Trade Deadline History … and What It Might Mean for 2020

Tuesday, Nov. 3, will surely be an historic day for America. And yes, that’s got more to do with Election Day than it does with the NFL’s trade deadline. But hey, at least we’ll know the results of the latter by 4 p.m. EST.

For years, the NFL trade deadline followed Week 6. It was pushed back two weeks in 2012 to encourage more movement. While there has been an uptick in overall transactions since the change, most deals have involved complementary pieces going to contenders, as opposed to blockbuster moves.

Still, with the increase in trades leading up to the deadline, the quantity of impact players has risen. Most recently:

2017: The Patriots traded QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick (subsequently traded to the Lions, who used the pick to draft RB Kerryon Johnson)

Garoppolo went 5-0 following the trade, earning him a 5-year, $137.5M contract that offseason. After missing most of 2018 with a knee injury, he led the Niners to a 13-3 record and a trip to the Super Bowl last season. The 2020 season has been tougher for the former second-round pick, who is expected to miss more time. Garoppolo has earned $86.4M since signing, but can be cut following this year with only a $2.8M cap hit. He is due $25.5M next season.

2018: The Raiders traded WR Amari Cooper to the Cowboys for a 2019 first-round pick (27th overall, used to select Jonathan Abram)

After exercising his fifth-year option for 2019, the Raiders traded Cooper to Dallas, which gave him a 5-year, $100M contract this offseason with $40M fully guaranteed. In his 33 games with Dallas, Cooper has 186 catches, averaging 76 yards/game, and has 16 TDs. Through eight games in 2020, Cooper is averaging 75.8 yards/game but is coming off a 1-catch, 5-yard performance with Ben DiNucci at QB.

2019: The Jaguars traded CB Jalen Ramsey to the Rams for a 2020 first-round pick (K’Lavon Chaisson), 2021 first-round pick and 2021 fourth-round pick

Unlike Cooper, who played on his fifth-year option in Dallas in ‘19, L.A. elected to give Ramsey a 5-year, $100M extension this offseason. He received $71.2M fully guaranteed. In his 15 games with L.A., he has two picks, a forced fumble and seven passes defended.

So far this season, a few trades have occurred prior to the deadline:

The Vikings trading DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional fifth in 2022.

This trade is reminiscent of the Jaguars trading Dante Fowler to the Rams for a 2019 third and a 2020 fifth (those players became LB Quincy Williams and WR Collin Johnson).

The Jets also traded linebacker Avery Williamson to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets will receive the Steelers’ 2022 fifth-round draft pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick.

The Titans traded for CB Desmond King from the Chargers in exchange for a sixth-round pick.

The 49ers traded LB Kwon Alexander for LB Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round pick.

Still to Come:

Top potential buyers:

  1. Packers
  2. Seahawks
  3. Chiefs
  4. Football Team
  5. Cowboys

Top Potential Sellers:

  1. Bengals
  2. Texans
  3. Jets
  4. Falcons
  5. Giants
  6. Patriots (or could they be buyers?)

What to expect

The Packers will be looking to bring in some WR help opposite Davante Adams for Aaron Rodgers. Some of the top WRs on the market are A.J. Green and Will Fuller. The Packers could look at these trades from two points of view: Do they get a veteran rental for the rest of the year (Green) or a younger player who has a high ceiling but is injury prone and on his fifth-year option (Fuller)?

A Green-type rental (age 32) has been common in recent years for teams trying to make a playoff push:

2018: WR Golden Tate (30 at the time) goes to the Eagles for a 2019 third-round pick (LB Cody Barton). After eight games in Philly and only 278 yards plus a game-winning touchdown in the playoffs vs. Chicago, Tate left to join the Giants via free agency.

2019: Thirty-year old WR Mohamed Sanu is traded to the Patriots for a 2020 second-round pick (which was traded to Baltimore, who used it to select J.K. Dobbins).

Sanu stayed with the team for the rest of the season, struggled and was released at the start of the 2021 season. With New England, he only had 207 yards in eight games.

2019: WR Emmanuel Sanders (32) was traded to the 49ers with a 2020 fifth-round pick for a 2020 third and fourth (McTelvin Agim and pick that became Josiah Scott).

Another possible (but seemingly unlikely) trade could involve Patriots star and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

The Chiefs and Seahawks could both be looking for defensive back help for their playoff pushes. It’s not often a player of Gilmore’s caliber is made available, especially at the age of 30, but he is still playing at an extremely high level. The Patriots could look at similar trades to find the value of a player like Gilmore.

Detroit traded CB Darius Slay to the Eagles this past offseason for a 2020 third and fifth (traded pick where Julian Blackmon was taken and WR Quintez Cephus).

Gilmore would most likely garner more in return than Slay, but is a year older with only next year left on his contract. Another high-level corner trade worth noting occurred in 2013:

The Jets traded CB Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers for a 2013 first-round pick and a 2014 fourth-round pick (Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson and Jalen Saunders).

An important consideration when looking at those traded for premium picks from 2012-16 is this:

Only 25% of players who were traded for premium picks were kept on rosters for more than four years, which is about the average for premium draft picks during that time.

Six of eight players (75%) who were traded for premium picks have already been moved off the roster, also failing to meet that threshold.

* All contract number from: OvertheCap

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