This year’s NFL trade deadline didn’t disappoint.
This year’s NFL trade deadline was expected to be more active than ever. With a good three quarters of the league still in the playoff picture, teams were certainly looking to upgrade their rosters. It didn’t disappoint.
On Tuesday alone, star wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate were traded to contending teams. Prior to that, two-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper was sent from the Oakland Raiders to the Dallas Cowboys in a blockbuster deal.
In checking in on the plethora of trades, these were the biggest winners and losers from the NFL trade deadline.
Winner: Cleveland Browns
It was becoming increasingly apparent throughout the first half of the season that rookie running back Nick Chubb needed to see more action. In the six games that Hyde played with Cleveland after signing a lucrative contract back in March, Chubb put up just 16 rush attempts. That’s not what you’d expect from an early-round pick at running back. In the two games since Hyde was traded to Jacksonville, the young stud has tallied 145 yards and a touchdown on 36 attempts.
Cleveland is in the midst of a rebuild. Sitting a promising young rookie for a veteran didn’t seem to make much sense in the first place. Despite scoring five touchdowns, Hyde was averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt. Moving him for a fifth-round pick was an obvious win.
Loser: Dallas Cowboys
It has been known for some time that the Cowboys were desperate for wide receiver help after releasing Dez Bryant during the spring. Allen Hurns didn’t offer much through the first seven games of the season, catching just 13 passes for 158 yards. That made him the second-leading receiver for the Cowboys, behind Cole Beasley. It’s in this that owner Jerry Jones and Co. decided to send a first-round pick to the Raiders for struggling pass catcher Amari Cooper.
It’s not that Cooper can’t be good with Dak Prescott. Rather, it’s all about sending such a valuable pick for a receiver that has struggled big time since the start of last season. During that span, the two-time Pro Bowler has caught 70 passes for less than 1,000 yards in 20 games while ranking in the top three among receivers in drop rate. Given that Dallas is 3-4 and likely set to pick in the top 15 of the 2019 NFL Draft, that was way too high of a price to pay.
Winner: Houston Texans
Having won five consecutive games, the Texans’ front office decided to give its offense a vote of confidence on trade deadline day. In dealing a mid-round pick for four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Houston has now formed one of the best wide receiver tandems in the entire NFL. Thomas joins star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in catching passes from fellow star, quarterback Deshaun Watson. Giving up a mere mid-round pick made this an absolute steal.
Some will point to Thomas’ regression in recent seasons and his $17.5 million cap hit for next season as a reason Houston shouldn’t have traded for him. That’s foolish. When you have a chance at upgrading your roster in this manner, you do it. Besides, Houston can release Thomas with a mere $3.5 million dead cap hit should he not perform up to his salary during the final half of the season.
Loser: New York Giants
New York did well to get a fourth and seventh-round pick for cornerback Eli Apple in a trade with the New Orleans Saints. He had been a malcontent in two-plus seasons with the team. And despite improving on the field this season, it just made sense for the Giants to move the young cornerback. We’re not going to criticize that move from the Giants’ perspective.
Instead, it’s all about the deal that sent stud defensive tackle Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a mere fifth-round pick. Harrison has legitimately been the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the NFL since he signed with New York back in 2016. Despite nearing age 30, he had a future with the club. And in the Giants’ first game since trading Harrison, the one-win team yielded 149 rushing yards to Adrian Peterson. That included this game-clinching long touchdown run. Ouch.
Winner: Oakland Raiders
We can question Jon Gruden’s decision to trade youngsters such as Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Both could very well have been seen as future building blocks for the rebuilding team. But the trade of Cooper to Dallas for a first-round pick was among the most lopsided in recent NFL history. Boasting one of the worst drop rates and having put up less than 1,000 yards in his past 20 games, Cooper was looking like a major bust in Northern California. Oakland now gets what will likely be a top-15 pick for the struggling pass catcher.
Interestingly, in the Raiders’ first game without Cooper, Derek Carr put up his best performance of the season. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards with four total touchdowns and zero picks in a 42-28 loss to Indianapolis. This could very well be a case of addition by subtraction.
Loser: New England Patriots
Linked to both Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate, New England failed to upgrade its wide receiver group following the early-season acquisition of Josh Gordon. While it’s been hard to criticize the Bill Belichick-led Patriots’ front office, that’s what we’re going to do here.
Outside of receiver, New England needed help on the defensive end of the field. That didn’t happen. And in what promises to be a competitive AFC moving forward, that’s what we’d call dropping the ball. Period.
Winner: Detroit Lions
It was readily apparent through the first half of the season that Detroit needed to upgrade what has been a league-worst run defense if it wanted to compete in the wide open NFC North moving forward. Like clockwork, the Lions struck a trade for the game’s best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the form of Damon Harrison.
Not only did the Lions upgrade this unit in a huge way, they gave up only a fifth-round pick for the former New York Giants All-Pro. That’s next level cheating if you ask me. Detroit then moved pending free agent wide receiver Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round pick. While losing Tate will hurt initially, that pick is valuable. It also means stud young pass catcher Kenny Golladay will be featured more moving forward. He’s the future No. 1 receiver in Detroit. Why not give him the keys to the kingdom now?
Loser: Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler back in Week 7. The much-maligned quarterback continues to prove he is one of the worst starters in the entire NFL. Despite this, Jacksonville decided it made sense to hold off on acquiring a starter-caliber option to compete with Bortles. Given that the likes of Robert Griffin III, Tyrod Taylor and even Eli Manning could’ve likely been had for cheap, this made absolutely no sense.
Instead, Jacksonville decided to trade for a running back in Carlos Hyde who had struggled in his brief stint with the Browns. It did so while giving up a valuable mid-round pick. And in his first game with the Jags, Hyde put up 11 yards on six attempts in Jacksonville’s fourth consecutive loss. How fun.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
We have to give general manager Howie Roseman and Co. a ton of credit for not standing pat following a pedestrian 4-4 start to the season. He knew that the Eagles needed to upgrade at wide receiver, and did just that by acquiring Pro Bowler Golden Tate from the Lions for a third-round pick.
Sure said selection is a high price to pay. But adding a dude that’s averaging 1,000 yards per season over the past half decade to a group that includes Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery is an absolute boon. It gives MVP candidate Carson Wentz three legit options in the passing game and could help Philadelphia fend off Washington in the NFC East moving forward on the season.
Loser: San Francisco 49ers
At 1-7 on the season, San Francisco is playing for nothing more than draft positioning. It made sense for the team to move all of the veteran assets it had that didn’t fit into the future. Unfortunately for the organization, that did not happen.
The 49ers were talking to multiple teams about veteran receiver Pierre Garcon. Despite some bigger-name receivers being traded, he remains in San Francisco. Former first-round picks Jimmie Ward and Arik Armstead also don’t seem to be part of the team’s future. Heck, Ward himself has suggested as much. Neither were traded. By standing pat at the deadline, GM John Lynch and Co. failed to add valuable draft assets for players that won’t be with the team long term. That makes them an obvious loser.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
Even at 8-0 on the season, these Rams decided not to stand pat at the trade deadline. As has been the case under GM Les Snead, this team was active on deadline day. That included acquiring former Jacksonville Jaguars top-three pick Dante Fowler in exchange for a third-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020.
This move will pair Fowler, an impending free agent, up with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald moving forward. That should be a lethal combination as the 2018 season progresses. Fowler put up eight sacks for the Jaguars last season before falling out of favor thus far this year.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
Despite finding themselves in the NFC North race, Green Bay decided to move on from two starter-caliber players on deadline day. That included a running back in Ty Montgomery who made the news for all the wrong reasons this past week. The compensation of a seventh-round pick in 2020 is a clear indication Green Bay was simply looking to move its leading rusher from two seasons ago.
In a trade that obviously doesn’t make Green Bay better moving forward this season, the team dealt Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins. Sure Clinton-Dix was set to become a free agent in March. But moving him to a conference rival for a mere fourth-round pick made little sense.