- A look at the hot names on the market a few days before the NFL trade deadline. Plus, Everson Griffen returns, and why Bortles isn’t in a QB controversy
News and notes to know heading into Week 8…
1. It’s two days ahead of the trade deadline, and I’m not sure the Raiders are done yet. There’s attention on Derek Carr, of course, but I’d be pretty surprised if they moved him at this point. Two names you should keep an eye on: Former first-round picks Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley. Joseph has played 11 defensive snaps through seven games. Conley, on the other hand, is playing plenty at corner, and word is the Raiders are driving a harder bargain on him with interested suitors.
2. While we’re there on former first-round picks, Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is another who could potentially be moved before Tuesday. It’s not that he’s fallen out of favor—he’s actually played every snap on defense for Green Bay through six games. But he’s in a contract year, and the Packers have some depth in the secondary to play with.
3. Another veteran on the block: Niners receiver Pierre Garcon. He’s banged up right now (shoulder, knee) and 32 years old, but he could certainly still serve a contender in a complementary role down the stretch. Safety Jimmie Ward (playing on an $8.5 million fifth-year option) is another one who’s been involved in trade discussion, but my sense is the Niners would need to get something significant to deal him.
4. While Patrick Peterson gets the most attention publically, I’ve gotten the sense the player that’s drawn the most trade interest on the Cardinals roster has actually been Chandler Jones, who may be the third-best pass rusher in football right now behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Also, Chandler’s contract is suddenly remarkably affordable—after Sunday, he’ll be due $6.6 million for the rest of the year, then a total of $48 million over the next three years (2019-21). Oh, and he’s also just a year older than Mack. All of which is why Arizona has told suitors that he is absolutely not available.
5. Is the Giants’ fire sale still on? Among the team’s pricy vets, the player bandied about most has been Janoris Jenkins. He’s another good player with a good contract—$5.8 million for the rest of this year after Sunday, and signed for another two years for $22.5 million.
6. The Browns will listen to offers for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, I’m told. And his contract structure actually might make it workable. He’s making $16 million this year, but $6 million of it came in a March roster bonus. That means a team trading for him would only be responsible, both in cash and cap, for what’s left of his $10 million base salary. As of Monday, that figure will be $5.29 million.
7. Browns-Steelers, by the way, should be one to watch. As I’ve heard, not much changed in those offensive meeting rooms during the workweek, so it should be business as usual—with coordinator Todd Haley calling the offense for rookie Baker Mayfield. As for Pittsburgh, this could be their last game before getting Le’Veon Bell back, with the trade deadline coming and going this week.
8. And the pre-trade deadline game to watch has to be Chiefs-Broncos. Denver is 3-4 and on the fringes of the AFC chase. My understanding is that the outcome of the game at Arrowhead will color John Elway’s approach to the deadline. A lopsided loss would very likely open the deal-making door. Names? Demaryius Thomas is one who’d be in play, and a benefit to trading him would be creating opportunities for rookie Courtland Sutton (though fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton’s injury does create a depth concern). Two others to watch would be edge rusher Shane Ray and linebacker Brandon Marshall. Teams are also monitoring the corners there—Chris Harris and Bradley Roby—but the team’s lack of talent beyond those two would make it a little difficult to deal either.
9. A lot was made of Cody Kessler getting first-team reps this week as the Jaguars prepared for their game in London this morning against the Eagles. I’m told things really weren’t much different than usual this week. Yes, Kessler got some reps, but Blake Bortles still took the lion’s share with the first team (by a better than 2-to-1 ratio). That doesn’t mean Bortles won’t get yanked against Philly. It does mean there isn’t exactly a quarterback competition being staged in practice.
10. Vikings DE Everson Griffen will return to the field on Sunday night after being a full participant in practice through the week, but the expectation is the coaches will work him back in gradually. I’m told he showed some rust and still needs to get back into football shape; you might be looking at a spot player Sunday night against the Saints. That said, getting Griffen back period is a huge win for that defense, he showed great energy and enthusiasm, and here’s hoping he has his life in order.
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