News & Analysis

Eight trades teams should make ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline

The seemingly Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots already sent a second-rounder to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a Mohamad Sanu, a 30-year-old wide receiver with single-season grades above 70.0 in each of the past three years. The Houston Texans added a first-round talent in Gareon Conley to their secondary, trading the Oakland Raiders a third-round pick in exchange for the former Ohio State standout’s services. The Baltimore Ravens sent Kenny Young and a Day 3 pick to the Los Angeles Rams for veteran cornerback Marcus Peters, and Los Angeles’ brass sent a bevy of picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace Peters with Jalen Ramsey.

Contenders are looking to improve their rosters ahead of the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline; the league’s bottom-feeders are shipping off the few chips they have left in exchange for draft capital. Here’s a look at eight more trades some NFL contenders should make before it’s too late.

Seahawks trade for Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr.

Joe Flacco obviously isn’t the answer in Denver. The longtime Ravens signal-caller has earned just a 65.6 passing grade through Week 7 and has John Elway’s Broncos sitting at 2-5. The playoffs, let alone a Super Bowl, are out of reach. Veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who is only signed through this season on a one-year, $12 million contract, deserves better.

A PFF favorite since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas in 2011, Harris has earned a 72.0-plus coverage grade every year of his career. Among the 124 cornerbacks with at least 600 coverage snaps over the past three seasons (2016-18), Harris ranked tied for second in coverage grade (91.5).

While veteran outside cornerback Shaquill Griffin has impressed with his 80.6 coverage grade to start the season, the rest of the Seahawks’ cornerback room has struggled significantly. Jamar Taylor has underwhelmed (56.8 coverage grade) playing primarily in the slot. And Tre Flowers has been a liability opposite of Griffin at outside corner, as he’s allowed more than 15 first downs in coverage, recorded just one forced incompletion and owns a 53.9 coverage grade. Harris would immediately step in as an upgrade over Taylor or Flowers with his ability to play both the slot and outside corner.

Patriots trade for Bengals TE Tyler Eifert

After adding Sanu early Tuesday morning, the Patriots should keep the gas pedal down and continue to bolster their receiving corps with the addition of Cincinnati Bengals veteran tight end Tyler Eifert. The Pats’ tight ends have combined for just 13 receptions, 188 yards, eight first downs, one touchdown (Ryan Izzo) and two drops through Week 7. Eifert is by no means an All-Pro at the position, but he has flashed brilliance on the few snaps he’s been healthy in his NFL career and should come off the Bengals’ books for next to nothing in return. Among the 50 NFL tight ends with at least 700 routes run since the start of the 2013 season, Eifert ranks tied for seventh in receiving grade (82.5) and 13th in yards per route run (1.48).

Raiders trade for Jets DI Leonard Williams

The Raiders need help along the defensive line, specifically pass-rushers. Oakland ranked 32nd in team pressure percentage (24.2%) in 2018 and currently ranks 28th in the same metric (30.4%) through Week 7 of the 2019 season. New York Jets defensive interior Leonard Williams is no Khalil Mack, but he is an upgrade in that regard.

None of the Raiders’ three interior defensive linemen with 100 or more pass-rush snaps have pass-rush grades above 62.0 through Week 7. Williams has totaled at least 45 pressures in each of the four seasons prior to his 2019 campaign and earned 65.0-plus pass-rush grades all four years, as well. He’s also an excellent run defender with run-defense grades above 71.0 in each of the past four seasons (2015-18).

49ers trade for Jets WR Robby Anderson

The San Francisco 49ers’ offense runs through tight end George Kittle and the running game, but the need for explosive plays will come sooner rather than later if Jimmy Garoppolo & Co. are serious about competing in the NFC. Robby Anderson brings exactly that. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jets receiver is a true speedster. He’s one of the better deep threats in the NFL when given the opportunity and has expanded his route tree in recent years, as well.

Ravens trade for Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett

The Patriots’ defense is thriving without significant contributions from veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett. The 6-foot-4, 274-pounder turned 34 years old in November but can still offer value as a rotational pass-rusher, which should have the Ravens calling Bill Belichick & Co. before the NFL trade deadline.

Bennett totaled 70 pressures in 2017 and 78 in 2018. He also offers unique positional versatility with his ability to win pass-rushing snaps off the edge or from the interior. Only Matthew Judon (68.8) has played more than 100 pass-rush snaps for the Ravens’ defense this season and earned a pass-rush grade above 65.0. Bennett likely changes that if added to the roster before the deadline.

Chiefs trade for Falcons CB Desmond Trufant

The Kansas City Chiefs‘ secondary lacks talent. The team’s coverage unit struggled significantly in 2018, and it’s off to a similar start in 2019. Charvarius Ward is the only Chiefs cornerback who has played 100 or more snaps and earned a coverage grade above 65.0. Though Falcons’ Desmond Trufant has had a slow start to the year (57.9 coverage grade), he has proven capable of much better and would serve as an immediate upgrade over Ward and the rest of Kansas City’s cornerbacks.

Trufant earned 70.0-plus overall grades in each of his first five seasons in the NFL (2013-17) and played at least 591 defensive snaps in each of the five years. The 6-foot, 190-pound veteran is due roughly $10 million per year over the next four years (including 2019) on his current contract.

Packers trade for Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers throttled the Raiders’ hapless defense without Davante Adams in Week 7, but the addition of veteran Emmanuel Sanders would certainly increase the likelihood of similar offensive successes against better defenses in the future. Despite having Flacco to throw him the ball, Sanders has earned an impressive 80.3 receiving grade so far this season, catching 30 balls for 367 yards and two touchdowns in the process. He also has zero drops on the year and 15 first-down receptions.

Colts trade for Bengals’ Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap

Winless through seven weeks, Cincinnati should already be looking to offload veteran contracts in exchange for draft capital to fuel a rebuild and kickstart the Zac Taylor era. While the team has been adamant about not trading AJ Green, veteran defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are two other names that make sense as trade candidates for Cincinnati. Both Atkins and Dunlap have earned high PFF grades in the past, but both defenders are on the back end of their careers and due north of $20 million over the next few seasons. Their skillsets and salaries are best fit for a team in win-now mode, and the Bengals are at least a few years away from that luxury.

Andrew Luck’s retirement was a stunner, but his replacement, Jacoby Brissett, has Indianapolis leading the AFC South after a big win over the Houston Texans in Week 7. If the Colts want to double-down on Brissett and chase a deep postseason run in 2019, the team can afford to improve defensively. Veterans Denico Autry and Justin Houston have been fantastic to start the year, but the same can’t be said about practically every other Colts defensive linemen with significant snaps played this season. Dunlap and Atkins shouldn’t require a ton of draft capital to acquire considering how much money remains on the duo’s contracts, and no team is more equipped to take on some heavy contracts than Indy. According to Over the Cap, the Colts currently have the most cap space of any NFL team ($42.8 million).

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