Which NFL Teams Are the Most Desperate Heading into 2021 Trade Deadline?
If NFL teams want to make like Monty Hall, time is running out.
The Nov. 2 trade deadline is rapidly approaching. It's a date that means different things for different teams. For bottom feeders, it's the last chance to unload veterans and add draft picks. For contenders, it's the final opportunity to add pieces to a playoff (or even Super Bowl) puzzle.
It's an important time of year—for some teams more than others.
For a few clubs, it's not a matter of wanting to make a deal—they need to swing a trade. Buyers need to fill holes that could derail their aspirations. Sellers need to get what they can for veterans who will probably be gone come next spring anyway.
Some teams are desperate to make a move (or three) before the deadline.
None more so than these.
7. New York Jets
For the New York Jets, desperation isn't exactly a new feeling. It's been the default emotion for Gang Green dating back several years.
But for once, the team might be able to put that desperation to good use.
Per ESPN's Rich Cimini, if veteran safety Marcus Maye had things his way, he wouldn't be going anywhere. The 28-year-old said he is "100 percent in" on being a member of the Jets.
But Maye will hit free agency after playing the 2021 season under the franchise tag, and it doesn't make financial sense for the Jets—who have holes all over the roster—to pay elite starter money to a safety.
Just about every team looking to buy on this list needs help on the back end. There wouldn't be any shortage of teams willing to offer draft capital for a talented defensive back in the prime of their career.
And the Jets can use all the picks they can get.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
As Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported, Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman insisted the team won't sell at the trade deadline even after it dealt veteran tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals.
He should reconsider.
After six games, there are all of two teams in the NFC with fewer wins than the Eagles. The offense has been horrendous, and the coaching has been whatever comes after horrendous.
Philadelphia is toast. Done. Finished.
Other veterans who could draw interest are edge-rusher Derek Barnett, who plays a premium position and will hit free agency in 2022. Cornerbacks Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay would garner substantial offers from teams with a need in the secondary.
The Eagles aren't going anywhere and should look toward the future by stockpiling draft picks.
Roseman may not want to acknowledge he's desperate.
But Philly has been mentioned in Deshaun Watson rumors, which says something else.
5. Houston Texans
Who's up for a fire sale?
It's hardly a surprise that the Houston Texans are a mess. Or that they should look to capitalize at the trade deadline.
The only question is who.
Multiple teams are interested in quarterback Deshaun Watson despite the 22 lawsuits filed against him alleging sexual misconduct and assault, ongoing investigations by authorities and the NFL and the uncertainty over his NFL future. From a football perspective, the sooner Houston gets Watson off the roster, the better off the franchise will be.
Watson may be the biggest name out the door, but he shouldn't be the only one. In fact, the Texans should be willing to deal just about anyone. There are teams with banged-up backfields who could have interest in Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson or Mark Ingram II.
Defensive tackle Maliek Collins has played well enough to appeal to teams with a need in the trenches. Linebacker Zach Cunningham led the NFL in tackles in 2020 but has fallen out of favor with Houston's new regime. Wideout Brandin Cooks is consistently productive and certainly used to being traded.
Forget the present.
The future is where it's at.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Frankly, it's tempting to slot the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even higher on this list, even if head coach Bruce Arians has said the Super Bowl champions aren't interested in dealing running back Ronald Jones II.
That's the thing, though. The Buccaneers shouldn't sell at the deadline.
They should buy.
Having Tom Brady on the roster is great. So is having a loaded cadre of wide receivers. But Tampa Bay won Super Bowl LV because of its defense.
And that defense has been ravaged by injuries—especially at cornerback.
The team signed Richard Sherman in late September, had to throw him into the starting lineup and then watched as even he went down with a hamstring injury. Top cornerback Carlton Davis III (quad) is on injured reserve. Sean Murphy-Bunting is as well after dislocating his elbow in the season opener. Tampa Bay ranks 27th in the league in pass defense, allowing 280.8 yards per game.
This isn't to say that Tampa Bay needs to trade a high pick for a big name—though an argument can be made.
But even a middling veteran such as Terrance Mitchell of the Texans would provide a badly needed boost.
3. Green Bay Packers
It's possible that this is it for Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers.
If that's not enough to motivate general manager Brian Gutekunst, then nothing is.
With Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander and Kevin King on the shelf, the Packers are woefully thin at cornerback. That hasn't hurt them yet. It probably won't stop Green Bay from winning the NFC North. But if it faces Tampa Bay or the Los Angeles Rams in the postseason with a depleted secondary, it isn't going to end well.
The Packers reportedly were one of the teams interested in Stephon Gilmore before the New England Patriots traded him to the Carolina Panthers. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Would dealing a relatively high pick for a player such as Philadelphia's Darius Slay or the Miami Dolphins' Xavien Howard set back a post-Rodgers rebuild? Yes. Would financial machinations be required to fit a hefty salary on the roster? You bet.
But Slay or Howard would likely jump at the chance to go from a tomato can to a Super Bowl contender, and setting back a post-Rodgers rebuild is an acceptable cost if this season ends with confetti raining down on the Packers at SoFi Stadium.
2. Miami Dolphins
This was not how things were supposed to go for Miami. After a 10-win season in 2020, the Dolphins were expected to be playoff contenders.
Instead, they earned the dubious distinction of being the team against which the Jacksonville Jaguars halted their 20-game losing streak. Miami is 1-5 and on the verge of imploding.
There has been no shortage of speculation that the Dolphins could be the biggest buyers at the trade deadline by swinging a deal for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson—which would certainly cost multiple first-round picks and be quite possibly the riskiest trade in league history given the 22 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and assault that have been filed against Watson.
But it's just as likely that the floundering Fins could be sellers. Miami restructured Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard's contract, but that hasn't stopped him from being mentioned in trade rumors. Edge-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah and tight end Mike Gesicki will be free agents and could draw significant interest.
One way or another, the Dolphins have work to do.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
That the Kansas City Chiefs easily top this list is a testament to both how weird the season has been and how quickly things can go sideways.
That they are just 3-3 is one of the bigger surprises. But there are multiple reasons for those struggles, including injuries and surprisingly reckless ball management by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
But Mahomes' turnovers are rooted is desperation—the knowledge that he and the offense have to carry the team more than ever.
Because the defense has been terrible.
Yes, the Chiefs are coming off a solid performance against the reeling Washington Football Team. But against the competent offenses of the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs have been gashed.
Kansas City lost three of those four games.
The Chiefs rank 28th in total defense, 25th in pass defense, 28th in scoring defense and dead last with seven sacks. Kansas City needs help in the secondary. Its need for an edge-rusher is so massive that it defies description.
The Chiefs shouldn't be reluctant to part with draft picks to get a deal done.
Because there's no way they will win the Super Bowl with this defense.