NFL Trade Deadline 2018: Date, Top Rumors and Latest Predictions

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

General managers are running out of time to finalize whatever deals they have on the table ahead of the NFL trade deadline, which expires Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

The Dallas Cowboys sending a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper remains the biggest midseason transaction ahead of the deadline. A number of experienced veterans likely remain available to the highest bidder, though.

Le'Veon Bell is the top star who could potentially change teams this week, with Demaryius Thomas and Tyrod Taylor also deemed expendable by their respective teams.

        

Steelers 'Remain Open' to Le'Veon Bell Trade

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Bell has yet to play a down for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. The trade deadline will bring some level of clarity to his short-term future since he'll either be staying in Pittsburgh for the rest of the season or have fresh surroundings.

CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported Sunday the Steelers "remain open to moving [Bell]," with the running back-needy Philadelphia Eagles listed as a possible landing spot.

Jay Ajayi tore his ACL earlier this month and Darren Sproles has battled a hamstring injury for most of the season, so Bell would be a big help to Philadelphia's backfield. And La Canfora speculated Pittsburgh might settle for a third-round pick, which wouldn't be a steep price for the Eagles to pay.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Andrew Kulp questioned, however, whether adding Bell would change much for the Eagles:

"Sending draft picks to the Steelers when the Eagles have an aging roster? Foolhardy. Swapping a starter when the roster's depth is already tested at almost every position? Shortsighted. Paying Bell roughly $8 million for half a season's work with numerous contract situations approaching? Costly.

"All to bail out a team that's shown little sign of turning things around. All for a running back who will be a free agent come March."

Kulp's argument could apply to a number of other teams as well.

Bell might only amount to a half-season rental, and he'll likely need a game or two before he's back to his best self on the field. Whatever Bell delivers the rest of the year may not justify giving up even a third-rounder, especially if a team is more than one piece away from truly being a Super Bowl contender.

As much as the Steelers might like to cash in on Bell's limited trade value, he seems destined to stick with the team.

      

Patriots Tracking Demaryius Thomas

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 9:  Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos has a reception against the Seattle Seahawks at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on September 9, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The MMQB's Albert Breer reported Sunday the Denver Broncos would consider trading Thomas.

According to NFL Network's Michael Giardi, the New England Patriots have thrown Thomas around as a deadline target. Giardi noted Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels coached Thomas during the 2010 season with the Broncos.

Giardi reported New England is casting a wide net for prospective trades:

Thomas has 36 receptions for 402 yards and three touchdowns this season. His 11.2 yards per reception are on pace to be a career low and continue a general trend that started in 2014. Thomas' yards per catch have declined in each of the past four seasons.

The 30-year-old clearly isn't the receiver who reached four Pro Bowls between 2012 and 2016.

The Patriots wouldn't need him to be that player, though. They already added a dynamic downfield threat when they got Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns. Gordon has 224 receiving yards and a touchdown while averaging 17.2 yards per game in four games with New England.

Thomas would be a nice complement to Gordon in that he'd be called upon for shorter throws over the middle of the field. His 67.3 percent catch rate, per Pro Football Reference, represents the kind of consistency the Patriots have struggled to get from their receivers somewhat.

Thomas' $17.5 million salary cap hit is the fifth-biggest at the receiver position in 2019, per Spotrac, which could make him a costly investment. However, the Patriots could walk away in the offseason with little financial penalty if they were ultimately disappointed with what he delivered.

If released before June 1, Thomas will only count for $3.5 million in dead money, with the remaining $14 million representing cap savings.

The Broncos fell to 3-5 after Sunday's 30-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. They should be motivated to sell since their playoff hopes have fallen by the week, allowing New England to land Thomas without paying a steep price.

        

Browns Willing to Trade Tyrod Taylor

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Cleveland Browns throws the ball during a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 16, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns "will listen to offers" for Taylor, according to Breer. La Canfora reported Eagles backup Nick Foles is available as well but said there isn't a strong market of prospective buyers.

The fact Cleveland would move Taylor doesn't come as a surprise. He struggled in his first three starts with the Browns, throwing for 462 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and completing 48.8 percent of his passes.

Barring injury, Baker Mayfield will almost certainly remain the starter for the rest of the season.

Trading Taylor will be easier said than done.

As a free agent at the end of the season, Taylor is in the same boat as Bell. There isn't a compelling reason to give up too much for a player who may leave in the offseason. And Taylor obviously isn't near the quality of Bell.

La Canfora highlighted the biggest roadblock to a Taylor trade, and he ruled out one of the most obvious options when he wrote the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to roll with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler at quarterback.

If any teams have Taylor on their radar, they're likely content at this stage to wait until he hits the open market in the spring.

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