NFL Teams That Desperately Need to Strike a Trade

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2020

NFL Teams That Desperately Need to Strike a Trade

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    We're headed into the second quarter of the 2020 NFL campaign, and some teams might be feeling desperate after a slow start or with big holes to fill.

    The trade deadline isn't until November 3, but team executives can make early phone calls to step out in front of the competition. Buyers on the trade market don't need blockbuster deals to address roster issues. They can swap middle- to late-round picks for rotational players in low-risk transactions. 

    Let's take a look at five clubs that can pull off swaps out of desperation and still acquire decent short-term value for non-premium draft picks.

Dallas Cowboys Trade 4th-Round Pick for OT Chris Hubbard

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the most points through four weeks. In the transition to new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the unit could continue to struggle.

    In the meantime, the Cowboys must outscore their opponents. For that, quarterback Dak Prescott needs maximum protection. 

    Head coach Mike McCarthy said left tackle Tyron Smith will undergo season-ending neck surgery (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter). According to Jane Slater of NFL Network, starting right tackle La'el Collins underwent hip surgery, and he'll miss the remainder of the season. 

    Terence Steele isn't the answer at right tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he's committed three penalties and allowed three sacks.

    If the Cowboys intend to maintain a high-powered offense, they need reinforcement or potentially a fill-in starter at tackle.

    Cleveland's Chris Hubbard lost his starting job to free-agent signing Jack Conklin over the offseason. In Week 2, Hubbard had a solid outing in place of Conklin, who sat because of finger and ankle ailments.

    Hubbard went through a rough 2019, which prompted the Browns to upgrade the position, though he could serve as a decent short-term starter.

    As an in-house option, second-year undrafted offensive tackle Brandon Knight could line up on the right, but he'll likely replace Smith on the left side as he did in Weeks 2 and 3. The Cowboys need to keep Steele in a backup role and can make sure of that with Hubbard. A fourth-rounder should get it done.

Las Vegas Raiders Trade 6th-Round Pick for S Shawn Williams

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders have two glaring issues with their 24th-ranked scoring defense. First, the pass rush remains almost nonexistent. It's tied for 29th in sacks with four. Secondly, Vegas has allowed a net average of 7.3 yards per pass attempt—the seventh-most across the league.

    On the back end, safety Erik Harris has been a liability in coverage, allowing eight catches on 10 targets for 231 yards and a touchdown. While it's still early in the season, the Raiders cannot afford to give up yards in chunks downfield, especially with a below-average pass rush. 

    Las Vegas, with sixth-rounder on offer, can place a call for Shawn Williams, who's the odd man out of the safety rotation with the Cincinnati Bengals and played four seasons under now-Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

    During training camp, Williams suffered a calf injury. In Week 3, he made his season debut but played strictly on special teams. The eighth-year veteran had a minimal role on defense in the last outing, logging 25 percent of the snaps, primarily in three-safety looks. 

    With Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell on the field for 98 and 100 percent of the defensive snaps, respectively, Williams will probably see a significantly reduced role compared to last year (94 percent of defensive snaps).

    In his age-29 season, Williams isn't too far past his prime. He's one year younger than Harris too. As a fill-in with some ball production (12 career interceptions), the versatile safety can complement Johnathan Abram and force some turnovers for a defense that desperately needs to produce takeaways.

New York Jets Trade 5th-Round Pick for WR Chris Conley

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    At 0-4, the New York Jets sit in a tough spot. They're likely headed for a top-five pick, as they've scored the second-fewest points and rank 30th in defensive scoring.

    On top of that, the front office must contemplate Sam Darnold's fifth-year option in the offseason. Before then, team brass may have a shot at a top quarterback prospect among the incoming 2021 draftees. 

    Will the Jets trade Darnold and select Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields or Trey Lance?

    To make a sound determination, the Jets need to give Darnold a fair shake in his third season, assuming he returns from a shoulder injury.

    Without Jamison Crowder for two games, Darnold relied on two late-offseason pickups in Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan as his top wide receiver options.

    With Breshad Perriman out with a sprained ankle and rookie second-rounder Denzel Mims on injured reserve dealing with injuries to both of his hamstrings, the Jets wide receiver corps desperately needs perimeter playmakers.

    Chris Conley has fallen behind DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. on the Jacksonville Jaguars depth chart. He's played less than 46 percent of his team's offensive snaps in three out of four outings.

    Coming off his best season, catching 47 passes for 775 yards and five touchdowns, he might make an impact with more opportunities. The sixth-year veteran could log more snaps with the Jets and allow that organization to properly evaluate Darnold with a decent (healthy) outside receiver. A fifth-rounder should be enough to reel him in.

San Francisco 49ers Trade 5th-Round Pick for DE Genard Avery

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Last season, the San Francisco 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl with arguably the league's strongest front line. The unit featured Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, who led the team in sacks (10), 2018 Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and speedy edge-rusher Dee Ford.

    The 49ers traded Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason. Bosa tore his ACL, and Ford has back and neck issues. Both landed on injured reserve, and the former will miss the remainder of the season. The front office signed defensive end Ezekiel Ansah to fill the void, but he suffered a torn biceps and is out for the year too.

    Rookie first-rounder Javon Kinlaw took Buckner's place on the interior, but the front office still has to compensate for the losses of Bosa and Ford.

    The 49ers should pursue Genard Avery, who flashed against them last week, logging a sack and five quarterback hits. Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called the third-year pro's performance a "breakout game."

    So why would the Eagles trade Avery? Well, his role is limited behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat at defensive end. If the 49ers give up a middle-round draft pick, they could pry a player who's been on the field for less than 30 percent of his team's defensive snaps in three games from Philadelphia.

Washington Football Team Trade 5th-Round Pick for WR Curtis Samuel

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    While Terry McLaurin has been a productive lead target, logging 84 receptions for 1,306 yards and eight touchdowns through 18 games, the Washington Football Team doesn't have a solid No. 2 wide receiver.

    Among the club's wideouts, Dontrelle Inman, a late-offseason addition, lists second in receptions (11) and yards (105) with two touchdowns. He's finished with fewer than 39 receiving yards in all four contests.

    Washington will bench Dwayne Haskins Jr. for Kyle Allen, who started in 12 contests under offensive coordinator Scott Turner with the Carolina Panthers last year. The front office could add another familiar face by offering a fifth-rounder to the Panthers for Curtis Samuel, who would reunite with Allen and Turner. 

    Last season, Samuel posted career highs in receptions (54), yards (627) and touchdowns (six). He could serve as a solid secondary pass-catching option and take some handoffs in a versatile role.

    Over the offseason, the Panthers signed wideout Robby Anderson, who leads the team in targets (34), catches (28) and yards (377). Clearly, he's a big part of the offense. DJ Moore, a 2018 first-rounder, likely remains in the team's long-term plans.

    Once running back Christian McCaffrey returns from a high ankle sprain, Samuel will fall further down the pecking order of receiving options. For the right price, the Panthers would likely move him while he's on an expiring contract.