NFL trade market: 29 candidates to be moved before deadline now that Amari Cooper is off the board
Welcome to trade season.
At 4 p.m. ET on Oct. 30, the NFL trade deadline will arrive. If it’s anything like last year’s deadline, it’ll be chaos. In the days leading up to last year’s deadline, we saw:
- The Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco
- The Dolphins send running back Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia
- The Seahawks trade for Texans left tackle Duane Brown.
- The Bills acquire Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin
- The Jaguars get Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
With the NFL getting more and more trade happy — already this year, Khalil Mack, AJ McCarron, Carlos Hyde, and Teddy Bridgewater have been traded — we should expect more moves to go down in the next 10 days. With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a list of 30 players who could be on the move before the deadline.
First, a couple of notes.
One, just because someone is listed here does not mean they’ll definitely get traded. We aren’t making predictions. We’re simply saying that these 30 players, among several other players that just missed the cut, could get traded for a variety of reasons, from their position on the depth chart to their contract situation to their team’s spot in the standings. In reality, the vast majority of these players will not get traded. Two, we included at least one player from every position group (not including special teamers). Three, just like how we aren’t making predictions, we also aren’t saying this players should be traded. So please do not get offended if we listed your favorite player on your favorite team. We’re not arguing for a team to trade anyone. This is just a list of 30 players that teams could target in the trade market.
OK, on to the list.
Ravens’ Robert Griffin III: The Ravens already have Joe Flacco (the starter) and Lamar Jackson (the rookie developmental quarterback) on their roster. Most teams don’t like to carry three quarterbacks, but the Ravens kept RG3 around because they needed a more dependable option behind Flacco. If the Ravens feel like Jackson is ready to step in as the backup, they could decide to give RG3 away to a team that’s looking to bolster its backup position.
Browns’ Tyrod Taylor: Taylor has proven to be a starting-caliber quarterback in his career (89.5 passer rating), but he was nothing more than a bridge quarterback in Cleveland. Now that Baker Mayfield is firmly entrenched as the Browns’ starter, Taylor has no role in Cleveland. Taylor could be eyed as depth by a contender or a starter (cough cough Jaguars cough cough) if someone goes down with an injury in the next week.
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Colts’ Jacoby Brissett: Like Taylor, Brissett has proven that he’s good enough to play in the NFL during his stints filling in for Tom Brady in New England and Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. His name has been tossed around in trade rumors before, but the Colts have maintained that they’re not trying to trade him. The Colts could change their minds now that Luck appears to be fully healthy. But it still seems unlikely they’d be willing to part ways with Brissett after turning down offers in the past. They’d likely have to be really blown away.
Eagles’ Nick Foles: Similar to the Colts’ approach with Brissett, the Eagles don’t appear to be eager to trade Foles unless an insane offer comes their way. And that seems especially unlikely to happen midway through the year. Still, Foles will always make it onto these kinds of lists so long as he’s stuck behind Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. That being said, his two underwhelming starts this year have hurt his value after the Super Bowl. Most NFL teams are well aware that Foles is best suited for a backup role.
Buccaneers’ Ryan Fitzpatrick: A soon-to-be 36-year-old journeyman who might just be the most volatile quarterback in football won’t garner much interest on the open market unless a contender is really desperate for depth at the backup spot. He’d likely be cheap, though, given his age and contract situation (free agent after the season). With Jameis Winston back in the fold, the Buccaneers don’t need to keep Fitzpatrick around.
Running backs (5)
Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell: He’s the main attraction on the trade market. Bell, who got hit with the franchise tag for a second-straight offseason, hasn’t signed his tender yet, which needs to happen if he’s going to be traded. It’s still not clear when he will report to the team. But if he does sign his tender before the deadline, the Steelers will likely try to deal him away, with James Conner thriving in Bell’s place — plus, they’re going to lose Bell after the season anyway. They might as well get something in return for him. One team to keep an eye on: The Eagles, who lost Jay Ajayi for the season.
Bills‘ LeSean McCoy: McCoy might not be the main attraction, but he’s up there as a 30-year-old running back who’s stuck on a team that’s not in a position to compete for a playoff spot anytime soon. Since entering the league, he ranks first in yards from scrimmage (13,704) and second in touchdowns (81). A contender — like the Eagles — that needs a running back could do worse than adding McCoy midseason. McCoy will be a free agent after the 2019 season, so it doesn’t make any sense for the Bills to hang on to him. By the time their rebuild is complete, he’ll likely be past his prime and on another team.
Texans‘ Lamar Miller: The Texans are 4-3, but they don’t look like a contender. They’ve got too many holes — most notably on the offensive line, which is getting Deshaun Watson slaughtered every week — to keep pace with the AFC’s top teams. If the Texans evaluate their short-term future honestly, they’ll recognize that they should be more of a seller than a buyer, and a team might consider Miller a buy-low candidate considering his history. He averaged just over 1,000 yards from scrimmage per season from 2012-16.
Lions‘ Ameer Abdullah: The Lions have yet to get what they wanted out of Abdullah since drafting him in the second round back in 2015. They’re hardly even using him. He’s played in two games this season, as Kerryon Johnson has taken command of the Lions’ backfield. Abdullah doesn’t have a role in Detroit and his contract expires after the season, so the Lions might want to get something for him if a buyer looks at Abdullah and decides his pedigree makes him a worthwhile target.
Lions’ LeGarrette Blount: Blount is the perfect example of a veteran player who can be useful for a team in the playoffs, but he has no value on a playoff-less team. Blount, while being used way more frequently than Abdullah, is also stuck behind Johnson in the Lions’ backfield. He’s 31 years old. He’s a free agent after the season. Blount’s won two straight Super Bowl with the Patriots and Eagles, and he’s the kind of short-yardage, goal-line back who won’t put up sexy numbers, but holds value when the winter comes. The Lions, however, might not want to sell any useful players since they’re alive in the NFC North. Even still, they have so many running backs that they can afford to sell either Blount or Abdullah.
Raiders‘ Amari Cooper: Our Jason La Canfora confirms that the Raiders have dealt Cooper to the Cowboys for a first-round pick. Cooper, a first-round pick in 2015, has been remarkably inconsistent on a game-to-game basis, but he’s still a talented player who can thrive in the right situation. Right now, long-term assets are more important to the Raiders than players who can contribute right now. This team is ready to undergo a rebuild under Jon Gruden.
Broncos‘ Demaryius Thomas: The Broncos probably should’ve traded Thomas at some point over the past two years before his value plummeted. The Broncos aren’t in contention. Thomas will turn 31 in December. It seems likely the team will move on from him after the season. The Broncos can save $14 million by cutting him in the offseason. Why not move him now? According to La Canfora, “even before the season began, there were strong rumblings of the Broncos trading a veteran receiver” like Thomas or Sanders.
Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders: Speaking of Sanders, he’s probably the most likely receiver to depart Denver at the deadline considering he’s remained relatively productive. He’s on pace to clear the 1,000-yard mark this season. La Canfora reported that “several teams have interest in Sanders, who is much more productive and has a much lower contract; his trade value is significantly higher.” Like Thomas, Sanders could be cut after the season if he isn’t moved before then. The Broncos can save $10 million by cutting ties. They’ll probably try to get younger at the position.
Bills’ Kelvin Benjamin: It’s not clear if anyone would even want Benjamin, who has caught 15 passes in seven games with the Bills. It is clear that Benjamin isn’t helping the Bills, a team in need of as many draft picks as possible. It’s possible a buyer in dire need of a receiver looks at Benjamin’s history (2,641 yards and 19 touchdowns from 2014-17) and offers a low pick.
Dolphins‘ DeVante Parker: Parker’s never cashed in on his potential, but he’s got a high enough pedigree to be turned into trade bait. According to the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have already talked to multiple teams about a potential trade. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Dolphins want a third-round pick. If that is indeed the Dolphins’ asking price, they might not be able to move Parker considering his career-best season totaled 744 yards and four touchdowns.
Patriots‘ Chris Hogan: Hogan’s value has faded this year while the Patriots have traded for Josh Gordon, gotten Julian Edelman back from suspension, and shown a willingness to use Phillip Dorsett. It wouldn’t be entirely shocking for Bill Belichick to trade Hogan, who is a free agent after the season, for some help defensively. Then again, with Gronk dealing with a back injury, the Patriots could also think Hogan might be able to contribute down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Patriots probably won’t dump Hogan unless they’re upgrading somewhere else.
Falcons’ Mohamed Sanu: Injuries have ruined the Falcons’ season, likely turning them more into sellers than buyers. Sanu is 29-year-old receiver who’d be capable of helping a playoff-caliber team. Since arriving in Atlanta in 2016, he’s caught 148 passes for 1,659 yards and 12 touchdowns. With rookie Calvin Ridley emerging as a viable playmaker, Sanu is expendable for a team that’s likely not playoff bound this year.
Buccaneers’ Desean Jackson: Like the Falcons, the Buccaneers aren’t heading toward the playoffs. They might be able to get something of value for their 31-year-old deep threat who’s been productive this year. A contender should absolutely want Jackson. His contract expires after next season.
Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald: A future Hall of Famer, Fitzgerald shouldn’t be forced to spend his final days on a team that has a better shot to wind up with the first pick in the draft than a playoff spot. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Fitzgerald is one receiver that contending teams are eyeing. That being said, it won’t be surprising if Fitzgerald chooses to finish his career with the Cardinals even though they’re not close to contending.
Tight ends (1)
Raiders’ Jared Cook: Again, the Raiders are sellers. And Cook likely doesn’t have a long-term future with the Raiders. Put it this way, he won’t be there when the Raiders are really trying to win in Las Vegas. He might hold some value on the trade market. He’s on pace to set a career-high in receiving yards. At this point in his career, Cook is what he is: an inconsistent tight end. But he’s good enough to help a contender.
Offensive linemen (1)
Bengals‘ Cedric Ogbuehi: This could be a player a team in need of depth up front targets. He started 25 games from 2016-17, but — stuck behind starting tackles Cordy Glenn and Bobby Hart — he’s yet to make an appearance this season. The first-round pick of 2015 is a free agent after the season.
Pass rushers (3)
Jaguars‘ Dante Fowler: The Jaguars likely won’t trade Fowler because they need all the help they can get to get their pass rush going again after a difficult start to the season. But it’s worth noting that they didn’t pick up Fowler’s fifth-year option, which means he could be a goner after the year. And that turns him into a target. Player-for-player trades are rare, but what if the Jaguars could upgrade at wide receiver or quarterback by trading Fowler? After an eight-sack 2017 season, he’s been held to only two this year.
Broncos’ Shane Ray: Like Fowler, Ray didn’t get his fifth-year option picked up. Unlike Fowler, Ray doesn’t play for a playoff contender. Instead of losing him for nothing after the year, the Broncos might want to get something back for him now. He has only one sack this year and 14 since becoming a first-round pick in 2015.
Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin: It’s difficult to imagine the Raiders selling Irvin after already trading Khalil Mack, but if they’re tanking, Irvin would likely command the most value in the trade market behind only Cooper. He has 18 sacks since the beginning of the 2016 season and he’s under contract through next season. So he wouldn’t be a half-season rental.
Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley: Again, the Raiders are sellers. And Conley has struggled since joining the Raiders as a first-round pick last year. Gruden didn’t draft him. If a team decides they think they can develop Conley, why would the Raiders feel the need to hang onto him? Wouldn’t Gruden rather get a pick and draft a player of his choosing? La Canfora listed Conley as a player that teams believe could get moved.
Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes: Grimes has remained productive for his age, but the Buccaneers don’t have use for a 35-year-old cornerback. A contender might. He’s notched 20 picks since the beginning of the 2013 season.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson: According to La Canfora, the Cardinals are open to trading Peterson, who remains a very good player. If the Cardinals feel like overhauling their roster in the midst of a one-win season, they should be able to get something in return for Peterson, who is only 28. The counter argument is that the Cardinals need to go all in with Josh Rosen while he’s on his rookie deal, and trading Peterson would make their team worse right now. That being said, if a contender needs help in the secondary, go get him.
Giants’ Eli Apple: His career in New York hasn’t gone as planned. A year ago, Apple got caught in the storm that overtook the Giants’ locker room. This year, he hasn’t been bothered by the same issues, which makes him more appealing as a trade target. La Canfora listed Apple as a cornerback that teams believe might get moved.
Raiders safety Karl Joseph: I’ll say it again. The Raiders should be selling all of their players who don’t fit long term. Joseph, according to Fox’s Jay Glazer, could be one of those players. The first-round pick of 2016 could be attractive on the trade market. Again, Gruden has no loyalty to high draft picks he had no hand in picking. He wants to shape his team for Vegas.
Cardinals safety Deone Bucannon: As La Canfora reported, “the Cardinals are also seeking a trade for safety/linebacker Deone Bucannon, a former first-round pick who has not fit in their new defensive scheme (a trade is likely, sources said).” At 1-6, the Cardinals aren’t anywhere close to playoff bound. They might be in total sell mode as they try to build around Rosen.
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