The NFL Trade window will slam shut 4pm ET (9pm here in the UK) on Tuesday. Teams wanting to trade after that will have to wait until the next new league year, scheduled for March 2021. So if you’re looking to improve for a playoff run, wanting to grab someone to build around in the future, or wanting to dump a player in return for assets to use in the future; Now is the time to act.
We’ve seen two defensive ends move this week with Everson Griffin joining the Lions and Carlos Dunlap the Seahawks. The Cowboys getting a conditional 6th rounder for Griffin and the Bengals a 7th plus offensive lineman B.J. Finney. Both perfect examples of teams wanting to add talent to help them make the playoffs trading with teams with one eye already on retooling for next season.
With 7 teams with 1 or fewer wins, there’ll be plenty of teams looking to “sell” before the window shuts. With the new, extra, 7th playoff spot available this year there are plenty of teams looking to “buy” and add to their rosters prior to the deadline.
San Francisco 49ers – Buyers
The 49ers lost two of their defensive stalwarts in Nick Bosa and Soloman Thomas to ACL injuries in week 2. Near legendary corner Richard Sherman and former Probowl linebacker Kwon Alexandra have missed time too, to name but a few of their defensive injuries. Despite this the ‘Niners are only allowing 19.4 points and 309.6 yards per game, both 5th best in the league.
Not just a defensive issue, San Fran have multiple injuries on the offensive side of the ball too. Jimmy Garoppolo has missed time, running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are both out, as is last years leading receiver Deebo Samuel.
9 months after a disappointing Superbowl appearance expect the 49ers to be on the look out to add talent on either side of the ball to bolster their playoff chances this year.
Houston Texans – Sellers
The Texans have already sold, or should I say undersold, one of their best assets in DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals bagged the 3 time All-pro for basically a 2nd round pick and running back David Johnson. The “logic” of the move was Hopkins would cost the Texans too much to keep. Instead they’d sign some cheaper options at receiver and hope for the best.
The Hopkins trade came at a similar time the Bills gave a 1st round pick for Stefon Diggs. Considering Diggs averaged 300 fewer yards and 2 fewer touchdowns per year his career compared to Hopkins. It’s understandable to see why many thought the Texans did a bad job with this trade.
It didn’t work out for GM/Overlord/Head Coach Bill O’Brien who was fired at 0-4. They’re currently 1-6 and this season is all but over. Looking forward the Texans have no 1st round pick in the next NFL Draft and the 7th highest cap hit heading into 2021.
They’re a prime candidate to be shipping players out for some much needed draft capital and potentially look to free up cap space for 2021.
New England Patriots – Buyers
At 2-4 it looks unlikely the Patriots will continue their record breaking streak of playoff appearances, currently at 11. Following a 2-1 start New England have struggled offensively, especially at the quarterback position. Cam Newton has only 2 passing touchdowns to 7 interceptions. He’s throwing an interception on 5.3% of his attempts – second only to Kirk Cousins (5.7%). His quarterback rating of 71.7 is 30th in the league and is a career low in seasons he’s played over 2 games.
Rushing the ball Cam Newton has been productive, he’s on target for career highs in both rushing yards and touchdowns. His 244 yards on the ground leads the team and he also has 5 of their 8 rushing touchdowns.
On the off chance the Patriots can sneak into the playoffs they could do with offensive weapons, especially at receiver. Bill Belichick has a history of trading for receivers; the Pats traded for Mohamed Sanu last year and famously traded for hall of fame wide out Randy Moss. Sanu wasn’t too productive but Moss famously went on to break the single season touchdown record.
Regardless of whether the Patriots can wiggle their way into the post season there’s another offensive position they could target – Quarterback. There’s a pool of young, former first round picks that could be available on the cheap. Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen, even the rival Jets’ Sam Darnold may be available. All top 15 picks, all under 24 years old and with NFL experience. They could each benefit joining a stable, experienced franchise like the Patriots where they could be moulded to fit exactly what Belichick and coordinator Josh McDaniels want behind centre for years to come.
Philadelphia Eagles – Sellers
The Eagles are in an odd position, despite a lowly 2-4-1 record they’re in first position in the NFC East. It’s hard to predict what will happen in the newly nicknamed “NFC least”, whoever does stumble into the playoffs from the East certainly won’t be going far. The Eagles currently occupy the driving seat and a win against the depleted Cowboys this Sunday night would give them a boost before their bye week.
While having a decent chance at making the playoffs the Eagles also have huge cap issues on the horizon. Currently standing they have $260m pencilled in against the cap next year. Many expect the cap to decrease from this years mark of $198m due to the financial pressures thanks to the pandemic. The Eagles could be in the red by a whopping $63m (as per sportack.com) by the start of next season. That’s a lot to chop!
Even if they do make the playoffs there chance of winning a ring again is very unlikely. If there’s someone willing to trade for a player who can take some of that cap room with them, the Eagles may well be very interested.
Philadelphia Eagles – Buyers
Hang on, thought the Eagles were going to ship players out? Now you’re saying they’re going to be buyers too? Yes, here’s why.
The Eagles aren’t scared to make drastic moves; they brought in Darius Slay for a 3rd and 5th round picks this off season, then signed the 3 time pro bowler to a 3 year $50m extension. They famously dumped starting QB Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a 1st and a 4th round picks. And remember the Nick Foles guy, the one who won the Superbowl MVP while leading the Eagles to their first ever superbowl victory… They traded him away 2 seasons before his heroics to the Rams.
Despite aforementioned cap issues coming up in 2021, the Eagles actually have some, $22m, room to play with next year. Now, they can roll this over to next year or they spend it now. Depending on how they feel the season may go, the Eagles may be in a position where they can easily win the NFC East and have enough time to spare to get everyone rested and in shape for the post-season. If they’re confident of this, big IF, it will help their slim chances of making the Superbowl for only their 4th time if they can add some pieces. A few mid-late round picks for someone who’s out of contract at the end of the year, that’s the best of both worlds; They can evaluate them and maybe keep them next year, cap dependant, while they help make a run at the Superbowl this year.
Atlanta Falcons – Sellers
In terms of looking for a team which ticks all the boxes to be a “seller”, the Falcons are a slam dunk. They fit every criteria for a team who could and should be trading players away:
- 1-6 so very unlikely to make the playoffs next year.
- Over the cap next year, to the tune of an estimated $25m.
- Will have both a new coach and GM who’ll want to make changes and “add their own”. Cap room and draft picks help that.
- Players who teams would trade a LOT for.
69% of the 2021 Falcons predicted cap space is taken up by just 5 players. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr. Each of these five would cost Atlanta in dead money to move on. But the first two are interesting; both the wrong side of thirty, but seemingly lots left in the tank and could easily be worth a handful of high draft picks. Unlikely, but would be franchise altering if either were traded.
After the firing of Dan Quinn from his post of Head Coach and GM Thomas Dimitroff the Falcons are on the look out for new management. Depending on what path they want to take, rebuild or more of a retool, will shape if they’re active in the trade market this week. If they’re active or not they’ll be doing some reshuffling in the off-season.