Grading every NFL trade deadline move: Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins, Chase Claypool to the Bears and more

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) reacts as he takes the field to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 20-18. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

• Jaguars do well in Calvin Ridley trade: Jacksonville sent the Atlanta Falcons several conditional draft picks in exchange for the high-upside Ridley, who has been suspended for the entire 2022 season.

• Ravens, Dolphins earn below-average grades for defensive deals: The Ravens acquired Roquan Smith for second- and fifth-round picks, while the Dolphins traded a first-rounder and more for Bradley Chubb.

• Steelers come out on top in Chase Claypool deal: Pittsburgh recouped a second-round pick from the Bear for Claypool, who has one-and-a-half years remaining on his rookie contract.

Estimated Reading Time: 21 mins

Note: We are not considering the trades for wide receiver Robbie Anderson, linebacker Deion Jones or tackle Justin Herron as trade deadline moves.

Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim HinesBuffalo Bills for RB Zack Moss, conditional 2023 sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round pick

Colts: Average

How quickly things have changed for the remarkable 2018 Colts draft class, with guard Quenton Nelson getting his record-setting extension right before Week 1 and not yet playing up to his usual first-team All-Pro level, linebacker Shaquille Leonard logging just 40 snaps on the season so far and Hines now traded to Buffalo. Indianapolis was probably wise to save wherever it could in the midst of a disappointing season after also firing offensive coordinator Marcus Brady earlier in the day. 

Bills: Average

The Bills continued to chase underwhelming Day 2 pick investments at running back with more underwhelming Day 2 pick investments at running back, but they now secure a known commodity in Hines in a swap for 2020 third-round pick Zack Moss. Hines and 2022 second-rounder James Cook are somewhat redundant as pass-catching backs, but Hines also brings value as a difference-making punt returner, with two punt return touchdowns in his rookie season. Devin Singletary has gotten better over time, and his 74.8 grade in 2022 is a career-best, but this also perhaps paves the way for him to reach free agency this offseason. 

Buffalo tried to sign J.D. McKissic this offseason, drafted Cook and now made this move. They clearly see value in providing quarterback Josh Allen with a reliable pass-catching back, perhaps leading to him taking fewer hits if he checks the ball down instead of taking off himself. Hines has the second-best receiving grade among running backs since 2020 — behind only Christian McCaffrey — with a 91.3 mark. It’s easy to see how this could end up as one of those smaller moves that we’re talking about in February. 

New York Jets EDGE Jacob Martin, 2024 fifth-round pick → Denver Broncos for 2024 fourth-round pick

Jets: Average

New York signed Martin to a three-year deal this past offseason, valuing a healthy rotation at edge defender, but he seemed like a strange fit as a smaller player while the Jets and head coach Robert Saleh prefer big defensive ends on the edge. Depth pieces like Bryce Huff — a pure pass-rusher whose 27.4% pass rush win rate ranks first among edge defenders with at least 75 pass-rush snaps on the season — kept Martin below 20 snaps a game, even with first-round rookie Jermaine Johnson II out since Week 5 with an injury. Even though New York just gave Martin a $3.465 million signing bonus this past offseason, it made sense to sell when he also had the most value to other teams. 

Broncos: Average

Denver finds a short-term replacement for some of Bradley Chubb’s production until Randy Gregory and Baron Browning return from injury, and Martin seems like a better fit as a standup outside linebacker. Because he was just signed this past offseason, Denver effectively adds a free agent without having to pay the signing bonus in exchange for a pick swap, and he has just $1 million guaranteed for 2023 if they ultimately have buyer’s remorse.

Martin has at least one quarterback pressure in every game this season, with his 65.6 run-defense grade thus far also a career high. He has historically struggled with missed tackles at each stop thus far in his career but is a solid rotational edge player on a team who has three clear players ahead of him even after Denver moved on from Chubb. 

San Francisco 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr.Miami Dolphins for 2023 fifth-round pick

49ers: Above average

San Francisco obviously moved heaven and earth to acquire Christian McCaffrey a few weeks ago, and Elijah Mitchell is expected to return from injured reserve in Week 10, so the 49ers just got a fifth-round pick for a half-season rental of their third running back. Wilson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry on outside zone rushes this season, 14th among running backs with at least 10 such carries, with Chase Edmonds ranking 51st out of 53 qualifiers at 1.9 yards per carry.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel and company needed to admit a mistake and get another back to pair with Raheem Mostert — another former 49er and teammate of Wilson’s for several years. San Francisco was able to capitalize as a result. 

Dolphins: Below average

There were seemingly a handful of available running backs, and it appears Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel may have paid a premium to reunite with Wilson after the two spent time together in San Francisco. Miami sent free agent acquisition Chase Edmonds to Denver as a part of their deal for edge defender Bradley Chubb, and Wilson projects as a much better fit in McDaniel’s wide zone rushing attack after Edmonds got off to a disastrous start in Miami. His 55.4 rushing grade ranks 61st out of 62 running backs with at least 25 carries in 2022.

When factoring in the salary dump component of attaching Edmonds to the Chubb trade package, the deal here looks even better, but this was a decent amount to give up. 

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin RidleyJacksonville Jaguars for conditional 2023 fifth-round, conditional 2024 fourth-round picks

Conditions on 2024 fourth-round pick per Adam Schefter:

  • It stays as a fourth-round pick if Ridley is on the 2023 Jaguars roster.
  • It elevates to a third-round pick if Ridley reaches certain incentives.
  • It becomes a second-round pick if the Jaguars sign Ridley to a contract extension.
Falcons: Above average

This looks like a true win-win trade here, with Atlanta using top 10 picks in back-to-back drafts on tight end Kyle Pitts in 2021 and wide receiver Drake London in 2022, making Ridley more expendable as they continue to overhaul their roster. Given the Falcons don’t prefer to throw the ball in situations where the league-wide pass rate is over 70% — the majority of their game against the Cincinnati Bengals, for example — having three No. 1 receiving options seems like overkill. Obviously, this may change if Desmond Ridder takes over at quarterback, but nevertheless, they add more draft capital that can be spent in the trenches on either side of the ball, areas in greater need of reinforcements. 

Jaguars: Excellent

This is an incredibly sharp move by the Jaguars, who get Trevor Lawrence a true No. 1 wide receiver for 2023 (and ideally beyond) without having to give up a lot of draft capital. There are, of course, inherent risks associated with the move, but they’ve protected themselves against them. 

From 2018-20, Ridley earned an 82.9 receiving grade and his 1.99 yards per route run ranked 21st among wide receivers, with his 82 explosive receptions tied for sixth-most. 

Jacksonville also may have capitalized on teams being caught up with trying to strike deadline deals to improve their roster right away, instead prioritizing a move that has long-term implications after a disappointing start to their 2022 season. 

Denver Broncos EDGE Bradley Chubb, 2025 fifth → Miami Dolphins for RB Chase Edmonds, 2023 first, 2024 fourth-round pick

Broncos: Good

For the second trade deadline in a row, the Broncos move an edge defender on an expiring contract for premium draft capital. Here, Denver didn’t have to convert any of Chubb’s remaining 2022 salary into a bonus in order to facilitate the move like they did with Von Miller in 2021, clearing over $7 million in cash/cap as a result.

Denver takes advantage of a sell-high opportunity with Chubb off to a strong start to the 2022 campaign after logging just 268 snaps in 2021, his second season since 2019 with less than 300 snaps as a result of injury. Among edge defenders with at least 500 pass-rush snaps since 2018, Chubb’s 77.8 pass-rush grade and 15.2% pass-rush win rate rank 35th. While pass rush is more impactful than other facets of play, it should be noted he’s grading above 70.0 as a run defender for just the first time in his career this season, and he’s missed 40 tackles over his career, second-most among edge defenders since 2018. 

Dolphins: Below average

Chubb is undoubtedly an impact addition for any roster, but this trade price screams “we’re getting a former top-five pick” and not “we’re adding a good-to-very-good edge defender on an expiring contract.” With the $7 million in remaining salary coming to Miami, we’re awaiting news on a cap-clearing move elsewhere on the roster, because as far as we can tell, they’d be over the cap without a restructure on another player. 

With Chubb, the Dolphins do have the franchise tag at their disposal if they can’t come to terms on an extension that figures to reach, if not exceed, the $20 million per year mark, which wasn’t really a consideration with Von Miller. Miami has poured resources into their edge group recently, using a 2021 first-rounder on Jaelan Phillips, extending Emmanuel Ogbah on a four-year, $65.4 million deal this offseason and adding veterans Melvin Ingram III and Trey Flowers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the Dolphins are truly all in at this point. 

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Chase ClaypoolChicago Bears for 2023 second-round pick

Steelers: Good

Whenever you can use a second-round pick on a player and flip him for what will likely be an even higher second-round pick two-and-a-half years later, you’ve probably done pretty well. After Pittsburgh extended wide receiver Diontae Johnson and drafted George Pickens in the second round this past year, Claypool became unlikely to receive an extension in Pittsburgh. 

Claypool got off to a great start to his career in his rookie season, averaging 2.0 yards per route run, earning a 76.1 receiving grade and hauling in nine touchdowns. His grades and efficiency have gone down in each subsequent campaign, though some of that could be attributed to quarterback play.

Pittsburgh is in a clear rebuilding period and the timelines just don’t mesh well here with Claypool presumably looking for an extension this offseason. New general manager Omar Khan can now look to land a true difference-maker, perhaps along the offensive line, with what is almost guaranteed to be a top-50 draft selection. 

Bears: Below average

The wide receiver market exploded unlike anything we’ve ever seen this offseason, and a dramatic increase in contracts figures to trickle over into the cost of acquiring a wide receiver in a trade. This is especially true when there are very few pending free agent wide receivers, as is certainly the case this upcoming offseason. The crop of college talent is also not expected to be as strong as 2022’s incredible class. So, in order to acquire a difference-maker at wide receiver, a trade has almost become necessary.

All of that context aside, in a vacuum, a potential top-40 draft pick for a player who was the No. 3 receiver on his own team is a steep price no matter how you slice it. Claypool is a freak athlete who converted from tight end to wide receiver out of Notre Dame before recording a 4.42-second 40-yard dash (81st percentile at wide receiver) and a 41-inch vertical (95th percentile at wide receiver) at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. He’s a picture-perfect fit in the Bears' offense as a Z and/or slot receiver who has jump ball ability downfield, can win over the middle, is relatively sure-handed and has the size to make an impact as a run-blocker — a trait this Bears front office values very highly.

This is a bet on tapping into a lot of that remaining potential and creating a tandem with Darnell Mooney that helps quarterback Justin Fields a great deal, with both players potentially in line for extensions worth $20 million per year this offseason. Chicago was the most active team of the deadline, and when viewing their moves in totality, shifting resources from defense to offense is an encouraging sign from the new regime. 

Washington Commanders CB William Jackson III, conditional 2025 seventh → Pittsburgh Steelers for 2025 conditional sixth-round pick

Commanders: Above average

It was reported Washington would likely waive Jackson if a deadline deal could not be reached, so getting $2.77 million off the books here was a win. Jackson has not been a fit since signing in 2021 and requested a trade several weeks ago, hurting any potential trade leverage Washington may have had. 

Steelers: Below average

It’s never a huge deal when you’re swapping conditional picks three years down the line; it’s just a bit of a puzzling move for Pittsburgh to take on a little over $3 million in 2022 compensation while currently sitting at 2-6 with a tough schedule remaining. The Steelers don’t need to tank or do anything drastic, but it’s hard to see this move significantly impacting the win-loss columns. Jackson has a 55.7 coverage grade since signing with Washington in 2021. 

Detroit Lions TE T.J. Hockenson, 2023 fourth, conditional 2024 fourth-round pick → Minnesota Vikings for 2023 second, 2024 third-round pick

Lions: Average

The Minnesota Vikings — albeit under a different regime — traded a fourth-round pick before the 2021 season for tight end Chris Herndon, who went on to record a whopping four receptions the entire season and is not currently on an NFL roster halfway through the 2022 campaign. What does this have to do with this trade? Effectively nothing, but it does illustrate a really strong price on a position that has little top-end talent league-wide. 

Has Hockenson lived up to his top-10 pick billing? Arguably no, though Detroit exercised his $9.392 million fully guaranteed fifth-year option for 2023 this offseason, so they clearly saw a future with him in it at some point. Now, they get out from that obligation and avoid extending Hockenson on what could be one of the top deals in a tight end position market that has been capped since the San Francisco 49ersGeorge Kittle signed a deal for $15 million per year in 2020. 

Getting a second- and third-round pick is definitely solid, but sending two picks along with Hockenson makes the return less exciting. 

Vikings: Good

Since 2020, Hockenson’s 79.0 receiving grade ranks ninth among tight ends, his 23 missed tackles forced ranks sixth and his 63.6% contested catch rate ranks fourth. He ranks top 10 in almost every receiving metric over the span, and while there is certainly an argument that tight end talent is still so scarce in the NFL that it's less impressive to rank in the top 10, that also acknowledges the reality that tight end talent is still so scarce in the NFL. Hockenson is just 25 years old and is now on a team with six wins for the first time in his NFL career, with head coach Kevin O’Connell perhaps able to utilize his skill set better as he continues to grow.

This is perhaps a team also taking advantage of a cheap position market compared to other positions in the NFL as opposed to feeling as though they’ll “win” on a deal relative to the tight end market. While the latter is what really matters, the tight end market is so cheap at this point that a team can get a young, clear-cut top-10 tight end for the same price as the 25th-highest-paid wide receiver. 

Chicago Bears LB Roquan SmithBaltimore Ravens for 2023 second, 2023 fifth-round pick, linebacker A.J. Klein

Bears: Above average

After a lengthy contract negotiation boiled over into a trade request this offseason, Smith returned to game action for the first half of the 2022 campaign before ultimately landing with the Baltimore Ravens. While Smith is a good player and was a franchise cornerstone of the past four-and-a-half years in Chicago, a rebuilding team spending $20 million or more per year at a non-premium position just doesn’t line up. 

Chicago was wise to get whatever it could — and it got more than that — for a player the team didn’t seem capable of finding a middle ground with on an extension.

Ravens: Below average

This trade provides us with a perfect example to discuss how every transaction is not 1-to-1 in the NFL because of roster context. If the Bears, who now project to have over $120 million in 2023 cap space, theoretically let Smith walk in free agency after 2022, they were almost guaranteed to cancel out any compensatory pick for him by signing free agents. For the Ravens, recouping a potential compensatory pick if they choose to not extend Smith is a huge part of the calculation when sending second- and fifth-round picks for a player with 10 games remaining on his contract. Chicago did not have that hypothetical scenario factoring into the equation. They were looking at franchise-tagging and/or extending Smith, or losing him for nothing.

Since entering the NFL in 2018, Smith has the most negatively graded snaps among off-ball linebackers but also the sixth-most positively graded snaps. He’s displayed the special athletic ability that made him the No. 8 overall pick, a plus in coverage with rare sideline-to-sideline speed, but he can get washed out of plays far too easily.

The biggest winner of this trade may be Smith himself, who likely avoids a franchise tag since Baltimore almost certainly needs to save it for quarterback Lamar Jackson. Whether it’s an extension with the Ravens or he does hit the free agent market, Smith should be just months away from the monster payday he’s been seeking. 

Chicago Bears EDGE Robert QuinnPhiladelphia Eagles for 2023 fourth-round pick

Bears: Above average

Bears general manager Ryan Poles effectively bought a draft pick here, agreeing to retain $7 million in salary on Quinn to add a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While Quinn had an incredible 2021 campaign, setting a Bears franchise record with 18.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, his sack regression was foreseeable, as he was converting an unsustainably high amount of pressures into sacks. Fast forward to this season, and Quinn has a career-low 57.2 pass-rush grade and just one sack so far.

Eagles: Above average

The contract maneuvering isn’t the only similarity to the Von Miller trade from the Denver Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams last season, as Quinn is an extra pass-rusher who can perhaps propel a hot Eagles team over the edge come playoff time. To be clear, Quinn is not Miller — but an edge rotation of Quinn, Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat is a formidable unit.

Philadelphia will pay just over $700,000 and, with so much extra draft capital over the 2023 and 2024 drafts, seems to have decided to push the chips in a bit after looking like the clear best team in the NFC at the halfway mark. You shouldn’t always just spend draft capital because you have it, but this looks like a true win-win trade where the two teams are in very different situations.

New York Giants WR Kadarius ToneyKansas City Chiefs for 2023 third, 2023 sixth-round pick

Giants: Average

Toney effectively never got his career off the ground in New York, missing a ton of time with various lingering soft tissue injuries. The new regime clearly did not envision him in the team's future and did well to recoup whatever it could get while also clearing $5.22 million in fully guaranteed compensation off the books.

Chiefs: Average

This is a textbook Andy Reid move we’ve come to see time and time again: buying low on a former highly drafted player who seems to have more issues off the field than on it. Toney is a tantalizing talent when he’s actually playing, with his 2.14 yards per route run in 2021 ranking 13th among wide receivers with at least 100 snaps played. Granted, this was on a relatively small sample size, but Toney has rare separation ability near the line of scrimmage as a player with a very low center of gravity, and he also brings 4.41 speed. 

Jacksonville Jaguars RB James RobinsonNew York Jets for conditional 2023 sixth-round pick

Condition on sixth-round pick: Robinson needs 223 more rushing yards this season to elevate the pick to a fifth-rounder (was 240 yards at the time of trade, had 17 rushing yards in Week 8 against New England Patriots).

Jaguars: Above average

The Jaguars have clearly decided that 2021 first-round pick running back Travis Etienne is their workhorse, every-down back going forward, so they took advantage of a Jets team looking to replace injured rookie running back Breece Hall as quickly as possible. Turning a former undrafted free agent coming off a torn Achilles into what will likely end up as a fifth-round pick is a win, even if a minor one.

Jets: Below average

Robinson will be a restricted free agent after the 2022 season, so the Jets technically have two years of contract control instead of just one, but this is quite possibly the deepest free agent class at running back in a decade. Nevertheless, Robinson is a strong early-down runner who pairs nicely with Michael Carter continuing to operate as the third-down/receiving back. Robinson’s 82.7 rushing grade from 2020-21 was 15th among running backs, with his 1,303 yards after contact the eighth-most and his 50 explosive rushes the sixth-most over the span. 

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffreySan Francisco 49ers for 2023 second, 2023 third, 2023 fourth and 2024 fifth-round pick

Panthers: Good

This is a huge haul for a team that probably won’t be competitive until McCaffrey is nearly 30 years old, so as valuable as he is — evidenced by him rushing for, catching and throwing a touchdown pass for the 49ers in his second game with the team — Carolina was wise to move on from the face of their franchise, given the timing.

Carolina ended up paying about $19 million for seven games of McCaffrey in 2022 if you compare his compensation to what he would have been owed had they exercised his fifth-year option for 2021, and he played in a total of just 17 games since signing that extension prior to the 2020 campaign.

49ers: Below average

McCaffrey is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the NFL, if not the best. And he provides tremendous value as a pass-catcher who can run legitimate routes out of the slot or from the backfield. He apparently also throws a nice spiral. The gamble here is the 49ers have now gone all in with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, the very same quarterback they made attempts to move on from this offseason in favor of Trey Lance.

McCaffrey also played 10 of a possible 33 games over the 2020-21 seasons, so there’s obviously some risk here. Nevertheless, McCaffrey’s 95.3 receiving grade since 2017 is tops among running backs and a truly elite mark, followed closely by his 86.0 rushing grade. When healthy, no running back is more of a difference-maker than McCaffrey, and he truly never has to leave the field in any situation.

Las Vegas Raiders DI Johnathan Hankins, 2024 seventh → Dallas Cowboys for 2023 sixth-round pick

Raiders: Average

The Las Vegas Raiders used fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft on interior defenders Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler, and Farrell played 31 snaps in Week 8 alone after totaling 31 snaps through Week 7 with Hankins on the roster. The Raiders’ season is an abject disaster, so moving any veterans they can to recoup some draft capital makes sense, paving the way for younger players to develop.

Cowboys: Average

The Cowboys shore up a defensive line with elite talent on the edges, but that has a bit of a weakness on the interior besides Osa Odighizuwa. Hankins has been a consistently reliable nose tackle who has long been a great run defender, earning 65.0 or better run-defense grades every year from 2013-20. While his play has fallen off a bit with time, including a career-low 46.9 grade in 2021, he probably shouldn’t have been asked to play over 40 snaps per game in his ninth NFL season.

With Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn rotating defensive linemen as much as any coach across the league, Hankins can serve as an almost exclusive early-down/obvious-run-situation player who makes a larger impact on fewer snaps. 

Kansas City Chiefs CB Rashad FentonAtlanta Falcons for conditional seventh-round pick

Chiefs: Average

The Chiefs clear $1.4 million of cash/cap after Fenton earned the proven performance escalator for his final rookie-contract season, and they turn to younger options at cornerback with first-round pick Trent McDuffie returning from injured reserve on the same day. 

Falcons: Above average

Atlanta is in desperate need of help at outside cornerback after injuries to A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward Jr., and Fenton earned back-to-back coverage grades above 75.0 in 2020 and 2021 on over 500 snaps in each year, with tackling grades above 85.0. 

Atlanta Falcons S Dean MarloweBuffalo Bills for 2023 seventh-round pick

Falcons: Average

Marlowe was hardly seeing the field on defense for Atlanta before Week 8, when he logged a whopping 80 snaps in an overtime battle with the Carolina Panthers. The young tandem of Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant has been playing some good football for Atlanta over the first half of the season, though Hawkins missed Week 8 with a concussion but should be back soon.

Bills: Average

With Micah Hyde lost for the season and Jordan Poyer dealing with an injury that knocked him out of Sunday Night’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers, the Bills add some help at safety to hold them over. Marlowe was with the Bills from 2018-20, so he has plenty of familiarity with the defense and coaching staff, and he was also signed as an undrafted free agent by the Carolina Panthers when Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott were there. There is clearly a high level of comfort with the depth safety who brings good value on special teams as well, earning three straight special teams grades of 70.0 or better dating back to 2020.


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