NFL trade targets: Patrick Peterson, Demaryius Thomas among 15 players with buzz
The bar has already been set for the NFL trade deadline.
With the Oakland Raiders agreeing Monday to ship Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick, the league saw what might be its most significant in-season swap more than a week before the Oct. 30 cutoff for teams to make a deal. Yet there's no shortage of big names who might be available. And after the Cowboys downplayed the likelihood of adding a receiver last week before pulling the trigger for Cooper, the possibilities for an exchange might be greater than many think.
Regardless of whether they actually end up changing teams, these players will be among the most widely discussed targets for the next several days:
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson: Steve Wilks tried to shut down any trade speculation when word leaked that his perennial Pro Bowl defensive back was seeking a change of scenery, and it's clear why the first-year coach would want to hold onto a franchise cornerstone. Yet it's not hard to imagine a bidding war materializing, at which point Arizona's sweeping statements — Cards owner Michael Bidwill has also tried to nix any notion Peterson is available — would be tested. But as one of the few corners capable of shadowing No. 1 receivers (even though Wilks' staff has not utilized him that way this season), Peterson should have no shortage of suitors.
Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas: Amid persistent rumors, the longest-tenured Bronco acknowledged Monday that he believes there's a chance "my time is coming up here." Turning 31 in December, Thomas is probably past due for a change of scenery, as his numbers have been on a steady decline since 2014 (albeit amid an even more precipitous fall in Denver's quarterback play), but he can still be of service to a playoff hopeful. Thomas might be seen as a half-season rental given his looming cap charge of $17.5 million next year. Getting an asset in exchange for shedding a hefty salary is the kind of move John Elway needs to embrace for a proper rebuild.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell: Good luck to anyone, including Pittsburgh, hoping to orchestrate a deal for an unsigned player whose plans seem incomprehensible. While it's easy to see the appeal of landing a two-time all-pro who's only 26 and perhaps the game's top all-purpose back, the amount of unknowns surrounding Bell (including whether he would remain with any team past this season given his apparent fixation on testing the open market) would seem to be too great of an obstacle for a trade to materialize.
Bills RB LeSean McCoy: Could the Eagles' struggles to run the ball in Sunday's loss to Carolina (58 yards on 24 carries, including only one fourth-quarter attempt as a 17-point lead disappeared) push the defending champs to revisit the possibility of bringing back their all-time leading rusher? If Philadelphia or any other team looking to reshape its ground game wants to make a move, the best available short-term option might be McCoy, though he remains in concussion protocol after exiting Sunday's loss to the Colts. Buffalo likely would need a sizable payoff to strip its 31st-ranked offense of its lone playmaker. But it's time for the Bills to think about prioritizing a pick over production when considering the return on investment for a 30-year-old.
Dolphins WR DeVante Parker: When an agent calls his client's coach "incompetent," as Parker's representative labeled Adam Gase after the receiver was inactive for Miami's loss Sunday to the Lions, being handed a ticket out of town usually isn't far off. Injuries to starting receivers Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills, however, likely signal a need to keep Parker, a former first rounder. But if the Dolphins are comfortable with their options and someone meets their asking price, they could move on from a guy who hasn't turned his potential into more than 750 receiving yards in a season.
Lions WR Golden Tate: Parting with him might seem like an odd move for a Detroit team in the thick of the NFC North race. But Tate is an impending free agent, and Marvin Jones and emerging standout Kenny Golladay appear to be the present and future at wide receiver. Still a reliable target and one of the league's best threats after the catch (fourth at his position with 232 yards this year), Tate can immediately elevate an underachieving passing game.
Broncos LBs Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray: With Von Miller and rookie first rounder Bradley Chubb among the few bright spots on this defense, Denver's pass rush should be set for years. Ray and Barrett aren't signed beyond this season, and the Broncos could find eventual help for one of their other deficiencies by shipping them off to a team in need of a boost on the edge.
Raiders S Karl Joseph and CB Gareon Conley: Jon Gruden told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Oakland is not trading anyone else after dealing Cooper, but this has all the makings of a fire sale. In a seller's market for secondary help, Oakland could add to its already substantial haul of future draft picks. Joseph and Conley haven't gotten much burn and could be the next former first rounders sent packing.
Giants CB Janoris Jenkins: Big Blue has already shipped Eli Apple out, and its other starting corner doesn't seem like a lock to be a part of the franchise's long-term plans, either. Jenkins' age (30 next Monday), cap hit (nearly $15 million in 2019 and 2020) and off-field baggage make him more difficult to move. New York should also consider dealing Damon "Snacks" Harrison given that highly paid run stuffers are a luxury for a rebuilding team. But general manager David Gettleman doesn't look ready to start from scratch.
Cardinals LBs Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick: Even as Arizona's defense has come unglued, Wilks has made it clear he has little use for two of the team's recent first-round picks. The disappearance of the "moneybacker" role has left Bucannon in no man's land, and Reddick hasn't tapped into his pass-rush ability despite taking on a larger role in October. Getting a chance in a new scheme would do each good while allowing the Cardinals could cut their losses.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman and WR Mohamed Sanu: Credit Dan Quinn's crew for pushing on despite having five starters on injured reserve. With little hope of keeping up in the NFC South and a contract crunch looming, however, Atlanta would be wise to look to the future, even if general manager Thomas Dimitroff might be reticent to relent in 2018. Coleman could be an attractive half-season option for a contender given his impending free agent status, while Sanu is solid but expendable thanks to the emergence of rookie Calvin Ridley.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz
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