The NFL Trade Deadline is less than a week away and rumors are starting to speculate on potential star players that could get moved. In the next few days teams have to decide whether they should buy, sell, or stand pat at the deadline. The deadline is November 3 at 4pm Eastern time. There has already been two major trades where the Minnesota Vikings sent Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys sent Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions.
Both the Cowboys and Vikings may not be done trading their veterans this season as both are rumored to want to move a few more veterans. Here are deals that teams in the NFC South should do before the trade deadline.
Atlanta tries to free up as much cap space as they can before a major rebuild
Atlanta Falcons receive: 2nd round pick
Tennessee Titans receive: Dante Fowler Jr.
After a 1-6 start to the year it isn’t shocking that multiple star players on the Atlanta Falcons are rumored to be on the trade block. Especially after letting go their head coach and manager so early in the season. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t likely to get moved at the deadline but could be candidates to be moved during the offseason. But the Falcons have plenty of other veterans that they would be more willing to move at the deadline.
Despite major salary cap issues the Falcons were able to sign premier edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to a three-year $45 million deal. Fowler Jr. was supposed to be the pass rusher the team has needed since Vic Beasley led the league in sacks in 2017. What drew him to Atlanta was the idea of reuniting with his former college coach Dan Quinn. However after five games the reunion was cut short and Quinn was let go. This would potentially mean that Fowler could be interested in being moved and there are no shortage of teams that could use a pass rusher like Fowlers caliber. The only issue with moving Fowler is that the team would have to eat more than $3.4 million of dead cap if they moved Fowler today. However the team could clear their dead cap if they were to move another veteran like center Alex Mack. Mack is another Falcons who has been rumored to be on the trade block.
The Tennessee Titans have been one of the NFL’s best teams through seven weeks. Even during their first loss last week, the team only lost off a missed last minute field goal. However the teams biggest need that they should address at the deadline is their pass rush. They only have seven sacks on the season. Only Jeffrey Simmons and Harold Landry have more than one. Both free agent acquisitions Vic Beasley Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney have zero sacks despite their large contracts with the team. Clowney gets a pass because he isn’t known for being an amazing pass rusher, he is known for dominating against running plays which is what he has done this season. While Beasley just hasn’t done much this season at all.
Though Fowler has only one sack on the season, he did have 11.5 a season ago which was a career high. There is the chance that Fowler can be the teams leader in sacks at the end of the year if traded here. A consistent pass rush would go a long way for the Titans, especially during their potential playoff run.
Carolina takes a flier on a former first round pick
Carolina Panthers receive: David Njoku
Cleveland Browns receive: 2022 5th Round Pick
Coming into the season many believed that the Carolina Panthers were going to finish as a bottom three team and be in the running for a quarterback prospect like Justin Fields and Trey Lance, despite signing Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal in the offseason. But after seven weeks the team is a very competitive 3-4. Despite losing Christian McCaffrey for an extended period of time the team is one of the better teams in the NFC. Though it is very unlikely that the Panthers make the Super Bowl this season, they could be an extremely frustrating team to play down the stretch.
A player who has been constantly in trade rumors since last offseason is Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku. The former first round pick has not had the breakout many thought he would have had by this point of the season and appear to be getting phased out of the Browns offense. The Browns gave Austin Hooper the largest contract ever for a tight end in NFL History last offseason. Then when Hooper missed the game last week fourth round rookie Harrison Bryant got the start and had 5 catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Njoku’s $6 million fifth-year option may be too expensive for the third tight end in the depth chart and could be why they move him for anything they can get at this point.
The Carolina Panthers have one of the most complete offenses in the league. Teddy Bridgewater is once again proving that he is good enough to be a franchise quarterback. Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best running back in football and his back up Mike Davis has played fantastic in his absence. Newly signed free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson is having a career year in Carolina proving that he is more than just a complimentary deep threat receiver and DJ Moore is starting to look like himself again after a slow start to the year. The only weapon the team is lacking on offense is a difference maker at tight end. Starting tight end Ian Thomas has never had more than 350 receiving yards in a single season. Taking a flier on Njoku would be smart for them because the upside is massive. Njoku can emerge a threat in the middle of the field that the Panthers have been lacking and one of the teams best redzone options.
New Orleans adds another star to their offense
New Orleans Saints receive: A.J. Green
Cincinnati Bengals receive: Nick Easton, 4th round pick
Despite Tom Brady joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the New Orleans Saints were viewed as the favorites to win not only the NFC South but also the NFC. However after almost half the games this season the Saints look more like a wild card team than a Super Bowl contender. Quarterback Drew Brees is starting to decline due to age and is not playing at the level the team is used to playing at. Also the team has been without star wide receiver Michael Thomas for all but one game this season. The Saints could be one major move away from rejoining the teams that are viewed as Super Bowl contenders.
The Cincinnati Bengals are in the process of a rebuild and are establishing future pieces of the franchise more specifically on the offensive side of the ball. However that likely means that this season will be the last for one of the all time Bengal greats A.J. Green who is playing on a franchise tag this season. It is no secret that Green does not want to be a part of this rebuild because his prime is slowly starting to fade and he wants to be a part of a contender. Despite his better play as of late the Bengals may try to move Green to get as many assets as they can before they lose him in free agency. Getting Nick Easton back in the deal would be a great addition because he is a starting caliber offensive lineman who can help them address their biggest need which is better offensive line play to help protect first overall pick Joe Burrow.
The New Orleans Saints has showed major decline in play, despite the injury to Michael Thomas, Drew Brees has not been able to air the ball out the way he’s used to and he hasn’t had a reliable group of receivers all season. Emmanuel Sanders has started to emerge as the teams number one with Thomas out, but he has also missed their last game due to a positive Covid-19 test. Even when Thomas and Sanders come back the Saints are going to need another weapon to keep up with the Buccaneers who just added Antonio Brown. A.J. Green is perfect fit because he can still play at a high level despite not being the Bengals number one receiver any more. Plus Brees can get him the ball and get the ball out of him without having to throw the ball to Green 20 yards down field every time. Green can be used on short routes like curls and slants over the middle of the field extremely effective but is capable of stretching the field if necessary. That big three receiver group is good enough to compete with Tampa Bay and the other contenders in the NFC.
Tampa Bay gets some pass rusher depth
Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive: Jordan Jenkins
New York Jets receive: 5th Round Pick
Despite their two losses many view the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the best team in the NFL. Their offense is headed by Tom Brady and they have surrounded him with weapons that would make a great fantasy football lineup. Most recently they have signed Antonio Brown to add to what many consider is the best wide receiver duo in football. Their young defense has grown up and is starting to play extremely well. Even after nose tackle Vita Vea was lost for the season they were able to acquire Steve McLendon from the Jets to fill that void. There isn’t many needs on this roster, it may be better for them to actually stay pat and not make any moves at the deadline.
The New York Jets on the other hand are without a doubt the worst team in football and likely will end up with the first overall pick. General Manager Joe Douglas has not been afraid to trade away veteran players for Day 3 picks and will likely ship off a few more before the week it through. Jordan Jenkins is the teams best pass rusher, however he may look to sign elsewhere in the offseason. If Douglas feels that to be true then he will try to get an asset back for Jenkins.
The only spot where the Buccaneers are thin on depth is edge rusher. After Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett the Buccaneers do not have a reliable edge rusher. Jenkins would be easy to acquire and could be used as a situational pass rusher and insurance policy for Barrett and Pierre-Paul. Another position they can look to add depth at is possibly offensive line.