Typically the NFL trade deadline isn’t much to get excited about, as most teams have made up their mind about what they have or what they need and tend to look in-house for answers more than sacrificing precious draft picks that could amount to big-time returns—this year, however, the NFL seems to have taken a note from the NBA and unleashed a hailstorm of last-minute moves across the league.
It’s impossible to say for sure why this year was so special for deadline pushing trades, but it is fun to speculate. Perhaps it’s because the divide between the Super Bowl contenders and pretenders is wider than usual, halfway through the season. Maybe it has more to do with teams’ fanbases being more knowledgeable and not letting front offices escape the onslaught of plausible fan theories to make their teams better. Or perhaps it’s just because the trade deadline happened to fall on Halloween this year that more teams were willing to stick their neck out and try to land a new treat without getting tricked. Here’s a rundown of all the moves that took place leading up to the trade deadline.
Buffalo Bills Acquire WR Kelvin Benjamin From Carolina Panthers For 2018 Third-Round Pick and Seventh-Round Pick: It almost seemed like the Bills’ front office had some kind of vendetta against their young QB Tyrod Taylor this offseason, offloading Robert Woods and trading away Sammy Watkins. The Bills tried but failed mightily in their attempts to fill that void prior to the beginning of the regular season (they signed Anquan Boldin and Rod Streater only to lose both to retirement and injury respectively). Enter the Carolina Panthers, who’s receiving corps has an excess of size and a lack of speed. Though QB Cam Newton will almost surely miss the big target Benjamin, the Panthers ought to be able to acquire a healthy young burner with the third-round pick they acquired for Benjamin.
NY Jets Acquire CB Rashard Robinson From SF 49ers For 2018 Fifth-Round Pick: While some might have said that the 49er’s secondary couldn’t get any worse, it seems like the front office is ready to test that theory, dealing 6’1” CB Rashard Robinson to the NY Jets. In this pass-happy league, every team could wish for a stronger secondary, which makes this a great deal for the Jets, not such a great deal for the 49ers, who ought to be acquiring corners, unless they’re anxious to be in position for the #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. For reference, the 49ers drafted Robinson in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.
Philadelphia Eagles Acquire RB Jay Ajayi From Miami Dolphins For 2018 Fourth-Round Pick: The Miami Dolphins must have soured quickly on the guy that seemed poised to be their featured back for the foreseeable future, leaving them in an even more dire position, lacking any real threats on the offensive side of the football. The Eagles, already with the best record in football, shore up a backfield that already featured short-yardage powerhouse LeGarrette Blount, and now looks to be a formidable committee backfield to match their downfield presence. Though Ajayi may see his touches reduced, he ought to be thrilled with this turn of events, as he lands in a situation where defenses will be much less likely to stack the box against him and seem almost assured a playoff berth this season.
SF 49ers Acquire QB Jimmy Garoppolo From NE Patriots For 2018 Second-Round Pick: This may be the only trade among these buzzer beaters that seems to help everyone. The 49ers seem to have found their hope for the future in Garoppolo who’s spent ample time in Tom Brady’s shadow and Belichick’s system to be a formidable signal caller. The Patriots gained a valuable second-round pick which will likely be closer to a first-round pick (given the 49ers’ record and outlook) since the pick was the 49ers’ original second-rounder, not the one they acquired in this year’s draft from the Chicago Bears. The only real loser in this deal seems to be Tom Brady, who the Pats seem to expect to keep it going into his fifties. Brady’s new backup? Brian Hoyer, signed after being released by the 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks Acquire OT Duane Brown From Houston Texans For 2018 Third-Round Pick, 2018 Fifth-Round Pick and 2019 Second-Round Pick: If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that the Seahawks have been having some trouble protecting Russell Wilson. The addition of Pro Bowl Tackle Duane Brown will definitely provide some much-needed support on Wilson’s blind side, but it seems short-sighted on the part of the Texans to deal their premier offensive tackle just as their rookie phenom quarterback Deshaun Watson was gaining some traction. It’s a rare thing for a rookie QB to enjoy the type of success that Watson has early in his career—and now that he’s suffered a serious injury, the ability of his offensive line to protect him is all the more important going forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars Acquire DT Marcell Dareus From Buffalo Bills For 2018 Sixth-Round Pick: The Jaguars defense has been a force to be reckoned with this season, and they have only gotten stronger with this deal, intended to shore up their run stuff and pass rush. Dareus isn’t exactly a household name, but as the Jags gear up for their first serious playoff push in a very long time, depth can only help them, and they aren’t giving up much in a sixth-rounder to provide some stability along the D line.