Reasons why there are more trades than there used to be at the NFL trading deadline:
1. In 2012, the league moved the deadline from the Tuesday after Week 6 to the Tuesday after Week 8. More teams (Giants, Raiders, for instance this year) know they can punt the season with the deadline two weeks later.
2. GMs and club presidents are more aggressive than the last generation of traditional front-office people. Howie Roseman (Eagles), Les Snead (Rams), Chris Ballard (Colts), John Lynch (Niners), John Schneider (Seahawks), Bob Quinn (Lions) are young, and they’re restless.
3. You can trade Compensatory Picks now; this is the second year it’s been legal to do so. So there are, potentially, about 38 more draft choices that teams can move, or conditionally move. Why does this matter? The Patriots, for instance, have four regular picks in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft—but that doesn’t include the additional two they’re scheduled to receive for the losses of big-money free-agents Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler. So they know they have six picks in the top three rounds, which could make them more aggressive, say, for a cornerback this week.
4. Teams are living for today more than they used to. GMs have begun treating trading like baseball teams at the deadline—if they can solve a problem for the last nine weeks of the season, they’re not as worried about 2019 and beyond. Witness Dallas with Amari Cooper. Witness Detroit with Snacks Harrison. Nothing in the future is promised. The Cowboys and Lions are driving for the playoffs this year; they’ll worry about next year next year.
A few teams I’m hearing about:
• Denver could well be a seller—and wants to be, after falling to 3-5 on Sunday in Kansas City. Chief targets: wideout Demaryius Thomas, who turned 31 Thursday, could probably be had for a third-round pick, and defensive end Shane Ray and linebacker Brandon Marshall could move too. Less likely: cornerback Bradley Roby.
• The Rams, speaking of “baseball trades,” want a pass-rusher. I hear defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is lukewarm on Denver’s Ray (having coached him two years ago), and if the Jags make disappointing high first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr., available, the Rams would have interest. L.A. is unlikely to deal swing guard Jamon Brown for a late-round pick, though there’s been interest. He’s a low-cost insurance guy for the line.
• Oakland, which owns first-round picks from Dallas and Chicago as well as its own, could have three picks in the top 20 (let me guess: 3, 15, 18) and might not be done dealing. I would not be surprised to see pass-rusher Bruce Irvin moved, and the organization has soured on 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley, the disappointing cornerback.
• The Giants could deal cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who still has some value despite inconsistent play and being owed $3.5 million for the rest of this year with an $11.15-million-salary-plus-roster-bonus deal next year, per Over The Cap. They’d like to keep their young offensive core together. Eli Manning? It makes too much sense to deal him to Jacksonville for a pittance in the wake of another poor performance by Blake Bortles on Sunday in London, but there’s no indication Manning would waive his no-trade clause.
• The Colts, showing life the last two games, would like to add a receiver. But I don’t believe they will do anything to affect their draft status next April; picks are too important to GM Chris Ballard.
• San Francisco: Multiple reports say wide receiver Pierre Garcon could be dealt. It makes sense because the Niners will be all in on the 2019 draft and season. That is when Jimmy Garoppolo will be a factor again and this organization is all about building around their franchise quarterback, knee surgery and all.
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