The trade deadline has come and gone, and it did not live up to the hype for reasons we’ve been outlining for quite some time here at The MMQB.
By far the biggest name available was Deshaun Watson, who we now know will remain with the Texans. ESPN reported Tuesday that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross demanded certain “contingencies” be in place before any deal between Miami and Houston could be struck. Apparently, those were not met. But as we’ve been saying in this space for quite some time, it would be absolutely ludicrous and irresponsible from both a moral and administrative standpoint for any team to trade for him given his current unresolved legal situation.
And so it seems real the fireworks culminated with the Von Miller trade, which we wrote plenty about on Monday. There were also a handful of deals leading up to Tuesday, even going back a few weeks, so in the absence of deadline-day deals, we’ll formally grade each of those.
Deadline day deals
Edge rusher Melvin Ingram to the Chiefs for a 2022 sixth-round pick
Grade for Chiefs: B+
Grade for Steelers: B
Pittsburgh gets a pass here since the entire world knew Ingram was unhappy with the Steelers. As we’ve seen, the secondary market for veteran pass rushers is saturated, meaning that the return anyone gets at this point won’t be spectacular. Kansas City bet a throwaway pick on the hope that it can catch some lightning in a bottle to right its floundering campaign.
DE Charles Omenihu to the 49ers for a 2023 sixth-round pick
Grade for Texans: B
Grade for 49ers: B
The 49ers needed an upgrade opposite Nick Bosa, and while a Von Miller–type move was out of the equation, 2019 fifth-round pick Charles Omenihu has played above replacement level and is a better-than-average pass rusher who has steadily improved throughout his career. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, himself a former Texan, will likely get the best out of Omenihu, who will get a boost from playing alongside a far better slate of rushers. Houston, again, is arming itself with the kind of late-round fist of lottery tickets it hopes will formulate the basis of the rebuilt post-Watson roster.
OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to the Jets for TE Dan Brown
Grade for Jets: A-
Grade for Chiefs: C-
This is a fun player-for-player swap that gives the Jets something they desperately need: more offensive line help. Duvernay-Tardif seems to fit the mold of what general manager Joe Douglas is looking for. His entire front is packed full of heady grinders who can eventually ease the mental dirty work necessary for Zach Wilson to succeed up front. While Duvernay-Tardif is aging out of his peak window, he is a worthwhile gamble after he became expendable in Kansas City after a handful of solid seasons. That unit is better than people are talking about right now.
Brown is a former converted wide receiver with solid hands who has not been able to see the field on the Jets’ roster, but could be there to supplant rookie Noah Gray, who has seen some increased usage as a No. 2 tight end in recent weeks.
DB Kary Vincent Jr. to the Eagles for a 2022 sixth-round pick
Grade for Broncos: C
Grade for Eagles: B+
I like what the Eagles, a defensive back-needy team, are doing here. Their draft strategy included a contingency plan for nabbing a highly-rated cornerback—a source says they were high on Eric Stokes, who eventually went to the Packers—but DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were of utmost importance. If neither were there, we’d be talking about a different landscape in Philly. Now, the Eagles get their second project pick (see the Zach Ertz deal below) for pennies on the dollar. Vincent was a 2020 opt-out whose draft stock may have suffered as a result. He was projected to go as high as the fourth round and has some versatility in the secondary.
Before deadline day
Edge rusher Von Miller to the Rams for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick
Grade for Broncos: A
Grade for Rams: A
This was a win-win, and a solid admission by the Broncos that they are not where they need to be. Had this defense turned a corner under Vic Fangio, a process complicated by a rash of injuries and a difficult back end of the schedule, it’s safe to say Miller would have remained a Bronco. However, at the deadline, they made the difficult decision to part ways with one of the best players in franchise history, netting themselves a return well above the expected compensatory kickback.
As for L.A., we’ve said our piece already. Les Snead’s aggressiveness has created the perfect atmosphere for a budding franchise in a new location and is entrusting his brilliant head coach with a great deal of equity.
DB C.J. Henderson and a fifth-round pick to the Panthers for TE Dan Arnold and a third-round pick
Grade for Jaguars: C+
Grade for Panthers: C-
The Jaguars’ grade has improved with the perspective of time. Arnold’s workload has increased dramatically over the last three weeks, with 23 targets, 16 catches and a touchdown. While Arnold has not wowed as a blocker, the Jaguars have something to show for their swap in addition to what is becoming a middle-of-the-round third-round pick. While I dislike the Jaguars’ casting away young talent at this point when their current coach has no proven ability to evaluate it at the NFL level (and, selfishly, I keep going back to Henderson’s NFL debut against T.Y. Hilton last year), I do think the haul was respectable, especially since Arnold has become useful.
I think the Panthers have done a great job aggressively attacking their shortcomings in the secondary. We’ll see if Henderson’s health issues clear up and he changes the perspective of the trade.
WR Jakeem Grant to the Bears for a 2023 sixth-round pick
Grade for Bears: C+
Grade for Dolphins: D
Return ace Jakeem Grant allegedly became expendable the moment Miami selected Jaylen Waddle, though the idea that you would put the No. 6 pick in harm’s way regularly when you have one of the best return men in recent NFL history seems a bit overconfident. While I expected Grant to work his way into Matt Nagy’s offense as some kind of gadget player, he’s actually played in fewer offensive snaps in Chicago than he did in Miami. Grant did have 156 return yards in the team’s loss to the 49ers last week.
DB Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick
Grade for Panthers: A
Grade for Patriots: F
This situation felt like it was mismanaged from the beginning, with Gilmore cast away for spare parts shortly after the Patriots-Buccaneers game. In the not-so-recent past, Gilmore was believed to be the single best cornerback in the NFL and in one game with the Panthers so far, albeit in limited snaps, Gilmore allowed just a 50% opposing QB completion percentage and logged a game-sealing interception. While his issues in New England were clearly contractual and health related, it feels like a better deal could have been swung at various points. Meanwhile, Carolina got an elite talent for a paltry sum.
TE Zach Ertz to the Cardinals for DB Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick
Grade for Cardinals: B+
Grade for Eagles: A-
Ertz made sense for the Cardinals, who felt like a late entry into the miniature sweepstakes for the tight end. At the beginning of the year, Ertz felt like he was destined for either the Bills or the Colts, but instead finds himself in a place that values his steady hands and doesn’t necessarily punish middle-tier run blocking. Ertz has already logged a touchdown and caught 100% of his targets in last week’s thrilling loss to the Packers. Arizona’s grade reflects points for aggressiveness this time of year, which, outside of sunny Los Angeles, seems to be lost on the remainder of the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Eagles got a respectable return for Ertz, who is likely on the other end of his career performance arc. Philadelphia was not going to re-sign him at season’s end, and the team also gets Tay Gowan who, according to general manager Howie Roseman, was in consideration for their sixth-round pick in 2021 but was taken before the Eagles could get on the clock. Gowan had buzz predraft and represents a bit of a fun mystery, as he only played a handful of college snaps but possesses noteworthy size.
DE Stephen Weatherly and a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Vikings for a 2022 seventh-round pick
Grade for Broncos: C+
Grade for Vikings: C
The Broncos had additional ammunition in the seventh round this year, so a pick swap made some sense and netted them a player George Paton was familiar with from his time in Minnesota. Weatherly logged a sack and a pair of tackles in his debut, and will likely see his playing time increase following the Von Miller trade.
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QB Joe Flacco to the Jets for a 2022 sixth-round pick (conditionally becomes a fifth-round pick if Flacco plays in 50% or more of remaining 2021 snaps).
Grade for Jets: F
Grade for Eagles: A
While it seems the Jets may have something in backup Mike White, who threw for more than 400 yards in his debut victory over the Bengals, the fact that there was no veteran presence on the roster for Zach Wilson was troubling from the get-go. If the Jets reach an emergency situation and end up needing to spend a fifth-round pick on a roster oversight for one year, it’s a damning loss for a team that needs all the help it can get.
Jalen Hurts got all he could out of having a veteran quarterback on the roster in terms of preparation assistance and daily planning. Now, his team gets more draft capital to aid in the rebuild.
LB Kenny Young and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Rams for a 2024 sixth-round pick
Grade for Broncos: B+
Grade for Rams: B
Any higher draft equity in return to the Rams is a good thing. While their pick cupboard is threadbare, they managed to find a willing suitor in Vic Fangio, who knows Young is familiar with his scheme and can slot into a banged-up defense right away. Young logged four tackles and played more than half of the Broncos’ defensive snaps in his debut.
RB Mark Ingram to the Saints for a 2024 seventh-round pick
Grade for Texans: B
Grade for Saints: A-
Ingram brings familiarity to New Orleans and will be an additional downhill power element to the running game, which the Saints lost a bit after parting ways with Latavius Murray. Meanwhile, the Texans begin a sell-off which they hope will stock their cupboard for a few drafts to come. Texans general manager Nick Caserio has had some success with seventh-round picks in the past.
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