The Rams win the trade deadline, going from superteam to superheroes. A look at the top MVP candidates through eight weeks. Eric Reid talks Colin Kaepernick (in a 10-Point exclusive). All of that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.
1. The Rams go all-in
It seems unfair, but the Rams—who are unbeaten and are already dominating the sport—just got better.
The 2018 NFL trade deadline was dominated by teams looking to win now. There was no looking down the road. There were no flirtatious glances to the future. Just raw, unequivocal, we-got-to-win-now mode.
The Texans traded a fourth-rounder and swapped seventh-rounders for Demaryius Thomas to help a receiving core that lost just lost Will Fuller V to a torn ACL. The Lions traded Golden Tate to the Eagles for a third-rounder, giving the Eagles the deepest receiving group in football.
The Ravens traded a 2020 seventh-round pick for Ty Montgomery, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, which is another move that helps a team trying to contend in the here and now.
But it's what the Rams did that should terrify the rest of the league.
They acquired Dante Fowler Jr. from the Jaguars, adding to a defensive front that was already a monster.
The Rams didn't just make this move to compete for the NFC title. They were also looking down the road to a potential matchup with Kansas City's behemoth of an offense in the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs didn't make any moves at the trade deadline, but at 7-1 and with Patrick Mahomes playing like Patrick Ewing, the Rams felt they needed to bolster a defense that was already spectacular.
Aaron Rodgers almost torched the Rams on Sunday with a vastly inferior supporting cast. That caused the Rams to hit the upgrade button, so if they do face that Chiefs juggernaut in the Super Bowl, they'll be better prepared.
This is the epitome of doubling down at the trade deadline.
Fowler is a vastly underrated force on the defensive line, but there is risk in signing him. As one scout texted me Tuesday, he is one of the most risk-reward players in the NFL.
Fowler has multiple arrests, multiple practice fights, and he was suspended for the season opener after a July arrest. He is talented but could also be trouble.
But the scout said the change of scenery should help Fowler, who will be in one of the most professional and stable locker rooms in the NFL.
He will also be playing for a coach who is a player whisperer. Few coaches in the NFL today understand players better than Sean McVay.
He will share a defensive front with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. It is easily the best defensive line in football, on a team stacked with talent from top to bottom.
The Rams have Jared Goff. They have Todd Gurley. They already had a great defense.
The trade deadline featured teams making an effort to win now. The Rams did that and more.
The Rams have become the Avengers.
2. Tom Brady on Aaron Rodgers: 'He inspires me'
This quote from the best quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, about maybe the best football player of all time, Aaron Rodgers, caught my attention. It is perhaps the best compliment Rodgers could ever get.
"I know Aaron pretty well. We have been friends for a long time," Brady said Tuesday during an appearance on the radio show Kirk & Callahan "I have always known about him. He went to Cal and grew up in the Bay Area. Then with the Packers behind Brett [Favre]. He came in when Brett got hurt up there one time. What he's done as a quarterback, I think it is inspiring, even for me. I watch his game and it makes me want to get out there and practice and improve because I think he's so phenomenal with the way he manages himself in the pocket, and his ability to throw the football is unlike anyone probably in the history of the league. It's pretty awesome to watch."
It's not just Brady. Rodgers has to inspire anyone watching football, including those playing it.
3. Top MVP candidates so far
My list so far:
1. Patrick Mahomes: He reminds me of Steve Young, one of the most complete quarterbacks of all time.
2. Cam Newton: His best receiver is Devin Funchess.
3. Todd Gurley: A tremendous talent having a remarkable season. The only thing hurting his candidacy is that my grandpa could run through some of those holes.
4. Drew Brees: As good of a season as Brees is having, running back Alvin Kamara is as much the cog of that offense as he is.
5. Russell Wilson: He probably could be higher. He isn't having a typical stats-heavy season, but he's put that entire franchise on his back.
The fastest runner I've seen this season wasn't Tyreek Hill, Gurley or any other offensive speedster. It was Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty.
Defensive backs are obviously fast, but we rarely talk about them being as quick as the top wide receivers and running backs in the NFL. Well, McCourty is.
During McCourty's 84-yard interception return for a score Monday night, he reached a top speed of 22.05 mph, according to Next Gen Stats. It was the fastest speed a ball-carrier has reached this season. Prior to Monday, no player had reached over 22 mph.
5. Could the Browns get Nick Saban?
The answer is no. The Browns won't get Alabama head coach Nick Saban to replace Hue Jackson.
Saban won't coach for the Browns or any other NFL team. At least not now.
Every year, I hear teams are gearing up to make a run at him. And he will listen, like he does every year. But he will say no, like he does every year.
6. Remarkable stat of the week
This stat from ESPN Stats & Info blew my mind:
That shows just how great Gurley has been.
And how awful the Bills are.
7. Deshaun Watson is officially back
Deshaun Watson seems to have fully recovered after tearing his ACL last year, huh? And from the dizzying number of injuries he has already suffered this season, including a bruised lung?
You can see the improvement in a lot of what he's doing, but this throw was particularly notable. What made Watson so good last season was his ability to throw accurately while on the move.
If he can keep doing that, he will be almost impossible to stop. So will the Texans.
8. Best animation of all time
If you missed this gorgeous piece of art from an otherwise boring Pats-Bills Monday night game, it was the best part of the broadcast.
Take a bow, ESPN.
I wanted to end what was a wild week in the NFL with a story about genuine heroes. And yes, we need heroes at this time in American history.
The heroes are Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. For the moment, I want to focus on Reid.
We recently spoke on the phone, and it was one of the most engaging conversations I've ever had.
Reid discussed in detail the reasons for his protest and provided an intimate play-by-play of why he and the Players Coalition split.
"Colin and I started protesting to combat systemic oppression and police brutality," Reid told me. "We love our people and are fighting for them. We didn't start protesting for any other reason than that. We especially didn't do it to get money from the NFL.
"Colin has sacrificed his career. His career is now over. Malcolm [Jenkins] and the Players Coalition sold our sacrifice for personal gain."
Reid then detailed a meeting he had with various team owners, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, players like him and other NFL officials not long after the protests began. He said the NFL billed the meeting as a way players and the league could combine to empower black communities.
Reid's description of those events resonates even now and shows the NFL's main goal was to end the protests at all costs.
"The elephant in the room is kneeling," Texans owner Bob McNair said 90 minutes into the meeting, according to Reid. McNair later added, "Tell your comrades to stop this protesting business," per Reid.
Reid's criticism of Jenkins centers around his belief that Jenkins wanted to end the protests, thus siding with ownership, at the expense of Reid and Kaepernick and for the enrichment of Jenkins' own foundation.
"All Malcolm cared about was getting money from the NFL," Reid said. "He undercut the entire movement.
"Colin sacrificed his entire career, and then to be sold out just like that for nothing. ... Myself and Colin, we've been let down by a lot of players in the league.
"We wonder why we don't have guaranteed contracts. We don't have each other's backs."
10. ... and patriotism
The word patriotism means many things to many people. What Reid and Kaepernick are doing is the very definition of it. They are trying to make the country better for its citizens. All of its citizens.
"I'm still in the community with Colin," Reid said. "We continue to strategize and look for ways to empower our people. A lot of people want a seat at the table, but Colin and I don't believe there should be a table.
"We want America to hold up its end of the bargain. Words about freedom aren't just words. They apply to all of us."
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.