Tuesday October 25th, 2016

The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. on Nov. 1. And while football isn’t exactly like baseball—you can’t just swap players, slide them into the lineup and expect them to perform at a high level—there are some moves that are crying out to be made for contenders and pretenders alike. What follows is a realistic list of trades that I’d like to see done over the next week. You won’t see the likes of Tony Romo or Joe Haden on the list because their contracts basically make them untradeable (Romo) or difficult to deal (Haden). Either the dead money for their former team would be too much, or a new team wouldn’t have the cap room. And some teams that could use the help, like the Vikings and Cowboys, don’t have the cap room to acquire a marquee player in most cases. Below, I outline six deals involving top players that would benefit both teams. These aren’t the only deals I’d like to see done, and more will undoubtedly be made, but it’s a look a some of the feasible ones that could—or should—go down by 4 p.m. next Tuesday.

You don’t need to look any further than Seattle’s 6–6 Sunday night tie against the Cardinals to know that the Seahawks are terrible on the offensive line, particularly at both tackle spots. If the Seahawks are going to win another Super Bowl, they’re going to have to do a better job at keeping Russell Wilson upright, and get a little more punch in their running game. Bradley Sowell, the Seahawks’ starting LT, is not nearly good enough, but perhaps he could be an upgrade at RT for Garry Gilliam. Sowell will miss a few weeks with a sprained MCL, so now the Seahawks have to start undrafted rookie George Fant, who couldn’t block against the Cardinals without holding. I know that Browns coach Hue Jackson came out Monday and said the team would not trade Thomas, but unless Thomas doesn’t want to leave, the team should set him free. Thomas is 31, hasn’t played for a winning team since his rookie season of 2007 and has never been to the playoffs. He will go down as one of the best left tackles of all time and he should be given the chance to see the playoffs before he goes into the Hall of Fame.

At 5–2, the Raiders are leading the AFC West with the No. 8 scoring offense (26.4 average points). Still, no one is taking them seriously as a contender because their defense is 22nd in scoring (25.6 points against). FootballOutsiders.com’s efficiency rating puts the situation in terms that are even more black and white: the offense ranked third entering Week 7, and the defense 29th, with the unit being equally bad between the run and pass. The Raiders are soft in the middle, which has led to star OLB Khalil Mack getting doubled teamed and so his sack numbers are down. To put it simply, the Raiders are in need of a big force in the middle of their lineup. Gettleman isn’t going to want to jettison more talent on the back of the Josh Norman decision), but he should. Short is in a contract year and contract extension talks have not gone well. The Panthers also have other players to worry about, like RG Trai Turner, LG Andrew Norwell and DE Kony Ealy, and if they put the franchise tag on Short, they’ll likely find themselves in the same place as they did with Norman: not close on the player’s value. Instead of getting nothing in return again, like they did with Norman, the Panthers should cash out with the playoffs unlikely. Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie shouldn’t blink at sending a first-round pick. Short is worth the pick. The Raiders have plenty of cap room to sign him to an extension and he’ll be in the middle of that defense for years to come.

In the summer of 2008, the Dolphins shipped aging pass rusher Jason Taylor to the Jets for a second- and seventh-round pick. Taylor got to play in an AFC Championship Game, and the Dolphins were able to jump start the first of their various rebuilds. They should do it again. The Dolphins shouldn’t be fooled by their two-game winning streak: their odds of making the postseason are still long. Wake is 34 and while he’s playing well, he’s mostly a situational pass rusher. Is that really worth $8.5 million this year and $7 million next? The Dolphins have other options at end, including the $12 million in guaranteed money they sunk into Mario Williams. Is it worth having Wake on the roster as opposed to the prorated $11 million they could take off the books and apply to the problematic secondary for next season? Meanwhile, the Falcons are 26th in defense according to FootballOutsiders.com and, like the Raiders, they aren’t going to be real contenders until they get after the quarterback better. Bring Wake (or someone like him, but the pickings are slim) to give the pass rush rotation a lot more urgency.

The Chiefs have won two-straight to improve to 4–2 and their schedule could set them up to go on a long winning streak, just like they did to last season. The Jets, despite beating the Ravens, are 2–5 and going nowhere. They are in the midst of a rebuild with problems at quarterback, secondary, edge rusher and linebacker. Even though Eric Decker is lost for the season, having Marshall on the roster without a future quarterback makes no sense. Plus, he could blow up at anytime. And I’m sure he would love catching passes from the likes of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg next season. On the other end, the Chiefs, who should be getting OLB Justin Houston back soon, are fine on defense (8th by FootballOutsiders.com) but plodding along on offense (20th). With Jamaal Charles getting healthier, the Chiefs need some more weapons in the pass game if they want to punch through and at least make the AFC Championship Game. That would likely mean a victory over New England or Pittsburgh, and the way through both of those teams is not on the ground, it’s through the air. The Chiefs have good options at No. 1 WR (Jeremy Maclin), RB (Charles, Spencer Ware) and TE (Travis Kelce). Adding another weapon, especially a big red-zone target like Marshall, would make the Chiefs very difficult to defend. The Chiefs were knocked off by the Patriots in the postseason last year when they scored 20 points (13 until a garbage-time score). That’s not good enough to upset the Steelers or the Patriots this time around either.

If Colts GM Ryan Grigson was okay with sending a first-round pick to the Brown for RB Trent Richardson, he should leap at the chance to finally get a disruptive young lineman like Richardson. Most people think the Colts need offensive line help. That would certainly be an improvement, but getting somebody—anybody—that can actually disrupt the opposing passer and rusher would mean a lot more (Colts are 21st in offense, 31st in defense according to FO). And Richardson is so good and his skills so varied that he could immediately help in both areas. The Jets already signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a big-money contract extension and Leonard Williams is a young stud up front. They have so many areas that need to be addressed, so New York should diversify its payroll and take some money out of the defensive line. 

Much like Joe Thomas, Joe Staley is an aging veteran who deserves better than to rot away during another rebuild with the 49ers. Russell Okung has been good for the Broncos at LT, but they’re a complete disaster beyond that with RT Donald Stephenson and backup Ty Sambrailo. If something happens to Okung, the Broncos are in real trouble and even as currently constituted, the line is not good enough to go back to a Super Bowl with Trevor Siemian at QB. The Broncos need to be better on the offensive line and adding Staley gives them the best chance. By acquiring Staley, either Okung or Staley can move to RT, and Stephenson can kick inside to LG for struggling Max Garcia. That would give the Broncos a formidable offensive line, which would give their personnel the best chance at success. 

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