The 2019 NFL trade deadline passed with little fanfare. Just one deal came to pass on the day and it was made by a team who had previously been dealing away for fun. Aqib Talib is the newest member of the Miami Dolphins, moving on from the Los Angeles Rams.
This is a far-cry from the blockbuster move the day promised. Talib currently sits on injured reserve, so it’s no sure thing he will see the field again in 2019. It’s a salary dump move from the Rams; the Dolphins were all too happy to take the hit to their salary cap, as it means acquiring more draft capital for their rebuild. Organic tanking in full force.
With so much promise entering the day, fans of the respective franchises who were the rumoured to buyers were left disappointed. There were potential deals aplenty that could have been made. Alas, asking prices were too high and ultimately time ran out to cobble together any kind of deal.
More trades should of happened. Here’s three that make almost too much sense:
Trent Williams to Cleveland Browns
Long term want-away left tackle Trent Williams will remain a Redskin. Having been a hold out since training camp, it should of been a case of when, not if, Williams would be traded. But with the ‘skins hard-line approach of refusing to make other teams better, it means that instead of earning some draft capital, they have top-tier talent sat in the stands.
Suitors aplenty were queuing up to secure the services of Trent Williams, but it’s in Cleveland where he should be playing his football. At the start of the year, the buzz surrounding the Browns was palpable. Now with the season half done, it’s all gone flat. The outspoken Baker Mayfield recently got involved in a heated moment with a local reporter and abruptly ended his weekly press conference, tell-tale signs that all is not well. What would have gone a long way to improving the mood of Mayfield is the acquisition of Williams.
The offensive line of the Browns is a merry-go-round. With LT Greg Robinson being benched, it’s now the turn of Justin McCray to prove what he can do at the position. McCray got his first start against the Patriots last Sunday, it came with limited success. He allowed five QB pressures and one sack. This is the state of the Browns o-line in a nutshell. It’s no wonder the guy they are paid to protect is going through the worst stint of his NFL career.
Despite efforts the Browns made to land Williams, they were ultimately stifled by the Redskins. It took until deadline day for Trent Williams to hit the trade block, by which point any interested parties moved on. It’s made for a messy situation in Landover, as it looks for the time being Williams will not play any football this year.
O.J. Howard to New England Patriots
All year long the Patriots have been missing a reliable pair of hands at tight end. Ever since Rob Gronkowski hung up his cleats in the post season, it’s been a cycle of nearly guys. The fourteen year veteran Benjamin Watson was the latest to be given a run out. Having previously been signed, cut and now re-signed by the Pats, it just goes to show how frenetic their approach has been to the position.
The other two TEs on the roster are Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, both have been dealing with niggling injuries. On the occasions where they have been active on game day, their contributions to the offence has been minimal. It’s clear they are yet to earn the trust of Tom Brady.
An answer to this equation is to obtain first round talent. The perfect target would have been the Buccaneers’ first round selection from the 2017 draft. It’s criminal how much O.J. Howard’s talents are being wasted in Tampa Bay. Standing tall at 6″6 and tipping the scales at 250 lbs, he has all the makings of a dominant red zone threat. This is exactly what the Patriots offence is crying out for.
However, being a first round pick always bumps up the asking price for any potential trade. It was made clear by the Bucs that they were not giving up on their high investment, as reportedly it would have taken a “substantial offer” to deal Howard away.
This asking price was seemingly too rich for the blood of the New England execs. Instead they turned their attentions to other targets. This was made abundantly clear when they traded for Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for 2nd round pick.
Devonta Freeman to Detroit Lions
With starting RB Kerryon Johnson now placed on injured reserve, it’s exposed a weakness of this Lions offence. KJ is clearly the most talented back on this roster and with him now out of the lineup, it’s left a gaping hole that needs plugging. Detroit were earmarked to make a move for Kenyan Drake, but the Arizona Cardinals made the best offer. Instead, they seem to have settled with in-house talent. They will look to test rookie Ty Johnson, but for now it appears he’ll operate in a timeshare with Tre Carson.
Bearing in mind Carson was picked up from off the street just a few weeks back, it’s clear the Lions knew they needed to get better at running back. Nothing made this clearer than their approach for Falcons RB Devonta Freeman. Trade talks were reportedly ‘heavily discussed’ between both teams.
This is a trade that would have made a lot sense for Atalanta and Detroit. The flailing Falcons are a franchise with the hallmark of a rebuild that is fast approaching. Players like Devonta Freeman are expendable in a case like this; they certainly could have got a decent return for him, much like the deal that saw Sanu move to the Patriots.
Currently sitting at 1-7 on the season, this is a loss year for the Falcons. Perhaps what stopped them from shipping Freeman was the lack of depth behind him. Other backs on the roster include Ito Smith, Brian Hill and rookie Qadree Ellison. None of these have shown much promise to be an NFL starting running back. Also, it must be considered that Freeman is under contract until 2023, much has been invested in him.
If no trades, who else is free?
Such was the reluctance from all 32 franchises to conduct a last minute trade, it’s quite possible they will look to pick up a free agent instead to fix any roster issues that may arise. A few decent names still remain without a team, it will be a surprise to see this bunch not on an NFL roster by year end:
This list could go on and on.
The playoff picture will of course get clearer as the year progresses. Once the contenders are known, look for them to be active in picking the top available free agents.