- The 2017 NFL trade deadline came and went with a bang, with a number of teams making aggressive moves as 4:00 p.m. ET neared. What's the initial reaction? We grade the biggest trades below.
Usually the NFL trade deadline comes and goes with maybe an interesting trade or two. But when the Patriots sent QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers late Monday night, it was clear that this year’s deadline was going to be a little more interesting. And it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Below, we grade each of the biggest moves.
Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco: I think the Patriots’ indecision ended up costing them valuable draft capital. As much as Bill Belichick wanted to keep two good quarterbacks, he must have leaned enough about Garoppolo to know his dream was to start in the NFL soon. From the 49ers’ perspective, this is a slam dunk. No long-term deal attached right now, just a smooth, eight-week evaluation period heading into free agency, and all it costs is a second-round pick. GRADE: A+
Duane Brown to Seattle: It was almost a move that made too much sense. Brown was just returning from a nasty offseason contract impasse only to be met by owner Bob McNair’s comments, revealed in an ESPN.com story, about the “inmates” running the “prison.” McNair later claimed he was referring to the employees of the league office, but that didn’t stop many Texans players from taking it seriously. Emotionally, Brown gets a fresh start and practically, Russell Wilson gets an anchor left tackle—possibly the most high-profile offensive line piece he’s had during his time with the Seahawks. Houston, while putting Deshaun Watson in a little bit of danger, recoups a bit of their lavish draft-pick spending over recent years. GRADE: B+
Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville: A win-win for now. The Jaguars were always looking for help against the run, hence their push to add Dontari Poe to their free agency haul this offseason. Dareus fills that need and shifts to a surprisingly veteran-laden and established Jaguars defense, which could make the transition easier. With Leonard Fournette healthy, this is a 2010 Jets-esque team in hyperdrive. The Bills, meanwhile, continue their quest to add cap space and draft capital. For a team that probably did not expect to be 5–2, this was an easy move to make. Dareus wasn't playing much anyway. GRADE: B+
Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia: There was no way Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was sitting out this historically active NFL trade deadline with his team in Super Bowl contention. With left tackle Jason Peters out for the season, Philadelphia needs all the pass-block help that they can get. Ajayi isn’t prolific in that area, but he’s better than LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood, the Eagles’ other two backs. GRADE: B
Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo: The greatest unknown in this trade is the health of Benjamin’s left knee. If Benjamin’s healthy, the Bills get a big receiver for QB Tyrod Taylor to entrust 50/50 balls. If Benjamin is not 100%, then the Panthers get to wiggle out of his fifth-year option, gaining a third- and seventh-round pick. One thing’s for sure: Cam Newton, who has considered Benjamin a close friend since he was drafted in 2014, will not be pleased. GRADE: B- — Jonathan Jones