B/R Staff Predictions for the 2020 NFL Trade Deadline

NFL StaffContributor IOctober 27, 2020

B/R Staff Predictions for the 2020 NFL Trade Deadline

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    In recent years, the NFL trade deadline has become almost as cool as its siblings in the NHL, MLB and NBA. In some cases, it's been even busier than deadlines that are often circus-like in those leagues. 

    Last year was a little quieter with just one trade going down on the Oct. 29 deadline, when cornerback Aqib Talib was shipped to the Miami Dolphins in a deal meant only to transfer his salary-cap hit from the Los Angeles Rams to Miami.

    However, veterans Leonard Williams, Kenyan Drake, Genard Avery, Michael Bennett, Emmanuel Sanders and Mohamed Sanu Sr. were all dealt in the week leading up to the deadline, and the Sanders trade might have helped the San Francisco 49ers reach the Super Bowl. 

    What should we expect ahead of this year's Nov. 3 deadline? B/R NFL correspondents Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon, Matt Miller and Brent Sobleski have some thoughts. 

Biggest Potential Trade

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    Might the Cincinnati Bengals finally move on from A.J. Green?
    Might the Cincinnati Bengals finally move on from A.J. Green?Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Davenport: A.J. Green to the New Orleans Saints

    With injuries continuing to hit the wide receivers in New Orleans and the team's championship window shrinking by the week, the Saints will mortgage a bit more of the future (which they don't have much of anyway) to add the veteran wideout. Green will have a 100-yard game in his Saints debut, and then New Orleans will still get bounced in the Wild Card Round.

         

    Gagnon: Seattle Seahawks acquire Ryan Kerrigan from Washington

    Seattle is trying to remain one step ahead of three high-quality teams in the NFC West and could be discouraged by a pass rush that again didn't get the job done in a Week 7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Kerrigan is a perfect veteran acquisition to chip in as a half-year rental, and Washington has more than enough talent up front as is.

         

    Miller: It already happened (Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens)

    I don't expect a trade deadline with a ton of action due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that Election Day is the trade deadline. That makes the already-big trade of Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens the biggest impact move.

    Some might have suggested an Odell Beckham Jr. trade, but now he's out for the year with a torn ACL. With DeSean Jackson suffering an ankle injury Thursday night, that takes another big name off the board. For now, it's looking like the move of Ngakoue to bolster one of the NFL's best defenses will be the headline move.

         

    Sobleski: Houston Texans fire sale 

    While this isn't a single trade, the Texans should see the writing on the wall after Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers and start tearing down the current roster.

    Anyone of value, aside from quarterback Deshaun Watson and left tackle Laremy Tunsil, should be on the block for a reasonable price because the only remaining goal this season is to rebuild the franchise's depleted assets and make its current head coach and general manager openings far more appealing to top candidates.

Biggest Deadline Surprise

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    Dwayne Haskins Jr. has seemingly fallen out of favor in Washington.
    Dwayne Haskins Jr. has seemingly fallen out of favor in Washington.Associated Press

    Davenport: No fire sales for the Houston Texans or Atlanta Falcons

    Partly it will be because both the Falcons and Texans recently fired their general managers. Partly it will be because both teams will convince themselves they aren't as bad as they actually are. But neither Atlanta nor Houston will make the sort of major move it will take to accelerate the rebuilds that are coming, whether they want them to or not.

         

    Gagnon: Pittsburgh Steelers acquire Avery Williamson from the New York Jets

    They'll feel pressure to keep up with Baltimore following its acquisition of Yannick Ngakoue, especially now that linebacker Devin Bush is out for the remainder of the year with a torn ACL. Meanwhile, there's no reason for the Jets to hold on to Williamson in a walk year. It makes sense, but it would be a surprise because the Steelers are quite conservative in these markets.

         

    Miller: Dwayne Haskins Jr. to the Indianapolis Colts

    The Colts are playing well with Philip Rivers but need a long-term plan. Enter Haskins, who has more upside than Jacoby Brissett or Jacob Eason and could give general manager Chris Ballard a low-cost look at a 2019 first-rounder.

         

    Sobleski: The Bengals don't make any moves

    The Bengals organization is stubborn. For some reason, the coaching staff decided to de-emphasize multiple proven veterans and locker room leaders.

    Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, in particular, haven't been shy in stating their displeasure. But Atkins, Dunlap and A.J. Green own exorbitant salaries. Even prorated over the final 10 weeks, the numbers are just too large to draw much interest. And the Bengals will continue not utilizing some of the roster's most talented players.

Worst Trade

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    Could Sam Darnold be traded by Nov. 3?
    Could Sam Darnold be traded by Nov. 3?Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Davenport: New York Jets sell Sam Darnold for 30 cents on the dollar

    In the most Jets move ever, New York will deal Darnold for a Day 2 pick despite the fact that his struggles have a lot more to do with the team around him than the player himself. The Jets will then ride Joe Flacco to an 0-16 record and the first pick in 2021, at which point Trevor Lawrence will make it clear there is no chance in you-know-where that he will play for Gang Green.

         

    Gagnon: Somebody falls for Evan Engram

    The inconsistent, drop-happy Engram has proved time and again he can't be relied upon and has done more harm than good to the New York Giants this season. Still, somebody will look at his age (26) and natural ability and overpay for a player who isn't likely to help in the short or long term.

         

    Sobleski: Any trade for David Njoku

    The Cleveland Browns tight end (or his representation) has made two trade requests already this year. The 2017 first-round draft pick's value is at an all-time low. His inconsistency on the field, coupled with multiple injuries throughout his career and a pinch of displeasure with his current situation, makes him a bad bet at this point in his career.

    He should see an opportunity, take advantage of Austin Hooper's recent bout with appendicitis and become a bigger part of the Browns' tight end-friendly scheme to rebuild his stock. Then, the team and the tight end can revisit trade conversations next offseason.

Trade That Should Happen but Won't

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    Don't expect J.J. Watt to leave Houston just yet.
    Don't expect J.J. Watt to leave Houston just yet.Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Davenport: J.J. Watt to the Green Bay Packers

    Watt is the wrong side of 30 and on the downslope of his Hall of Fame career, and the Texans are staring at a rebuild. As weird as it would be to see him in a different uniform, Watt going home to Wisconsin to take a run at a Super Bowl would be a great story, especially if it culminated in Tampa with a battle against younger brother T.J. in Super Bowl LV.

         

    Gagnon: Bengals deal A.J. Green

    They should never have kept him around in the first place considering the state of the rebuild and the presence of several good young receivers on the roster. Sure enough, Green has yet to score a touchdown and hasn't lived up to his $18.2 million salary in 2020. The Bengals will stubbornly hold on because that's their nature, and then they'll lose him for nothing in the offseason.

         

    Miller: Darnold to the Pittsburgh Steelers

    Darnold to Pittsburgh is meant to be, which is why the Jets won't let it happen just yet. The Jets are in a scenario in which they may opt to keep the quarterback as the next-best option if they don't land the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft. Until they can evaluate Darnold against the 2021 quarterback crop, they almost have to hold onto him.

         

    Sobleski: Jets trade Darnold to a contender with an aging quarterback

    Embrace the tank. The Jets are easily the favorite to claim the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, where Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will be waiting to take over as the face of a franchise.

    Darnold remains a quality prospect, but the Jets have to do what's best for the organization. Lawrence is simply a higher-caliber prospect. The same can possibly be said of Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance, as well.

Deadline Day: Busy or Quiet?

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    Falcons owner Arthur Blank could make the deadline busy by signing off on a fire sale.
    Falcons owner Arthur Blank could make the deadline busy by signing off on a fire sale.Associated Press

    Davenport: Relatively quiet

    There should be at least a decent amount of trade activity this year, if only because there are a handful of teams that look like good candidates for a fire sale. However, with seven playoff spots in each conference, there could be more buyers than sellers. In any event, I think most of the deals that are going to get done will be completed by the time Nov. 3 gets here.

         

    Gagnon: Quiet

    In order to fully join his new team on the field under current COVID-19 rules, a traded player must test negative for the coronavirus for five consecutive days and be bubbled in his new home. That extra burden could cause teams to shy away from pulling triggers. Plus, 26 of the league's 32 teams are currently within two games of a playoff spot. I doubt there will be too many eager sellers. 

         

    Miller: Quiet

    COVID-19 has changed so many protocols and procedures for the NFL that a trade is no longer an easy thing to pull off due to the uncertainty of when players will be available for their new teams. This, combined with many teams still in contention at the deadline, should ensure a quiet lead-up to the Nov. 3 deadline.

         

    Sobleski: Busier than usual

    A slight uptick in activity should occur during this year's deadline for one simple reason: salary-cap management.

    Due to the ongoing pandemic, NFL owners and the NFLPA have an agreement in place to lower the 2021 salary cap dependent on current revenue. The two sides agreed to a salary-cap floor of $175 million. If the number is that low next season, teams will see a $23.2 million decrease from the current cap. As such, some organizations will be forced to dump salaries just so they can adjust to the new normal.