2021 NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 5

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2021

2021 NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 5

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    We're almost at the quarter mark of the 2021 NFL season. As is always the case at this time of year, injuries and poor performances have left some teams scrambling for replacement players.

    On the injury front, we saw Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams, David Montgomery, Teddy Bridgewater and Carlton Davis III go down in Week 4. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots continue to struggle in the run game (ranked 31st in yardage), while the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to put points on the board (ranked 28th in scoring). 

    Teams hoping to contend this season may seek to add reinforcements via the trade market, which will be 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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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    To reach our top 10, we've gathered 15 players who are likely to be on the trade block based on prior reports and logic.

    Coming off the list this week is linebacker Jaylon Smith, whom the Dallas Cowboys released Tuesday.

    "The club explored trade possibilities but nothing materialized," Nick Eatman of the team's official website wrote.

    Also coming off the list is Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard. With Rob Gronkowski nursing cracked ribs and a punctured lung, Tampa should be inclined to hold on to Howard for the time being.

    Replacing these two are Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson and New York Jets wideout Denzel Mims. They're both promising, young players, but they aren't getting on the field this season.

    Johnson has a 5.0 career yards-per-carry average but is stuck behind Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Demetric Felton in Cleveland. Mims is a 2020 second-round pick who has played only 13 offensive snaps this season.

    Star cornerback Stephon Gilmore also came off the list, as the New England Patriots released him Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Back on the list is Browns tight end David Njoku, who continues to see a minor role even with Jarvis Landry sidelined.

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

    • N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
    • Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
    • David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
    • Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Cameron Dantzler, CB, Minnesota Vikings
    • D'Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
    • Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Las Vegas Raiders
    • James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
    • Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears
    • Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
    • Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets
    • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints
    • Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears

10. Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    In Week 4, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard made his second start of the season and sixth start as a pro. Dillard has been forced into action because starting left tackle Jordan Mailata missed the last two weeks with a knee injury.

    Mailata isn't the only injured Eagles lineman, though. Guard Brandon Brooks is dealing with a pectoral injury, and guard Isaac Seumalo is out for the year with a foot injury. Lane Johnson was also inactive for Week 4 due to a personal matter.

    The Eagles may need Dillard at the moment, but the future of the 2019 first-round pick is cloudy at best. The Eagles have committed to Mailata at left tackle, giving him a four-year, $64 million extension in September.

    Once Mailata returns, Dillard will likely head back to the bench. While he hasn't allowed a sack this season, he has been responsible for six penalties, according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles could be inclined to move him for interior offensive line depth or to address other needs.

    While the Eagles aren't likely to get a marquee player in return for Dillard, some team should be willing to take a flier on the former Washington State standout. Teams regularly look to unlock the potential of first-round selections, and Dillard is still young enough (26) to turn his career around.

9. N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots activated wideout N'Keal Harry from injured reserve ahead of Week 4, and he made his season debut Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the former Arizona State standout played only 15 snaps, finishing with one catch for 10 yards.

    Harry doesn't appear poised to make a significant contribution to the Patriots offense, and it's unclear if he'll ever get there. Through 22 career games, Harry has only 46 receptions for 424 yards and four touchdowns.

    Harry formally requested a trade in the offseason, and then he opened the season on IR with a shoulder injury. Without him, the Mac Jones-led passing offense has ranked a respectable 17th in yardage.

    The Patriots should consider Harry expendable after signing wideouts Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne this offseason. Now that he is healthy enough to play, he should draw interest on the trade front.

    While Harry has not lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick, he's a young wideout with intriguing physical tools. Some team should be willing to take a flier on him.

8. Cameron Dantzler, CB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    After starting 10 of his 11 games as a rookie in 2020, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler has seemingly fallen out of favor this year. He has yet to start a game and has played only 34 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

    Dantzler didn't play in Week 1 and played only special teams snaps in Week 3. According to head coach Mike Zimmer, special teams is Dantzler's key to earning more playing time.

    "First of all, he has to play special teams," Zimmer said, per Sean Berman of Vikings Territory. "If you’re a backup player, you have to play special teams."

    Dantzler did play 92 percent of the Vikings' defensive snaps during their Week 4 loss to the Cleveland Browns. However, his future in Minnesota is still cloudy at best.

    If the Vikings are not sold on Dantzler long term, another team should be. In 14 career games, he has logged six passes defended and two interceptions while allowing an opposing quarterback rating below 93.0.

    According to David Lombardi of The Athletic, the San Francisco 49ers have already inquired about Dantzler once this season.

    The caveat here is that Dantzler was recently placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list following a positive test. Teams will want to wait until he is cleared to return before pulling the trigger on a trade.

7. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    After Sunday's overtime loss to the previously winless New York Giants, we still don't know what the New Orleans Saints can or will be in 2021.

    On one hand, they're 2-2, and their Week 1 victory over the Green Bay Packers might have been a fluke. On the other, they're very much alive in the NFC South, where the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear vulnerable.

    This further complicates the future of wideout Michael Thomas, who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list and who had a disappointing 2020 campaign.

    The three-time Pro Bowler remains New Orleans' biggest trade chip, so if the Saints aren't contenders this season, it would make sense to move him. They should be able to pry an early-round pick from a contender while also erasing Thomas' $24.7 million cap hit next season.

    But if New Orleans can make a run, having a healthy Thomas on the roster would be a huge asset.

    From a talent and upside standpoint, Thomas deserves to be near the top of this list. However, it's hard to place him there without knowing which direction the Saints are headed.

6. Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Las Vegas Raiders

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Under the Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden regime, the Las Vegas Raiders have made it clear that they stick to their own board on draft night. No one expected the Raiders to take Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell fourth overall back in 2019, but that surprise pick is not paying off for them.

    Ferrell logged only 6.5 sacks in his first two seasons and is now struggling to even get on the field. He was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and has played only 18 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps this season.

    Ferrell was on the field for 20 defensive plays Monday night and finished with a single tackle.

    At this point, the Raiders may find more value in trading Ferrell than keeping him as a rotational player. While he isn't going to net a first-round pick in return, Las Vegas should be able to land a middle-round pick from a team looking to take a flier.

    While Ferrell was clearly overdrafted at No. 4, he was still considered a top-tier prospect. NFL Media's Lance Zierlein pegged him as a first-round talent.

    At least one pass-rusher-needy team should be interested in trying to unlocking his full potential.

5. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James Washington has seen an increased role over the past two weeks due to injuries. Diontae Johnson missed Week 3's loss to Cincinnati with a knee injury, while a hamstring injury sidelined Chase Claypool this past Sunday.

    After playing only 26 percent of the Steelers' offensive snaps in Week 1 and 21 percent in Week 2, Washington played 80 and 82 percent over the past two weeks, respectively. He finished with a season-high four catches for 69 yards on five targets in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

    Once Claypool is back in the fold, the Steelers should be willing to hear out trade offers for Washington. He "approached the team about requesting a trade" back in August, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and the 1-3 Steelers may already be falling out of the AFC North race.

    If Pittsburgh isn't playoff-bound, it makes sense to get something in return for Washington now. He's in the final year of his rookie contract and will likely leave in the offseason.

    Receiver-needy teams should be interested in the Oklahoma State product, who racked up 735 receiving yards back in 2019.

4. Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    With quarterback injuries continuing to mount around the league, New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Trevor Siemian gets a bit of a bump this week. He's an experienced quarterback with a 13-12 starting record, but he doesn't have a long-term role in New Orleans.

    Jameis Winston has not been a perfect starter, but with a passer rating of 106.4, he's been more than serviceable. New Orleans also has utility man Taysom Hill and rookie fourth-round pick Ian Book on its roster.

    Book projects as the future backup in New Orleans, not Siemian.

    While Siemian has started only one game since 2017, his experience should make him a valuable commodity for an injury-plagued team. Even if franchises don't view him as a quality spot-starter, a few should be interested in adding an experienced backup for the stretch run.

3. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears proved Sunday that they can indeed win with rookie quarterback Justin Fields. However, they still don't look like legitimate NFC contenders, especially with running back David Montgomery now expected to miss 4-5 weeks with a knee injury, per ESPN's Dan Graziano.

    If the Bears plummet down the standings in the coming weeks, they should look to send wideout Allen Robinson II to a team with legitimate championship aspirations. Robinson racked up 1,250 receiving yards last year, but he is playing on the franchise tag and may depart in the offseason.

    Robinson has also been surpassed by second-year wideout Darnell Mooney as Chicago's most productive pass-catcher. If Mooney can develop enough chemistry with Fields to become the Bears' long-term No. 1 receiver, they might not even be interested in re-signing Robinson in 2022.

    It would make sense for Chicago to get something for Robinson now rather than risk losing him for nothing next offseason, and receiver-needy teams should have plenty of interest. He dealt with putrid quarterback play in 2020 and still produced Pro Bowl-caliber numbers.

2. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack missed the bulk of 2020 with a torn Achilles, but he was a 1,000-yard rusher the previous season. However, he doesn't seem to have a long-term future in Indianapolis.

    With Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins also on the roster, the Colts are looking to trade Mack, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That was among the reasons they made him inactive in Week 3, but he wound up seeing significant playing time Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

    While Mack averaged only 2.2 yards per carry, he did run the ball 10 times and add a reception while playing 31 percent of the offensive snaps.

    Given their glut of running backs, the Colts should still be open to trading Mack. If a running-back-needy team comes calling, expect him to be on the move.

1. Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles jumps back into the top spot this week after falling to No. 4 last week.

    With Justin Fields healthy and playing competently in Week 4 and Andy Dalton further removed his knee injury, the Bears should once again consider Foles expendable.

    Once Dalton is healthy, Foles will again be buried on the depth chart.

    "Like we've said this whole time, when Andy's healthy, he's our starter. He's the 1. Justin [Fields] is the 2. Nick [Foles] is the 3," head coach Matt Nagy said Monday, per Larry Mayer of the team's official website.

    Foles, who has 55 regular-season starts and a Super Bowl MVP on his resume, should interest quarterback-needy teams in the coming weeks. The Bears might not get a hefty package in return, but it would be a surprise if they don't deal Foles before the deadline.


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


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