NFL trade deadline: Cowboys, Lions may get aggressive, while Raiders could trade a WR ... just not Davante Adams

As the NFL trade deadline nears, here's which teams we're hearing will be shoppers and listeners. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
As the NFL trade deadline nears, here's which teams we're hearing will be shoppers and listeners. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Approaching the NFL trade deadline this time last year, the Detroit Lions were in familiar territory. Same old Lions. Same old failure. Same old merry go round of rebooting, retooling, rebuilding and regurgitating a plea for patience.

Team owner Sheila Ford Hamp met with reporters after a 1-5 start and reiterated her faith in a process that once again appeared to be on the cusp of catastrophic failure. The team was coming off back-to-back pummelings at the hands of the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys. Local media was pointing out that the regime of head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes had a nearly identical overall record to the dark ages beginnings of former head coach Marty Mornhinweg and and former GM Matt Millen. Fans were once again showing up with bags on their heads. There was booing at the first sign of failure. Once again, the dam of renewed hope was breaking.

So Hamp stepped forward to try and plug the holes, employing all the familiar buzzwords to plead her case.

“I know this is difficult,” Hamp told reporters. “A rebuild is hard. But we really believe in our process. We really believe in, we’re gonna turn this thing around the right way, through the draft. It requires patience. It’s frustrating. Am I frustrated? Absolutely. Are the fans frustrated? Absolutely. Are you guys frustrated? But I think we really are making progress. You’ve seen it. It’s just, this was a huge teardown and then turnaround. And we’re only a third of the way through the season. We’ve got 11 more games to go. I just don’t want to push the panic button and give up the ship, because I think we’ve got the right people in place to pull this off. I truly believe that.”

A few days later, the Lions lost to the Miami Dolphins at home, falling to 1-6. Campbell’s job was squarely on the hot seat. And just when fans thought it couldn’t get lower, the franchise traded away young tight end T.J. Hockensonto a Minnesota Vikings team in their same division. If this didn’t look like tanking and a season being absolutely flushed down the drain, nothing did.

And yet, here we are one year later. Approaching the NFL’s trade deadline, which is Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. ET, with a remarkable bit of hindsight. That Hockenson trade that looked like the utter end of the road for the 2022 season was actually the beginning of a renaissance that almost nobody could have believed. Since that trade, the Lions are 13-3, lead the NFC North and are standing (for now) as a Super Bowl pick and one of the most upbeat stories of the 2023 season. Meanwhile, those same Vikings that acquired Hockenson? They went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs and are suddenly looking like the franchise entering into their own rebuild. Now these teams' roles as buyers and sellers at this year’s deadline have been entirely reversed.

That should be something to keep in mind as we approach the next deadline. When it comes to trade momentum in the NFL, the end can be a beginning, and a new beginning can be the start of the end.

Some of these teams that seem like sellers and plug-pullers into the Oct. 31 trade deadline may actually be tying up some of the business that will turn them into the right direction. And others might be acquiring players to maximize a window that is much smaller than anyone anticipates.

Keep that in mind over the next few days as trade speculation heats up and phones start to ring in front offices. Especially for these franchises …

Overheard as NFL trade deadline shoppers

Dallas Cowboys

I don’t know who has been running their mouth inside the organization, but there’s definitely a belief in some other front offices that Dallas is going to be making calls on a defensive addition. It could be a linebacker or cornerback depth piece. I’ve seen the speculation about loving Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II as a player, but that feels like the Cowboys also loving Justin Jefferson: It’s meaningless and makes little sense from the standpoint of the compensation (which would have to be massive) and then the forthcoming contract extension (which will make Surtain the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL). Does that combination make any sense for Dallas? No. Does it draw eyeballs and media buzz? Sure.

If anything, I think what Dallas is going to be looking for is an equitable mid-level deal that could either help with depth at linebacker or in the secondary. I do not see it being a blowout pursuit.

Pat Surtain II (2) and Davante Adams are two of the hotter names as the NFL trade deadline approaches. What is their availability, and what would it take to trade for them? (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions

This is probably one of the more intriguing teams going into the deadline because there’s definitely sentiment around the league that one year after offloading Hockenson to the Vikings, the Lions are now in the same position Minnesota was last season. They’ve got lightning in a bottle and, with some mending injuries, could have a legitimate shot at making a strong postseason run.

With that in mind, Detroit could be the team that gets aggressive and makes calls on the upper-tier pass rushers, the mid-to-high-level cornerbacks and maybe even a wide receiver if there’s a good deal to be had. Cardinals wideout Marquise Brown is another name that came up with a line drawn to the Lions by another front office. And one team that has been doing some work on Carolina Panthers edge Brian Burns seemed to think Detroit could be a trade rival for his services. This also might be the only team that makes sense in a blowout offer for Surtain, given how it would fit Detroit’s future salary stack on defense.

It would be more surprising if the Lions did nothing at all.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers' offense is dragging and I think they still have interest in adding help for quarterback Jordan Love if the price is right. I don’t think it’s going to be particularly splashy. But a dependable mid-level veteran wideout could draw some interest from Green Bay, especially if the cost is nothing more than a late-round draft pick.

One league source doing work on the receiver market suggested Raiders wideout Hunter Renfrow could be useful in Green Bay. He still has roughly $3.9 million left on his 2023 contract, but nothing is guaranteed beyond this season. It would be a test run, essentially.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are definitely looking around. And they finally have some draft picks to burn again after the Matthew Stafford trade, including their own selections in the first three rounds. A couple things have happened here that make it viable for the Rams to be buyers. First, they’ve found traction with two young wideouts in Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, which essentially removes the need to go hunting for a wideout in the next draft (which seemed likely until the aforementioned pair surfaced as reliable assets). Second, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has the Rams' young core ahead of schedule. Perhaps unexpectedly, the Rams have a better window here than anticipated, one that suggests they can still take advantage of the remaining juice in Stafford and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

They also have two additional games to measure, facing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys before the deadline. If they emerge 5-3 after the next two, I wouldn’t rule out another call on Burns, who the Rams chased last year to the point of offering two first-round picks (and a third). With another year of Burns burned off and the extension that would be required, that price would be cheaper this time around. Don’t count the Rams out of a Burns pursuit.

Overheard as NFL trade deadline 'listeners'

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are a little weird. In a way, they’re being viewed by other teams as both buyers and sellers heading into the deadline. As much as they’d like to keep pass rusher Brian Burns long term, sources familiar with team owner David Tepper have told Yahoo Sports that the priority in the organization in the near-term is to use assets to help fortify the future of quarterback Bryce Young. What they’d like to do is acquire a nice young offensive piece to help Young (preferably a skill position player). That is going to come with cost. And that cost is listening to offers on Burns, who will carry a significant $11 million in salary cap load to any team that acquires him, as well as necessitating a contract extension.

The most feasible scenario is a deal that recoups some of the draft capital that was shipped off to select Young, with key deal structure being a “first round, plus” model. Either a first-round pick plus a good, young offensive player, or a first-round pick plus additional draft assets that would likely need to include at least one second-day pick. Wideout Terrace Marshall has also been given the green light to seek a trade. You can read between the lines there, with the knowledge that the Panthers already see themselves as needy at the position. Marshall will draw almost nothing in a trade and they’d likely take anything offered at this point.

One other player to keep an eye on: cornerback Donte Jackson, who could be a solid veteran addition for a contending team. There is interest.

Denver Broncos

Unquestionably, the Broncos are a team that will listen to offers on almost any veteran. But also intriguing because the veteran almost any team in the league would want — cornerback Pat Surtain II — is the one asset that would be almost impossible to pry loose. So much so that I believe anything less than two first-round picks plus another asset wouldn’t even start a conversation. That doesn’t mean a team like the Detroit Lions couldn’t get aggressive and take a stab, but Surtain is the one guy the Broncos view as essentially an automatic “no.” Even with that, I guarantee they will be asked about him.

As for the rest of the roster, the “open for business” sign is out … but I don’t think it’s the fire sale people want to assume after the departures of Randy Gregory and Frank Clark. Those were culture/production calls as much as anything else. Between the two available wideouts, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Sutton is the more viable trade candidate given price vs. production. His salary is not scary for a solid No. 2 wideout, but also easily cuttable. He could be had for a second-day draft pick, whereas I think the Broncos will still pump-fake wanting first-round compensation for Jeudy. I’d be surprised if anyone is interested at that price point.

The other player to keep an eye on is offensive tackle Garett Bolles, who has certainly been chirpy about his displeasure with the Broncos' season. He could talk his way out of Denver and I think the Broncos could get a late-round pick out of him if they’re so inclined, but I also think they’d have to eat some of the $8.6 million salary he has left this season.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have a receiver available … it’s just not the one everyone assumed might be on the block.

It’s Hunter Renfrow, who no longer appears to fit and would likely be traded for almost anything at this stage. I’ve seen some people suggesting odd compensation for Renfrow, but this is not going to be a player who draws a second- or third-round pick from someone, unless a team loses its mind. Two receiver-needy teams told Yahoo Sports that he’s billed as a single late-round pick trade, regardless of how many times people want to point at the 2021 season when he produced over 1,000 yards receiving.

As for Davante Adams, unless he drops a hammer and says he needs to be traded, I don’t see the appetite. The Raiders have a solid start in hand and know that they’ll need him if they’re going to scrape out a playoff run. Dealing him made sense only if the team was entirely in the tank at this point, and they simply are not.

Tennessee Titans

With Ryan Tannehill going down and the Titans’ struggles with pass protection likely to be an issue all season, logic dictates that it’s time to engage the value window on some of the veterans who don’t make sense in what now looks like the beginning of a rebuild. I hesitate to use that word because I know head coach Mike Vrabel doesn’t want to frame his team like that and likely never will.

Will the Titans trade DeAndre Hopkins before the deadline? At this point, it doesn't sound like they'd get much for him. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
Will the Titans trade DeAndre Hopkins before the deadline? At this point, it doesn't sound like they'd get much for him. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Running back Derrick Henry still has juice and value. But when you’re talking to the Titans, it doesn’t seem like they’re motivated to deal him. And I think that’s because Vrabel doesn’t think it’s a lost season yet for the 2-4 Titans. The mid-round pick he’d draw (at best) almost might not be worth the damage it could do if they move to get rookie QB Will Levis some starting snaps. The same probably goes for safety Kevin Byard, who will have some interest but is likely more valuable to the team than taking a low-end draft pick for his services.

I initially thought there might be some interest in DeAndre Hopkins heading into the deadline, but after talking to a few wideout-interested teams, I don’t see the Titans getting anything of value out of him.

Minnesota Vikings

Aside from Burns in Carolina, Vikings edge Danielle Hunter is the other valuable player necessitating a contract extension who will get calls.

Like Burns, the vantage of other executives interested in a pass rush help is that he’d require first-round compensation in a trade. One executive familiar with Minnesota’s staff said if the Vikings are “locked into” moving him rather than losing him next offseason, they are oddly slow-playing it. There’s almost no chance they would get a first-round pick out of Hunter as a rental, so anyone interested in that kind of talk would want to have some framework of an extension prepared. If it’s not there, he becomes a short-term piece for a contender that has some second-day draft compensation to burn.

One other player to keep an eye on here: linebacker Jordan Hicks. There is outside interest, although given that he just won NFC Defensive Player of the Week and trade compensation would be low for the 31-year-old, it makes sense that the Vikings will rebuff interest.