The Ideal Trade Target for Each NFL Team
NFL teams have one last opportunity to really improve before the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
However, the amount of movement may be limited because of the salary-cap restrictions teams face this season. Currently, 23 franchises have less than $10 million in financial wiggle room, but those squads can make smaller moves or rework contracts for a possible deal.
The fact is every team could use improvements.
In the short term, potential trade proposals should target areas in need of immediate help. Those options should fall within the realm of possibility and make sense financially. To be clear, the following trade targets are favorable for the specific team being discussed, not necessarily the individual's current squad.
Arizona Cardinals: C Nick Martin
Rodney Hudson is currently dealing with injured ribs. He's out for at least another two games since he's on short-term injured reserve, but when healthy, he is one of the game's best centers. Without him, the Arizona Cardinals are a little soft along their offensive interior.
Max Garcia held up relatively well against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but he put a few bad reps against their talented defensive line on film, too.
Nick Martin is a possible insurance plan, and the Las Vegas Raiders have moved forward with Andre James as their primary snapper. Martin is experienced, though, as the sixth-year veteran started 62 games over the previous four seasons. He can take over for Garcia if necessary or provide quality depth to all three interior line spots.
Atlanta Falcons: WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine isn't a name many outside of the Tennessee Titans fanbase will know. This season, he is sixth on the team with 12 receptions for 125 yards.
Possible interest from the Atlanta Falcons is based on a few factors.
First, the Falcons lack quality depth at wide receiver. Calvin Ridley returned to practice this week, and his inclusion will serve as a big boost to Atlanta's passing attack. From there, the franchise's wide receiver corps is highly suspect, as no other wideout has more than eight catches or 89 yards.
Westbrook-Ikine also has a previous working relationship with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who previously served as the Titans offensive coordinator. Finally, the Falcons are barely under this year's salary cap, but Westbrook-Ikhine is still under an undrafted rookie deal.
Baltimore Ravens: RT La'el Collins
The Baltimore Ravens offensive line has been a sore spot all year, and the group remains in flux with standout left tackle Ronnie Stanley announcing Tuesday he's out for yet another season.
Stanley's absence created a void on Lamar Jackson's blind side, which has been filled by veteran Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva has moved from right to left tackle, and Patrick Mekari took over strong-side duties, creating a tenuous situation.
Meanwhile, La'el Collins has been reinstated after his five-game suspension, yet he might find himself without a starting job. Terence Steele played very well for the Dallas Cowboys to open this season, and considering his improvement and Collins' salary increase after this year, the Cowboys may consider a move.
The Ravens don't have much salary-cap space, but they can handle the prorated portion of Collins' $1.55 million base salary.
Buffalo Bills: RB Mark Ingram
Josh Allen simultaneously serves as the Buffalo Bills' franchise quarterback and top running option.
Technically, the Bills rank sixth in rushing offense, but Allen is the squad's second-leading rusher with 211 yards. Meanwhile, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have been serviceable but nothing special.
Mark Ingram may be 31 years old and currently averaging 3.3 yards per carry in the Houston Texans' woeful offense, but he's a hammer. He's a tone-setter. The 11-year veteran brings a different attitude when he runs the ball.
The Bills are Super Bowl contenders, and the addition of a solid veteran who can play a specific and much-needed role is what good teams do.
Carolina Panthers: OT Andre Dillard
The Carolina Panthers' experiment with Cam Erving and Pat Elflein serving as the left side of the offensive line was doomed the second both signed on Day 1 of free agency.
To no one's surprise, both struggled. Dennis Daley already replaced Elflein, and an attempt at upgrading left tackle is the next step.
The Philadelphia Eagles invested a 2019 first-round pick in Andre Dillard, and rugby project Jordan Mailata already surpassed him to earn the left tackle job and a hefty pay raise. With Lane Johnson's return to the team, Dillard is the odd man out, and the Panthers should jump all over this potential opportunity.
Considering how important Sam Darnold's evaluation is, Erving manning the quarterback's blind side for an entire season is counterproductive. Dillard possibly provides a long-term solution.
Chicago Bears: OL Cody Ford
Cody Ford looked like an emerging building block for the Buffalo Bills, as he started 22 games in his first two seasons at both right tackle and guard. But the coaching staff effectively benched him this season with a preference to start third-round rookie Spencer Brown at right tackle with Daryl Williams moving inside to guard.
In the Chicago Bears' case, beggars can't be choosers, and Ford previously showed he can be a key piece to a successful offense.
Chicago's tackle situation grows worse with each passing week, as right tackle Germain Ifedi landed on injured reserve last week. Ford can challenge Elijah Wilkinson to start at right tackle and possibly keep the job. If not, he can add competition to either guard spot.
Cincinnati Bengals: OG Bobby Evans
The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line remains a problem, particularly at right guard. Jackson Carman has struggled at the onset of his career. Eventually, he could become a solid contributor, but the Bengals shouldn't overlook an opportunity to add some competition.
Bobby Evans started seven games as a rookie and flashed some potential for the Los Angeles Rams, but the third-year blocker now serves as the squad's utility lineman.
Ideally, the Bengals could make a more impactful move, but options are limited because offensive line depth is suspect around the league. In Evans' case, he knows Zac Taylor's system because of their linked history with the Rams organization. He should immediately compete at right guard or be a possibility at right tackle next season since Riley Reiff is on a one-year deal.
Cleveland Browns: RB Marlon Mack
Success for the Cleveland Browns is built through the team's run game, particularly with quarterback Baker Mayfield nursing a bum left shoulder that will keep him out of Thursday's contest against the Denver Broncos.
Even with a healthy Mayfield, the Browns' passing game is married to Kevin Stefanski's run principles. Yet the effectiveness of the scheme takes a decided step back without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the lineup. Both are currently dealing with calf injuries that may keep them out of multiple games.
Eventually, both will be back in the lineup; however, the Browns can't be caught in the same position again. Interest in Marlon Mack becomes a necessity to keep the team afloat. Mack is no longer a featured part of the Indianapolis Colts' running back rotation, and he's operating under a one-year deal. But he's only 25 years old and two years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign.
Dallas Cowboys: Edge Steven Means
On the surface, the Dallas Cowboys don't need to make any immediate moves to improve at defensive end. After all, Randy Gregory is playing as well as he has at any point in his career, and rookie Micah Parsons seemingly found a home as a hybrid edge-defender.
However, another addition to the defensive end rotation will create more flexibility within the entire front.
Steven Means doesn't get much credit as a hard-nosed, get-after-it performer who can play both the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks. The 31-year-old also experienced a bit of a breakout when he became a starter for the Atlanta Falcons over the second half of the 2020 campaign.
Who was the Falcons head coach at the time? Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. A reunion between the two will only strengthen the much-improved unit.
Denver Broncos: QB Gardner Minshew
The Denver Broncos are 3-3 and still in the thick of things, but everyone can be realistic and admit the quarterback position is probably holding the team back to some degree.
Teddy Bridgewater is mostly efficient and tends to play mistake-free football, but his approach also limits the offense. He's pretty much middle of the league in passing yardage, yards per attempt, QBR and quarterback rating. He's an average quarterback, and there's nothing wrong with who he is.
However, the Broncos can be more with the number of weapons in their offense.
Gardner Minshew tends to be accurate too, and he also has a creative side, particularly when things break down around him. At worst, the Broncos would have another starting option to consider. The solution still wouldn't be on the roster. Even so, a team shouldn't stop looking for potential upgrades, particularly at the game's most important position.
Detroit Lions: WR N'Keal Harry
The Detroit Lions desperately need help at wide receiver, and N'Keal Harry wants out of New England.
Kalif Raymond currently leads the Lions' wide receivers with 219 yards. In total, 63 wide receivers have more than the Lions' WR1. To be fair, tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D'Andre Swift are the team's top two targets, but they could use more help on the outside.
Harry formally asked to be traded from the Patriots in July. Either the team didn't like potential offers or didn't find any suitors at the time.
He did suffer a shoulder injury during training camp and is just now working himself back into the mix. However, the Patriots already have Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers. Detroit would provide far more opportunities to see if Harry can actually play.
Green Bay Packers: WR Brandin Cooks
More than likely, Aaron Rodgers won't be a member of the Green Bay Packers next season. As such, the organization should do everything in its power to push toward a Super Bowl while it still has one of the game's greatest quarterbacks.
The conversation of Green Bay adding another wide receiver entered beating-a-dead-horse territory long ago, but the problem has never been solved. Yes, the Packers' front office added Randall Cobb to appease the 37-year-old Rodgers. Still, no other wide receiver on the roster has even a third of Davante Adams' 66 targets this season.
How about Green Bay goes back to the well and calls the Houston Texans? Brandin Cooks has been a proven producer everywhere he's gone, though he's not stayed in one place for too long. He would give the Packers a true threat beyond Adams and make Matt LaFleur's offense dynamic.
Houston Texans: TE Devin Asiasi
The Houston Texans are sellers, not buyers. A potential firesale may be forthcoming, and no one on the roster is safe. However, a few possibilities could pique Nick Caserio's interest as the general manager continues to rebuild the floundering franchise.
Caserio served as the director of player personnel for the New England Patriots when the franchise chose tight end Devin Asiasi in the third round of the 2020 draft. He didn't flourish in year one, and the Patriots decided to make significant free-agent investments in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry this past offseason.
Asiasi is now an afterthought, though he could still be valuable in Houston, where the team doesn't have a receiving threat at the position. Jordan Akins and Pharaoh Brown have 21 combined receptions.
Indianapolis Colts: S Tracy Walker
Since Matt Eberflus became the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, his unit turned into one of the game's most fundamentally sound groups. This year's performance has been a little different, as the Colts are currently ranked 20th overall in total defense.
The team's safeties are a particular weak point, as Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon aren't the best defensive backs in coverage. Also, Blackmon suffered an Achilles injury during Wednesday's practice session. Tracy Walker is a capable free safety along the back line with the ability to erase potential mistakes.
Obviously, the Detroit Lions are transitioning under new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. The team is struggling to find an identity, and one can expect more turnover next offseason as the roster starts to align with the franchise's new approach. Walker is a pending free agent, and the Lions could get something for him now.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The idea of trading Odell Beckham Jr. isn't plausible in most cases, but a potential pairing with the Jacksonville Jaguars may be the lone expectation.
The mercurial wide receiver is currently dealing with an AC joint sprain, according to CBS Sports' Josina Anderson. Whether Beckham misses any time has yet to be determined.
Cleveland's inability to open up the entire offense and reliance on Beckham as a threat remains part of the conversation as well. OBJ may not be posting big numbers, but he still has a significant role to play.
If general manager Andrew Berry decides Beckham isn't useful enough to warrant the entirety of his $14.5 million base salary, the Jaguars have more available salary-cap space than anyone. Beckham would give this year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Trevor Lawrence, a No. 1 receiver. Plus, the 28-year-old target remains under contract for two more seasons to grow with the young quarterback.
Kansas City Chiefs: DL Charles Omenihu
The Chiefs defense is atrocious, particularly against the run. If the team can add quality depth at defensive end, Chris Jones can return to his natural position working along the interior. Thus, two positions are improved for the price of one.
After Mercilus' decision, the Chiefs should look into former Houston Texans teammate Charles Omenihu. Omenihu has been inactive for the last two weeks, but the 24-year-old can set the edge and provide some pop as an interior pass-rusher in certain sub-packages.
Las Vegas Raiders: OT Chuma Edoga
The Las Vegas Raiders chose to rework their offensive line this offseason in an attempt to get younger and more athletic. That hasn't worked out.
Center has been a downgrade without Rodney Hudson, while Gabe Jackson has been a solid addition to the Seattle Seahawks. Right tackle remains an issue, even after the team chose Alex Leatherwood with this year's 17th overall draft pick. Leatherwood has since been moved to right guard, with Brandon Parker now struggling on the strong side.
An instant solution to this problem can't be found because quality starters along the front five aren't normally traded.
Chuma Edoga is an interesting possibility because he's only 24 years old with previous starting experience (12 career starts) between both tackle positions. Granted, he may not start in Las Vegas, but he adds another level of depth and competition to an obvious sore spot.
Los Angeles Chargers: LB Zach Cunningham
When looking at how Brandon Staley's defense was constructed a year ago for the top-ranked Los Angeles Rams, a disconnect seemingly existed between the front and back halves of the unit because the team lacked quality linebackers.
The Los Angeles Chargers are experiencing something similar this season. Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White are solid, but the position can be upgraded, especially since 2020 first-round linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. doesn't seem to fit the scheme or the Chargers' overall plans.
Zach Cunningham has been a highly productive linebacker for the Houston Texans with 100 or more tackles in each of the last three seasons, including a league-high 164 in 2020. Cunninghan has his limitations, particularly in coverage, but he's a heady defender who can help toughen up a soft front seven that allows a league-worst 162.5 rushing yards per game.
Los Angeles Rams: Edge K'Lavon Chaisson
The Los Angeles Rams once took a chance on Leonard Floyd after he didn't work out for the Chicago Bears as the ninth overall selection in the 2016 draft.
Floyd found his footing as a member of the Los Angeles Rams and realized his potential.
The 29-year-old veteran and K'Lavon Chaisson are similar types of players in that they're long and athletic edge defenders who came into the NFL not fully prepared to handle the positional rigors.
Right now, Chaisson is a part-time player. The Jaguars could give up on yet another 2020 first-round pick, as they already did with C.J. Henderson. How Urban Meyer operates remains a significant question mark, but Chaisson wasn't his choice, and the trio of Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot and Jihad Ward are playing more.
Chaisson would benefit from playing in the Rams' defensive scheme, which is much better suited to his versatile skill set.
Miami Dolphins: QB Deshaun Watson
The idea of giving up on Tua Tagovailoa so early in his career feels like a potential mistake. But the Miami Dolphins remain interested in trading for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, and a deal could happen this week, according to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain.
There's plenty to unpack with this potential move.
First, Watson's ongoing legal issues remain a major sticking point for any suitor, as he currently faces 22 civil lawsuits from women who accused him of sexual assault or misconduct after hiring them to perform massages. The 26-year-old also faces 10 criminal complaints, including two from women who haven't filed lawsuits.
If the Dolphins do pursue Watson, his current base salary, even at a prorated price, exceeds the team's available salary-cap space. Either another player or two would be included in a deal or the Dolphins would be forced to rework Watson's contract.
None of these things should be taken lightly. The fact is, though, that Watson can elevate a team currently mired in a 1-5 start with no clear direction. If the Dolphins are able to do proper due diligence on the sexual assault and misconduct allegations and are convinced of Watson's character and availability moving forward, then a deal shouldn't be ignored.
Minnesota Vikings: CB Vernon Hargreaves III
As the saying goes, a team can never have too many cornerbacks.
"That's how we feel about corners—just one more. So as many times as we can find guys that can cover around here, the more we want," Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters after the first round of the 2018 draft.
The team's pick at the time, Mike Hughes, didn't work out, and he's now with the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization sunk another first-round pick in Jeff Gladney two years later, and he's no longer with the team after being indicted on felony assault charges.
Minnesota signed veteran Patrick Peterson as a free agent, but he's currently on injured reserve with a balky hamstring.
Vernon Hargreaves III started for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans. He's only 26 and is a free agent after this season. The Vikings should call the Texans in an attempt to add one more corner.
New England Patriots: S Duron Harmon
The New England Patriots are notoriously difficult when it comes to new players acclimating themselves to their system. Hence, familiarity is often a positive when they are searching for roster help.
Case in point, the team recently re-signed linebacker Jamie Collins, who's now on his third stint with the franchise.
Duron Harmon spent his first seven seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Detroit Lions. He is now with the Atlanta Falcons, but everything can come full circle.
Cornerback is a real issue in New England, and quality options aren't readily available. Harmon is interesting because the safety can help create more big nickel looks and move over the slot at times. Bill and Steve Belichick's creativity in devising the defensive game plan should be able to do a lot with Harmon, Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips.
New Orleans Saints: WR Brandon Aiyuk
The relationship between the New Orleans Saints and wide receiver Michael Thomas may be broken, as the two-time NFL receptions leader intimated the organization tried to damage his reputation in August. A month earlier, he finally decided to have surgery to repair ligaments in his ankle. He's yet to play this season, though he could Monday against the Seattle Seahawks.
A potential divorce could be forthcoming, which places the Saints in a difficult position to replace one of the most productive wide receivers in recent NFL history. Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway are the Saints' top two receivers with 25 combined receptions.
Brandon Aiyuk fell out of favor with the San Francisco 49ers as well. He's worked his way back, but the team's leading receiver in 2020 now finds himself as the offense's fifth option behind Deebo Samuel, Mohamed Sanu, tight end George Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. A new situation could jumpstart the promise Aiyuk showed earlier in his career.
New York Giants: LB Kenneth Murray Jr.
The New York Giants suffered a significant blow to their defense when linebacker Blake Martinez tore his ACL in September. He led the Giants with 151 total tackles in 2020, and no one else on the roster even managed 95.
Reggie Ragland and Tae Crowder now man the middle of the Giants defense, and the duo is limited and not playing particularly well.
The Los Chargers Chargers don't have last year's 23rd overall draft pick, Kenneth Murray Jr., in their starting lineup, with Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White serving as the primary off-ball linebackers. Sometimes previous talent doesn't fit well with a new staff and its scheme.
Murray is only 23 years old, and the Giants could see him as more than just a short-term replacement for Martinez. The veteran's contract escalates to $14 million next season, but the team could save $8.5 million with his release.
New York Jets: S Jaquiski Tartt
Even with the 17th overall pass defense, the New York Jets are exceeding expectations with how they've performed in the secondary after major concerns lingered going into the campaign. The unit is far from settled, though.
The organization may still try to move its franchise player, Marcus Maye, who's currently working his way back through an ankle injury. Maye "would welcome a move," particularly to a contender, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Without Maye, the Jets could use a reliable safety in the lineup.
Jaquiski Tartt spent the last four seasons starting in Robert Saleh's defense before the former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator became the Jets head coach. Tartt re-signed with San Francisco on a one-year deal. He probably won't be back next season anyhow, and the Jets are the perfect landing spot.
Philadelphia Eagles: S Marcus Maye
The 2-4 Philadelphia Eagles may not be the type of "contender" Marcus Maye prefers if he is traded, but the thought of them not being a contender is short-sighted.
Currently, only five NFC teams have more than three victories. Also, the Eagles are well-positioned to replenish their roster with three possible first-round picks.
Furthermore, the Eagles aren't set at safety after this season, as both Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris are pending free agents. Maye can immediately step into the lineup, make an impact and quickly become a leader in the secondary.
His relationship with the Jets may have soured, but the organization thought enough of the 28-year-old to place the franchise tag on him this past offseason. Philadelphia could certainly use a performer of his caliber.
Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Taylor Decker
The Detroit Lions have a major decision to make once Taylor Decker is recovered from surgery on an injured finger, though a possibility still exists he could be still be shut down for the season.
With Tucker out of the lineup, the team moved this year's seventh overall pick, Penei Sewell, from right to left tackle. The 21-year-old rookie is clearly more comfortable on the left side, and a move back to the strong side may impede his development.
Obviously, the organization thinks highly of Sewell. If Decker doesn't like the idea of possibly playing right tackle, he could be traded, and the Pittsburgh Steelers should do what it takes to land the 28-year-old.
Fourth-round rookie Dan Moore Jr. has been asked to man Ben Roethlisberger's blind side, and it hasn't gone well. An anchor of Decker's caliber could cause the entire Steelers front to settle and give the team a much better chance to win over the second half of the season.
San Francisco 49ers: DT Taven Bryan
The San Francisco 49ers defensive line served as the driving force behind the team's success during its run to Super Bowl LIV. The engine isn't firing on all cylinders anymore. Yes, Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead are quality defensive ends, but the interior isn't as strong without DeForest Buckner.
Buckner's projected replacement, Javon Kinlaw, hasn't been anywhere close to as effective at controlling the middle of the line of scrimmage.
Like Kinlaw, Taven Bryan has been a disappointment after the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the 29th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Malcom Brown, Roy Robertson-Harris and Adam Gotsis are Jacksonville's primary interior defenders, with Jay Tufele now getting a look.
The Jaguars can ship Bryan to San Francisco with the 49ers staff getting a crack at unlocking his potential alongside Kinlaw, D.J. Jones and Maurice Hurst.
Seattle Seahawks: Edge Derek Barnett
Another year and the Seattle Seahawks are still looking to improve their pass rush. Their 11 sacks rank among the league's 10 worst defenses. Overall, the unit is dead last in total defense, and improvements are necessary if the 2-4 Seahawks plan to make a fourth straight postseason appearance.
Derek Barnett is in the final year of his rookie contract, and the Philadelphia Eagles are set at defensive with Brandon Graham (when healthy) and the recently extended Josh Sweat. The organization could look to flip the 2017 14th overall pick with the thought he won't re-sign.
Barnett has never lived up to his status as a top pass-rusher. Still, he managed at least five sacks in three of the previous four seasons. He can provide a little extra juice, especially after Darrell Taylor suffered a neck injury during Sunday's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Desmond King
The reigning Super Bowl champions have one easily identifiable weak spot: their secondary.
The group already featured a young core with Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr. Davis and Murphy-Bunting are both on injured reserve, and Winfield remains in the concussion protocol. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed veterans Pierre Desir and Richard Sherman off the street. Now, Sherman is dealing with an injured hamstring.
Desmond King was one of the league's most promising young nickel corners just a couple of seasons ago, but he bounced between the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans within the past year. Maybe he finds a new home in Tampa or simply serves as the salve the Buccaneers need to soothe their secondary pains. His skill set isn't exactly what the team needs, but he can still help.
Tennessee Titans: CB Damon Arnette
No team is giving away talented cornerbacks, so those in need must get creative.
The Tennessee Titans are dealing with Kristian Fulton and first-round rookie Caleb Farley being on injured reserve. Fulton is expected back, but Farley is done for the season after suffering a torn ACL.
Tennessee still has Janoris Jenkins, Elijah Molden, Chris Jackson and Breon Borders, but another addition couldn't hurt.
The start of Damon Arnette's career has been a disaster since the Las Vegas Raiders chose him with the 19th overall pick in the 2020 draft. At the time, many viewed his selection as a significant reach; however, he was a quality prospect coming into the league. Maybe a change of scenery coupled with not being spotlighted because of his draft status will aid in his development and provide the Titans with a little more depth.
Washington Football Team: S Justin Reid
The Washington Football Team's defense is the most disappointing unit in professional football.
A year ago, the group finished second overall in total and pass defense. The unit is loaded with four first-round picks manning its defensive front. Plus, the front office chose linebacker Jamin Davis in this year's first round. Washington looked well on its way to becoming the league's next great defense.
Instead, the team is 31st in total defense. Washington is particularly awful against the pass, allowing a league-worst 309.5 yards per game. Any secondary upgrade would dramatically help.
The 24-year-old Justin Reid is a four-year starter with a versatile skill set that allows him to play both safety spots and help in slot coverage. The Houston Texans may prefer to re-sign the talented defensive back, but he's on the last year of his deal and could just as easily walk.