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The NFL trade deadline has occasionally brought exciting and massive transactions. It also can be a bit of an anticlimactic day, with the trades being a bit less common in the NFL than in other leagues like the NBA.
There is no shortage of teams that could spin a trade to help fill a gap with hopes of making the playoffs. And, of course, there’s the enormous possibility that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be on the move. Watson is facing more than 20 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct, which is why he’s not playing for the Texans this season. Still, he has drawn trade interest, with the Miami Dolphins appearing to be the most likely destination for the QB, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Ahead of the deadline, let’s look at some other players who might be on the move, with one from every NFL team.
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Buffalo Bills DT Harrison Phillips — The Bills have two candidates from the same position. Due to upside and price tag, we’ll go with Harrison Phillips. Still on his rookie contract, Phillips played great prior to a season-ending knee injury in 2019, even ranking amongst Pro Football Focus’ best DTs. In 2020, Phillips wasn’t yet a year removed from the injury and was inconsistent. Usually two years after the initial injury is when a player is “full go” again from an ACL tear. Phillips hasn’t gotten much playing time to prove that on a D-line the Bills fortified this offseason. Additionally, Phillips is playing on the final year of that cheap contract, as opposed to our other candidate, Vernon Butler. He is on a one-year contract, but at a higher rate and Butler hasn’t been as productive when given opportunities. Phillips has more value to both Buffalo and a trade partner. –Nick Wojton, Bills Wire
Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard — A first-team All-Pro last year, Howard stumbled out of the gate this season but had a really solid Week 7 performance against Atlanta. On Sunday, he was credited with eight targets, allowing just one reception for 28 yards while recording an interception for a 2.1 passer rating against. Howard and the Dolphins had a tough time getting together on a contract this offseason and are scheduled to revisit the matter at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign. If Miami continues struggling and the contract appears to be an issue, it might be more beneficial to get an early draft pick that the team can either use to bring in another young player or as part of a trade for a veteran. –– Dolphins Wire, Mike Masala
New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry — The former first-round pick simply hasn’t been good enough to earn snaps on offense, with receivers Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor playing better. Harry has been a proficient run-blocker (which, admittedly, should never be the first and only compliment for a receiver). He flashed a strong play for a contested catch in garbage time against the Jets in Week 7. Maybe that will be enough for a team to take a shot on Harry and send a late-round pick to the Patriots, who would be content to get his contract off the books. — Henry McKenna, Patriots Wire
New York Jets S Marcus Maye — Maye is playing on a one-year franchise tag after he and the Jets failed to sign a long-term extension last offseason. It’s hard to see the two sides reaching a different conclusion this coming offseason, especially since Maye is 28 and the Jets still look far off from contention. Joe Douglas has shown that he won’t overpay at the safety position — the failed Maye and Jamal Adams negotiations serving as Exhibits A and B — and Maye is much more valuable to a winner right now. That said, potential discipline stemming from a February DUI arrest could impact the veteran’s market. — Jets Wire, Gary Phillips
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Houston Texans LB Zach Cunningham — The Texans are in a selling mode given their 1-6 record and prospects to make the postseason. Cunningham also hasn’t seen the field in any of the defense’s nickel and dime packages; instead, S Eric Murray has taken his place. Cunningham led the NFL with 164 tackles a year ago, but his four-year, $58 million contract could make him an albatross. If a team needed a downhill linebacker to shore up their corps, Cunningham would be worth a fourth-round or fifth-round selection — Mark Lane, Texans Wire
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack — Mack has been on the trading block since he was a healthy scratch in Week 3. He’s seen playing time since then, but both sides have mutually agreed to find him a new home. Second-year running back Jonathan Taylor continues his ascent into the elite tier while the versatile Nyheim Hines signed a three-year extension before the season started. There aren’t enough carries to go around for Mack, and there are enough running back needy teams for a deal to get done before the deadline. — Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire
Jacksonville Jaguars LT Cam Robinson — It’s honestly difficult to find trade candidates on the Jags’ roster because they shipped away the one that made the most sense in cornerback C.J. Henderson. I’ll go with left tackle Cam Robinson. It feels like a team would have to step to the Jags with a really good offer because he’s helped keep Trevor Lawrence upright. The Jags used the franchise tag on him this spring so he’d be more of a rental for a team, but if they stepped to Jacksonville with the right offer, it’s a slim chance they would jump on it because they have second-round rookie Walker Little waiting to take over on the blindside. — James Johnson, Jaguars Wire
Tennessee Titans WR Josh Reynolds — If anything, the Titans will be buyers at the NFL trade deadline with the team sitting tied atop the AFC and in win-now mode, but if we had to choose one player who could get dealt away, it would be Reynolds. The wideout has been a healthy scratch multiple times this season and is buried on the depth chart when Tennessee’s receiving corps has been at full strength, something he can’t be happy with. — Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens RB Ty’Son Williams — With how many injuries the Ravens have suffered over the course of the 2021 season so far, it’s unlikely that Baltimore has the depth to move off of many (if any) of their players at the trade deadline. However, one player that could be moved if the offer is right is running back Ty’Son Williams. The second-year rusher has been a healthy inactive in two of the last four weeks, and there have been rumblings that the team is unhappy with how he has run this year, as well as frustrated with some of his fumbling issues. While the team doesn’t exactly have the luxury of being picky with their running back options after losing both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries, they might part ways with Williams because he hasn’t fit as expected and opt to fully commit to the veterans they signed before the year began. — Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire
Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate — The Bengals don’t have a ton of snaps for wideouts after the big three of Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Tate is a big-bodied target with a gigantic catch radius and prior starting experience though, so he could have some trade value and an actual market. Unlike other backups like Mike Thomas, Trenton Irwin and Stanley Morgan Jr., he doesn’t offer as much on special teams, so the Bengals might be willing to float him at the deadline to get back some value as he’s on the final year of his deal. — Chris Roling, Bengals Wire
Cleveland Browns CB Greedy Williams — As a team looking to compete, the Browns are more likely to be buyers than sellers but could use a player like Williams to add to other parts of their team. With Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and Troy Hill atop the depth chart, Williams could be available. He played well in Newsome’s place when the rookie was injured, increasing his trade value. The former second-round pick missed all of last year with an injury but was thought to have CB1 potential coming out in the 2019 NFL draft. — Jared Mueller, Browns Wire
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph — It might seem counterintuitive for the Steelers to consider trading its top reserve quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger on the way out, but hear me out. The Steelers have given no indication Rudolph is part of the Steelers quarterback succession plan and with Dwayne Haskins waiting in the wings, Pittsburgh could try and get some return on Rudolph to a team desperate for a quarterback. — Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire
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Denver Broncos CB Kyle Fuller — Denver is starting big-money free agent signing Ronald Darby and first-round draft pick Pat Surtain on the outside, and PFF darling Bryce Callahan is playing in the slot. The Broncos will also eventually get 2020 third-round pick Michael Ojemudia back from injury, so the team has plenty of depth at corner. Fuller has been benched in Denver and the team would likely be willing to trade him for a mere late-round pick. — Jon Heath, Broncos Wire
Kansas City Chiefs OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif — The Chiefs have a surplus of interior offensive line talent and plenty of needs defensively. A former Super Bowl LIV starter, Duvernay-Tardif has been a healthy scratch through seven games to start the season. The catch about any trade involving Duvernay-Tardif is that he has a no-trade clause attached to his contract. It was a problem when he was mentioned in trade talks earlier this season. This clause can be waived, but it’ll take an agreeable destination and opportunity for it to happen. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire
Las Vegas Raiders DE Clelin Ferrell — The former No. 4 pick from the 2019 NFL draft has seen his snaps reduced in a big way in Year 3. He is just a rotational player in Las Vegas and might need a change in scenery to fully reach his potential. Ferrell does have some position flexibility and can defend the run well. But he just isn’t the pass rusher the Raiders hoped they were getting when they picked him inside the top five. Ferrell could probably be had for a late-round pick by any team in the NFL. — Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire
Los Angeles Chargers EDGE Uchenna Nwosu — Following the departure of Melvin Ingram, Nwosu was the next man up opposite Joey Bosa. However, with high expectations heading into the 2021 season, the fourth-year player has not quite lived up to them. Nwosu has not replicated the type of player he was in the first three seasons, in which he amassed ten sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 59 quarterback pressures, and 44 hurries, all while being in a rotational role then. Given that the Chargers have veteran Kyler Fackrell and rookie Chris Rumph II in the same role, the team can afford to send Nwosu away in return for something before he hits the free agency market next offseason. — Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire
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Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup — The Cowboys aren’t going to trade anyone of importance, as the season has shown the need for necessary depth. Dallas is just getting Gallup back from a calf strain in Week 1, but the offense has fared well with Cedrick Wilson taking Gallup’s role as WR3 and a deep threat. The talent level isn’t comparable, but the need in the offense is filled and Noah Brown makes a quality WR4. Gallup is likely looking at a $12 million – $14 million per year payday on the open market, which prices him out of Dallas. If they could get a quality DT or a third-round pick from an AFC squad, which isn’t guaranteed in the compensatory pick formula (it’s a formula, not a guarantee), then maybe they consider it. Again, not likely, not even close, but if there was a guy Gallup would be it. — K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
New York Giants TE Evan Engram — Let’s just be honest: Engram is a talented and dynamic player but he simply doesn’t mesh well in New York. Whether it’s scheme, his injury history, a perception among fans or his rapport with quarterback Daniel Jones, things just aren’t working out. Engram has failed to meet his potential when he’s able to stay on the field and that in and of itself is a crapshoot. Perhaps the most baffling issue with Engram is his propensity for crushing drops in big moments. He’s also frequently involved on plays that result in turnovers — more than 40 percent of Jones’ total turnovers involved Engram in some way or another. There’s still plenty of upside for Engram, but he may need a change of scenery to realize his potential. — Dan Benton, Giants Wire
Philadelphia Eagles LT Andre Dillard — Dillard was drafted in 2019 to become the Eagles left tackle of the future, but things haven’t quite panned out that way. Jordan Mailata ascended to starting left tackle and then signed a lucrative contract extension. Howie Roseman won’t give Dillard away for nothing and with both Lane Johnson and Mailata having battled injuries, Philadelphia could choose to keep the tackle on the roster for depth purposes. Complicating things further is the Eagles potentially having to exercise Dillard’s fifth-year option, which would pay the left tackle upwards of $11.6 million for 2023. If Philadelphia believes that Lane Johnson can continue to be a productive and high value left tackle, then there’s simply no room for Dillard going forward in 2022. — Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire
Washington Football Team DT Daron Payne — This isn’t to suggest Payne is on the trade block, or Washington would even consider trading him. However, no one is trading for Brandon Scherff at this point. Tim Settle is an option, but his contract is almost up. Payne has value. And, with Washington signing Jonathan Allen to an extension over the summer, the team can’t pay everyone on its defensive line. Washington still has Matt Ioannidis and Settle under contract for the remainder of the season. Washington could also choose to re-sign Settle for less than what Payne would eventually cost. Payne could bring Washington back assets if it planned on making a big move for a quarterback in the offseason. — Bryan Manning, WFT Wire
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley — Even though Ridley is one of Atlanta’s best players, the team’s lack of salary cap space combined with the receiver’s lack of production in Arthur Smith’s offense could be enough to consider a trade. The Falcons picked up Ridley’s fifth-year option, which will pay him over $11 million in 2022. He may be worth the money, but Atlanta doesn’t have it and Kyle Pitts has emerged as the No. 1 option. — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire
Carolina Panthers DE Yetur Gross-Matos — Carolina’s renewed interest in Houston’s Deshaun Watson makes this topic particularly interesting for the struggling franchise. So if they do press the gas for the troubled quarterback, Gross-Matos could be one of those promising defenders the Texans had been looking for in any potential trade. The 2020 second-rounder has already proven to be a reliable run stopper off the edge in his first two seasons. He still has plenty of room to grow into his raw athleticism and long 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame, but needs more than just the 21-percent share of defensive snaps the Panthers have given him here in 2021. Perhaps they can help him find that elsewhere. — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire
New Orleans Saints LT Terron Armstead — It’s tough to find anyone the Saints would shop around given their goals this year and the state of the salary cap (Alvin Kamara and franchise tagged safety Marcus Williams are the only players who could be traded and save them more than $2 million in cap space, and that’s not happening), but I’ll swing for the fences and consider Armstead. His backup James Hurst played really well during an extended absence with injury and the Saints reportedly plan to let him test free agency in the spring, which could return — at best — a third-round comp pick a year and a half from now. I can’t help but wonder if they’d consider accelerating that timeline if a needy contender makes them an offer they can’t refuse. — John Sigler, Saints Wire
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DL Steve McLendon — The 35-year-old veteran was acquired from the New York Jets last season, and helped bring valuable experience to the eventual Super Bowl champs. So far this year, he hasn’t seen the field much, and was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s blowout win over the Chicago Bears. Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston eat up almost all the snaps among the interior defensive linemen, leaving little action for McLendon. If another team is looking for an experienced leader, and if McLendon wants more on-field action than he’s getting in Tampa Bay, a move could make sense for all parties. — Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire
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Chicago Bears QB Nick Foles — Foles has been on the trade block since the offseason given his position on the depth chart behind Justin Fields and Andy Dalton and the hefty price tag for a third-string quarterback. Foles served as the backup for just two games this season, and he’s being paid to be inactive on Sundays. He’s a waste of a roster spot and salary cap space. Given it would cost more money to part ways with Foles, Chicago has simply kept him on the roster with the hope that a team in need of an experienced veteran would come knocking with the offer of a late-round pick to help free up much-needed cap space. — Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire
Detroit Lions DT Nick Williams — Williams has started all seven games for the Lions, but the veteran lineman has seen his snap percentage drop with the ongoing emergence of second-round rookie Levi Onwuzurike, plus second-year DE Jashon Cornell showing real promise in the offseason. Williams is in the final year of his contract and the Lions are fully committed to the youth movement. Williams can still generate a pass rush from both the 3T and 5T and he’s a smart player with scheme adaptability. The Lions won’t actively push Williams out; he’s well-liked by the coaches and teammates. But if a team makes an offer, it’s hard to imagine the Lions not listening to it. — Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King — This is a long shot, for sure, but the Packers don’t have an obvious trade candidate as the deadline approaches, mostly because I don’t believe the team would even consider trading Jordan Love at this point. King might make sense for a cornerback-needy team, especially if the Packers think Jaire Alexander (IR, shoulder) will be back soon. Rookie Eric Stokes, slot corner Chandon Sullivan and veteran newcomer Rasul Douglas have all played well recently, and the Packers still have Isaac Yiadom and rookie Shemar Jean-Charles at the position. King has talent but he’s been inconsistent and too often unavailable. — Zach Kruse, Packers Wire
Minnesota Vikings RB Alexander Mattison — Dalvin Cook’s injury problems continue to affect the Vikings. Mattison remains one of the best backup running backs in the NFL. So why should Minnesota deal Mattison before the trade deadline? Well, the Vikings activated rookie RB Kene Nwangwu off the IR last week. Nwangwu returning makes running back depth less dire. Minnesota’s offensive line isn’t perfect, but the group is good in run-blocking. That makes it so that a Cook fill-in has less trouble finding running lanes. The Vikings would miss Mattison. He’s a good player, and Cook suffering an injury would likely lead to a more significant dropoff on offense if Mattison was not available. However, the Vikings have more glaring needs — like cornerback, for instance. With CB Patrick Peterson on IR, Minnesota should be inclined to shore up that position group. Or else, opposing offenses can pick apart the less-experienced members of the Vikings secondary with ease. — Jack White, Vikings Wire
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool)
Arizona Cardinals WR Andy Isabella — Isabella, the player the Cardinals selected in the second round with the pick they got by trading away Josh Rosen, just has never found a spot in the receiver rotation. He has shown flashes here and there but has mostly been unfortunate. He lost most of his rookie training camp with a knee injury. There was no real offseason last year and he had two stints on the COVID list in training camp this year. Now, with a stacked receiver room, the Cardinals haven’t had a place for him, He has elite straight-line speed. He can play inside and out, he offers some upside in the return game and can play on special teams. The Cardinals fielded a lot of calls for him before the season. Now is when they might pull the trigger. — Jess Root, Cards Wire
Los Angeles Rams DB Terrell Burgess — It’s been a puzzling start to the year for Burgess after an encouraging rookie season in 2020 before getting injured. He’s played just 17 total snaps on defense, a shockingly low number for the 2020 third-round pick. He’s the fourth safety on the depth chart behind Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott, failing to carve out much of a role in the secondary. The Rams shouldn’t cut ties with him just yet as he’s still young and boasts good potential, but he’s not doing much to help the team and the Rams clearly like what they have in Fuller, Rapp and Scott much better. – Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire
San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk — There are players more likely to be traded on the 49ers’ roster, but Aiyuk is perhaps the most tantalizing name who could be available for a team willing to buy high on him. The 2020 first-round pick burst onto the scene as a rookie with 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns. He also notched 77 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on six carries. His sophomore campaign has seen him relegated to the bottom of the 49ers’ list of pass-catching options. Aiyuk’s 16 targets through six games tied him for fourth on the team with fullback Kyle Juszczyk. He’s turned those targets into nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He’s an extremely talented player, but head coach Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel don’t seem to have much use for him. A team willing to part with a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick might be getting a star for a great price, while the 49ers get a pick back for a player they’ve buried in their offense. – Kyle Madson, Niners Wire
Seattle Seahawks DE L.J. Collier — It might be a good idea for Seattle to go into full fire-sale mode after Monday night’s season-crushing loss to the Saints. Trouble is, they don’t have many moveable pieces that anyone might be interested in. One of them is former first-round pick L.J. Collier. After seeing the field very little as a rookie, Collier had a promising 2020 season, posting three sacks, seven quarterback hits and four tackles for a loss. This year he has fallen out of favor in a relatively deep defensive line rotation, though. Through seven games he’s only played 39 defensive snaps and has usually been on the inactives list. Collier has potential, though and a DL-needy team might be willing to offer a Day 3 pick. If that’s the case, the Seahawks should jump at the chance. — Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire