The NFL Trade Deadline is finally here. This afternoon figures to be a busy one with multiple teams on the cusp of playoff contention looking to make moves to get over the hump. Super Bowl contenders are looking to get that final push, while others will also be sellers trying to shape their rebuilds. Here are five predictions that will shape the flow of the deadline day narrative:
Rams Trade for Linebacker Help
The Rams find themselves back in the thick of the race to top the dogfight that is the NFC West. The Rams are 5-3 and are in third place in arguably the toughest division in the NFL. They have struggled with bouts of inconsistency on both sides of the ball and are coming off of a frustrating loss to the Miami Dolphins.
They could arguably use another playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, but the likeliest move they make is bringing in a middle linebacker. They would love to bring in an instant impact playmaker like Myles Jack from the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the likelihood of a blockbuster like that happening seems unlikely at the moment.
It would also suit Los Angeles to bring in a second tier off-ball linebacker like New York Giants’ Kyler Fackrell or Houston Texans’ Zach Cunningham. Fackrell has quietly put up solid stats with the Giants this year as part of an inside linebacker duo with Blaker Martinez, and being on a one-year contract could theoretically cost General Manager Les Snead and the Rams a late-round pick. Fackrell has accumulated 23 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
Cunningham is an interesting addition since he was just signed to a big extension through 2024. The Texans, however, are now without a permanent General Manager or Head Coach after the firing of Bill O’Brien and are said to be open to trading anyone on the roster. If the Rams could find a way to afford him and stay under the cap, this would be a steal.
Cleveland Browns Trade for a Vikings Safety
The Browns also find themselves sitting at a surprising 5-3 record, but are third in the AFC North. The recent loss of Odell Beckham Jr for the season has hurt the offense, but they are expecting running back Nick Chubb’s return after the bye week.
The defensive side of the ball has been spotty at best, ranking 29th in scoring defense and giving up on average roughly 30 points per game. Myles Garrett is the big difference maker on defense and the plan seems to be to hope he makes a play. The Browns desperately need help at both linebacker and safety, and odds are they make a move for a safety at the deadline.
A move for Minnesota Vikings safety and last season’s interception leader Anthony Harris could be on the cards. Harris is playing on the franchise tag and was rumored to available this past offseason as the Vikings are strapped for cap space and need to reload to contend in the NFC North. Harris is the more likely of the two starting safeties in Minnesota, but let’s think big here for a second. Per Jason La Canfora, the Vikings are “very open” on offers concerning star safety Harrison Smith. He would give the Browns a big playmaker in the secondary and a veteran presence in their relatively young defense. Smith has one year left on his deal, so he wouldn’t just represent a rental for a playoff contender. New Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has connections in Minnesota, so maybe he could call in a favor.
Seahawks Add More To Their Pass Rush
Seattle has already added Carlos Dunlap to their defensive front, but will likely look to add even more to make a run at the Super Bowl. They will be looking for a veteran rental, and three perfect fits may just be out there calling their name. Ryan Kerrigan has seen his playing time diminish in Washington and has formally requested a trade, per Adam Schefter. Washington seems unlikely to move him, but could for the right price.
Cincinnati Bengals’ Geno Atkins could also be on the shopping list. Atkins, much like Dunlap, has seen his play time diminish in Cincinnati. With the Bengals’ young roster being reconstructed under Zac Taylor, he could find his way out the same door as Dunlap.
A wild card pick here is Ravens pass-rusher Derek Wolfe. Wolfe is on a one-year contract and the Ravens recently traded for Yannick Ngakoue. This will eat into Wolfe’s playing time and could prompt the Ravens to sell high on him now while they can.
Patriots Pack it in, Blow it Up
The New England Patriots are 2-5 and have struggled to remain competitive as of late. If they had won against the Bills to go to 3-4, they’d arguably be buyers here to try to sneak in the playoffs, but the time has come. Head Coach Bill Belichick has even acknowledged it himself. The Patriots sold out to compete the last few years and achieved great success. However, it can’t always last forever. The Patriots have reportedly told teams they’d listen to offers on just about everybody, per Albert Breer. They will likely offload Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and maybe a few others by the 4pm EST deadline.
Someone Steps Up to Make the NFC East Interesting
The NFC East is not in a promising position at this point. Every team is struggling, but someone has to win the division, and it’s up in the air right now as to who. The Philadelphia Eagles currently lead the division at 3-4-1 and will likely pursue linebacker help and potentially another wide receiver.
Washington are in the hunt, but might be kicking themselves after 4pm if their only move is trading away quarterback Dwayne Haskins. They could be in on any other weapons in relation to the pass game. Tight end David Njoku from the Cleveland Browns could be an interesting addition, as he’d be getting the trade he’s seemingly wanted.
The conundrum in the NFC East race is the Dallas Cowboys. Will Jerry Jones be content to watch this season go down the drain? The Cowboys are 2-6 and floundering without quarterback Dak Prescott. Their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed and the offense went from a top unit to a bottom one without their signal caller. Do they make a move or try to bolster the defense for when Andy Dalton comes back?
The Giants may be out of it now at 1-7, but stranger things have happened. They would need to get Daniel Jones some assistance if they want to pull off a miracle. Will the right player become available before the deadline slams closed?