After an active and exciting NFL trade deadline, here are the winners and losers… and everyone else in between.
Houston and Denver
This is one of those trades where both teams should be happy both now and later. Denver moves Demaryius Thomas’s $14-million cap hit off the books for 2019 (which the Texans will probably re-negotiate in the offseason if they decide to keep him) while sending the franchise’s second-leading receiver to a contender so he’s happy. And finally, they get a fourth-round pick to help build the roster back in 2019.
As for Houston, the Texans have a healthy Deshaun Watson leading them atop an extremely winnable AFC South. To ensure that Houston wins the division crown for the third time in four years, the Texans had to find a replacement for the injured Will Fuller so that DeAndre Hopkins can continue to ball out as a top-three or four receiver in the league.
D.J. Swearinger is playing at an All-Pro level right now in Washington, and the ‘Skins just went out and got a Pro Bowl-caliber player to support him in the backfield. The move gives Washington versatility with the two safeties and helps with depth as Montae Nicholson likely moves from starter to backup. Washington traded a fourth-rounder to Green Bay for the safety, and if Clinton-Dix doesn’t re-sign for the current NFC East leaders, Washington will get a decent compensation pick down the road, too.
By not dealing LeSean McCoy, the Bills are winners. Buffalo knew this would be a difficult season, and the Bills couldn’t have expected to be in such an awful spot at quarterback with all the injures. But the Bills believe in Josh Allen, and the franchise knows it has to spend this offseason to strengthen their receiving group and offensive line. McCoy, signed through 2019, is the offense’s best hope, and so not making a move with McCoy means Buffalo doesn’t have to worry about the running back position as well.
This is not to pile on the Browns, but they should have made a move with Tyrod Taylor. It’s a lost year, and they have no use for him. They fired Hue Jackson to get a jump on the coaching search. Having a capable backup to your quarterback of the future doesn’t mean anything in a lost year. Especially when that backup will be a free agent at the end of the season who almost certainly won’t re-sign there. Plus, a capable quarterback gives you the greatest bang-for-your-buck in a trade in today’s NFL. The Browns should have found a way to get compensation out of a quality quarterback and person at the trade deadline.
Oakland and New York Giants
It’s my belief that the season is only going to get worse for these two teams who have a combined 2–13 record. The Raiders have only increased their degree of tanking each week and the Giants can’t win with Eli Manning at quarterback. Both teams are in miserable moods and can win nothing in 2018 but a high draft spot in ’19. Why not trade off another asset or two—like the Raiders already did with Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, and like the Giants recently did with Eli Apple and Damon Harrison—ensure that you’ll stink even worse the rest of the season and make an awful 2018 season worth in at the draft?
The Jaguars opted against making a move at quarterback at the trade deadline, meaning they’re going to roll with Blake Bortles (or Cody Kessler) under center for the rest of the season that’s going downhill quickly. But the deal they made to rid themselves of 2015 No. 3 pick Dante Fowler Jr. is a great one. Jacksonville shook down the Rams for a 2019 third-rounder and ’20 fifth-round pick in exchange for the pass rusher.
That’s a lot of draft compensation for a late bloomer who will be a free agent in March, and it very well could be enough to make L.A. a deadline loser. But the Rams have made some deft moves lately, and when they become the first 19–0 Super Bowl champions, you won’t have “the Rams are trade deadline losers” with a Jonathan Jones byline to kick around.
The Packers essentially cut Ty Montgomery after trading him to Baltimore for a 2020 seventh-rounder. All indications were Montgomery was on the outs after Sunday’s kickoff miscue anyway, so that they got what will end up as pick 230-ish 18 months from now doesn’t mean much. And Clinton-Dix has been expecting to hit free agency after the season, so the Packers getting a fourth for him is good but … he’s still playing well at safety and has never missed a game in Green Bay.
Philadelphia and Detroit
I know I’m supposed to have a take here, and the take better be hot, but I just don’t know how to feel about the Golden Tate trade. I want to say both teams won here because the Lions got a third-rounder for a guy they likely wouldn’t re-sign in a year where they may not make the playoffs. And the Eagles landed a top-flight receiver just as they start to heat up to defend their Super Bowl crown.
On the other side, Jacksonville got more for Dante Fowler than Detroit did for Tate. And even if I don’t think the Lions are going to win the NFC North, they’re still just 3–4 in a division where no team has more than four-and-a-half wins. And for a third-round price, the Eagles better be able to sign Tate to an extension or else he’s just a half-season rental. Of course, if Philadelphia goes back-to-back, then the trade is a clear win.