The NFL‘s trade deadline, scheduled for November 3rd, is rapidly approaching. As is always the case, there already are quite a few teams who have stood out as top contenders in the two conferences.
However, it’s precisely clear that even these teams have many holes and weaknesses which they have to take care of by Tuesday afternoon following Week 8 of the 2020 campaign. Even the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers proved to be beatable during their latest clash with the Titans, with only a missed field goal depriving Tennessee of the win. No team seems so much better than the rest, likely further making for a dramatic and competitive trade deadline, as well as the remainder of the season.
The idea of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green being traded away has long been considered inevitable. The former first-round pick was on the trade block last year as the deadline approached. The Bengals, instead, opted to keep Green in Cincy en route to finishing with the worst record in the NFL. In 2020, it’s the same scenario all over again but this time Green might indeed exit Cincinnati. The asking price, meanwhile, has become cheaper as Green’s contract is due after the campaign. Moreover, he’s owed $11.2 million for the remaining eleven games of the season.
The Bengals are unlikely to re-sign Green before the end of the season so they will surely try to get something for him before free agency. Therefore, he’s perhaps now open to many potential suitors looking to get a solid air weapon at a cheap price in order to solidify their effort of competing in 2020.
Despite being seemingly successful, the Colts still need to acquire an additional pass-catcher. Indianapolis ranks tenth in most passing yards per game thus far with nearly 265 per game. However, injuries to vital pieces such as Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell have left the unit shorthanded. Even with TY Hilton and Zach Pascal fully available, Indy’s air raid could use another productive receiver.
Philip Rivers has completed 69.7 percent of his passing attempts. This would equal a career-high if the season ended today. Yet, he has thrown 6 interceptions, and the lack of weaponry might be a big factor.
For much of his career, Green has been considered a long-threat receiver in the Bengals’ WR corps. After all, he has averaged 14.6 yards per reception throughout his career. However, this year he has taken up more of a role in the intermediate passing game, averaging 10.2 yards per catch. This will ensure Hilton stays in his current role as the Colts’ top downfield target. In the meantime, Green would continue his Diggs-like transition to the short passing game, giving Indy much-needed consistency through the air.
The Colts have the second-best record in the AFC South, after TEN, despite suffering from injury woes. The passing game has performed better than expected for the pool of weapons available for Rivers. Indianapolis has had noticeable problems running the ball. That department might be a bigger need but there aren’t many options on the market as of now. Meanwhile, they should sign AJ Green to make the air raid even more consistent and a cornerstone of a productive offensive unit.
Aaron Rodgers has made one of the best starts to a campaign in a long time. His average passer rating of 113.4 is second in the league only to Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Both are having MVP-like seasons, providing a race that promises to come down to the wire.
Rodgers, unlike Wilson or Patrick Mahomes, doesn’t have the weaponry luxury that the Seahawks and the Chiefs have.
Davante Adams, Rodgers’s longtime favorite receiver, has 36 catches but nobody else has managed more than 20. Worse yet – out of all the players with more than 10 targets, only two are wide receivers. Marquez Valdez-Scantling, the Packers’ WR2, has been targeted eight times fewer than Adams, despite playing two games more. Furthermore, he has posted an abysmal catch percentage of 44.4, recording just 15 receptions on 34 targets.
All of this has contributed to Green Bay’s middle-of-the-pack ranking amongst passing units in the league. The Packers have an average of 261.5 yards per game through the air, the 14th-best in the NFL. While they still rank in the top half, they are nowhere near as productive as the top air raids.
An Aaron Jones-Jamal Williams running faction, which contributed during a hot two-week start, has not posted a 100-yards game in four weeks. Jones himself is uncertain with an injury that kept him out of the Texans game. Wide receiving depth was a top priority in the offseason but the Packers failed to address it. Fair to say, they have paid the price with the air raid struggling despite a brilliant Rodgers under center.
If the Packers don’t acquire receiving reinforcements, the passing game could decline. With a worsening running-game outlook, a once-booming offense could be in for problems.
Out of all the teams that have stood out as contenders with winning records, the Bears might have the most desperate need to add players before the Nov. 3rd deadline. The Nick Foles-led offense ranks 25th in the NFL with 223.9 yards per game. In addition, the running game has somehow managed to struggle even more – 3.8 yards per rushing attempts is the fourth-worst in the league.
General manager Ryan Pace should be looking to add help in both units. With an underwhelming pool of running back on the market, the Bears’ attention could shift to trading for depth around Allen Robinson.
Robinson has managed to become the saving grace of a near-league worst offensive unit. With 70 targets, he is the third-most targeted receiver after seven weeks of football. Having that in mind, 62.9 percent of completed catches is beyond satisfying.
However, while Jimmy Graham has surprised as a tight end target, the next in line in the receiving corps is Darnell Mooney and his 56% catch percentage. Anthony Miller (31 targets, 61.3% catch) has largely been efficient in his limited role. Numbers show that Chicago needs to add a WR to make up for Mooney’s inefficiency and provide another weapon as Mooney is not worthy of the WR2 job.
Green hasn’t really been the ultra-efficient targets the Bears need to be more productive through the air. In his ninth year in Cincinnati, Green’s catch percentage has plummeted to 50.0 percent. This is his worst career-wise but, more worryingly, his third year in a row under the 60.0-percent mark. Still, unless Chicago is ready to sacrifice a first-round pick for Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, or another top receiver whose name has circulated in trade talks, they will have to settle for Green as depth. He would not be above Robinson in the depth chart but could be a more productive WR2 than Mooney. However, he would need to play better in the second half of the 2020 season for that to happen.