Eleven NFL trades that eight teams need to make before the Halloween deadline
Let's make some NBA-style trades for contenders and teams that aren't going anywhere
Every year I start to get my hopes up, just a little bit, at this point in the season. I try to convince myself that this will be the year when NFL general managers finally get a little more aggressive and ambitious and mirror their brethren in the NBA, NHL and MLB, and actually provide a little excitement at the trade deadline.
The football deadline will never be as exciting as those other sports for many reasons. Blame the intricacies of this game and how much nuance and teammate and prep time is required to learn schemes and playbooks. Or the parity of football and the fact that a midseason deadline ensures most teams are still at least somewhat viable playoff candidates. There are also no farm systems stocked with future prospects with which to package in trades.
But still, there should at least be a modicum of action. And with so many teams seemingly with at least one eye on the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft already, and eager to be in position to draft a quarterback very high in April if necessary, perhaps we'll finally get more movement at the end of this month (the deadline is at 4 pm on October 31 this season, and hopefully things get spooky in a few front offices around Halloween).
No one wants to be seen as throwing in the towel on this season … but let's also be real about where some young general managers are right now. Rookie GMs John Lynch (49ers), Brandon Beane (Bills) and Chris Ballard (Jets) inherited bad teams and have been willing to be bold already in reshaping their rosters with an emphasis on 2018 and beyond. Smart teams will get ahead of the curve before the offseason and, especially given the atrocious state of offensive line play, if you have an older tackle with a decent pedigree on a struggling team who might not be around in 2-3 years when the franchise turns around, well, I'd be shopping him around. The list of playoff hopeful teams who could use an upgrade include the Patriots, Packers (gutted by injuries), Seahawks, Cardinals, Panthers, Jaguars, Titans (the tackles are great but the interior linemen are getting beat), Ravens. OK, I'll stop there, and I highly doubt that many of the above teams actually reach the postseason (Baltimore, Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, I'm talking to you), but you get the idea.
There is no excuse not to be floating some ideas and taking the temperature of rival GMs as we get deeper into October. Here's the case for why some teams should be more proactive marketing certain players ahead of the deadline:
This might be the end for the timeless receiver and the Cardinals are a whole lot closer to being 0-4 than they are to winning anything this season. They may have the worst line in the league, Carson Palmer is near the end too, and so, too, might be head coach Bruce Arians. Playing his entire career in Arizona would be special … but going out a champion on a Super Bowl team might be better. I'd give him that shot and it's obvious the man can still play.
Yes, the Bills are a great feel-good story at 3-1 and in first place in the AFC East. And, yes, on paper Glenn is a well-paid, starting left tackle for them. But the team has actually gone on its two-game tear with Glenn injured and he's banged up a lot and he's not as good as his contract would dictate. This regime also inherited him and has already done well moving former high picks like Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby and Cardale Jones in trades. The line has looked better without him, but he would still be a major upgrade on what other teams are running out at left tackle. He's due a little over $20M total in 2018-2019 and with six picks in the top three rounds in 2018, his younger, cheaper replacement might already be on the horizon. A lot of old-school front offices would never consider this, but given what I have seen from Beane and coach Sean McDermott so far, I wouldn't put much past them.
He is a helluva player when he is healthy and a real difference maker, but he's hurt a lot and the Bears are struggling again and, turning to a rookie QB in Week 5, it's fair to say the focus is on the future again in Chicago. I'd want a fair amount in return for him if I moved him -- it would have to be a football trade and not a salary dump -- but it may be worth exploring. He's making $7M this season and has about $15M remaining in the final two years of his deal.
We'll see if any of this gets done. History would tell us it's not bloody likely. Old habits die hard in the NFL, and in the end it'll probably be 2-3 very minor moves in the weeks leading to the deadline (think guys like Kenny Vaccaro or Kenny Britt or Jeremy Hill), but if anyone is willing to shake up his team, and the league, it's Belichick, and maybe, just maybe, he spurs some activity by making a blockbuster or two.
This should have happened years ago with the Browns perpetually three or more years from competing and always in love with future draft picks, and Thomas nearing the end and with an easily trade-able contract. The Browns could still be winless at the deadline and rookie QB DeShone Kizer is getting pummeled even with Thomas on the field and the teams desperate for an upgrade at left tackle are too many to mention. I doubt anything happens here, because the Browns are stubborn and Thomas would never ask for a trade, but it's backwards he's still there under these circumstances.
Yes, this team looks like the front-runner in the AFC South, so why trade a former Pro Bowl tackle? Well, Brown is not planning to end his holdout until after the bye and, with Deshaun Watson thriving at QB since taking over, the acute protection issues don't seem so acute and they rolled up 57 points on the Titans last weekend without Brown. Why have a lingering situation on a potential playoff team? They could get a player to help right now or recoup one of the 2018 draft picks they gave up by trading up to draft Deshaun Watson last spring. Again, there would be no shortage of suitors for him.
Davis is getting back from injury and if he plays well, there would be plenty of contending teams who would want him. He turns 30 this offseason and is an UFA at season's end and would only cost $4.5M in salary to acquire. There would be a market.
Castonzo could be sold as a right tackle -- where he would end up playing on a better line -- and with two years and $16M in total left on his deal beyond 2017, that's still not bad even on the right side. The Colts are going to have to draft an upgrade at left tackle anyway. A new team that moves him to the right side would have some leverage to re-do his contract to stay as well.
I don't see Miami going this route by any means, but after surprisingly reaching the playoffs a year ago and looking like a team in regression and still needing to greatly reload on defense and with the QB position in limbo, long-term, and with them maybe needing to delve into that market next spring, and with other teams already loaded up on 2018 picks, well, it might be better to be a year too early than a year too late in retooling. I don't see how they pay Landry what he'll want, given what they already are paying Kenny Stills and what they might have to pay DeVante Parker. Landry tends to grate on people there and as much as the Dolphins protest the notion, I continue to hear his name come up in informal trade chatter in the offseason. A pending free agent in an offense that isn't functioning right now, even with him, well, I'd explore it.
And contending teams never have enough pass rush and Wake is a beast but he's also 35 years old. He's due $8M in 2018 (but only $3M of it guaranteed), and even teams in a quasi-cap crunch could find a way to make him fit. What a compliment he would be to a Demarcus Lawrence in Dallas. New England is desperate for veteran pass rushing acumen. Hell, almost any team that thinks it could contend -- Packers, Falcons, Lions, Buccaneers, Titans -- could make an argument for adding him. The Steelers have had had internal interest in the past and while they have added Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt in recent years and still have James Harrison, they've also been making lots of trades trying to win a Lombardi right now.
New England Patriots
Oh I know, he's the savior holding the clipboard and the next Tom Brady … only he never sees the field, and Brady is still the best ever and he'll have to make $20-plus million to be backup on the franchise tag next year. And the Pats defense is horribly broken right now with no easy fix. I'm not going to belabor the point -- -- but New England is usually the most active team at the deadline and Bill Belichick has an ace in his back pocket if he wants to play it.
Butler was nearly dealt to the Saints this offseason -- contract talks held it up -- and while the Pats need help in the secondary and he is a quality corner, they don't plan to pay him so I'd anticipate they keep an open mind about moving him.
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