The Ideal Trade Target for Each NFL Team

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2018

The Ideal Trade Target for Each NFL Team

0 of 32

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Read the tea leaves in the NFL news—there's trade talk going on behind the scenes. Oftentimes, it's dismissed as nothing more than due diligence, but there have already been major moves before the deadline.

    The Oakland Raiders dealt wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for their first-round draft pick next year. The New York Giants sent cornerback Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a 2019 fourth-rounder and a 2020 seventh-round pick and then traded nose tackle Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions for their fifth-rounder next year. 

    Playoff contenders don't want to wait for the 2019 draft to fill roster holes. If you're aiming for Super Bowl LIII, now's the time to make a crucial move before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline.

    Teams outside the playoff picture such as the Raiders and Giants may listen to offers involving starting-caliber talent in exchange for draft picks. Front offices looking to dump salaries will also approach the trade market with an open mind.

    In a realistic, best-case scenario, let's take a look at every team from a buyer's perspective. Who's the ideal trade target for each club?


Arizona Cardinals: RT Jake Fisher

1 of 32

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    After the Denver Broncos pummeled quarterback Josh Rosen in Week 7, the Arizona Cardinals fired play-caller Mike McCoy. That's the first step in improving the league's 31st-ranked scoring offense. Now, the front office must consider upgrading the personnel responsible for protecting the rookie signal-caller.

    Before general manager Steve Keim sets his sights on a prospect like Jonah Williams out of Alabama to set the edge, he could target a veteran tackle with starting experience just in case the draft doesn't shake out in his favor. 

    Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Jake Fisher started 10 games over the last two seasons. He fell behind Bobby Hart on the depth chart, and he's headed toward free agency in March. As a 2015 second-rounder, the Oregon product's best years may be in front of him.

    The Cardinals can audition Fisher in case they choose to make changes on the perimeter. Right tackle Andre Smith turns 32 years old in January with one year remaining on his deal. John Wetzel will become a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Atlanta Falcons: S Josh Jones

2 of 32

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons go into their bye week with a 3-4 record. The rest period isn't enough time for their safeties, Keanu Neal (ACL) and Ricardo Allen (Achilles), to heal from their season-ending injuries.

    Damontae Kazee has fared well in a starting role, logging 30 solo tackles, five pass breakups and three interceptions, but the Falcons can pair him with a playmaker at a potentially low price.

    Atlanta acquired safety Jordan Richards from the New England Patriots in the offseason in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. He's recorded 12 solo tackles without any other notable contributions.

    Green Bay Packers safety Josh Jones has played four defensive snaps this season. Instead of wasting his talents on the sideline, general manager Brian Gutekunst may field some offers for the 24-year-old. With key players out at the position, the Falcons would likely have some interest.

    Jones profiles as a box safety who's capable of stopping the run or playing nickel linebacker if necessary.

Baltimore Ravens: OG Chance Warmack

3 of 32

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens don't have any pressing needs for their starting lineup, but it's not a bad idea to add an insurance policy for the interior of the offensive line after a starter went down with a scary injury.

    In Week 6 against the Tennessee Titans, offensive guard Alex Lewis suffered a pinched nerve in his neck. Rookie sixth-rounder Bradley Bozeman started at left guard during Week 7 to fill the spot; he left the contest with a calf injury. 

    Offensive guard Chance Warmack isn't seeing time on the field. The Philadelphia Eagles activated him for three games, and he's played one offensive snap. Isaac Seumalo has been on the field as a fill-in starter and for leftover reps on the interior.

    Before hitting the free-agent market in March, Warmack could transition from being a sideline ornament in Philadelphia to a reinforcement for Baltimore's offensive line.

Buffalo Bills: CB Quincy Wilson

4 of 32

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Buffalo Bills have a work-in-progress on the offensive side of the ball with rookie Josh Allen and Derek Anderson under center. General manager Brandon Beane may find a young developing asset for a competitive defense. Cornerbacks Phillip Gaines and Ryan Lewis have logged starts opposite Tre'Davious White, but neither player has jumped out as a long-term solution. 

    The Bills don't score a lot of points, so it's important for the defense to hold teams. Head coach Sean McDermott might have an opportunity to uncover potential in Quincy Wilson, a 2017 second-round pick, after a trade. 

    After logging 19 solo tackles, six pass breakups and an interception in seven games as a rookie, the Colts have utilized Wilson sparingly. He started Week 1 against the Bengals and fell into a backup role. The Florida product has logged more than 13 snaps in two contests this season.

    At 6'2", 210 pounds, Wilson would likely play the boundary role in the secondary and add a physical presence.

Carolina Panthers: OT Ty Nsekhe

5 of 32

    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    According to the NFLPA salary-cap report, the Carolina Panthers have $2.1 million in cap space. The front office could move some contracts to acquire talent at thin positions, but an under-the-radar move seems more realistic for a 5-2 team that's off to a good start.

    It's possible right tackle Daryl Williams returns to action in Week 10 after undergoing a procedure on his knee, but that's not a certainty. Blindside tackle Matt Kalil had arthroscopic knee surgery and hasn't received clearance to practice. 

    If they're able to take the field again this season, it's hard to predict their abilities to provide quality pass protection. The Panthers could attempt to acquire Ty Nsekhe as veteran insurance on the perimeter. 

    The Washington Redskins selected offensive tackle Geron Christian in the third round of April's draft. He's the future at that position. At 33 years old, Nsekhe may be available for trade. If so, the Panthers can rent him for the remainder of the season as an asset for an injury-riddled spot. The veteran has started 11 games over the last three terms.

Chicago Bears: OT Shon Coleman

6 of 32

    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Barring an extension, right tackle Bobby Massie will hit the free-agent market next offseason. General manager Ryan Pace can act now to secure a potential replacement.

    In 2017, Shon Coleman started 16 games at right tackle for the Cleveland Browns. They traded him to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason for a 2019 seventh-round pick. He has yet to be activated for a game day.

    The Bears could groom the 26-year-old into a serviceable backup or starter for the long term. As a third-round pick out of Auburn, Coleman offers some upside. 

    If the Bears opt to move on from Massie, the right tackle position would be a camp battle to watch next year. Coleman hasn't been able to make an impact, but development over time should improve his play.

Cincinnati Bengals: TE Dion Sims

7 of 32

    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    The Bengals won't have another tight end on the field for an extended period of time. Mason Schreck suffered a knee injury during Sunday's 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Tyler Eifert broke his ankle, and he's done for the year. Tyler Kroft is dealing with a foot injury and missed the last two outings.

    Tight end C.J. Uzomah has fared well in eight appearances, which include six starts, racking up 17 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The injuries at the position could encourage the Bengals to make a small move for depth.

    For the Bears, Trey Burton has taken on a prominent role at tight end, and 2017 second-rounder Adam Shaheen may debut in Week 9. He's recovering from a foot sprain. Ben Braunecker and Daniel Brown are also listed as reserves.

    Chicago wouldn't miss tight end Dion Sims' $6.3 million cap hit (via Spotrac) for next year, and Cincinnati would gain a decent pass-catcher for its aerial attack.

Cleveland Browns: WR Tyrell Williams

8 of 32

    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    On paper, the Browns started the season with one of the top wide receiver corps in the league. General manager John Dorsey sent a fourth-rounder in April's draft and a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Jarvis Landry and selected Antonio Callaway with the No. 105 overall pick this year. Josh Gordon took necessary steps for reinstatement.

    The Browns traded Gordon, and Callaway's drops have shortchanged the aerial attack. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins started to catch on but missed the last three games with a sprained MCL.

    The Chargers have a surplus of pass-catchers, and wideout Travis Benjamin returned from a foot injury in Week 7. Tyrell Williams has put together back-to-back 118-yard receiving performances over the last two contests.

    At this point, prying Williams away from the Chargers seems like a tough task, but he's in a contract year, so there's a chance. With him in Cleveland, quarterback Baker Mayfield's completion percentage would improve with a dynamic sure-handed receiver in the mix.

Dallas Cowboys: RB/WR Ty Montgomery

9 of 32

    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Ty Montgomery has witnessed his role shift from wide receiver to running back over the last four seasons in Green Bay. This year, he's barely seeing action in either role with 41 touches in his seven appearances. General manager Brian Gutekunst selected three wideouts in the draft. Prototypical ball-carriers Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams handle the majority of the carries. 

    Montgomery will become an unrestricted free agent in March, so it's an appropriate time to inquire about his availability. The Dallas Cowboys could use him in a role similar to Tavon Austin, who missed the last outing because of a groin strain.

    This particular move would add another asset to a revamped offense tailored for quarterback Dak Prescott. He'd have another target in the short passing game and an additional running back alongside Rod Smith in case Ezekiel Elliott needs a breather or misses time with an injury.

Denver Broncos: CB Janoris Jenkins

10 of 32

    Steven Ryan/Getty Images

    To put it mildly, cornerback Bradley Roby has struggled as a starter in place of Aqib Talib, who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had success targeting the 26-year-old in Week 5, per Denver Post's Kyle Fredrickson.

    Roby recorded his first interception of the season in Week 7 against the Cardinals, but an upgrade could push him out of the starting lineup. In case you haven't heard, there's a fire sale going on at Giants headquarters.

    General manager and president of football operations John Elway could inquire about cornerback Janoris Jenkins' price in an attempt to upgrade the secondary. In a division with quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes, the Broncos must man the back end with solid coverage. 

    In seven seasons, Jenkins has 18 interceptions—seven returned for touchdowns—and 81 pass breakups.

Detroit Lions: DE Noah Spence

11 of 32

    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    The Lions made a splash Wednesday when they acquired Harrison, but there's still work needed to strengthen the defensive line. There's no clear timetable for Ezekiel Ansah's return. He's missed all but one game this season with a shoulder injury.

    It's worth noting Ansah signed a franchise tag in the offseason, and he's bound for complicated contract negotiations in the spring. Head coach Matt Patricia could instead focus on the future and develop a defensive end with potential.

    In 2015, Noah Spence flashed his talent for a brief period as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, logging 5.5 sacks, 16 solo tackles, three forced fumbles and two pass breakups. He's become invisible this season, playing 18 snaps.

    If the Buccaneers open communication lines for offers involving Spence, the Lions could land a 24-year-old with upside.

Green Bay Packers: DL Mario Edwards Jr.

12 of 32

    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Packers field the 22nd-ranked run defense in the league, and the San Francisco 49ers shredded their defensive front for 174 rushing yards in Week 6. It's imperative the front office adds a versatile big body up front capable of stopping the run and penetrating the pocket on passing downs.

    Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. lined up across the defensive line during his tenure with the Raiders. In 2017, he logged 3.5 sacks and 19 solo tackles in 14 starts. The Silver and Black waived him once Jon Gruden took over, and he signed with the Giants.

    Edwards has shown the ability to impact the game as an every-down defender. Unfortunately for him, he has served as nothing more than a backup behind the since-traded Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie third-rounder B.J. Hill. 

    The 24-year-old does have some injury concerns, though. He's missed 18 games in his first three seasons. When healthy, the Florida State product can disrupt plays in the backfield.

Houston Texans: CB Janoris Jenkins

13 of 32

    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    In consecutive days, the Giants traded Apple and Harrison. The transactions indicate the team will at least listen to offers for starting players. The Houston Texans have to do their due diligence and inquire about Janoris Jenkins to bolster the cornerback position.

    Kevin Johnson (concussion) and Kayvon Webster (quadriceps) are on injured reserve. Aaron Colvin will continue to miss time with an ankle issue. Johnathan Joseph will also sit out "at least a few weeks" because of a high-ankle sprain, per Houston Chronicle reporter Aaron Wilson. The pass defense has allowed 15 touchdowns in eight games, ranking 20th in the league. 

    The Texans have Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson on the boundaries, but Jenkins' ball-hawking qualities would give the defense opportunities to force more turnovers. He'd fit well with defensive back Tyrann Mathieu as an aggressive pair on the back end. 

    The decision to acquire an upgrade in the secondary should allow the Texans to combat prolific pass offenses they may encounter in the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Demaryius Thomas

14 of 32

    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Demaryius Thomas has experienced issues with drops in the past, but he'd certainly an upgrade over any wide receiver who's not named T.Y. Hilton on the Indianapolis Colts roster.

    According to Schefter, the Broncos have their ears open to offers for Thomas. Mike Klis of 9News confirms the team will listen to inquiries, but he doesn't expect a trade. Nonetheless, there's a slight possibility if the communication lines remain open.

    The Colts should be one of those clubs with a proposal. The 30-year-old pass-catcher logged five consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He was 51 yards shy of the mark last year despite the below-average play at quarterback. 

    At 6'3", 229 pounds, Thomas would complement Hilton, a smaller quick-twitch receiver. By the way, quarterback Andrew Luck's arm looks strong enough to feed another pass-catcher. He's tied with Joe Flacco for most pass attempts (342).

Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Ty Nsekhe

15 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Ereck Flowers to address a need at left tackle, but anyone who's followed his time with the Giants knows he could falter. There's a reason Big Blue waived him on a rookie deal.

    General manager David Caldwell should give the coaching staff options at left tackle with Cam Robinson (torn ACL) and Josh Wells (groin) on injured reserve.

    Solid protection with added offensive assets can prop up a struggling quarterback. Blake Bortles has thrown two touchdown passes and five interceptions in the last three games. Cody Kessler would also benefit if he takes over the helm.

    The Jaguars traded for running back Carlos Hyde. Now, they can target a potential upgrade at left tackle. It's not easy for general managers to find serviceable offensive linemen on the trade market, so Jacksonville would likely have competition for Nsekhe, who can play on both sides of the perimeter.

Kansas City Chiefs: LB Deone Bucannon

16 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    According to's Jason La Canfora, the Cardinals have taken an aggressive approach in shopping Deone Bucannon. He's essentially lost his starting role in Arizona because of a transition from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3.

    While linebacker Haason Reddick has lined up for 100 percent of the defensive snaps over the last four games in Arizona, Bucannon has been on the field for fewer than 10 snaps in four games this season.

    The Chiefs placed Terrance Smith on injured reserve due to a knee injury. The third-year linebacker served as a coverage defender in the middle. Kansas City also has a depth issue at safety without Eric Berry (Achilles) for an undetermined amount of time and Armani Watts (groin), who's on injured reserve.

    Although Bucannon wouldn't hold a starting position in Kansas City, he's a solid alternative at inside linebacker in case defensive coordinator Bob Sutton wants a different combination of defenders for passing downs.

Los Angeles Chargers: TE Jermaine Gresham

17 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Chargers don't have clarity on tight end Hunter Henry's recovery timetable after he tore his ACL during organized team activities.

    According to La Canfora, there's more doubt than hope for his return: "The Chargers are not optimistic about the potential for dynamic tight end Hunter Henry to return from his likely season-ending injury, I'm told. ... The odds of him actually making it back this season remain quite remote, according to a source with knowledge of the situation." 

    The Chargers signed tight ends Virgil Green and Antonio Gates, but neither has produced big receiving numbers. They have a combined 21 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

    Philip Rivers has a plethora of receiving options to compensate for Henry's absence, including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams as well as Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield. With that said, Jermaine Gresham's pass-catching ability would be an upgrade on what the offense has at the position.

    GM Steve Keim isn't likely to ask for anything more than a late-round pick for Gresham, who's second on the Cardinals depth chart behind Ricky Seals-Jones. The 30-year-old went to consecutive Pro Bowls with the Bengals after the 2011 and '12 campaigns. He finished with 33 receptions for 322 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

Los Angeles Rams: CB Gareon Conley

18 of 32

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Here's a note to Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead: stay aggressive in player acquisitions. There's uncertainty for Aqib Talib's return from ankle surgery. Furthermore, he'll carry an $8 million cap hit in his age-33 season, per Spotrac.

    According to La Canfora, teams are "sniffing around" Gareon Conley, who's played 12 defensive snaps between Weeks 5 and 6 before returning to a full workload Sunday. The Silver and Black have a fire sale going on, and the 2017 first-rounder still holds some potential.

    Last year, Conley missed 14 games because of a shin injury that required surgery. As Gruden rebuilds the Raiders from scratch, the Ohio State product seems like fair game on the market based on his infrequent play in recent weeks. 

    If Conley flashes the ability to cover inside and out, the Rams would have a 23-year-old asset able to replace Talib in case the front office wants to dump his salary next season.

Miami Dolphins: WR J.J. Nelson

19 of 32

    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    The Dolphins have listened to offers for wide receiver DeVante Parker, per Miami Herald's Armando Salguero.

    Albert Wilson suffered a hip injury in the last outing, and the team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday. His long-term absence, along with Kenny Stills' groin issue, will likely keep Parker in Miami, but there's no guarantee. 

    The Dolphins have experienced success with smaller, speedy wide receivers who can rack up yards after the catch. J.J. Nelson fits the mold. He's in the final year of his rookie deal, so the Dolphins could acquire him at little cost. It's not a splashy move, but the injuries at the position and Danny Amendola's shaky durability raise concerns for the wide receiver group. 

    Nelson started 14 games over the last four terms with the Cardinals. The 5'10", 160-pounder is a big-play option in the aerial attack. The 26-year-old is averaging 17.9 yards per reception in his career.

Minnesota Vikings: OG Amini Silatolu

20 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Vikings have had offensive linemen dropping like dominoes dating back to the offseason. In August, Nick Easton underwent surgery to correct a herniated disk in his neck. Aviante Collins went to injured reserve with an elbow injury. Left tackle Riley Reiff is battling a foot ailment.

    Left guard Tom Compton sprained his MCL and has been ruled out of Sunday night's game against the New Orleans Saints, per Nick Underhill of the Advocate (via 

    Even though the Vikings will probably get Compton and Reiff back on the field this season, another offensive lineman, specifically on the interior, would give this unit some insurance.

    Minnesota must consider the long haul. The coaching staff can utilize Mike Remmers in multiple spots inside and outside if necessary; he's the starter at right guard. Danny Isidora will probably start at left guard for Compton.

    Interior offensive lineman Amini Silatolu could serve as a backup with starting potential on the left side.  Silatolu battled for the starting left guard position in Carolina, but he fell behind Greg Van Roten. The 30-year-old has 31 career starts at guard and has the ability to line up on either side. He's a solid pickup for the Vikings if they're interested in a veteran at the position.

New England Patriots: DE Dante Fowler Jr.

21 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Jaguars may look to unload defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who's in the final year of his rookie deal. The 24-year-old has played just 31.79 percent of the team's defensive snaps this season.

    The New England Patriots need a consistent pass-rusher. The front office signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn during the offseason, but he only just collected his first sack of the season against the Bears in Week 7. The 30-year-old has four solo tackles in seven games, which includes one start, and doesn't bring enough pressure in a rotational role. 

    The Patriots rank 31st in sacks with nine through eight weeks—Deatrich Wise Jr. accounts for 3.5. In an expanded role, Fowler would have a chance to match his eight-sack campaign in 2017. 

    New England's defense allowed 453 total yards to the Bears. The unit could use an athletic defensive end capable of shortening a quarterback's time in the pocket or chasing down a passer on the move.

New Orleans Saints: WR Phillip Dorsett

22 of 32

    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    The Saints went forward with a trade for Apple to address the secondary, but there's an under-the-radar wideout who may be available and able to help this team down the stretch.

    New Orleans placed wide receiver Ted Ginn on injured reserve with a knee injury. Rookie third-rounder Tre'Quan Smith will probably soak up the veteran's targets, while Cameron Meredith has experienced a slow start to the season after tearing his ACL last year. He didn't catch a pass in the last two games.

    While Julian Edelman served a four-game suspension and Josh Gordon acclimated himself to New England's offense, Phillip Dorsett flashed as an efficient receiver. He converted 21 targets into 16 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Dorsett's role faded once Edelman and Gordon saw more targets. The Saints don't have a pressing need at wide receiver, but the 25-year-old's 80 percent catch rate coming together with Drew Brees' 77.4 completion percentage would bode well for the passing game.

New York Giants: OG Jamon Brown

23 of 32

    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    At 1-7, the Giants can forget about a return to the postseason, but that doesn't mean it's also time to give up on trying to improve the offensive line.

    Big Blue adjusted its personnel up front in Week 7. Spencer Pulley made a start at center and John Greco moved to right guard, but the Falcons still got to quarterback Eli Manning for four sacks. The Redskins sacked him seven times Sunday.

    Regardless of who's taking snaps under center, general manager Dave Gettleman should begin to acquire talent for a new-look offensive line next year. 

    In 2017, Jamon Brown started all 16 games at right guard for the Rams. He served a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and Austin Blythe still holds the starting job.

    Brown will become an unrestricted free agent in March, so it's an opportune time for the Giants to land him in a deal. He'd fill a spot on the interior of an unsettled offensive line. At 6'4", 340 pounds, the 25-year-old could plug some holes in pass protection and clear lanes for running back Saquon Barkley.

New York Jets: Dante Fowler Jr.

24 of 32

    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    According to New York Daily News' Manish Mehta, the Jets inquired about Fowler in August. Oftentimes, persistence prevails. General manager Mike Maccagnan should once again pick up the phone and attempt to acquire the fourth-year pass-rusher.

    Defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Brandon Copeland lead Gang Green in sacks with three. The Jets front seven doesn't have an edge defender who demands a double-team. At times, the added protection to stop one player opens lanes for others to reach the quarterback.

    Head coach Todd Bowles didn't worry about his pass rush during the offseason, but the defense is tied for 23rd in sacks with 17.

    Even if Fowler becomes a one-year rental, the Jets would have another playmaker who'd help them compete down the stretch. A stronger defense also takes pressure off a middle-the-pack offense that's 19th in scoring and 29th in yards.

Oakland Raiders: RB Le'Veon Bell

25 of 32

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Running back Le'Veon Bell didn't return to the Pittsburgh Steelers before their Week 8 matchup with the Browns. The 26-year-old has become the 2018 version of "Where's Waldo?" As a result, why not phone in a call for him?

    Marshawn Lynch will become an unrestricted free agent in March. He's turning 33 years old next year and just got put on injured reserve, so there's no reason to re-sign him.

    With guys like Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Ed Oliver (Houston) and Clelin Ferrell (Clemson) potentially headlining the upcoming draft, the 1-7 Raiders will have a shot at high-potential rookies on defense. Gruden could grab an established offensive commodity on the trade market—one who's coming in fresh and ready to produce as long as he's paid. 

    Oakland has already traded Khalil Mack and Cooper, clearing some cap space. Instead of partaking in a bidding competition for players on the free-agent market in March, Gruden may opt to pay a proven offensive threat with available cash, given his preference for veteran players.

    Sure, Bell will cost a hefty penny to re-sign next year, but Gruden has to pay someone, right? It's not like the Raiders will have to cash out on an elite pass-rusher or Pro Bowl wide receiver any time soon. 

    If quarterback Derek Carr remains in Oakland, he'll need a strong ground attack to lean on while Gruden reconstructs the wide receiver corps.

Philadelphia Eagles: RB LeSean McCoy

26 of 32

    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    According to Rapoport, it's unlikely the Bills move LeSean McCoy before the deadline, but we know a good deal can change a team's stance. Often the public message differs from what's discussed behind closed doors.

    According to Josh Reed of WIVB Buffalo, the Eagles "reached out" to the Bills about McCoy, and it's an ideal fit for an offense that ranks 21st in scoring and 18th in yardage. He sustained a concussion in the last outing. Despite a rough start to the season, the 10th-year veteran seems like an attractive option for Philadelphia. 

    The ex-Eagle would again lead the Philly backfield, with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement in lesser roles. The 30-year-old's presence takes some pressure off quarterback Carson Wentz. McCoy could also serve as another receiver in the passing game. The two-time All-Pro has caught 454 passes for 3,463 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career. 

    With one transaction, the Eagles can compensate for losing Jay Ajayi as well as Darren Sproles and upgrade the receiving group.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Deone Bucannon

27 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Ever since linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury last December, the Steelers have been unable to fill his spot with a player who can cover the middle of the field.

    Bucannon doesn't have comparable production to Shazier in terms of pass breakups and interceptions, but the hybrid linebacker-safety possesses the ability to cover ground with the quickness that allows him to dart toward the action. 

    Shazier still has a long road to a full recovery. Bucannon, who's become a castoff in Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks' defensive scheme, has a versatile skill set with starting experience at linebacker and safety.

    The Steelers would have Bucannon on fresh legs as a potential nickel linebacker in passing situations. He's played 48 defensive snaps over the last three weeks.

San Francisco 49ers: DE/LB Bruce Irvin

28 of 32

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch played two seasons with the Buccaneers while Gruden served as the head coach. The two won a Super Bowl in 2002.

    Despite the feuding between the Raiders and 49ers fanbases, don't underestimate the possibility of Lynch and Gruden conducting business at the right price.

    There's a running theme here; expect the Raiders to have an active phone leading up to the deadline. For Bruce Irvin, a drop-off in San Francisco pairs him with defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who brings some influences from the Seahawks. 

    Irvin spent four seasons in Seattle between 2012 and 2015—two simultaneously with the 49ers play-caller while he served as a defensive quality control assistant from 2012 and '13.

    Gruden's staff significantly trimmed Irvin's role on defense. He played at least 84 percent of snaps in each of the last two seasons with the Raiders. Now, the 31-year-old takes the field for 52.28 percent of the time. Clearly, he's not part of the team's future plans.

    The 49ers could buy low on Irvin and allow him to mentor a young defense. He's also able to play defensive end and strong-side linebacker if necessary. The veteran has 40 sacks in seven seasons. 

    The 49ers don't have a threat on the end pressuring the pocket. Irvin would land in position to show and tell as a bookend.

Seattle Seahawks: S Karl Joseph

29 of 32

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Coming into the league, Raiders safety Karl Joseph drew a notable comparison to Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, per Scouts Inc. (h/t Thus far, the West Virginia product hasn't lived up to those evaluations, but he's only 25 years old with 31 games on his NFL resume.

    Based on Thomas' lengthy contract holdout and his obscene gesture toward the Seahawks sideline when being carted off the field with a leg injury in Week 4, he's probably done with the franchise as he prepares for free agency in 2019. 

    With Tre Flowers converting from safety to cornerback, the Seahawks have room for competition at the position long term. Tedric Thompson started the last two games alongside Bradley McDougald. The tandem has three interceptions this season. 

    Seattle could use Joseph in nickel situations because of his ability to take down ball-carriers and wide receivers in open space. He logged 101 solo tackles in his first two seasons. His potential as a cover safety gives him a chance to see the field in passing situations.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Jordan Howard

30 of 32

    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    Running back Peyton Barber opened the season as Tampa's lead ball-carrier, but he's underwhelmed with the opportunity to shine. Through seven games, the 24-year-old has logged 93 carries for 345 yards, a touchdown and provides minimal threat as a receiver. He showed some potential Sunday against the Bengals, but it's hard to trust him leading the backfield at this point. 

    Based on Jones' poor showing during the preseason, it may take some time for him to show his best on the field. With a head coach (Dirk Koetter) whose job should be on the line, the 3-4 Buccaneers have no time for gradual development. They're in a competitive division with the Saints (6-1), Panthers (5-2) and the Falcons (3-4) who beat them in Week 6. 

    After logging 1,313 yards in a Pro Bowl rookie season two years ago, Jordan Howard's production has trended in the wrong direction. He's on pace for a single-season career low in rushing yards. The Bears have the third-ranked ground attack, but quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has 296 rushing yards.

    Averaging 56 yards per contest at 3.5 yards per carry, Howard could become a realistic target for the Buccaneers. The 23-year-old would add some juice to the league's 28th-ranked run offense if he returns to his 2016-17 form.

Tennessee Titans: WR Golden Tate

31 of 32

    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Is quarterback Marcus Mariota a franchise quarterback? Thus far, the coaching staff changes haven't improved his results in the pocket. He's thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions in six appearances.

    Mariota likely needs time to adjust to a new scheme under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, but an instant upgrade at wide receiver could lead to more production. Unhappy with his role in Tennessee, Rishard Matthews decided to ask for his release, which expanded Tajae Sharpe's role.

    Golden Tate has a proven track record in the league, and he's still dangerous in open space. The 30-year-old ranks 13th in yards after the catch. In his walk year, the Lions may opt to deal him with wide receiver Kenny Golladay emerging as a consistent contributor.

    Mariota lost tight end Delanie Walker, who suffered a fractured ankle and ligament damage, before Matthews' exit. The Titans have a chance to bring in talent to offset the notable subtractions in the receiving corps.

Washington Redskins: RB Le'Veon Bell

32 of 32

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Imagine Adrian Peterson and Bell in Washington's backfield—what a tandem.

    As Peterson fights through minor injuries (ankle, shoulder and knee), you wonder if he'll hold up through the entire season. Chris Thompson missed the last two games with rib and knee ailments before returning to action Sunday.

    Last year, we saw running back Samaje Perine in the featured role, and he didn't make the best of his opportunities. His shortcomings prompted the front office to select Derrius Guice in the second round of April's draft, but he's on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

    Whether it's a rental or a long-term solution, Washington should swing for the fences near the trade deadline. Bell could propel this squad over Philadelphia and, more importantly, keep him away from the Eagles, who lost Ajayi for the season. 

    Quarterback Alex Smith flourishes with a do-it-all running back, specifically a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. There's proof over the last two seasons with Kareem Hunt (53 receptions, 455 yards, three touchdowns) last year and Thompson (28 receptions, 209 yards, one touchdown) this season. 

    As a workhorse tailback, Bell checks those boxes; he caught 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns last season. He also played 85.3 percent of the offensive snaps with the Steelers in 2017.


    Team salary-cap reports provided by NFLPA.comPlayer contract details courtesy of Spotrac.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.