOA and Bell would improve their ground attack while giving Watson a much-needed outlet. His presence would make life easier for DeAndre Hopkins as well. The Texans could be interested in a long-term deal for Bell too, with Lamar Miller looming as a likely offseason cut and D'Onta Foreman unable to get on the field and produce. This is a really underrated landing spot.
2. Patrick Peterson to the Eagles
The Saints might be the preferred destination for the Cardinals cornerback -- he did play at LSU in college so the geographical familiarity is there -- but with New Orleans dealing for Eli Apple, it probably makes sense to look elsewhere for a landing spot. So how about the corner-needy Eagles? Philly hasn't been as good as hoped on defense this year and the Eagles rank 23rd against the pass by DVOA. They would significantly improve their defense by giving up picks to acquire Peterson, an All-Pro caliber corner who can lock down in man coverage. Philly actually has two second-round picks after getting an extra from the Ravens; would those be enough to get a deal done for Peterson? Probably not, but Philly could give up a one and a three next year for Pat P and end up with a stud corner as well as their two seconds. Peterson's cap hit is very manageable over the next few years so it's not like this is a rental. Arizona would have to consider that offer, and almost certainly would pull the trigger for the Eagles' first-round pick and the Ravens' second-round pick.
"I can't imagine they don't add a corner of some distinction ... I don't know that they're able to make the Patrick Peterson thing happen, although there's certainly a want there," La Canfora said. "They're looking, they're motivated and the owner's not afraid to spend. And they cleared that cap space for some reason."
3. Larry Fitzgerald to the Patriots
Speaking of the Cardinals, how about they throw their Hall of Fame wideout a bone and send him packing to a contender? The Patriots are loaded with weapons already, but Fitz would be a superb complement to what they have as a physical possession receiver who would display the kind of sure hands and work ethic that fits perfectly with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. This is strictly a ring-chasing move: ship Larry out so he can try and win a Super Bowl. No one will mind that he puts on a different uniform if he tacks on a title to his already sterling resume.
"If I'm Larry, I go to them and say 'Hey guys I'm not so worried about retiring as a Cardinal anymore,'" La Canfora said.
4. Chris Harris to the Patriots
Another Patriots trade and why not? New England's made a habit out of acquiring veteran players for middling draft picks in recent years, staying ahead of the trade curve for the most part.
Why not give them another talented cornerback who can help put the defense over the top in terms of locking down teams. Patrick Peterson could work, but they already have Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe. Harris would slot -- literally -- in nicely with this roster and is the type of movable player on defense Bill Belichick covets. His cap hit is $8.76 million next year which is a steal even at his age, and if it doesn't work out, he has a dead cap hit of less than $1 million (!) next year.
"If I'm [the Broncos] I'm auctioning off Harris and [Emmanuel] Sanders," La Canfora said. "Because they're both signed for another year, and signed at a team-friendly deal. That means your return on them is much better. They're both on the wrong side of 30. You're going to stink next year too. You're not going to sign either as free agents. And if you keep them another year, we're talking 2021 comp picks. Who even knows who owns the Denver Broncos in 2021? I think it's a no-brainer when you've got enough teams, good teams, with owners who are willing to spend and the same needs. The Eagles and the Saints, to some degree the Patriots, go ahead and have that auction. Someone just got a one for Amari Cooper."
5. Tyrod Taylor to the Jaguars
This one is far-fetched, but Taylor is not going to be in Cleveland that much longer with Baker Mayfield taking over under center. He would provide a steadying presence to the Jaguars offense and I'm pretty sure he's an upgrade over Blake Bortles. Learning a new system isn't reasonable and the Jags aren't going to do the deal in the middle of the season when it's going to take a lot to acclimate Taylor to a new franchise and a new coordinator and a new offense, etc.
But we can DREAM here. And/or just write another story about the Jags trading for a quarterback that makes their fans mad online. The Jags should have dealt for Teddy Bridgewater before the season started, and the hubris of laughing at the idea is why they're in a rough spot now. Maybe Carlos Hyde fixes that. Maybe the defense isn't fixable right now.
Maybe the Jags will be good in a couple of weeks magically when Leonard Fournette comes back. Maybe it won't matter in a bad division and they can get hot in the postseason. Either way, if Bortles doesn't improve it will be difficult to achieve the Jags goal of winning a Super Bowl this year.
6. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas to the Browns
Is Cleveland a "contender"? Maybe! They've been very close in a lot of these games, losing only one game by more than three points. The idea here isn't that the Broncos wide receivers put them over the top, per se. The idea is that adding another veteran wide receiver in Sanders, alongside Jarvis Landry and David Njoku and Antonio Callaway, would give Cleveland a really deep group of pass catchers to help develop Baker Mayfield.
The Browns can basically make DT a write-off -- they freed up some cap room for next year when they dealt Carlos Hyde and now they can cut Thomas, who many people around the NFL view as a salary-dump option.
"What you hear is 'Why don't you take Demaryius Thomas?' They're like, 'We don't want Demaryius Thomas. Demaryius Thomas is your problem.' That's a salary dump," La Canfora noted.
"People are going to look at taking a flier on Demaryius Thomas at this point as doing you a favor."
7. Bradley Roby to the Rams
With Aqib Talib injured, the Rams are down a corner and haven't been quite as dominant on defense over the last month as they were to start the season. The Broncos are clearly open for business, so why not package another one of the cornerbacks Wade Phillips worked with previously and ship him to Los Angeles in order to bolster the depth at the position for a team trying to make a Super Bowl run?
8. Kelechi Osemele to the Texans
Maybe Houston can't pull of the Le'Veon Bell deal. That's fine. They still have protection issues and offensive line problems. The Raiders are, if you didn't know, open to dealing EVERYONE. And everyone needs offensive line help in a big way -- Osemele is still capable of playing at a high level and is versatile to the point that he can play different positions. Deal him, go down the black hole and try to get as many draft picks as possible in return. Houston should see the cratering of its division as an opportunity to make a serious push, and adding offensive line help would be a big plus for Deshaun Watson.
"What are you holding onto him at this stage of his career? Everyone needs offensive line help," La Canfora said. "He's a dominant guy who could literally play any position but center if he had to. I would be marketing the hell out of him."
9. Karl Joseph to the Ravens
Baltimore's got a very good secondary, but they could use additional help on the back end in terms of depth and a guy who can challenge Tony Jefferson. Joseph is a former first-round pick who was a thumper coming out of West Virginia. He's a hard-hitting guy and although he has some coverage liabilities, he's still on his rookie contract and he wouldn't cost much to pry away from the Raiders.
10. Chandler Jones to the Jets
This would be a major white flag for Arizona, but if you're the Cardinals, why wouldn't you consider giving up a stud pass rusher in order to bolster the long haul chances of your franchise by getting draft picks? The Jets need pass rush help and they're not out of it when it comes to the AFC playoff race. If the Cardinals are willing to deal Patrick Peterson, why wouldn't they be willing to deal Jones as well? He led the league in sacks last year and dealing both guys could, as La Canfora pointed out, help the Cards get involved in battling the Raiders for the most draft picks in upcoming drafts.
"Go look at -- what do you think DeMarcus Lawrence is going to get on the open market in the next couple of months? Chandler Jones would be an absolute steal. Maybe he's the one guy they want to hold onto so you have a fighting chance, but I would be in an arms race with Jon Gruden to try and control the next couple of drafts," La Canfora said. "I don't think they'll look at it -- I think they'll try to make a couple trades."