The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 1. The expectations are, as usual, that things will be quiet on the trade front. But what if every NFL team was required to acquire at least one player? Who would they go after?
That's what we're here to figure out. First, some ground rules:
- Only players that could reasonably be considered "potentially available" are allowed as targets. What does that mean? If a player has been mentioned in trade rumors; is a quality performer in limited snaps but blocked by players he'll likely never surpass in the rotation; had his role usurped by someone else on his team; or is a veteran on a squad that's going nowhere and carries a contract it would conceivably rid themselves of for the right price.
- Because this is supposed to be fun, we're largely shoving the salary-cap implications of several deals to the side.
- The acquiring team's top target is not necessarily a player the trading team would or even should look to move. We're just trying to solve problems for each team, not find the perfect match that makes sense for both sides.
- Several players will be included multiple times because some teams have the same problems.
- The chances that any of these deals happen is somewhere south of 1 percent. OK, maybe a little higher, but not much.
And with that, we're off.
The Bills lured Percy Harvin out of retirement on Tuesday, but let's be real: Harvin has been a tease his whole career and isn't the solution to the Bills' woes in the passing game. Hence, going after Jeffery. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday that Jeffery could be a potential trade target, and it makes sense. He's incredibly talented, but he has also been injury prone and the Bears didn't offer him a long-term deal because of that. He's playing on the franchise tag and has not been especially productive this season. Sammy Watkins is still out, so the Bills are rolling out wide receivers like Marquise Goodwin, Justin Hunter and Robert Woods as their top guys. They're fine, but they need someone better. Enter Jeffery, who has a lot more talent than any of them. And when Watkins comes back healthy, they would make a heck of a duo for Tyrod Taylor to throw to.
The Patriots just went out and dealt for a pass-rusher in former Detroit Lion Kyle Van Noy, but you can never have too many pass rushers. And the Patriots aren't close to having that problem anyway. They have only 11 sacks in the season, and have the second-lowest Adjusted Sack Rate in the league, per Football Outsiders. Barrett isn't seeing too many snaps for the Broncos, even with DeMarcus Ware out, as Von Miller and Shane Ray have held down the outside linebacker spots. But he has been productive when on the field, generating 12 pressures on 71 pass rushing snaps, per Pro Football Focus. The Pats and Broncos aren't necessarily ideal trade partners (and Denver isn't likely to give up Barrett cheaply, if at all), but New England did just send a tight end Denver's way -- and also dealt Jamie Collins to the Browns. Stranger things have happened.
So not all these players are going to save the team acquiring them. The Dolphins need another guard to play opposite Laremy Tunsil so that Ryan Tannehill stops running for his life on every snap. Jermon Bushrod has ... not worked in that spot. Lelito has played sparingly for the Saints, being used mostly as an injury fill-in. He has acquitted himself well, which differentiates him from Bushrod.
The Jets, even with Darrelle Revis on their side, have one of the worst pass defenses in football. They're 31st in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA and they've let up a ton of deep passes. Dennard has been surpassed in Cincinnati's corner rotation by Josh Shaw, but he was a first-round pick just two years ago. The Jets have been burned by some early-round defensive backs lately (hi, Dee Milliner), but Dennard is at least worth taking a flier on.
- Trade for: Willie Young (Bears)
Baltimore is a strange case. The defense has been pretty good. The offense has been incredibly not, but there's no specific position group that's killing them. The offensive line has kept Joe Flacco clean. Terrance West has run pretty well. The receivers are uninspiring but not awful. Defensively, the Ravens have been great at stopping the run (shout out to Brandon Williams) but merely OK against the pass. With Terrell Suggs out and Elvis Dumervil having barely played, we're giving Baltimore another pass rusher to add to the stable and force quarterbacks into some tougher throws. Young has played a bunch for the Bears, but given his age and contract, and their record, he may be more valuable to somebody else.
Cincinnati is using Brandon LaFell as the No. 2 receiver to A.J. Green right now. They have hopes for Tyler Boyd in the future but he has not necessarily been all that productive just yet. An in-division trade would be rare but Pittsburgh has found several receivers this season that can contribute in addition to Antonio Brown, and they have Martavis Bryant coming back next year. Wheaton is suddenly superfluous, but he would help the Bengals a lot, especially over the middle. They have needs on defense, too, but Andy Dalton really needs someone to open up the middle of the field again. The return Tyler Eifert will help in a big way, but having two options there can't hurt.
- Trade for: Jimmy Garoppolo (Patriots)
OK, so this deal is almost definitely not going to happen, but it makes sense. And, again, the Pats just traded Jamie Collins to Cleveland on Monday in a stunner. If Tom Brady is really going to play forever, Garoppolo may have to leave New England at some point. You could pretty much choose a player at any position for the Browns and hit on something they need, but we might as well start under center. The Browns have a history of whiffing on quarterbacks in the draft, so let them trade for one that has already shown he can make some things happen on the field, but doesn't necessarily come with a huge investment just yet. Garoppolo still has a year left on his rookie contract and the Browns could take a look at what he can do throughout the rest of this season and next year as well. That's more than enough time for Hue Jackson to discover if he's the right man to lead the team in the future.
- Trade for: Joe Haden (Browns)
Haden's contract is too large for his level of play, which has slipped the past couple of years, but that doesn't matter here. The Steelers, again, are incredibly vulnerable in the secondary (23rd in pass defense DVOA, 27th against No. 1 wideouts and 19th against No. 2's), and Haden would immediately raise the talent level of the entire group. He's not the top shadow guy he once was, but he can still make plays.
- Trade for: Seantrel Henderson (Bills)
A tip of the cap goes to CBSSports.com contributor and former NFL agent Joel Corry, who came up with this one:
Henderson recently returned from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and has been battling Crohn's disease. He has lost the starting job he has held for much of the last two seasons to Jordan Mills. Henderson is also behind Cyrus Kouandijo on the depth chart. The 2014 seventh-round pick should have more upside than Clark since he is six and half years younger. His rookie contract expires after the 2017 season.
That certainly makes sense.
- Trade for: Sheldon Richardson (Jets)
For years, the Colts have been gashed up the middle in the running game. Richardson has been a major part of the Jets being one of the NFL's strongest run defenses during that same period of time. Given that New York recently gave Muhammad Wilkerson a boatload of money and may not want to do the same with Richardson, exploring a trade makes some degree of sense, even if they might not want to split up the current only good unit on the team. Still, he would be a godsend for the Colts, who would finally get the manpower they need up front on defense.
Jacksonville has been brutal offensively. Much of that falls at the feet of Blake Bortles, whose mechanics have regressed badly, but he also has not been protected very well by the guys up front. Kelvin Beachum, in particular, has struggled the past few weeks. Bulaga signed a pretty sizable deal to stay with the Packers, but Green Bay also just re-signed David Bakhtiari, its left tackle, to an even larger contract, and drafted Jason Spriggs in the second round. Maybe the Jags could pry Bulaga away and pair him with Jermey Parnell on the bookends of the line. One of them would have to swing over to the left side, which is tough, but at least they would have competence in front of Bortles.
- Trade for: Donald Butler (Dolphins)
We wanted to give the Titans a receiver for Marcus Mariota, especially after the retirement of Andre Johnson, but since Mike Mularkey doesn't care about the passing game anyway, we're going in another direction. Tennessee's linebackers have been absolutely eaten up in coverage this season. Butler hasn't played all that big a role within the Dolphins' defense and his play slipped badly over the final years he spent in San Diego, but he had a history of working well in pass coverage before that downturn.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't make all that much sense for the Cowboys to deal Romo. Doing so accelerates too much money onto their cap for a player that won't be on the team, and anyway, having two good quarterbacks is not actually that big of a problem. But if they got enough in the deal, maybe they would be motivated to do it. For Denver, Trevor Siemian has looked fine at quarterback. Here's the thing: Winning the Super Bowl with fine at quarterback is the exception, not the rule. Denver doing what it did with Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler last season is a rarity. There's a reason we can rattle off names like Trent Dilfer off the top of our heads. The one thing this Broncos team is missing right now is a dynamic quarterback to take its offense to the next level. Romo could conceivably push them back over the top.
Barwin is currently miscast as a 4-3 defensive end in Jim Schwartz's system and a deal like this would allow him to get back to playing in a 3-4. Yes, they've been without Justin Houston, but the Chiefs are also getting next to no pass rush right now. Tamba Hali, Dee Ford and Frank Zombo have combined for 31 pressures in six games. Barwin has 17 on only 170 pass-rushing snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Adding another rusher to the stable wouldn't hurt.
- Trade for: Dan Skuta (Jaguars)
Skuta hasn't been used that much in Jacksonville this year as the Jaguars operate mostly out of their nickel set. He's a pure pass-rush type that isn't necessarily equipped to cover in space. Oakland tried to beef up its pass rush this offseason by adding Bruce Irvin across from Khalil Mack, but it hasn't had the expected results -- the Raiders are just 27th in Adjusted Sack Rate. Add another player to the rotation and maybe guys have fresher legs and more productive rushes.
- Trade for: Dion Lewis (Patriots)
Lewis is only now getting back on the practice field after spending the early part of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but if he's healthy this is a perfect fit for San Diego. The Pats signed Lewis to an extension amid his breakout campaign last year, and it's unlikely the Pats will look to deal him, but James White has played Lewis' role expertly since the diminutive back went down -- particularly this year once Tom Brady returned. San Diego badly needs somebody to fill the role Danny Woodhead vacated when he tore his knee and Dexter McCluster hasn't really stepped up to the plate.
- Trade for: Cameron Wake (Dolphins)
The Cowboys' pass-rushing issues are well-known, and they've been there for a while now. Getting DeMarcus Lawrence back, as they did two weeks ago, should help a bit, but they're still working at a deficit. Wake is getting up there in years, but he still has it. On only 137 snaps for the Dolphins this year, Wake has 20 pressures, making him one of the most productive pass-rushers on a per-snap basis. If the Dolphins aren't going to use him on an every-snap basis, maybe the Cowboys will.
- Trade for: Stephone Anthony (Saints)
We'll let ESPN's Mike Triplett explain Anthony's potential availability:
A first-round pick in 2015 who started every game at middle linebacker last season and led the team with 112 tackles, Anthony barely plays now. He has just four tackles in 53 total snaps after being moved to the strong side, then was benched because of continued problems with assignments, recognition and instincts. The Saints like his athletic potential and have a desperate need for young talent on defense, so they would love to find a way to develop him. But if another team that liked Anthony in the draft were to come calling, he seems like a prime candidate for a change of scenery.
New York spent a ton of money on its front four and secondary this offseason, but as usual, did not pay much attention to a sagging linebacker group. Give the Giants an athlete that can make plays in the middle of the defense, and they might hit another level on that side of the football.
Doug Pederson denied Wednesday that his team is in the market for a wide receiver, but that doesn't mean we can't give them one anyway. Pederson may be confident in the ability of Josh Huff or Nelson Agholor to "take the top off the defense," but neither of them have actually done it with any regularity at the NFL level. Smith has. He provided Joe Flacco with a nice deep threat for years in Baltimore, but has been under-utilized since moving to San Francisco. Carson Wentz has a big arm but doesn't really have a big threat down the field. Hook him up with Smith and see what happens.
Stewart is a veteran running back owed $8.5 million next season and plays for a 1-5 team. We're not saying the Panthers are looking to move him, but if they decided to do it, this would be the time. Matt Jones has not exactly worked out as expected for Washington, and Stewart would team with pass-catching back Chris Thompson for a better one-two punch than Washington currently has. Giving Kirk Cousins a more reliable back would also open up play-action a bit more, a part of his game that has suffered this year (129.1 passer rating on play-action last year; 98.9 this year).
- Trade for: Mike Adams (Colts)
Chris Prosinski and Harold Jones-Quartey are not equipped to play big-time snaps at safety. Adams is playing well for the Colts, and in a big role, but he's unlikely to be re-signed at the end of the year given the presence of T.J. Green and Clayton Geathers on the roster and Adams' likely price tag. He could at least give Chicago a few years of solid play before they figure out who to put next to Adrian Amos at safety in the future.
- Trade for: Darren McFadden (Cowboys)
Ameer Abdullah is on injured reserve. Theo Riddick has been out for two weeks. Dwayne Washington has been in and out of the lineup. Justin Forsett has had one good season. Zach Zenner isn't cutting it. McFadden ran for 4.6 yards per carry last season. If we take out the Running Behind the Cowboys Offensive Line Adjustment, that's probably something like 4.1 or so behind a regular ole' unit. The Lions could do a heck of a lot worse. They can also let him share snaps with Riddick, who is more of a pass-catching back anyway.
Green Bay Packers
- Trade for: Darren McFadden (Cowboys)
Eddie Lacy is out. James Starks is out. Don Jackson (who was elevated from the practice squad the day before the Packers' last game) is banged up. Ty Montgomery, a wide receiver, is in line to lead the Packers in carries, and Randall Cobb, also a receiver, is probably next in line. Knile Davis is not the answer. McFadden isn't the "answer," either, but at least he knows what he's doing and has a track record at the position. Put him behind Green Bay's solid offensive line and next to Aaron Rodgers, and he could make some things happen.
- Trade for: Joe Staley (49ers)
- Trade for: Joe Haden (Browns)
Everyone throws on the Falcons (24th in pass defense DVOA). All you have to do is target somebody that's not being covered by Desmond Trufant. As stated earlier, Haden's play has slipped from its peak, but he's still a positive player. Three of these NFC South teams could badly use one of those in the secondary.
- Trade for: Joe Haden (Browns)
The Carolina secondary has been torn to shreds this season (27th) and badly needs a standard-bearer with Josh Norman now plying his trade in Washington after Dave Gettleman cut up his franchise tag this offseason. Like the Falcons and Saints, the Panthers could badly use help in the secondary.
New Orleans Saints
- Trade for: Joe Haden (Browns)
New Orleans is still New Orleans (28th), letting teams move up and down the field at will when putting the ball in the air. Like the Panthers and Falcons, they could badly use help in the secondary.
- Trade for: Alshon Jeffery (Bears)
The only reliable target Jameis Winston currently has is Mike Evans. The Bucs love themselves some tall wide receivers that can go up top, and Jeffery certainly fits that framework. He could easily slide in across from Evans and replace Vincent Jackson, giving Jameis two young, talented receivers to grow with over the rest of his career. It would be hell for opposing cornerbacks to deal with the physicality those two bring to the table. As a bonus, the Bucs' tiny cornerback group would get used to working against mammoth-sized wideouts in practice.
- Trade for: Markus Wheaton (Steelers)
What the Cardinals really need is last year's Carson Palmer, but that player doesn't exist anymore so we're just going to give them a receiver. Jaron Brown is done for the year with a torn ACL. John Brown has been having leg problems due to a recently discovered sickle cell trait, and while he should be able to play now that the Cardinals have discovered it, you don't know just yet how they'll be able to manage. Michael Floyd has been largely invisible and is dealing with injury issues of his own. J.J. Nelson is not necessarily ready for prime time. Do the Cardinals really need another wideout? No. But their defensive is awesome, so is David Johnson, they don't really use the tight end that much, and we can't give Palmer a time machine. So we might as well just throw another pass-catcher in the mix.
- Trade for: Alshon Jeffery (Bears)
Jeff Fisher stubbornly refuses to admit his quarterback is a problem and recently said he'll make a change at receiver before he makes one at quarterback. Well, here's a change for you, Jeff.
San Francisco 49ers
- Trade for: Mychal Kendricks (Eagles)
There may not be a team in football that needs something more than the 49ers need a linebacker, especially with NaVorro Bowman once again out for the year. Kendricks has turned into more of a rotational player for the Eagles under Jim Schwartz, but he has a history as a fairly solid starter. Throw him back to Chip Kelly's squad (who used Kendricks a lot more than Schwartz is) and he might raise his level of play again.
- Trade for: Joe Thomas (Browns)
Yes, Hue Jackson has publicly stated that the Browns are not trading Thomas. But that doesn't mean we can't dream. No team in the league needs help on the offensive line more than the Seahawks do right now. Things were already bad for them, then left tackle Bradley Sowell got injured against the Cardinals on Sunday night. Russell Wilson is hobbled and can't make the read-option work as well as it used to, and he too often doesn't have enough time to stand back in the pocket and show off his arm. Give him arguably the best left tackle in the NFL, and that will no longer be nearly as much of a problem.