The trade deadline is near, which means NFL clubs have two weeks left to review their roster and current staff situation to determine a course going forward. This year has been amazing as we have seen some traditional strong teams clash, some franchises have faced the uncomfortable end of a window with a list that has performed at a high level for decades , and whatever the hell will happen to the Texans.
Ayan ay be goods produced in 2020; this is especially true of how surprisingly competitive some divisions have become (hello, AFC North) and how wide tomorrow some poorly making divisions will remain (hello, NFC East). Teams are already operating under the assumption that they can move ahead without training, which further legitimizes the notion that you can plug and play a talented player without too much difficulty. . The following goods are probably not among them; it’s simply an exercise in what is possible and what we want to see (and, really, Cam Newton is a Patriot, so don’t ever say).
Sam Darnold of the Steelers
Sam Darnold’s real move will be complicated today, as doing so is essentially the cement of the franchise waving white flags. Also, Adam Gase will certainly fight against any effort to face Darnold as the rookie’s development in the second half of the season represents the only sliver of a chance he has in maintaining coaching work. I heard an interesting case being made that if the Jets would continue to falter and get the No. 1pick, they should hold Darnold and swap options for what will inevitably be the greatest blessing since Ricky Williams deal. Trevor Lawrence is a superstar changing franchise … but siya does he agree with a Jets team that needs an upgrade to almost 20 of the 22 starting positions? Will they just waste his superb talent? If the Jets are committed to clearing the deck and hiring a coaching staff that will be easy on Lawrence, the Steelers represent a fantastic trading partner for Darnold. Pittsburgh, like other clubs that continue to select top teenagers until the late 20s, has shown that the only way to gain top talent is to deal with picks for broken goods. Darnold represents the kind of successor to Ben Roethlisberger that many felt the Steelers missed when they faced the first-round pick for Mikah Fitzpatrick last year, and the current Jets QB could have a cheaper price.
Matt Ryan of the 49ers
While it may not seem like Kyle Shanahan is pointing to 2020 yet, he clearly has the long-term picture in mind. He rested a still recovering Jimmy Garoppolo amid the blowout loss to the Dolphins last week, among other protection measures you would not see a coach afraid of the ax he normally does. The exchange for Matt Ryan will be interesting in pairing it with Ryan at his best coordinator; the pair reached the Super Bowl together in 2016 and accounted for nearly 10,000 passing yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons with an average quarterback rating of over 100. Ryan’s contract will take him through of 2023 but may be squeezed without (too) a strain before then. This will give the 49ers flexibility in the interim and a tough challenge in middling Garoppolo. In Atlanta, once the Falcons get a general manager and head coach, a massive rebuilding is underway. Why not stock them as much draft capital as possible?
Julio Jones of the Ravens
Speaking of capital, the Falcons could score a massive coup by netting up a first-pick for Julio Jones before it’s too late. Jones will take over the market, which is desperate for the game’s wide receiver talent, and he has been a boon for the Ravens, a team that wooed a variety of preeason position options. Lamar Jackson openly lobbied for Antonio Brown, and while his target part in the tight end has been reduced since last year — leading to more opportunities for Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin — the Ravens are can offset a second-league offense in the percentage of fireworks running plays (17%) but 15th in the percentage of fireworks that pass (9%). Despite being 0-5, the Falcons have a heavy explosive play rate. Jones has only played three games this year, but is working with his highest career catch rate to date despite one of the NFL’s lower average separation numbers. A developing gun like Jackson could be the perfect pairing.
AJ Green of the Patriots
There is something wrong with Green in Cincinnati. Despite having more than a quarter of yards in the Bengals’ air, Green’s claim percentage (41.18) and very low separation numbers (Green, on average with the second minimum yards of separation per target in the NFL) shows either a player who refuses or a player who is not interested in another lost season in Cincinnati. If I were Bill Belichick, I would see if a combination of some mid-round picks would take the potential Hall of Famer out of the weeds in Ohio. For many years in Carolina, the (simplified) agreement was that heavenly receivers like Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess were better for Newton’s occasional non-working fastballs. Green’s height and (new) ability to win a one-on-one game will provide another big target for Newton and diversify the Patriots’ strategy that, for now, splits targets between an aging Julian Edelman and a still developing N’Keal Harry.
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JJ Watt of the Packers
Freewheeling Texans now have fees to pay after their wild two-year trade streak, involving the sending of some of France’s best and most productive players elsewhere, well, not so much. I understand the addition one more trade in the mix, especially a shipment to JJ Watt, will be considered in Texas. Watt has been the face of the franchise for almost a decade. It was his willingness to fight O’Brien who initially ousted the coach. However, this move could spin as a win. Houston will recover some necessary draft capital and the Packers, currently 30th in the pass rush win rate, could return Watt to the state where he grew up, played college football and still maintain an offseason home. Sending Watt home to an invincible opponent would be one of the rare moves Texans could make that could send a franchise icon but leave the organization and its fans with a positive taste in their mouths until ‘ t can. Deshaun Watson will be a major draw for the next head coach and general manager of the team, but it will not hurt to improve the pick stockpile, albeit moderately, before the search begins.