NFL Rumor Roundup: Sources react to Chase Claypool, T.J. Hockenson and more trade deadline deals

Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson runs against Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022.

• Vikings acquire TE T.J. Hockenson: In one of the more surprising deals of the deadline, Minnesota traded for the former top-10 overall pick.

• Broncos ship EDGE Bradley Chubb to Dolphins: The move had been rumored leading up to the deadline, and Miami went all in by parting with a first-round pick.

• Bears trade for WR Chase Claypool: Chicago reportedly won a bidding war with the Green Bay Packers to secure Claypool.

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On the eve of the 2022 NFL trade deadline, we reached out to a high-ranking AFC executive to get a gauge for how busy the trade deadline would be.

Part of his response: “It’s a weird year.”

Yup. Adds up. It sure was.

There were 10 trades made on the day of the NFL trade deadline — a new record — and that doesn’t even count the seven or so trades that preceded Nov. 1.

“I generally like that teams are more actively seeking upgrades during the season,” an AFC analytics executive said Tuesday. “I think it creates a more dynamic league.”

The league undoubtedly loves a more active trade deadline, as well, because all buzz is good buzz in the NFL. There seemed to be more rumors than usual leading up to Tuesday, and the trade deadline actually paid off many of those reports. When a player gets added to a new team, it creates excitement and new optimism. And smart fans understand the value in acquiring draft picks for veteran players.

Let’s go through the top trades Tuesday to find out what people around the league think of each deal.

Minnesota Vikings receive:

TE T.J. Hockenson
2023 fourth-round pick
2024 conditional fourth-round pick (if the Vikings win a playoff game, this becomes a fifth-round pick)

Detroit Lions receive:

2023 second-round pick
2023 third-round pick

This trade was labeled as one of the biggest surprises of the trade deadline by multiple sources for a few reasons.

  1. Hockenson is a very good player.
  2. The Lions were willing to trade him within the division.

One NFC scout believed the trade was somewhat reactionary and that the Vikings likely wouldn’t have pulled it off if not for Irv Smith Jr.’s recent high ankle sprain, which reportedly will sideline him for 8-to-10 weeks.

That’s likely true, but the Vikings went above and beyond to not only acquire a short-term replacement but a long-term solution who adds more high-end talent to their offense.

Hockenson hasn’t quite lived up to his hype since being selected eighth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft but ranks 12th among tight ends with a 74.0 overall PFF grade since 2020 and eighth with a 79.0 receiving grade. He replaces Smith, who has a 65.9 overall grade and 69.2 receiving grade in that same span of time, in the short- and likely long-term.

Hockenson is signed through the 2023 season on his fifth-year option. The Vikings would be smart to hammer out an extension with Hockenson since tight end contracts are among the best values in the NFL. Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller is the highest-paid tight end in the NFL with a deal worth $17 million per year. The 20th-highest-paid wide receiver makes more than that per season. Only the NFL’s highest-paid running back, fullback, center, kicker, punter and long snapper make less per year than Waller.

As for the Lions, their willingness to trade away Hockenson is not a great sign for their short-term future.

“Dan Campbell stands up there every week and says, ‘We're close,’ but this tells you that they realize internally that they are further away from contending,” an AFC pro scout said. “He's a good young player. If they don't view a 25-year-old as part of their core of talent for the future, then yeah, their timeline has been pushed back.”

Other teams who traded away talented players at the deadline were at least able to recoup the same round pick they were drafted in. The Lions did not acquire the equivalent of the eighth overall pick for a player who still had a year-and-a-half left on his deal. Hockenson was selected by the Lions’ previous regime, so that’s not exactly Campbell and Brad Holmes’ problem. But he was having success in an at-times high-powered offense in Detroit.

Miami Dolphins receive:

EDGE Bradley Chubb
2025 fifth-round pick

Denver Broncos receive:

RB Chase Edmonds
2023 first-round pick (from 49ers)
2024 fourth-round pick

Chubb will be a free agent after the season, when he’s set to sign a massive market deal for a pass-rusher. The Dolphins have no real choice but to give him that deal after forking over a first-round pick and showing how much they value him as a player. The Dolphins had already invested a first-round pick in edge defender Jaelan Phillips last year, and they paid big money to edge defender Emmanuel Ogbah on an extension this offseason. Acquiring Chubb required a first-round pick and more in trade compensation, and he’ll cost more money than Ogbah.

“I think the Broncos made some sharp moves today,” an NFC analytics executive said. “They gained back a first-rounder to recoup some of the losses from the Russell Wilson trade and replaced Chubb on the cheap with a decent player.”

The Broncos later flipped a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick to the New York Jets for edge defender Jacob Martin and a 2024 fifth-round pick.

An AFC pro scout believed the loss of a first-round pick would hurt the Dolphins long-term, but that acquiring Chubb made them more difficult to prepare for.

The NFC analytics executive views this move as the Dolphins “going all in” this season.

Chubb, playing on his fifth-year option for $12.7 million, has had an up-and-down, injury-filled career since being selected fifth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He currently has a career-high 74.9 overall defensive grade. His 79.2 pass-rushing grade is the second-highest mark of his NFL career and ranks 20th among 126 qualified edge defenders. Since being drafted, Chubb ranks 60th among 137 qualified edge defenders with a 68.4 defensive grade and 34th with a 77.8 pass-rushing grade. He’s 62nd this season with a 13.7% pass-rush win rate.

Miami Dolphins receive:

RB Jeff Wilson

San Francisco 49ers receive:

2023 fifth-round pick

This trade plays in concert with the above deal since the Dolphins traded away Edmonds and his 53rd-ranked (out of 54 qualified backs) elusive rating as part of the Chubb acquisition. Edmonds clearly was not working in Miami’s offensive system. Wilson played with Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel on the 49ers and should be an upgrade with his 37th-ranked elusive rating.

“The magnitude of potential upgrade for the Dolphins from the Wilson deal seems worthwhile,” an AFC analytics executive said.

Wilson is a proven producer in McDaniel’s and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense with 1,733 rushing yards and 407 receiving yards over five seasons. He was expendable in San Francisco, however, after the 49ers acquired Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers, drafted Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round and are set to get Elijah Mitchell back from injury.

Wilson joins former 49ers teammate Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed in the Dolphins’ new-look backfield. He should be able to contribute right away.

It’s worth noting that the Dolphins did give up more draft capital for Wilson than the Buffalo Bills traded for a more experienced back in Nyheim Hines. There were other running backs available via trade, such as the Los Angeles RamsCam Akers and the Cleveland BrownsKareem Hunt. The value in Wilson’s familiarity in McDaniel’s offense likely made him a better fit than other backs.

Chicago Bears receive:

WR Chase Claypool

Pittsburgh Steelers receive:

2023 second-round pick

The Bears won a bidding war for Claypool, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein. The Green Bay Packers were also offering a second-round pick for Claypool. The Bears’ second-round pick was believed to be more valuable, which is probably why they had to cough up their own selection and not the second-round pick they received from the Baltimore Ravens by trading linebacker Roquan Smith.

A league source wasn’t a major fan of the trade pulled off by new Bears general manager Ryan Poles. The Steelers selected Claypool 52nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. The pick Pittsburgh acquired for Claypool will likely wind up being higher. And CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reported Tuesday that Claypool, who has been outspoken at times about the Steelers’ offense, has been a “distraction.”

“Seems like (Poles is) a good evaluator, but the team building and roster management part of the job needs work,” the league source said.

That being said, the Bears needed wide receiver help, and the fact that Claypool is under contract through the 2023 season means that he can continue to build chemistry with second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Claypool is also ninth in the NFL in contested catches since he entered the league, and Fields could use a wide receiver who can win 50-50 situations.

And overall at midseason, the Bears traded away Smith, edge defender Robert Quinn and their own second-round pick for Claypool, linebacker A.J. Klein, the Ravens’ second-round pick, a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick.

The Bears will likely look to sign Claypool to a long-term deal now, but even if they don’t and let him play out his contract, there’s a possibility they could get a high compensatory draft pick in 2025 if he leaves in free agency.

Jacksonville Jaguars receive:

WR Calvin Ridley

Atlanta Falcons receive:

2023 conditional fifth-round pick (would become a sixth-round pick if he’s not reinstated by a certain date)
2024 conditional fourth-round pick (this stays as a fourth-round pick if he makes the roster, becomes a third-round pick based on incentives or becomes a second-round pick if he’s signed by the Jaguars to a long-term deal)

This is not only the most complicated trade but also the most surprising of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. Ridley is in the midst of a suspension for betting on NFL games and is eligible to be reinstated on Feb. 15, 2023.

One high-ranking AFC executive didn’t believe there was a market beyond the Jaguars for Ridley’s services at this point and was “shocked” by the deal.

An AFC analytics executive liked the structure of the conditions.

“I feel like the deal really controls the downside while leaving more room to gain on the upside,” he said.

At the very minimum, the Falcons would only have to give up a 2023 sixth-round pick. At the maximum, the deal is worth a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick. Ridley is viewed as one of the best route-runners in football. And if all goes well and the Jaguars keep him on the roster on a long-term deal in 2024, then he’ll likely be worth a second-round pick or more.

Buffalo Bills receive:

RB Nyheim Hines

Indianapolis Colts receive:

RB Zack Moss
2023 conditional sixth-round pick (can become a fifth-round pick)

On the surface, this trade seems to make sense for both sides. The Bills clearly believed they needed a better pass-catching running back to share the backfield with Devin Singletary, and Hines is PFF’s second-highest graded receiver among qualified running backs over the past three years. And the Bills trade away Moss, who’s more of an early-down option that hasn’t worked out in Buffalo since being selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

The Colts have Deon Jackson, who caught 10 passes for 79 yards in Week 6, to serve as their pass-catching option, and they needed an early-down backup behind Jonathan Taylor, who’s been banged up this season.

The Bills didn’t wind up having to give up much for Hines, but an AFC pro scout was skeptical of the move after Buffalo selected James Cook out of Georgia in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

“Hines is pretty similar to Cook. Not sure why Buffalo thinks he's the missing piece there,” he said. “Will be interesting to see how they use him.”

Cook was expected to be more of a receiving threat for Buffalo. He has 24 carries for 132 yards with a touchdown and just five catches for 78 yards this season.

Hines does have the versatility to play in the slot and split out wide, as well. He can also return punts and kicks in Buffalo.

Denver Broncos receive:

EDGE Jacob Martin
2024 fifth-round pick

New York Jets receive:

2024 conditional fourth-round pick

We didn’t receive league-wide opinions on the rest of these relatively minor deals.

Martin (15.7% actually has a slightly higher pass-rush win rate than Chubb (13.7%) this season but has played just 93 pass-rush snaps to Chubb’s 222 snaps.

Atlanta Falcons receive:

CB Rashad Fenton

Kansas City Chiefs receive:

2023 conditional seventh-round pick

Fenton has a 76.6 overall defensive grade since entering the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2019.

Pittsburgh Steelers receive:

CB William Jackson III
2025 conditional seventh-round pick

Washington Commanders receive:

2025 conditional sixth-round pick

It was reported that Jackson would be released if the Commanders didn’t find a trade partner. It was surprising that the Steelers were in sell mode with Claypool but that they were still willing to trade for Jackson and his $3.1 million salary.

Buffalo Bills receive:

S Dean Marlowe

Atlanta Falcons receive:

2023 seventh-round pick

Marlowe is among PFF’s highest-graded special teams players, with an 83.3 mark this season.


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