Finding Homes for Players Who Need a Change of Scenery Before NFL Trade Deadline

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2020

Finding Homes for Players Who Need a Change of Scenery Before NFL Trade Deadline

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Within the first two months of the NFL season, some teams may look at a player's situation and realize it's not working out.

    On the other hand, a player might want to go elsewhere because of demotions, reduced playing time or limited opportunities.

    We're less than three weeks away from the November 3 trade deadline, and reports have generated buzz about a few potential moves. Sellers need to connect with buyers on a middle ground, but the writing on the wall seems clear for a few unhappy players.

    In a close look at possible trade candidates, we've matched six players with new teams based on roster fit, long-term outlook and club needs.

QB Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    After four weeks, the Washington Football Team benched Dwayne Haskins for Kyle Allen. In addition, Haskins fell to the third string behind Alex Smith, per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, who also noted trade speculation surrounding the quarterback.

    "Several sources close to Haskins have advised him that a trade would be far and away the best outcome possible, ideally to a solid franchise with an experienced veteran QB the 23-year-old could learn from," La Canfora wrote.

    Haskins was inactive for Week 5 because of a stomach virus, but he seems like the odd man out in Washington. As a 2019 first-round pick, he will likely draw interest from teams that want a developmental backup quarterback. 

    The Pittsburgh Steelers know what it's like to play without Ben Roethlisberger. After the veteran went down in Week 2 last season with an elbow injury, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges took over for the remainder of the year, and the offense ranked 31st in passing. 

    Haskins has plenty of room to grow, but he's already shown bright spots. The second-year signal-caller threw for a career-high 314 yards with a 71.1 percent completion rate in his last outing

    While Roethlisberger starts, Haskins can progress on the practice field and potentially take over after the veteran moves on. If called upon to fill in, he's proved capable of running an offense in several of his 11 career starts.

    Landing Spot: Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens have a deep backfield rotation. Mark Ingram II leads the running back platoon with 45 carries, and Gus Edwards lists second with 34.

    Beyond that duo, the Ravens selected J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 draft. He's recorded 199 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage. As a top-60 pick, the Ohio State product will eventually see an expanded role.

    Edwards could generate interest on the trade market coming off a solid 2019 campaign in which he ran for 711 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry in a backup role.

    The Minnesota Vikings look like a prime landing spot after running back Dalvin Cook suffered a groin injury in Week 5. According to The Athletic's Chad Graff, he's not expected to play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and the team will assess his injury after its Week 7 bye.

    Running back Alexander Mattison will likely take on the lion's share of the workload, but Cook isn't a lock to return in the coming weeks. Instead of throwing in the towel on a 1-4 start, the Vikings should add a downhill ball-carrier who's on a modest contract and able to flourish in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's run-heavy scheme.

    Heading into Week 6, Minnesota's rushing offense ranks fourth. Perhaps Edwards can maintain the team's ground production while Cook sits.

    Landing Spot: Minnesota Vikings

WR Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a solid one-two combination at wide receiver in Robby Anderson and DJ Moore. He's also shown a tendency to target his primary running back at a high rate. Mike Davis, who's replaced Christian McCaffrey (high ankle sprain) in the starting lineup since Week 3, has seen 33 targets in five games. 

    Curtis Samuel lists fourth on the team in targets (23). He'll likely remain in a limited pass-catching role behind Anderson, Moore and McCaffrey once the star back returns. The Ohio State product could see more looks as a receiver on a team that needs perimeter weapons. 

    As the New England Patriots develop second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry, they can acclimate Samuel to the offense, giving quarterback Cam Newton another veteran starter who can play on the outside and in the slot like Julian Edelman. 

    The Patriots acquired Mohamed Sanu Sr. from the Falcons last year, but he battled an ankle injury through the latter half of the campaign and didn't return in the offseason. Samuel would arrive in New England healthy and seven years younger than Sanu.

    Furthermore, Samuel played with Newton in Carolina. Perhaps they can become a more productive pair with the wideout in a bigger role.

    Landing Spot: New England Patriots

WR Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams' Josh Reynolds went into the 2020 campaign with a chance to solidify a spot in three-wide receiver sets alongside Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. He's played 66 percent of the team's offensive snaps, logging 12 receptions for 181 yards. 

    That's a decent start for a tertiary option at wide receiver, but he's also behind tight end Tyler Higbee in targets (17). On top of that, the Rams selected Van Jefferson in the second round of the 2020 draft.

    With Reynolds set to become a free agent in the offseason, the Rams could look to move him. 

    Reynolds has shown enough to generate interest on the trade market. He should want to go elsewhere for more opportunities to showcase his talent before seeking a new deal in 2021. 

    In Washington, Reynolds could immediately become the No. 2 option behind Terry McLaurin. Tight end Logan Thomas lists second on the team in targets (32). He's an inefficient pass-catcher with 14 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. 

    If Reynolds plays well in Washington, he could find a permanent home with a team in dire need of wide receiver help. 

    Landing Spot: Washington Football Team

DE Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    In Week 5, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap took a back seat to Carl Lawson, and he didn't take kindly to the news.

    "According to Dunlap, he will be relegated to coming in on third downs," per ESPN's Ben Baby. "He spent the majority of Thursday's video teleconference venting about the move ahead of the team's afternoon practice."

    The Bengals can pivot from Dunlap, who's in his age-31 term, and recoup draft capital for a player with possibly one or two solid years left.

    One suitor could be the Las Vegas Raiders.

    Their defense sacked Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes three times in arguably its best performance of the season last week. Nevertheless, the Silver and Black are still tied for 25th in sacks with seven.

    General manager Mike Mayock can bolster the pass rush with Dunlap, who played four seasons—which include two Pro Bowl campaigns—under Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati.

    Perhaps Guenther can tap into Dunlap's strengths and rejuvenate his production as a pass-rusher. 

    Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders

S Will Harris, Detroit Lions

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    In a Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions gave up the fewest points (23) they have all season. One difference was the coaching staff tinkered with the defensive snap distribution.

    Against the Cardinals, safety Tracy Walker made his first start, and he's played every defensive snap in the last two contests. Meanwhile, Will Harris has seen a significant role reduction, logging less than a third of the snaps. 

    According to MLive.com's Kyle Meinke, Harris' struggles date back to last season: "Harris struggled in a starting role last year alongside Tracy Walker, and finished 73rd among the 82 safeties who played enough snaps to qualify, according to ProFootballFocus. A year later, he's still missing tackles, he's still taking bad angles, he still hasn't covered all that well. He currently ranks 70th out of 73 safeties."

    Perhaps Harris doesn't fit into the Lions' system, or maybe he needs a fresh start. Regardless, he's a 2019 third-rounder with potential.

    The Philadelphia Eagles should inquire about Harris to address the lack of depth in their secondary. Safety Will Parks hasn't played a down this season because of a hamstring injury, though the team activated him off injured reserve Tuesday.

    Jalen Mills has gone through some rough patches in his transition from cornerback to safety, and he's reverted to his natural position as a fill-in for Avonte Maddox (ankle).

    The Eagles need safety help in case Maddox remains out for an extended period and Mills continues to play cornerback. Harris can serve as an insurance policy if Parks needs time to shake off rust or suffers another injury.

    Landing Spot: Philadelphia Eagles