Fire-Sale: 10 Broncos to Deal, 10 to Target With NFL Trade Deadline Approaching
The NFL's trade deadline is approaching and teams are starting to look over their rosters to make some tough decisions. The Denver Broncos are in a tight spot this year prior to the deadline, due to all their injuries and a 2-4 record.
There are a multitude of different scenarios I could see unfolding for the Broncos trade-wise. The team will have much to consider before the November 3 deadline arrives.
Today, I'll break down a handful of players that Denver could look to part ways with, or obtain via trade.
Keep in mind, just because I list a player's name here doesn't mean I've heard specific buzz about them being on the trading block, though on some of them, I have picked a few things up. But at this time of year, rumors abound.
Some names just make sense with the status of their respective teams and the buzz of various fire-sales proliferating across the league.
Because it's 2020, this season will be difficult to predict what teams will do at the trade deadline due to the ongoing COVID-19 impact on revenue, creating cap uncertainty for the future, which is one variable difficult to factor in.
Potential Trade Assets
Shelby Harris | DL
Harris wanted a big deal this offseason and when he didn't get it, he returned to Denver on a cheap one-year bargain. He's played at a higher level, though, which could finally see that big deal come to fruition in the spring. Denver could let him walk and look for a compensatory pick in 2022, or it could strike while the iron is hot and sell high at the deadline.
Prime Potential Trade Partner: New England Patriots
The Patriots don't have great talents on their defensive line and really rely on the scheme. Harris would be an upgrade and give them an interior pass rusher as they push for the playoffs.
Compensation: The minimum that Denver should accept for Harris is a fourth-round pick, but if I were GM for a day, I'd begin the conversation by asking for a third-rounder. A team pushing for the playoffs could trade for Harris, only let him walk in hopes of recouping that third- or fourth-round compensatory pick in 2022.
Phillip Lindsay | RB
While Denver has wanted to have a dynamic duo with Melvin Gordon in the mix, Lindsay got hurt in the season-opener. Lindsay came back vs. New England and rushed for 100 yards, which showcased him right in time for the trade deadline and he followed that up with 79 rushing yards vs. the Chiefs before suffering a concussion.
Lindsay is a fan-favorite, but he wants a new deal and Denver doesn't seem inclined to give it to him. Lindsay could be a huge piece for any offense that just needs a little more oomph to get to the playoffs.
Prime Potential Trade Partner: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals offense is fun to watch with Kyler Murray leading them. Kenyan Drake is Arizona's leading rusher averaging 3.7 yards per carry but just got hurt, so the team needs more from its running game. Lindsay fits with the scheme and could really thrive in that offense and has ties to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
Compensation: This is hard because Lindsay wants a new deal, has a lot of mileage on his tires already, some injuries to his body (wrist/toe), and plays the least-valued position. I'd ask for a fourth-round pick, but if a team offered just a fifth, I'd take it for the aforementioned reasons.
Kareem Jackson | S
The 2019 version of Jackson was a lot of fun to watch but his 2020 counterpart has really struggled so far. Father Time is catching up to him and his contract is easy to get out of after this season. However, if Denver can get something for the older defensive back, the team should jump at the opportunity.
Prime Potential Trade Partner: Baltimore Ravens
This team is stacked up front on defense and its secondary has been quite solid. Jackson could take that secondary and the defense a step higher. The Ravens are playing second fiddle in the AFC so a big splash addition for them can't be ruled out as they try to take down the top team.
Compensation: Another tough cost evaluation because of his age and the noticeable decline in his play. A value of a fourth- or a fifth-rounder would be my starting point, which wouldn't mean trading those picks straight up. Teams that are contending could be willing to go a little higher just to get the defensive weapon in their secondary.
Bryce Callahan | CB
It was a rough start to the season as Callahan was pushed outside due to the A.J. Bouye injury. Since Callahan was moved back to the slot in Week 4, he has stabilized some. Despite that, if Denver is in a bad spot at the deadline, Callahan could be shopped as teams look to solidify their defensive backfields. Denver does have Essang Bassey and getting him extra experience could be beneficial for the long term.
Prime Potential Trade Partner: Tennessee Titans
Not only would Callahan slide in nicely into the scheme as the slot corner, he would give Tennessee what it's been missing. An actual nickel corner. The Titans currently have rookie Chris Jackson as their slot corner and he has been terrible. If the Titans want to push for a Super Bowl, they have to upgrade there.
Compensation: Callahan's injury history is going to worry some teams but he has a very team-friendly deal. I'd start asking for a fourth-rounder and settle for a fifth if no team was willing to part ways with a fourth in exchange for one of the better nickel corners in the NFL.
Justin Simmons | S
This is the toughest one. Simmons was elite in 2019, but so far in 2020, he's been a major let down. He wanted top safety money this past offseason, which was part of the reason why there was no multi-year extension. Denver could franchise-tag him again and try to work out another extension, which is ultimately the path I think the team takes. That said, if the Broncos don't want to hassle with that or want to use the tag on a different player, like, say Garett Bolles, then trading Simmons to a contender would be the way to go.
Prime Potential Trade Partner: Green Bay Packers or Baltimore Ravens.
For the Ravens, it's the same reason highlighted under Jackson. Baltimore could use safety help to take its defense to the next level and Simmons could do extremely well in that system.
For the Packers, Simmons is a better scheme fit than he'd be with the Ravens. While the Packers do have Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, both are really struggling which is why they could use the added help. This is a case of giving up a 2021 pick to aim for the Super Bowl this year, and possibly let Simmons walk after the season, recouping what was lost via a compensatory pick.
Compensation: At a minimum, I'd take a second- and a future fourth-rounder in exchange for Simmons but would push for that fourth to be a future third-round pick. His issues this year can't be ignored, even though he has shown how good he can be in the past. Denver wants to keep him, but if a team comes along with the right offer? Never say never.
DaeSean Hamilton | WR
Hamilton is a solid blocker, but that's about it. He has not lived up to the fourth-round pedigree and is taking away reps from other receivers. A new team may help him out, but at this point, he has little value. A team needing receiver help, whether playoff-contending or not, could give up a seventh-round pick for the younger player.
Jake Butt or Nick Vannett | TE
It's a great story with what Butt has overcome, but Denver spent a fourth-round pick on Albert Okwuegbunam in 2020. Butt is more a receiving tight end with solid blocking but there hasn't been enough there to prevent Okwuegbunam from overtaking him, with the exception being the blocking role Butt brings.
As for Vannett, Denver doesn't have a replacement at blocking tight end, but that doesn't mean much with how terrible he has been, outside of one solid performance vs. the Chiefs. Okwuegbunam needs experience and his value as a receiver has provided a little extra offensive juice to Denver.
The issue is, there would be no true blocking tight end on the roster with the best one being Andrew Beck, who is not only injured but is just solid and plays a little fullback. Again, though, Vannett has been so bad, would he really be missed? Either tight end would be available in exchange for a seventh-rounder as there isn't much value there.
Davontae Harris | CB
After winning a roster spot, Harris has done nothing this season. Michael Ojemudia has outshined all and A.J. Bouye has returned from injury. Harris is another player that should be made available but doesn't present much value. His value comes with opening a spot for someone else that could be more helpful.
DeMarcus Walker | DL
Walker has been miscast in the Broncos' defense and needs to go to a team with a more even front. He would be more effective as a true 4-3 defensive end than a 3-, 4-, or 5-tech.
Royce Freeman | RB
This is the one player who could end up getting a little more than just a seventh. He offers up a lot as a receiver out of the backfield and is a solid blocker. A team like Seattle, who has issues at running back, would make sense for Freeman. Denver could try for a sixth-round pick in exchange.
Quinnen Williams, IDL, New York Jets
There are rumors that Williams, a 2019 first-round draft pick, is available for trade. The Jets are sitting winless and on the verge of restarting their rebuild and are rumored to have made multiple players available. Williams is a really good defensive lineman that could excel if paired with Vic Fangio — both a run defender and pass rusher. There is the issue that, after multiple conversations with people close to the Jets, Gase has power over the roster until he is fired and his grudge against the Broncos organization is well-known and established, making it doubtful a trade would ever materialize. If Gase is fired, the friendship of Broncos' exec Matt Russell and Jets' GM Joe Douglas could see a trade come together.
Compensation: I haven't heard any specific price for what the Jets are asking. All I can give is my most educated guess and that'd be at least two second-round picks over the next two years. There have been rumors of a lackadaisical attitude and Williams having issues with coaches that could see interested suitors try to drive the price down. However, Williams is a former first-rounder who isn't exactly trending towards bust status at the moment, so the Jets will want a good value in return.
Jonathan Allen, IDL, Washington Football Team
While Allen isn't an expensive veteran, as he is on Year 4 of his rookie deal, had his fifth-year option picked up, which comes with a $10 million price tag next year. Washington is a struggling team that seems like it is restarting its rebuild after issues coming up with its hopeful quarterback of the future (Dwayne Haskins) trending towards bust status.
With Allen being a free agent, Washington could look to get the immediate return rather than a potential comp pick in 2023 after he leaves in the 2022 offseason. He would give Denver another young, talented defensive lineman to work with and see what he can do over the rest of this season and next season while giving them a really young defensive line group.
Compensation: Allen's cost has been hard to pin down. While he has played well, he hasn't fully lived up to that first-round pedigree and dealt with a pretty bad injury his rookie year. He did have 14 combined sacks in 2018 and 2019, he has only 1.5 this year. I'd start by offering a fourth-rounder and go up to a third if the first offer isn't enough.
Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington Football Team
Kerrigan's name was thrown around a lot when Von Miller first got hurt. The reasoning is simple for both sides. Denver would get a veteran edge rusher that is still capable and just for the rest of this year, have his contract come off the books and possibly bring Denver a compensatory pick in 2022. As for Washington, he's the third pass rusher with a big contract so it'd clear up some financial stuff for them.
Compensation: Because of his age, and being a part year rental, the starting point should be a fifth-rounder. That max should be a fourth-rounder with a later conditional pick. Washington is wanting to move him which drags down his value.
Myles Jack, ILB, Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the move many Broncos fans wanted Elway to make and probably one of the more unlikely. Jack is a talented linebacker that has a weird fit into the Broncos' scheme, which would cause some changes to the basics of the system from Vic Fangio. The financials are kind of messy for a good but not great/elite off-ball linebacker. There is no doubt Jack could help, but some changes would need to be made.
Compensation: One reason I doubt a trade gets done is the Jaguars would likely want a first-round pick and while he alone is worth it, the financials make it a little less so. Denver would be taking a hit in the amount of cap they currently have and can roll over to next year while also taking big cap hits over the next few years while the salary cap is expected to drop. That's the big difference with Jack compared to the first three on this list, who are either cost-controlled, or on the final year of their deal. Those two aspects, combined with the weird scheme fit, lead to this one being unlikely.
J.J. Watt, IDL, Houston Texans
Now before you call me crazy, just read the next sentence first. This is the one move that is the least likely of this list. The only reason Watt is being included is because he has made it clear he won't re-sign with the Texans, Houston has made all but the quarterback available for the right price, and Watt is getting older, has big money left that isn't guaranteed, and dealt with so many injuries he isn't quite the same player anymore.
He can still play at a high level, but both sides just seem ready for a parting of ways. If Denver was interested, now would be the time to strike. There are some unhappy with Watt as he got into a fight with the former Texans head coach which was the final nail in his coffin. Watt could help Denver in a big way and with Jurrell Casey done for the year, and it'd give the Broncos that proven, elite veteran defensive lineman to better the rotation.
Compensation: Trying to figure out the cost for Watt, for this hypothetical exercise, was extremely difficult. He has years of elite play but a lot of years shortened with major injuries. Not only that, but he is also on the books for 2021, though no guaranteed money, for a pretty high cost. The Texans would probably be seeking a second-, but a third- or fourth-rounder with a conditional third-or-fourth-rounder in 2022 would be the highest most teams would be willing to go.
Avery Williamson, ILB, New York Jets
There is a lot about the Jets' situation that's mentioned under Quinnen Williams that also applies here. Williamson is in his last year, so New York could look for the immediate return of a draft pick over waiting. He is playing solid football and does well in coverage. While he isn't exactly young, at 28, turning 29 in March, he still has time left and could likely be cheap to retain after the season.
Compensation: With the Jets putting everyone on the block, they are clearly wanting a fire-sale which will hurt the value for some players. A mid Day 3 pick (fifth or sixth) might be enough to get a deal done.
Taven Bryan, IDL, Jacksonville Jaguars
This scenario will have a lot of failing draft picks, including some high-round picks, and Bryan leads the list. He has failed to live up to all pre-draft hype he garnered. All that was there on college tape, hasn't been shown in the NFL.
Bryan needs a lot of work to try and save his career, but if one staff has a history of doing that, it's Fangio's. Offer a late pick and hope to turn him around. If the Broncos could turn it around, great, but if not, it's not a major hit.
Compensation: Bryan may be broken beyond repair at this point, so even though he is a former first-round pick, his value is of a sixth-rounder at most. Draft pedigree can't help the Jaguars get more value with his bad he has been in the NFl.
Germaine Pratt, ILB, Cincinnati Bengals
This was one of my pre-draft crushes the year he was drafted so I'm getting him onto this list. He has not been good for the Bengals and is at risk of losing his spot. This is a team that spent three draft picks on off-ball linebackers in 2020, all of them highly thought of, which is bad news for Pratt.
Denver could use someone else at linebacker and maybe develop Pratt better than the Bengals have done so far. The cost would have to be really low, as low as you can go really, to even make the move.
Compensation: Because of Pratt's poor play and losing his spot, a seventh-round pick is about the most that should be offered. I liked him pre-draft but it may be too late to save his career and turn him around so keep the investment low.
Desmond King, DB, Los Angeles Chargers
There have been internal issues between the coaches and King and he has hinted at wanting out. While he is seeing a fair amount of playing time, there are issues with his play. It seems the Chargers are at a point they may be ready to part ways.
Now, Denver is a division rival, making the trade unlikely from the start but King could fit in perfectly into the scheme and be an option for the future safety spot currently held by Kareem Jackson. He also would immediately upgrade the Broncos' No. 3 safety job over Duke Dawson and Trey Marshall.
Compensation: Depending on how severe the issues with the coaches are, it'd probably be between a fourth- and a sixth-rounder for King. He is a solid player, but if the issues are bad, they won't have much leverage. A change of scenery and placed in a better scheme fit could help calm King down and improve his play.
Takkarist McKinley, OLB, Atlanta Falcons
The former first-rounder has not lived up to expectations with only 16.5 sacks in his first three seasons. This year he has added one to that total and just has never come into his own. Depending on the cost, which I'll get to here in a second, Denver could make a low investment with little risk as it tries to see if he can turn it around.
Compensation: With McKinley failing to live up to expectations, this would be a major loss for the Falcons. It's hard to see teams offering more than a fifth-round pick for a player with 17.5 sacks in 49 career games.