Buy, sell or hold: What should each AFC team do at the 2023 trade deadline?

2RTADK7 Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II (2) lines up against the Las Vegas Raiders during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

We’ve discussed many of the top trade deadline candidates, and we’ve begun recommending specific trades that could make sense across the league. Here, we take a step back to simply identify which teams should be buyers, which should be sellers and which should stand pat with the talent they have in the building.

Whether your team is a buyer or seller, you can get a jumpstart on retooling the roster heading into 2024 with the PFF Mock Draft Simulator.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

BLT | BUF | CIN | CLE | DEN | HOU | IND | JAX
KC | LVR | LACMIA |  NENYJPITTEN

BALTIMORE RAVENS: HOLD

The Ravens are already in the top three of cash spending for 2023, so pulling off another blockbuster like they did last year in acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith may be tough to accomplish. Giving up premium draft capital also makes it harder to add cheap young talent, further compounding the issue.

Plus, adding veteran talent like Jadeveon Clowney just before the season and Kyle Van Noy a few weeks into the season is effectively making trade deadline moves by another means.


BUFFALO BILLS: HOLD

The Bills have suffered key injuries to cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Matt Milano, but it’s probably sink-or-swim time for young talent, such as cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford and linebackers Terrel Bernard and Dorian Williams.

The Bills could make some minor additions, but there’s a lot of business ahead this offseason, so a splash move may not be the best idea.


CINCINNATI BENGALS: HOLD

The Bengals did well to address almost any remaining roster holes during the 2023 draft. First-rounder Myles Murphy is an edge defender with three-down ability, second-rounder D.J. Turner is a speedy outside cornerback and third-rounder Jordan Battle provides important depth at safety. Getting healthy on offense and executing more cleanly should be the focus going forward.

The one area worth monitoring is at tight end, where Cincinnati has received bottom-of-the-league production. We don’t envision a splash like New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry, but perhaps something smaller such as bringing in veteran blocker extraordinaire Marcedes Lewis could be a small move that makes a meaningful difference.


CLEVELAND BROWNS: BUY

The Browns are already all in on 2023, so why not crank it up to 11? Adding another receiving threat could make sense, or perhaps another interior pass-rusher could help diversify a pass-rush unit that has already thrown the kitchen sink at opposing offenses this season.


DENVER BRONCOS: SELL

Denver should be one of the biggest sellers of the deadline, with certain players falling into different buckets.

Should be actively shopping: wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton and linebacker Josey Jewell.

Should listen if there’s a big offer: safety Justin Simmons and tackle Garett Bolles.

Would have to be completely blown away: cornerback Patrick Surtain II.


HOUSTON TEXANS: HOLD

Houston has been one of the most exciting teams across the league through eight weeks, and they should continue to let recent draft picks grow and develop with invaluable live reps. After spending a lot of money on internal extensions, with wide receiver Nico Collins perhaps playing his way into a nice payday, as well, they probably don’t need to make any additions.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: HOLD

With the very unfortunate loss of Anthony Richardson for the remainder of the season, 2023 for the Colts is about getting young talent on both sides of the ball as much experience as possible so Richardson can step into a better situation in 2024.

If a team comes calling for cornerback Kenny Moore II and Indianapolis does not plan to re-sign him this offseason, perhaps the Colts should entertain the move for a team leader. Rotational pass-rushers Jacob Martin — who was traded at last year’s deadline ‚ and Tyquan Lewis could draw a few calls for a late Day 3 pick, as well.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: BUY

This is almost certainly the final season where quarterback Trevor Lawrence is cheap from both a cash and cap perspective, so why not push your chips in and make a move at the deadline to lock in an AFC South title and even push for a top seed in the conference?

Edge rusher reinforcements would make the most sense by far.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: BUY

We know the Chiefs are comfortable being patient and keeping a balanced budget, but a move for a wide receiver looks smarter and smarter — and the team did just trade for Mecole Hardman. Kansas City’s wide receiver corps boasts one of the league's worst drop rates and just doesn’t have a go-to target, so we recently recommended a move for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Ultimately a major splash isn’t necessary, with a big decision awaiting star interior defender Chris Jones this upcoming offseason. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu is now set to return in Week 7 and provide a major boost to a defensive line that is already playing good football. Hopkins is cheap in 2023, though, and Kansas City can continue to operate year by year after the fact with no guaranteed money on his deal for 2024.


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: BUY & SELL

Las Vegas has deficiencies across its roster, particularly along the defensive line outside of Maxx Crosby and in the secondary. A low-cost player to provide more pass-rush juice could make a lot of sense for a team that is now 3-4 and working to secure a wild-card bid in the AFC. New York Jets edge defender Carl Lawson or Philadelphia Eagles edge defender Derek Barnett could make some sense if two fellow playoff hopefuls are willing to move depth edge talent.

Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow has not been utilized a ton in this offense, and Las Vegas should continue to work to find him a new home.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: BUY

The Chargers are already in something of an all-in season, as key veterans on both sides of the ball are potentially playing their final seasons with the team. The coaching staff and front office could be working to retain their roles in 2024 and beyond, and adding speed at wide receiver remains an area of need.


MIAMI DOLPHINS: HOLD

The Dolphins made their big trade splash this offseason by acquiring cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who returned with a bang in Week 8. Miami needs improved health from Ramsey, edge defender Jaelan Phillips and running back De’Von Achane, but the talent is all here to make a run.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: SELL

The Patriots need to hit the reset button and add as many draft picks to their league-leading 2024 cap space war chest. Guard Michael Onwenu, edge defender Josh Uche and potentially safety Kyle Dugger are the big names that would return nice value. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne could net some solid draft capital, as well. No one should be off the table for New England, outside of recent top draft picks.


NEW YORK JETS: BUY & SELL

With injuries to offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker and Joe Tippmann, adding a position-flex offensive lineman like free agent La’el CollinsTennessee Titans guard/tackle Dillon Radunz or Minnesota Vikings guard Ezra Cleveland could make sense.

Edge defender Carl Lawson and wide receiver Mecole Hardman — who was just traded to the Chiefs — don’t and didn't, respectively, appear to have roles on this team.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS: HOLD

Pittsburgh should definitely explore adding secondary help, at both cornerback and safety, but otherwise has a roster with solid depth at a lot of spots. The return of Diontae Johnson from injured reserve and tight end Pat Freiermuth from a shorter absence can hopefully provide a spark and get this offense back on track, but continued growth from young players is really the key here.


TENNESSEE TITANS: SELL

With the injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, there may not be a more obvious teardown staring a team in the face at the moment (in the non-Denver Broncos category). There is truly a laundry list of names with varying degrees of how obvious it should be to explore trades: wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, cornerback Kristian Fulton, running back Derrick Henry, edge defender Denico Autry and interior defender Teair Tart. We’re not saying they should move all of these players, but calls should be answered on essentially the entire roster.

Every other team in the division has a young quarterback with a lot of promise, and with every year you delay the inevitable, you make it harder to get back in the AFC South mix.


 

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