By Casey Dobson
The NFL Trade Deadline is potentially the most uneventful deadline day in all of sports. The deals are few and far between, and when they are done, they rarely involve anyone of consequence. Nonetheless, there were moves made by the November 3 deadline, so let’s run through who went where and for what.
Kansas City sends RB DeAndre Washington and a 2021 seventh-round pick to Miami for a 2021 sixth-round pick
Kansas City Chiefs: B+
Miami Dolphins: B
The Chiefs are currently enjoying an embarrassment of riches at running back, with the likes of Clyde Edwards-Hillaire and Le'Veon Bell being backed up by Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson. This made Washington expendable at best, as evidenced by the fact that he had a mere three carries this year, all during the Chiefs' game in Denver. Kansas City essentially just flipped a pick in exchange for a player who was never going to see meaningful minutes.
As for the Dolphins, this move came out of necessity, with Myles Gaskin being put on IR and Matt Breida also out for the next matchup. Washington will by no means carry the team, the five-year vet has but one touchdown throughout his career. This was likely the best the Dolphins could do without having to overpay. It’s safe to say that the team appears to trust Tua Tagovailoa to take them as far as they can go so mortgaging the future to get a stud back wasn’t an attractive option. Getting another late-round pick is simply a bonus to be stockpiled or bundled at a later date.
Dolphins trade WR Isaiah Ford to Patriots for a 2022 seventh-round choice
Miami Dolphins: C
New England Patriots: B+
There’s a reason inter-divisional trades are a rarity: you don’t tend to want to help the team that you are in most direct competition with. This is why this is an incredibly confusing decision coming out of the Dolphins. Why they would send a perfectly healthy, versatile guy to an AFC East rival may be something only they know.
What could go part way to explaining it would be the return of Antonio Callaway off of suspension. The former Cleveland Brown was explosive as a rookie, with five touchdowns off of 43 receptions on what was a dismal 2018 Browns squad. Callaway went radio silent after that and then found himself suspended on account of the league’s substance abuse policy. If he can produce at the level the Dolphins are expecting (and hoping for) then the trading away of Ford will be nothing but a footnote.
The Patriots front office addressed one of the biggest holes on the team in wide receiver. While Ford may not yet have a touchdown to his name, he is healthy which is a hot commodity in today’s NFL. He’s averaging 10.2 yards per catch over 18 receptions this season. For an inconsequential pick, the Patriots scooped up someone with the potential to make an immediate impact.
Titans acquire DB Desmond King from Chargers in exchange for sixth-rounder
Tennessee Titans: A
LA Chargers: C-
Desmond King’s days were numbered in LA, after his sharp decline from his All-Pro form. But if he can be perked up by a change of scenery, then this could go down as one of the biggest steals of the year. King will be welcomed with open arms to a struggling Titans’ defence, as he slots into a secondary boasting the likes of Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson at CB and Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro at safety. Tennessee’s defensive-minded head coach, Mike Vrabel, favours a nickel defence that King will undoubtedly bolster, and should he return to form, one he could potentially carry.
While it’s no secret that the Chargers were going to move on from King sooner rather than later, they could have done much better for themselves in this deal. To only get a late-round pick in exchange for someone who has the potential to impact a game the way King does forces the question of did the Chargers pursue their options to the best of their abilities?
Furthermore, King is a rental player at this point as he’s on an expiring deal and will be auditioning for long term security wherever he would have landed. This added motivation could see him morph into a guy who could have gotten you at worst a third-round draft choice, if not a couple of picks.
New Orleans sends LB Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round pick to San Francisco for LB Kwon Alexander
New Orleans Saints: B+
San Francisco 49ers: C-
The New Orleans Saints are in win NOW mode, especially since Drew Brees has really been showing signs of aging this season. With that, it’s no surprise that they were out to make their defence better as it looks more and more like they’ll be going shot for shot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFC South title. Kwon Alexander does just that. Granted, he has a massive contract, but the team’s urgency to win makes it so that long-term money ramifications are the furthest thing from their minds.
Alexander brings some much needed solidity to the middle of the Saints’ defence, who have allowed the second-most yards per play on third down this year (7) and the fourth highest passer-rating (74.4). This weakness has already cost them games, and this move makes a statement that they don’t want to lose that way anymore going into the second half of the year.
Remember that big contract for Alexander? Yeah, it’s four years at $54 million, which over the next two seasons is set to pay out $12.55 million and $12.65 in base money, though it’s not guaranteed. Originally, the major win for SanFran in this deal was ridding themselves of this monster deal to secure more flexibility in the future. That was until it came out that the 49ers will actually be retaining a large portion of that money, with the Saints set to take on a smaller portion of his cap. Still, with what there is of available cap will prove essential to the 49ers who have a number of starters who are set to need new deals soon.
Kiko Alonso is still a completely serviceable linebacker. Though this season is all but an assured write-off for a Niners squad whose IR list looks like a starting lineup, Alonso will be an adequate replacement for Alexander and should fit in nicely to Robert Saleh’s plans.
Steelers get LB Avery Williamson from Jets in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
New York Jets: B+
This was a fairly even deal in terms of each team adding equal benefit. And if you’re Williamson, this was the deal of a lifetime, getting you from winless to undefeated. The Steelers added a steady, veteran backup to their rotation, one that should he need to step in, won’t make any critical mistakes. By the looks of the Steelers, it seems as though this addition could prove vital with a deep playoff run looming. Having an insurance policy like Williamson available for key downs with their season on the line could be invaluable.
If you’re the Jets, you must have come to terms with how much a dumpster fire your team is. With that in mind, getting whatever you can for the players that you do have while their stock has some value is about the only option. There’s a lengthy, lengthy rebuild in store in New York (for both teams but that’s not the point here) so there is no such thing as a too deep pile of potential draft choices.
Cincy’s DE Carlos Dunlap goes to Seattle with C B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick going the other way
Cincinnati Bengals: B+
Seattle Seahawks: B
For a 6-1 team, the Seahawks have a shockingly bad defence, which makes the acquisition of Dunlap one of the potentially most impactful trades of the day. Should he be able to return to his Pro Bowl form, Dunlap could be the defensive jumpstart Seattle needs to really be a complete football team. There is reason to be hopeful that Dunlap will have a resurgence, the disgruntled defender has finally gotten his wish to get out of Cincinnati. Now, coupled with the fact that his contract has just a year left, meaning he should be motivated to earn big money, sets the stage for what could be an explosive back half of the season for him.
The only thing that detracts from the Seahawks’ acquisition is that Dunlap certainly isn’t the cream of the crop of defensive help, which is arguably what they needed. But they’re hoping this short-term fix will do for this year.
Props are in order to the Bengals’ front office for being able to get anything other than a late rounder out of a player who has been weak on the field, and problematic off of it. The return of Finney certainly won’t do wonders for the team, but having a depth player could come in handy in a season defined by unpredictability, if for nothing more than to be bundled at a later date.
Cowboys trade DE Everson Griffen to Lions for a sixth-round pick
Dallas Cowboys: D
Detroit Lions: A
The only thing that saves this trade from being a total L on the Cowboys is the fact that it shows a capability for Jerry Jones to acknowledge the fact that his current roster is abominable. There’s no other way the team would have agreed to part ways with a player they gave $6 million to less than three months ago. Griffen was brought in to start opposite DeMarcus Ware, but simply hasn’t clicked.
The former Minnesota stud has 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the year, which is nothing to sneeze at, but also nothing to write home about. But for Dallas, this is all but a lost year (granted they’re in the NFC Least so never say never) so turning underperformers into assets may not be the worst possible thing, though there is reason to believe the asset could have been better.
Matt Patricia’s Lions are by no means about to make a run at anything, but they’re a heck of a lot more of a competent football team than they have been in recent years. They certainly have shown the need for edge rush help, which happens to be Griffen’s speciality. Not only do they gain a valuable player, but Griffen will be an immense boost to the locker room, for morale and divisional insight. The 10-year vet has spent most of his career with the Vikings so he knows the NFC North like the back of his hand. His first game with his new squad will be against his old Viking friends, which should have him licking his chops to make an immediate impact.
Minnesota send Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder
Minnesota Vikings: F
Baltimore Ravens: A+
Did Bill O’Brien start running the Vikings? No? Cool, just checking…
This move makes next to no sense for the Vikings. Nevermind trading away someone of Ngakoue’s ilk, especially when your team isn’t exactly scaring anyone as is, but to do it for nothing more than table scraps is mind boggling. There is little to analyze here in the sense that I simply cannot make sense of the reasoning used up in Minnesota to justify this. In no way will either pick that came the other way be in the same echelon of talent as Ngakoue, making this a failure on all accounts.
Baltimore being able to get so much for so little is nothing short of a miracle. There was nobody that wasn’t already scared of the Ravens’ defence before they added Ngakoue, but now? Opposing offensive coordinators’ jobs just got a heck of a lot harder. Baltimore had been trying to find the perfect pairing for Calais Campbell, and it doesn’t get much better than reuniting him with his former Sacksonville teammate. The Ravens have recently started to lose momentum as one of the AFC contenders for the Super Bowl, but adding a stud like this to the defence truly bolsters their chances of staying at the top.