As the NFL trade deadline approaches on Tuesday November 3rd, NFL teams are searching for that mid-season deal that can change their fortunes. Mark Gill evaluates some potential trades for the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a 1-5 hole, with the Bears and Packers pacing the NFC North, the Vikings should continue to look to accumulate greater resources to utilise for a mini-roster patch up in the summer. The defense’s Achilles heel is actually head coach Mike Zimmer’s speciality: the defensive secondary.
The Vikings can no longer argue they are just one player away from Super Bowl contention as they did in the offseason they signed the former Washington QB. Minnesota have suffered a number of departures on the defensive line which used to be made up of a number of fearsome passengers rushers. Multiple first round picks at cornerback haven’t worked out while there continue to be doubts about Kirk Cousins’ ability to lead the franchise deep into the postseason.
One way to free up some cap space and gain extra draft capital, which GM Rick Spielman could utilise to move up the draft board for a young signal caller, is to dangle defensive leader Harrison Smith as a trade candidate. The star safety is 31 and could gain the Vikes over $8.5 million in cap space and at least a third round pick for a team that seems to be slipping further from championship contention. The franchise has around $22 million tied up with Smith and fellow safety Anthony Harris and would see Smith count over $10 million against the cap next season too.
The former Carolina Panthers standout hasn’t lived up to the expectations placed on him when signing his big free agent contract with the Jags.
Jacksonville is clearly in a full scale tear down and rebuild and should be trying to accumulate as many draft picks as possible. They’re likely to be in the running to draft either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields next year and so retaining veteran talent around incumbent quarterback Gardner Minshew is less of a priority.
Norwell would fit a need for playoff contenders hoping to rejuvenate their ground game. I’m looking at you Bears and Bills. The offensive line in Chicago continues to be a mess and the failure to open up holes for running back David Montgomery is hampering Matt Nagy’s attempts to establish a semblance of balance on offense.
Similarly the Bills will want to avoid putting the entire offense on the shoulders of QB Josh Allen, with the Jags left guard stepping in to hopefully clear running lanes for sophomore running back Devin Singletary.
Like Norwell, the veteran center, would suit a team hoping to rejuvenate its running game or seeking veteran leadership along the offensive line.
Unfortunately for Mack, most teams experiencing offensive line woes are well out of the running for the playoffs and therefore unlikely to be shopping at the trade deadline.
However a number of candidates stand out. The aforementioned Bears and Bills would benefit from the addition of Mack, particularly in Chicago, where Cody Whitehair could be bounced to LG. The other team who could be in the market for a center could be the San Francisco 49ers who have lost their starting pivot Weston Richburg for the season as well.
Atlanta has dedicated lots of draft capital and free agency spending to the offensive line but to no avail. Meanwhile the defense flounders and the offense continues to lack balance. This move would also give Mack a shot at a Super Bowl as his career moves towards its conclusion.
Stuck on a poor Cowboys defense, the announcement that Griffin could be available in a trade, perhaps came as something of a relief to the former Vikings defensive end.
Whilst Griffin is unlikely to add instant pass rushing success to any franchise who trades for him, he could be a valuable part of a rotation for teams in need of some juice along the defensive line.
At age 32 Griffin could also provide some veteran nous to relatively young pass rushers on any prospective team. Two franchises that stand out are the Raiders and the Seahawks.
Las Vegas needs an effective pass rush to help contain Patrick Mahomes within the AFC West and currently is led in sacks by second year defensive end Maxx Crosby with 4 QB takedowns. Crosby was a force to be reckoned with last season but his partner in crime, former 4th overall pick Clelin Ferrell, hasn’t lived up to his draft pedigree.
Seattle could be in even more need of Griffin’s services with its sack leaders being safety Jamal Adams and journeyman veteran Benson Mayowa who have a couple of sacks apiece. Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have shown in the last they’re unafraid to dip into the trade market and adding more of a pass rushing threat along the defensive line would seem to be a necessity in the best and most competitive division in the NFL.
The Steelers have a dominant pass rush and are mauling opposing offences. However, if I’m Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert I’d be looking to maximise the closing window the team has with Ben Roethlisberger.
On offense Pittsburgh is yet to see a player turn into a consistent big play threat. Rookie Chase Claypool made big plays in the first few weeks but it would be a mistake for the franchise to rely on him to put in those kinds of performances week in and week out. In addition, we’re talking about just a few plays per game. The rest of the wide receiver corps increasingly looks like a collection of WR2s with no one player separating themselves from the pack. JuJu Smith Schuster hasn’t quite maintained the level of play he showed during the 2018 season which convinced team brass they could survive without Antonio Brown.
No Steelers wideout is averaging more than 55.5 yards receiving per game. There’s not likely to be a tonne of receivers available who fit the bill for this team but Colbert could certainly make some calls to teams whose playoff hopes have already faded.