2021 NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 3

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2021

2021 NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 3

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season featured no shortage of excitement. The Tennessee Titans pulled off a come-from-behind overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens played an instant classic on Sunday Night Football, and the ageless Tom Brady threw five touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons.

    Unfortunately, Week 2 was also riddled with injuries. Key players like T.J. Watt (groin), Jarvis Landry (knee), Andy Dalton (knee), Tua Tagovailoa (ribs), Tyrod Taylor (hamstring), Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) and Trey Sermon (concussion) went down.

    Teams could look to the free-agent market for replacements if any of those injuries prove to be long-term. But with few strong options available, many teams will likely turn to trades instead.

    Fortunately, the NFL's trade market will remain open until Nov. 2. Each week until then, we'll examine the NFL's top 10 trade targets based on each team's on-field and salary-cap situations, players' roles, any relevant trade buzz and common sense. 

The Selection Process

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    To reach our top-10 list, we have gathered 15 names likely to be on the trade block based on prior reports and logic.

    New to this week's list are New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Siemian has starting experience but is purely a backup on New Orleans' roster, while Dantzler saw playing time in Week 2 but was a healthy scratch in Week 1. According to The Athletic's David Lombardi, the San Francisco 49ers inquired about Dantzler following the opener.

    Coming off the list are Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku, who may play a bigger role with Landry "week-to-week" with an MCL sprain. Also off the list is Seattle Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown, who was a hold-in during camp but who restructured his contract before the start of the season.

    The updated list is as follows, in no particular order:

    • N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
    • Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots
    • Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas Cowboys
    • Cameron Dantzler, CB, Minnesota Vikings
    • O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
    • James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
    • CJ Henderson, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
    • Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints
    • Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears. 

10. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard started in Week 2 and had a 21-yard reception. However, he played only 17 percent of the offensive snaps and remains a relative afterthought in the Buccaneers offense.

    Through two weeks, Howard (17) significantly trails fellow tight ends Cameron Brate (39) and Rob Gronkowski (108) in offensive snaps. If the Bucs consider one of their tight ends expendable, it will be Howard.

    However, Howard should be attractive to tight-end-needy teams. The 2017 first-round pick has flashed his potential in the past—he caught 34 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns in 2018—and could be a top pass-catching option on a different squad.

    There has been no indication that the Bucs are looking to move Howard, but he remains their best potential trade chip.

9. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints showed in Week 2 that they could desperately use an elite receiver like Michael Thomas. After blowing out the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, they got embarrassed by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

    The Saints produced only 80 net passing yards and 128 yards of total offense in Week 2. Still, there are reasons to believe that Thomas could be available.

    According to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com, Thomas ignored calls from the Saints while weighing the options regarding his ankle injury. He opted to put off surgery until June, which is why he remains sidelined.

    Thomas is also set to carry a $24.7 million cap hit next season, which is particularly problematic if New Orleans isn't going to be a contender and/or Jameis Winston isn't the answer at quarterback. Thomas should net valuable trade capital that the Saints could use to move up in the 2022 draft, possibly for a quarterback.

    We should have a better idea of Thomas' availability once he's able to come off injured reserve after Week 6. If the Saints and Winston are floundering, moving him would make a lot of sense.

8. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    James Washington is another potential target for receiver-needy teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers pass-catcher made a preseason trade request, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and he has been an offensive afterthought since Week 1.

    Washington had two catches for 10 yards in the opener, but he played only 12 snaps in Week 2 and didn't catch a pass. However, he falls a few spots from last week's list because of Diontae Johnson's injury.

    Pittsburgh's 2020 receiving leader suffered a knee injury against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, though it isn't believed to be serious.

    "Johnson did not suffer a serious injury yesterday, source says," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Monday. "His status for Sunday vs. the Bengals is TBD but it's not a long-term injury."

    While Johnson may have avoided a significant injury, the Steelers likely won't be eager to move Washington until they know Johnson is back to 100 percent.

7. Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    With quarterback injuries beginning to mount—Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua Tagovailoa, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor and Carson Wentz have all been forced out of action—signal-callers may soon be in high demand.

    The New Orleans Saints have an experienced veteran in Trevor Siemian who should attract attention. The 29-year-old has 25 regular-season starts on his career resume and a 13-12 starting record.

    The Washington Football Team, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans should all view Siemian as an option given the injuries to their respective starters. The New York Jets may also want to consider him since they have no experience behind rookie Zach Wilson on their active roster.

    Wilson, who has thrown five interceptions through two games, is not off to a reassuring start.

    While Siemian provides the Saints with valuable depth, he is a luxury. New Orleans has utility man Taysom Hill and rookie Ian Book behind starter Jameis Winston, which makes Siemian expendable.

6. Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas Cowboys

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith played a much bigger role in Week 2 than he did in the season opener.

    After playing only 25 percent of the team's defensive snaps against Tampa Bay, he played 76 percent against the Los Angeles Chargers. However, it's worth noting that rookie linebacker Micah Parsons spent time at defensive end in Week 2 due to injuries.

    Smith's role doesn't match his price tag. He has played only 52 percent of the snaps through two games at a cap hit of $9.8 million this season.

    Smith is under contract through the 2025 season and will carry a cap hit of at least $11.6 million in each of the next four years. If he isn't going to be a full-time starter, it would be wise for the Cowboys to move him before his 2022 salary becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the new league year. Taking advantage of in-season demand would be one way to get that done.

    Despite his hefty cap hit, Smith should interest linebacker-needy teams. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019, and he amassed 154 tackles last season.

5. Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard has made only four career starts, but he was the No. 22 overall pick in 2019. Teams often take fliers on first-round picks because of the allure of untapped potential.

    If a team is interested in Dillard, the Eagles will almost certainly listen. While he has appeared in both games this season, Dillard has played only two offensive snaps.

    He's firmly behind Jordan Mailata at left tackle, and he will be for quite some time after the Eagles signed Mailata to a four-year, $64 million extension earlier this month.

    Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported before the season that Philadelphia was "taking calls" about trading offensive linemen. Brandon Brooks' pectoral injury might cause the Eagles to reconsider, although Landon Dickerson will likely replace him at right guard. 

    Dillard is a logical trade candidate if the team is still interested in making a move.

4. CJ Henderson, CB, Jacksonvlle Jaguars

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson rises a few spots because it's becoming clear that the team isn't going to be competitive in 2021. The Jags have suffered back-to-back lopsided losses, losing by a combined score of 60-34.

    Drafting quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in April was a good start, but Jacksonville has some serious rebuilding to do with its roster. Moving the 2020 ninth overall pick could give the Jaguars some much-needed draft ammunition. 

    In early August, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported "multiple team execs" believed Henderson was available via trade.

    Henderson, who exited Sunday's game with a hip injury, hasn't been particularly impressive with Jacksonville. He allowed an opposing passer rating of 110.2 as a rookie and has allowed a rating of 129.2 thus far in 2021.

    Still, Henderson plays a valuable position and carries the mystique of being a first-round selection.

3. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack remains in the No. 3 slot on our board. He is the top back available and continues to have a limited role in the Colts offense.

    Mack didn't play a single snap in Week 1 and had only five carries for 16 yards in Week 2.

    With Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins also on the roster, Indianapolis isn't going to find a significant role for Mack any time soon. However, another team could.

    Mack was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019 and compiled 1,011 scrimmage yards in 2018. He produced 22 touchdowns in his first three seasons before missing the bulk of 2020 with a torn Achilles. Of Mack's career 544 carries, 150 have gone for first downs.

    It would be a mild surprise if teams don't start calling about Mack within the next few weeks.

2. Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles remains the top signal-caller on the trade market. He has 55 regular-season starts and a Super Bowl MVP on his resume, and the Bears have been open to moving him since the preseason.

    However, Chicago will allow Foles to have a say in his next destination, According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.

    While quarterback injuries are piling up around the league, Foles falls from our top spot because of Dalton's injury. Chicago's starter suffered a knee injury against the Cincinnati Bengals and is now considered week-to-week, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

    "No final decision, but Justin Fields appears to be in line to make his first NFL start Sunday at Cleveland," Pelissero added Tuesday.

    The Bears have made it clear that Dalton will remain the starter if healthy, and they have Fields waiting in the wings. Once Dalton is cleared, Foles will go from insurance to a top-tier trade chip who can and should be moved quickly.

1. Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore takes the No. 1 spot this week for a few of reasons.

    The quarterback situation in Chicago is one of them. The other is that New England's defense seems to be operating just fine without Gilmore. The Patriots rank sixth in passing yards allowed, fifth in total yards allowed and second in points scored through two weeks.

    The Patriots were "still open to the idea of trading" Gilmore entering the season according to ESPN's Dan Graziano. While Gilmore (quad) remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list, New England's stance likely hasn't changed.

    While the Patriots might not need Gilmore to field a top-tier defense, other teams could desperately use his services. After all, he's only two years removed from being named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

    Gilmore is still one of the league's best cornerbacks when healthy, but the Patriots are now in position to move on. Cornerback-needy teams should start lighting up New England's phone lines if they haven't already.


    Contract information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.