The 2019 NFL trade deadline came and went with little more than a whimper despite hype from the busyness of years past, as only two teams executed a deal Tuesday -- and even that one was mostly a salary dump, with the Los Angeles Rams offloading the contract of an injured Aqib Talib to the winless Miami Dolphins.
With that said, let's dive right into the winners and losers of this year's deadline, taking into account the most notable deals to be struck since the start of the month but especially the quiet hours leading up to the 4 p.m. ET deadline. As you might've guessed, we're a little heavy on the losers this year.
The trade deadline came and went, but who won and who lost? John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough joined Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to break it all down. Listen below and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
This should tell you exactly how much of a dud this deadline was. Arizona didn't strike a deal on Tuesday, but its Monday acquisition of Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake was a steal. No, running backs don't have much value anymore, and yes, Drake was replaced by Mark Walton in Miami, but getting a 25-year-old potential multi-purpose back for a conditional sixth-round pick is a good deal no matter how you slice it. The Dolphins watched Jay Ajayi go win a Super Bowl after dealing him at the deadline in 2017, and while the Cards are at least a year or two from contending, they've now got quality insurance behind David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
Whether he catches five balls or he catches 50 balls over the remainder of the season, he'll be doing so with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, not
Matt Ryan Matt Schaub and the Atlanta Falcons. The Pats paid a steep price (a second-round pick), but what's that matter to him? He went from a landfill to a Super Bowl favorite.
San Francisco 49ers
People were a little hesitant to praise their acquisition of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders because they gave up a third and fourth-round pick, but they also got a fifth-rounder in return, and you know what? Sanders is good. It took him all of one game to make an instant impact on their passing attack, helping Jimmy Garoppolo look as comfortable as he's been all year and ensuring one of the NFC's most fearsome contenders has a veteran presence to lead what was previously a middling WR corps. Yes, he's 32, and yes, he'll be a free agent after the season, but the Niners look like a legitimate playoff team. You can do a lot worse than Sanders for what essentially amounts to a single mid-round pick, and the move itself shows the 49ers are serious about 2019. They also benefited from the rival Seattle Seahawks standing pat.
Let's be fair: We've been spoiled by the NFL's uptick in trade activity over the last few years. Blockbuster deals used to be few and far between, but now they're pretty common no matter what time of the year it is. Think about it: Even huge offseason trades, like Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns or Frank Clark to the Seattle Seahawks or Dee Ford to the Niners, seem like they happened years ago. For crying out loud, Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Peters and Jalen Ramsey and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all traded in the last two months alone. Still, NFL fans got the ultimate tease on Tuesday, hearing all kinds of talk about guys like Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, and Trent Williams, only to get one measly Dolphins trade. It makes you appreciate the busy days!
He's probably going to walk in free agency and get a decent contract in a few months anyway, but now one of the game's most well-regarded corners has to endure eight more games with the Denver Broncos -- who, by the way, are now sitting Joe Flacco for someone named Brandon Allen as their 2019 spirals even further downward.
If Trent Williams truly wasn't available, or at least at a reasonable cost, then you can't totally blame the Browns for failing to land their prized left tackle. But you can still blame them for the horrendous offensive line situation they'll be stuck with for the duration of what's increasingly looking like a lost season. John Dorsey made all the headlines by landing Odell and Olivier Vernon and Jarvis Landry the year before, but somehow, along the way, he also forgot that his franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield, needs blockers. You're telling us he couldn't have pried Halapoulivaati Vaitai from Philadelphia on Tuesday? This isn't just about 2019. It's about protecting Mayfield well enough that he survives into 2020.
Look, the Bengals had every right to hold on to someone like A.J. Green. The guy's a stud, he's been a lifelong Bengal, and he could still have a lot of elite football left. But unless they believe they're going to both a.) find a franchise quarterback and b.) contend for a Super Bowl in the next, say, three years, there is no reason they should not have auctioned Green to the highest bidder. This is a 32-year-old wide receiver who's missed 21 games (and counting) over the last two and a half years and will be a free agent after the season. At most, the Bengals will get a third-round compensatory pick in 2021 if Green signs a big deal elsewhere. Otherwise, they can pony up huge bucks to keep him -- right as they're trying to kick off a rebuild to get younger. It just doesn't make sense that they wouldn't get something for him (or aging defensive lineman Geno Atkins) while they can, especially after benching Andy Dalton for a rookie QB. It's hard to believe teams weren't offering at least a second-rounder for him.
Kansas City Chiefs
You know who's not hurting for cap space? The Chiefs. You know who needed desperately to add something to their defense or O-line? The Chiefs. Kansas City was linked to some big names, including Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson, in the weeks leading up to the deadline, but there was hardly a peep from their building when the time came to do a deal. That doesn't mean Patrick Mahomes' presence alone won't carry them to the playoffs, but it's just a shame they'll be moving forward without even an infusion of depth along the trenches or in the secondary.
New York Giants
We're really buying Leonard Williams, a relatively under-performing impending free agent, for a third and fifth-round pick while sitting near the bottom of the NFC East at 2-6? Why? We know Dave Gettleman loves his interior defensive linemen, and we know this because he already spent plenty of draft capital on the spot this year. Look, Williams isn't a bad player, and if he excels, feel free to come at me for doubting this one. But you only make this trade if you're also going to pay him big bucks this offseason, and the Giants should be more concerned with selling, not doling out big contracts, until they can make a better evaluation on Daniel Jones, Pat Shurmur and the rest of a rebuilt core. And what about Janoris Jenkins? Gettleman may have overvalued him after seeing what the Rams paid for Ramsey, but that's just what we'd call poor management.
Like Harris, he'll probably get paid sooner rather than later. But right now, it looks like he's been shortchanged by the Jets overvaluing his services. Now he's stuck having to get open against both opposing corners and ghosts in New York for another half-season.
In a stunning change of events, Trent Williams has already reported to the team following the deadline, making his first appearance at the facility all year. That doesn't mean he will play for them. He needs to report for a certain number of games so he can become a free agent. That also doesn't change the fact Washington could've gotten a huge haul for the left tackle had it actually taken his holdout seriously prior to the start of 2019. The team was also always going to struggle getting something for big-money corner Josh Norman, but you have to think this organization -- a perpetual example of front-office dysfunction -- could've gotten some nice assets for building around quarterback Dwayne Haskins by not waiting until Tuesday to ramp up trade talks.
Los Angeles Rams
No, "in-betweeners" are not a real thing, but the Rams don't fit neatly into either side. And they've been arguably the most active team of the last few weeks, so they're worth discussing. Ramsey was obviously a big get for their secondary, which was never nearly as good with Peters and Talib as people made it out to be, but the team may have some serious questions to answer in a few years' time, when QB Jared Goff will be farther along in his big contract and the club will be short on early draft picks. Here's the team's entire haul (and exchanged compensation) from their deals in October:
- CB Jalen Ramsey
- LB Kenny Young
- OG Austin Corbett
- 2020 fifth-rounder
- 2022 seventh-rounder
Rams give up:
- CB Marcus Peters
- CB Aqib Talib
- 2020 first-rounder
- 2021 first-rounder
- 2021 fourth-rounder
- 2021 fifth-rounder
Whenever you have one of the NFL's most aggressive general managers, you expect big, bold moves, and the Eagles steered clear of those this season despite ties to a number of big names since the start of September -- Clowney, Ramsey and Melvin Gordon among them. Numerous reports indicated Philly called about Harris and Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay on Tuesday but consistently deemed prices too high for their liking. That's just fine if teams were genuinely overvaluing talent (thinking of the Jets and Robby Anderson, in particular), and Roseman already dealt for a high-upside pass rusher in Genard Avery on Monday, but it's also hard not to be concerned about their WR depth moving forward. DeSean Jackson is apparently getting healthy, but he's 32, and what if he aggravates his prior injury? If he gets banged up again, they'll be putting a lot of pressure on Carson Wentz to lead a mostly plodding attack.