The 2023 NFL trade deadline has now passed with several contending teams making some big-time moves. The Philadelphia Eagles remained active in adding to their secondary leading up to the annual deadline.
Remaining in the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers bought low for a key cog on the defensive line. Other contenders were less active, making us wondering what they were thinking.
As for teams selling ahead of the deadline, the New York Giants did some real good stuff while the New England Patriots sat on their hands. These are among the winners and losers from the 2023 NFL trade deadline.
Related: NFL trade tracker with grades
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles go for it with another blockbuster trade
Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman is never one to shy away from making that blockbuster trade. Just look at how the deal for A.J. Brown during the 2022 NFL Draft has worked out for the Eagles (60 receptions, 939 yards and five touchdowns in 2023). That didn’t change ahead of the 2023 NFL trade deadline with the Eagles acquiring two-time Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard from the Tennessee Titans. In return, the Eagles gave up a mere fifth-and-sixth-round-pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Byard, 30, has been a dominating center fielder throughout his career in the NFL. He recorded a combined nine interceptions in 2021 and 2022. Last season saw Byard also yield a mere 77.8 QB rating when targeted. Acquiring a player of his ilk at a need position for pennies on the dollar was absolutely a win for the Eagles.
Loser: New England Patriots fail big time as NFL trade deadline
New England found itself at 2-6 heading into Tuesday’s deadline. The common belief around league circles was that Bill Belichick and Co. would sell off veterans and impending free agents. Sure, the season-ending ACL injury that Kendrick Bourne suffered on Sunday hurt in this regard. He was firmly on the block. But the inability to move other assets didn’t paint New England in the best of lights.
EDGE rusher Josh Uche and safety Kyler Dugger are slated to hit free agency. New England wasn’t able to agree to extensions with either defensive player ahead of the deadline. Why not move them for draft capital? The Pats need to stop considering themselves contenders and move to the future. Lacking the drive to acquire necessary draft picks for players who don’t fit into their long-term plans didn’t make sense.
Winner: New York Giants win NFL trade deadline with one move
Giants GM Joe Schoen did what other bottom-feeders wouldn’t do ahead of the deadline. That is to say, sell off on veterans who might not fit their long-term plans. In particular, impending free agents.
That’s exactly what New York did on the eve of the NFL trade deadline, sending defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks for a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a fifth rounder in 2025. By agreeing to pay a vast majority of his contract for ther remainder of the season, New York was able to acquire a premium for the veteran.
Look at it this way. The Giants likely would have received a third-round compensatory pick in the 2025 NFL Draft with Williams leaving in free agency this coming March. Instead, they pick up a second rounder in 2024 and another mid-round selection down the road. This is precisely what rebuilding teams should be doing.
Loser: Chicago Bears overpay for potential rental
Chicago’s 2-6 record heading into the NFL trade deadline seemed to suggest that general manager Ryan Poles and Co. would be sellers. About that? The Bears exhausted what will likely be a high second-round pick in a trade for Washington Commanders EDGE rusher and impending free agent Montez Sweat.
Acquiring talent makes sense. We’re also glad that Poles continues to be active on the trade front after potentially fleecing the Carolina Panthers in the blockbuster trade this past spring that gives the Bears another likely top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Even then, there is a lot to dislike about this trade. Right now, the pick Chicago gave up for Sweat would be No. 35 overall in next year’s draft. Secondly, Sweat is slated to become a free agent in March. Why not just let the season play out and look to overpay for Sweat in NFL free agency? Instead, Chicago exhausted a ton of draft capital for a player who might not be with the team next season.
Winner: San Francisco 49ers make another splash move
We knew that the 49ers were going to be active ahead of the NFL trade deadline. That was clear even before their ongoing three-game losing streak. General manager John Lynch is among the most-active in the business on this front.
Well, the 49ers acquired former No. 2 pick Chase Young from the Washington Commanders on Tuesday for a mere conditional third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Said selection will be in the high 100s.
Sure, Young might be a mere rental for the contending team. But teaming him up with reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa represents a major boon for San Francisco. Thus far this season, the 24-year-old Young has recorded a whopping 38 quarterback pressures and five sacks. The former number would be second behind Bosa on the 49ers’ roster with the five sacks ranking No. 1. Yeah, Lynch fleeced the Commanders here.
Loser: Ron Rivera’s tenure in Washington is seemingly up
Washington had lost five of six leading up to the NFL trade deadline after a 2-0 start to the season. It led to the team’s new power elite making multiple moves for the future, including trading away both Chase Young and Montez Sweat.
It’s rather clear that embattled head coach Ron Rivera had no role in this decision-making process. Rather, it was a directive from owner Josh Harris and Co.
The question is rather obvious. Where does this leave Rivera moving forward? He’s clearly on the hot seat in Washington. Harris and Co. have no built-in relationship with the embattled head coach. At 25-32-1 as the Commanders’ head coach, one has to wonder how much longer Rivera is for this gig. With a Week 14 bye coming up in mid-December, that’s when he could be out of a job.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars make underrated move
Jacksonville was not bandied about as one of the teams active ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. But general manager Trent Baalke swooped in and added a starter-caliber offensive lineman to the mix. That included acquiring guard Ezra Cleveland from the Minnesota Vikings for a mere sixth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Cleveland played at a Pro Bowl level for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022, starting all 17 games. At 6-2 on the season and in the midst of a five-game winning streak, the Jags are seemingly prepared to go all in. Getting franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence much-needed protection upfront was the right move for Jacksonville.
Loser: Dallas Cowboys lack of activity is baffling
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear ahead of the NFL trade deadline that they were likely going to be inactive. It didn’t make a whole bunch of sense with Dallas having gone all in this previous offseason by acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore in blockbuster trades.
Once star cornerback Trevon Diggs was lost for the season to injury, most figured Dallas would address that position. It did not. There was also some talk about adding another wide receiver or linebacker to the mix. That didn’t happen, either.
Dallas sits at 5-2 on the season and fancies itself as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Standing pat when NFC foes in that of the Eagles, 49ers and Seahawks were active made no sense for the ‘Boys. It should be all about a win-now mentality in Big D with the Cowboys having failed to earn as much as a championship game appearance since 1995. Apparently, Jones and Co. didn’t think so.