Now that the NFL trade deadline is approaching, we’re starting to hear a ton of rumors about veterans potentially being moved within the next week.
These are some big names. That is to say, they’re Pro Bowl performers that could help contending teams take that next step.
Interestingly enough, the available pool of players is likely limited to less than a handful of teams. Heading into Week 8, there seems to be only five teams completely out of the playoff race. Among those teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns appear to be the most active on the trade block.
With all that said, here’s a look at five trades that make too much sense between now and the trade deadline early next month.
1. Joe Thomas from the Cleveland Browns to the Seattle Seahawks
We have all read the reports. Cleveland has been looking to move its franchise left tackle for some time now. And despite public statements of denial, it just makes too much sense for the Browns to move this six-time All Pro performer.
Cleveland boasts a whole bevy of picks in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Why not add to that surplus of picks by acquiring a high-value early-round selection for a player that doesn’t fit into your long-term plans? The Browns boast a 0-7 record heading into Week 8 and are going nowhere fast. Looking to the future surely has to be an option here.
For the Seahawks, this also makes a ton of sense. General manager John Schneider has never been afraid to give up high draft picks for proven talent. The acquisitions of Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham are two examples of this.
After losing Russell Okung in free agency, Seattle has a major hole at left tackle. Why not go out and get the best player at this position to protect your $100-plus million investment in Russell Wilson? Likely picking late in each round, Seattle could send its Day 1 selection to Cleveland for this future Hall of Fame tackle.
2. Torrey Smith from the San Francisco 49ers to the Philadelphia Eagles
When reports first surfaced that the Eagles and 49ers were engaged in talks to send Smith to Philadelphia, it didn’t seem to make much sense. Why would Philadelphia trade for someone that’s been under the tutelage of Chip Kelly for the past several months? That’s until we realize Kelly himself wouldn’t be in on conversations regarding a specific trade.
Instead, that would be general manager Trent Baalke and former Eagles front office executive Tom Gamble. In this, at least there’s a starting-off point here.
Now to the nuts and bolts of a potential trade. Possessing a strong-armed rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, the Eagles could use a down-field threat to complement two possession receivers, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. This would most definitely add another dimension to a growing offense.
For the 49ers, it’s rather simple. Smith has been a square peg hovering over a round hole during his short stint in San Francisco. He’s averaging just two receptions per game since the start of last season.
With three years remaining on the five-year, $40 million deal Smith signed in March of 2015, the 49ers would love to get out from under this contract. Pure conjecture here, but swapping Smith for former Oregon standout Josh Huff and a draft pick could make sense.
3. Jay Cutler from the Chicago Bears to the Denver Broncos
A Cutler reunion at Mile High? We know what you’re thinking. That’s just absolutely absurd. Well, there’s a few things to look at here. First off, the Bears are fully prepared to move on from Cutler after this season. That means the Broncos could get the struggling quarterback for pennies on the dollars.
In no way would this suggest that Cutler might go to Denver and start immediately. Instead, he’d act as an insurance policy for Trevor Siemian while allowing the Broncos to avoid having to play a raw Paxton Lynch should Siemian himself struggle or get injured. From a financial perspective, it’s an expensive backup plan. In terms of assets heading to Chicago, it would be relatively cheap.
Also important to note, there’s some real confusion over Cutler’s contract situation. Sure he has four seasons remaining on the seven-year, $126.7 million deal he signed back in 2014. However, Cutler has only $2 million in dead cap remaining on his deal. This makes it financially feasible for Denver.
4. Matt Forte from the New York Jets to the Detroit Lions
With both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick injured, the Lions are left relying on the likes of Zach Zenner and Justin Forsett to shoulder the load at running back. And while Matthew Stafford has had himself a superb season, he’s going to need more balance on offense to continue this surprising campaign.
Forte would be a valuable add in two different ways. First off, he’s more than a capable receiving back, something that the Lions need in their offense. Secondly, he’s an A-plus performer in pass protection. Again, that’s needed with what Detroit likes to do in the passing game.
Forte would also come relatively cheap in terms of both his salary and the compension heading to New York in this hypothetical trade.
For the Jets, it’s rather simple here. They signed Forte to take the next step toward division championship contention. In reality, it was a short-term move for the team. At 2-5 on the season, the Jets are pretty much out of playoff contention. Moving Forte, even if it’s for a late-round pick, makes too much sense for Todd Bowles and Co.
5. Joe Staley from the San Francisco 49ers to the Minnesota Vikings
Here’s a tricky one. Minnesota can’t take on Staley’s cap hit for the remainder of the season without moving on from another big contract. Fortunately for the Vikings, their trade partner has a ton of cash under the cap and really isn’t too worried about limiting its ability to win games moving forward on the season.
In reality, San Francisco can pick up Matt Kalil’s contract for the remainder of the 2016 season. However, this is where it gets really tricky. Minnesota would have to activate Kalil from injured reserve, something it can do on Monday. At that point, he’d be traded to San Francisco who then keeps Kalil on its active roster.
Now that all this is pretty much settled, the reality of the situation here is that Minnesota needs to find an upgrade at left tackle. The likes of T.J. Clemmings and Jake Long are not getting it done in replacement of Kalil. Adding someone of Staley’s ilk would be huge for the Vikings’ title hopes.
Again, looking at this from a 49ers’ perspective, Staley will not be in the NFL by the time the team turns it around.
He’s already gone through thick and thin (and then more thin) with the organization in his 10-plus seasons in San Francisco.
Why not do Staley a favor and trade him to a contender? That’s only magnified by the fact that San Francisco could rid itself of his contract beyond the 2016 season.
In order for this trade to work, Minnesota would have to sweeten the pot. Unfortunately, it does not have a first-round pick after exhausting that capital on Sam Bradford.
If the Vikings are serious about contention this season, somethin to the tune of a second-round pick and a player such as Cordarrelle Patterson. Or Laquon Treadwell could make sense.