The 2018 NFL trade deadline came and went and it brought the thunder, smashing past any previous trade deadline we’ve ever seen. There were a flurry of deals late and a bunch of big names moved throughout the day.
It’s a different era for NFL roster management in terms of trading guys. Front offices aren’t scared to sacrifice picks for veterans who can potentially make a difference. Teams above or around .500 see the landscape and understand just how much parity there is in the league right now. Even with a few good teams, most anyone can make a deep run in the postseason with a sniff of offense and a decent quarterback.
With that in mind let’s look at some of the aggressive moves during this deadline and break down some winners and losers.
You can check out our full trade deadline grades right here for every single move made and yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson with any questions or complaints. Also make sure and check out our full breakdown of all the moves that were made with CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora and Sr. Fantasy Analyst Dave Richard on the post deadline edition of the Pick Six Podcast.
Did not see THIS coming, but here we are. Look around the landscape of the NFL after the trade deadline and it’s clear that one club got more in return than anyone else out there, and it was the Raiders. Gruden secured two first-round picks for Khalil Mack before the season and then landed another in return when he shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas. No one expected the Raiders to bring in a first-round pick in return for Cooper — it was by far the biggest deadline-week haul — but Gruden managed to extract serious value from the Cowboys. It’s clear the Raiders are planning for Vegas and Gruden has to hit on the picks in order to make the trades worthwhile, but credit him for stocking the franchise with five first-round picks over the next two years.
The Eagles quarterback is playing some really good football so far this year and he just got the best value acquisition at the deadline in the form of Golden Tate. It’s nice to work for a GM willing to aggressively make moves and add talent in typically unconventional ways. Wentz has that in the form of Howie Roseman, who has acquired Jay Ajayi and Tate in the last two seasons at the deadline to help his young quarterback. Tate has caught 63 percent of the passes thrown his way this year, but that’s actually his lowest total since 2011. Maybe that’s part of why the Lions were willing to send him packing; Tate is a free agent after the 2018 season, so he could certainly be an eight-game rental. But Tate is only 30 and should get paid again in free agency, which means the Eagles should get a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick back in return at worst case in 2020.
The departure of Demaryius Thomas means Sutton gets to slide into a starting role for the Broncos and more than anyone else, he’s going to see a significant bump in terms of snaps. Sutton is already averaging 19.1 yards per catch on his 17 catches this season, although he only has a 45.9 percent catch rate. He should see a spike in that rate with a dip in terms of yards per catch while playing more snaps (although it’s worth noting he has 376 on the season, 69 percent worth, while Thomas was out there for only 74 percent of the Broncos snaps) and will get a chance to flash his skillset now instead of waiting until after the Broncos parted ways with Thomas this offseason. Worth noting: the Broncos get a big win here because they get to act like they’re doing Thomas a favor by trading him to a contender and honoring him next week when he comes back with the Texans, instead of having to awkwardly release him in the coming offseason.
The Redskins are a surprise leader in the NFC East as we make the midway turn of the season, and it’s in large part to their impressive defensive performance. Washington is climbing the DVOA ranks (currently 14th) and was already ninth against the pass before adding a legitimate starting safety in Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix from the Packers in a deadline deal on Tuesday. Clinton-Dix is basically an eight-game rental, unless the Redskins want to try and sign him to a longer deal (or franchise tag him), but it’s a worthwhile gamble for Washington at just the cost of a fourth-round pick. Clinton-Dix, D.J. Swearinger, Quincy Dunbar and Josh Norman give them a formidable secondary that matches up with the stout defensive line. Washington’s defense is a unit to be reckoned with.
Bell did not necessarily increase his value through the trade deadline, but he did control his fate in terms of where he will play in 2018 (assuming he does play). The Steelers wanted to try and move Bell to get value in return for the running back who is headed to free agency, but they couldn’t trade Bell unless he came in and signed his tender in advance of the deadline. It was pretty obvious he didn’t want to play anywhere else — there are concerns about where he might be sent, learning a new offense, etc. — and now Bell guarantees he’ll play for the Steelers on the franchise tag when he reports in the next week. He could show up as early as Wednesday, but Monday after Week 9 seems like a logical time for him to show up to work.
A former No. 3 overall pick, Fowler was wrapping up his run with the Jaguars after they took him in the 2015 NFL Draft and his tenure was not ending in impressive fashion. Fowler missed his rookie season, struggled in 2016, finally broke through with an eight-sack campaign last year but has produced only two sacks this year. He’s mired behind other guys in terms of the rotation and the production and now he gets a new lease on life by heading to Los Angeles to work with Wade Phillips. He’ll be a part of a defense featuring Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers on the defensive line, which should mean seeing at least one or two opportunities to beat one man and go after the quarterback. I don’t think he’s going to magically solve the edge rushing issues the Rams have, but this is as good a spot as any to produce and salvage the season before he heads into free agency. Don’t love the Rams giving up a third-round pick for a guy who will only be an eight-game rental, but I understand why they’re going all in on this season given how things have begun.
There was a lot of chatter about the Cardinals making moves and bringing in a bunch of draft picks in order to stock up for the future, and Arizona ended up standing pat. Maybe it was the momentum of the win over the 49ers — Larry Fitzgerald had his first post-touchdown spike of his career — or maybe it was simply an inflated market that made it too difficult for the Cardinals to get value in return. It’s also possible they’re looking at the roster, with guys like Deone Bucannon who don’t fit the current coaching scheme, and want to make sure the current coaching scheme will still be around next year when it’s time to make more roster decisions. Whatever the case, Arizona was thought to be a big-time player at the deadline and ended up not moving anyone. It’s a bizarre move for a team that has two wins.
New York Giants
Picking on the wounded here, but the Giants are one of the worst teams in football and the reality of their situation sunk in even harder on Tuesday. Not only did they sit back and watch every other team in the division make a move, but the Giants weren’t able to extract a ton of value from the guys they wanted to move at the deadline. The Redskins landed safety help, the Cowboys landed Amari Cooper earlier in the week and the Eagles got better with the addition of Tate. Meanwhile, the Giants are clearly the worst team in this division by a large margin, have a quarterback in Eli Manning who offers more questions than answers at this stage of the career, have a backup quarterback in Kyle Lauletta who just got cited for evading police officers and only managed to deal Damon Harrison and Eli Apple for marginal returns.
The Lions should be fine on offense, relatively speaking, because they still have Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Detroit is starting to establish the run for the first time in forever, utilizing Kerryon Johnson in an effective manner and creating a balanced offense. It hasn’t resulted in Stafford having a ton of passing attempts or fantasy points, but the Lions are better off for it as a team. Unfortunately for Stafford, he just lost his top receiving option in Tate, so the team could land a third-round pick. Not only does that take away a guy he’s developed a serious rapport with over the last several years, but it might signal the Lions don’t see themselves as a team ready to make any sort of deep run in the NFC just yet. That’s fair; there are much better teams right now. But it isn’t the move you want to see if you’re the starting quarterback of any team. You want to be the guy getting the weapon.
The 2015 First-Round Draft Class
This was supposed to be a good draft class, topped by a pair of franchise quarterbacks and it has turned into an absolute mess. Let’s run through some of the picks:
1 Jameis Winston — Benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times, may or may not get a new deal
2. Marcus Mariota — Struggling to be consistent in Tennessee
3. Dante Fowler — Traded
4. Amari Cooper — Traded
5. Brandon Scherff — GREAT PICK
6. Leonard Williams — GREAT PICK
7. Kevin White — Huge bust, almost had a Hail Mary once
8. Vic Beasley — Led the league in sacks once but might not get a second contract from Atlanta
9. Ereck Flowers — Enormous bust
10. Todd Gurley — GREAT PICK
That’s just the top 10 — another five of the first-round picks have been traded, including Marcus Peters, who walks a fine line here. Melvin Gordon actually looks like a great pick now, which is a reminder not to judge guys after a single year. It’s just not a good look when two of the first four picks are traded in the final year of their rookie contract at the deadline. It says a lot about the selections.
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