NFL News & Analysis

Six trades that should be made before the NFL trade deadline

The NFL has seen increased trade activity over the past few seasons and with the deadline on the horizon at the end of October, it’s time to look at which teams suddenly find themselves in the market. Here are six trades that should be made ahead of the late October NFL trade deadline.

WR Stefon Diggs New England Patriots

It has been widely reported that Diggs is unhappy in the Minnesota Vikings‘ offense right now, and even when the team opened up the passing game and was able to pass with ease against the New York Giants, it was teammate Adam Thielen that was the chief beneficiary. Whether frustrated by lack of use or simply the ineptitude of the man throwing him the football, both of those issues would be immediately transformed if Diggs found his way to New England.

Obviously, Tom Brady is a colossal upgrade over Kirk Cousins, but the New England offense was also only too keen to integrate Antonio Brown into the system as soon as he was cut loose by the Raiders. Though Brown and Diggs are worlds apart from a drama standpoint, and Brown has been significantly more productive throughout his career, there are a lot of stylistic similarities between the two as receivers. Diggs could fill the role the Patriots were carving out for Brown within their system. 

For a relatively small receiver, Diggs is one of the best in the game at catching contested targets, snagging 34 of them since the start of the 2017 season, the sixth-most in football. With his route running, moves after the catch and ability to win contested passes, Diggs could have elite production when paired with Brady,

CB Jalen RamseyKansas City Chiefs

Another malcontent wanting out of his current situation, Ramsey has been at odds with the Jaguars since a public blowup on the sideline with head coach Doug Marrone some time ago. Though he played in the subsequent Thursday night game, he then developed a (convenient?) back problem and has been sidelined since. The bottom line is that Ramsey has elite cover ability in a league where that has never been more important. He is still 24 years old until just before the trade deadline and has drawn tougher assignments than any other cornerback in the game over the past few seasons.

Over his career, Ramsey has seen 120 targets covering Antonio Brown, TY Hilton, Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins. He has allowed a passer rating of just 69 to that group of superstars, while the rest of the NFL has allowed one of 104. Since he entered the league, he is the only cornerback with over 300 targets that has allowed a negative EPA (expected points added) per target. That is to say, Ramsey has been the only cornerback in the game over that span against whom offenses are measurably worse off targeting than avoiding. 

WR Emmanuel SandersGreen Bay Packers

The Broncos should probably embrace the rebuild given their start to the season, but they strike me as the least likely team of the sellers on this list to actually do so. With Drew Lock safely tucked away for the rookie season, Denver needs to attack the talent on this roster by amassing draft picks and getting younger. Sanders remains a quality wide receiver, and his recovery from an Achilles injury last year has been phenomenal given the lasting effect that typically has on skill position players.

Sanders currently has a top-10 grade among all wide receivers in 2019 and has yet to drop a pass, while the Packers have been completely unable to find a reliable No. 2 opposite Davante Adams. With the Packers now looking like they can contend this year, they will be reluctant to rely on their young group of inconsistent receivers to provide that secondary threat. Sanders would allow them to lean on a proven veteran who is still producing while they allow one of the young receivers to separate themselves from the group and earn snaps as the third receiver. 

WR AJ Green Oakland Raiders

The Bengals have begun the season 0-5, and Green has yet to take part in any regular season action. Their roster is a mess, and the team would be best served embracing the opportunity for a full rebuild under new head coach Zac Taylor. With that in mind, Green is one of their most prized assets and could potentially be shipped off mid-season.

The Raiders have been surprisingly competitive through five games despite playing against the Chicago Bears in London with one of the weakest looking receiving corps in memory. Even when their group gets healthy, they would be massively upgraded with the addition of Green, who would finally give Derek Carr a legitimate No. 1 receiver with a proven track record of making it work with average quarterback play. Over the past five years, only Julio Jones has averaged more yard per route run than Green’s 2.46. He also has just 21 drops on over 500 targets over that span.

OT Trent WilliamsCleveland Browns

The standoff between the Washington Redskins and Williams doesn’t look to be ending any time soon, and with Jay Gruden now relieved of his role as head coach, at least one of the power-brokers in the equation has been removed. Williams seems intent on his desire to never play for the team again, so it’s probably time to just cut their losses and try to get something for him in the form of trade.

The Browns have high hopes heading into this season, and there have been significant wobbles so far, most of which stem pretty firmly from the offensive line, whose struggles have begun to magnify the flaws within Baker Mayfield’s game. Greg Robinson, Cleveland’s current starting left tackle, doesn’t have a season with a PFF grade above 70.0. Williams has graded higher than the best season of Robinson’s career every season since his rookie year, and at his best is arguably the best tackle in football. Cleveland needs to protect their quarterback now that they finally have one.

CB William Jackson III Philadelphia Eagles

The Bengals have a few assets they might be willing to move if they embrace the rebuild, and one of them is cornerback William Jackson, whose career started off so promisingly but has yet to kick on the way the team would have hoped. Jackson missed his rookie year injured but then earned an overall PFF grade of 90.2 his first year starting in what was arguably the greatest statistical cornerback season we have seen since PFF started grading in 2006. He allowed a passer rating of just 36.1, lower than if the quarterback had just thrown the ball into the dirt every play instead, and gave up only 151 yards over the entire year. After just five games of 2019, he has already allowed 188, but the talent is still evident.

The Eagles have one the game's most complete rosters, but their biggest weakness is in the secondary, and it’s getting worse as injuries strike. They could take a gamble on a player with huge potential like Jackson, who could transform the unit in the short term and help them run at a Super Bowl but also potentially be a cornerstone going forward if the move works out. If not, they can say goodbye and recoup draft capital in the form of a compensatory pick if he signs elsewhere.

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