NFL trade deadline day, as is often the case, came and went Tuesday with more fizzle than sizzle. A few big names got kicked around, but there wasn’t much late movement, and not many people were surprised.
This year more than ever, with COVID-19 testing requirements delaying the availability of new player acquisitions and next year’s salary-cap concerns dampening teams’ desire to take on big contracts, inertia ruled the day. If you felt like your team was one piece away Tuesday morning, you probably still do.
That said, there was a decent amount of activity over the past week, and that counts as trade-deadline movement. So as we like to do when we reach these types of mileposts on the NFL calendar, we’re breaking down some winners and losers.
Avery Williamson, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This dude just picked up 15 games in the standings, after being traded from the 0-8 New York Jets to the 7-0 Steelers, who were looking for linebacker depth and liked Williamson’s veteran pedigree.
You can make the case that anybody who got dealt away by the Jets — Williamson, outside linebacker Jordan Willis, nose tackle Steve McLendon — came away winners, since they’re all going to have more of a chance to compete with their new teams than they would have with the Jets. But none of those other guys ended up on undefeated teams.
Williamson is the biggest deadline winner, as his situation is the most improved of any player or team.
The Ravens jumped the deadline last week and acquired pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue from the Minnesota Vikings just a couple of months after the Vikings acquired him from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Minnesota hasn’t had the season it expected to have and decided to recoup something for Ngakoue before he left as a free agent. The Ravens were happy to send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 fifth-rounder for a still-young edge rusher who makes their defense even more fearsome for the stretch run and could factor into their long-term plans as well.
Carlos Dunlap isn’t a perfect solution to Seattle’s pass-rushing woes, but no team is going to get Khalil Mack at the trade deadline. Acquisitions in early November have to be of the warts-and-all variety, and the former Cincinnati Bengals veteran is at least someone who might be able to help.
Plus, in sending back spare offensive lineman B.J. Finney, Seattle was able to offset some of Dunlap’s salary and keep its salary cap impact to a minimum.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The NFL rumor mill was abuzz all day about the possibility of the Packers landing Houston Texans receiver Will Fuller — or really, any receiver. In the end, the Packers didn’t want to pay Houston’s price, so they remain where they’ve been since last year at the receiver position.
Those who were railing against the Packers for taking Rodgers’ successor in the first round of a receiver-rich draft in April have free ammunition for their arguments. But Rodgers is a career Packer, and he knows how the organization operates. They draft and develop. They don’t usually spend big money to sign guys and they very rarely spend valuable draft picks to acquire guys in trades. They also make the playoffs almost every year. Packers gonna Packer.
The idea of them giving up a high pick for Fuller, who would eat up almost all of their 2020 cap space and prevent them from applying it to 2021, always felt far-fetched.
The flip side of the Rodgers item here is that the Texans really could have improved with a deal or two. They were valuing their players highly, which is fair. Fuller is a 2016 first-round pick who’s having an excellent year and shouldn’t be given away. But between him, Kenny Stills, the perpetually tradable Brandin Cooks and a widespread demand for receiver help around the league, it feels as if Houston should have been able to make some deal.
As a result of previous trades, the Texans don’t have a pick in the first or second rounds of the 2021 NFL draft. They have an extra fourth and an extra sixth, but they are going to need some offseason help and could have used more draft capital.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots
By all accounts, Gilmore likes it fine in New England and wasn’t eager to be traded. But he is also going to want (and definitely deserves) a new contract at some point soon. He’s scheduled to make just $7 million next year, which is the final year of his Patriots deal.
Had New England traded him to a team willing to give him that extension, Gilmore could have been the pickup of the deadline for some team. Now he has to slug out this rebuilding year in Foxborough and hope the Patriots do right by him down the road — either with an extension or an offseason trade.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington Football Team
Washington’s second-year quarterback needs to be with a team that believes in him and is willing to put in the work to develop him. Basically, he needs to be in the situation in which the equally erratic Daniel Jones finds himself with the New York Giants. He doesn’t have that in Washington and would have benefited from a change of scenery.
Isaiah Ford, WR, New England Patriots
But on the other hand — and it’s hard to believe we’re saying this — going from Miami to New England isn’t a great thing right now. The second-place Dolphins are ahead of third-place New England in the AFC East standings, their defense just clobbered the Rams and they have an exciting young quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. The Patriots have lost four in a row and seem to be pretty clearly in a rebuilding year. Crazy times we live in, when getting traded from the Dolphins to the Patriots might be a downgrade.
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