The NFL trade deadline is just around the corner as it’ll be here on Tuesday, Nov. 1. It doesn’t come with the flash and eye-popping moves that the NBA or MLB provide, but there will still be a handful of moves made before next week. In fact, the Patriots have already started making swaps, striking two trades on Tuesday.
Despite the fact that stars will almost certainly be staying put and it’s highly doubtful any big-time moves are made, it’s fun to speculate and imagine.
These five trades are highly unlikely to happen – we know that – but let’s take some time to consider how fantastic these deals would be for the NFL, and how much they would shift the power across the league.
Tony Romo to the Broncos for Shane Ray and a third-round pick
The Broncos are stacked at just about every position on the roster. Their defense has no holes, their receivers are Pro Bowl-caliber, and the rushing attack is strong with C.J. Anderson and rookie Devontae Booker. The one area of concern is quarterback where Trevor Siemian has been decent, but not great.
Enter Tony Romo.
The Cowboys have their quarterback of the future in Dak Prescott and they’ve won five of six games with him under center. His emergence has led the Cowboys to question whether Romo should get his job back, so why not trade him? Well, for starters, his contract makes that almost impossible. Second, his trade value is not exactly sky-high at the moment, and this is assuming Romo is fully healthy. However, if the Broncos were to land a healthy Romo for 2016 and beyond, they’d be Super Bowl favorites.
In exchange, the Cowboys would get a much-needed pass rusher in Shane Ray and a second-rounder (maybe) to help build on their young core of players. Ray would probably become Dallas’ best pass rusher right away and would make a nice pairing with Demarcus Lawrence at defensive end. Contractual issues and the unlikelihood of Dallas trading Romo make this a pipe dream, but who says no to it in a parallel universe where money is no object?
Getty ImagesJohn Grieshop
Todd Gurley to the Packers for Randall Cobb and a boatload of draft picks
Let’s make one thing clear: This would never happen, especially for the Packers. Ted Thompson hardly ever makes any sort of trades with his latest Knile Davis acquisition being a headliner by Green Bay’s standards. However, with that being said, this would be so much fun to see. The Packers have one of the best offensive lines in football and Gurley would thrive behind it – unlike the blockers he’s currently running behind in Los Angeles.
Eddie Lacy is a free agent after this season and is currently battling an ankle injury, and adding Gurley would allow the Packers to let the big running back walk on the open market. We all saw what Green Bay’s offense looked like when it featured a bell cow (Lacy two years ago), and Gurley would allow that style of play to return – especially with Aaron Rodgers struggling.
As for the Rams, they’d be able to recoup some of the picks they used to trade up for Jared Goff. Seeing how the season has gone so far, it’s clear the Rams need to rebuild, mostly on offense. Randall Cobb would give Goff a more reliable version of Tavon Austin and the picks would allow Los Angeles to add playmakers in the draft. Gurley is wasting his talent behind Los Angeles’ offensive line, and not having a viable quarterback isn’t helping his cause. Set him free, Rams. Set him free.
Getty ImagesMichael Thomas
Jay Cutler to the Browns for Joe Haden and a second-rounder
The Browns are one of a few teams truly in need of a franchise quarterback. The Bears could certainly use one themselves, but Jay Cutler is not their guy. He’s led the Bears to the playoffs once in eight years and isn’t getting any younger. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be a significant improvement for the Browns, though – it’s just time for a change of scenery.
At 33 years old, Cutler is probably past his prime, but he has enough good football left in him to solidify the quarterback position in Cleveland for a few years. Of course, there’s a good chance the Browns would select a guy like Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer with their first pick, but defensive end Myles Garrett would be a much better value and is a significantly safer pick. He’s a surefire Pro Bowler for years whereas Kizer and Watson have several question marks.
Cutler is signed through 2020, and the Browns would likely have to rework his $18.1 million-per-year contract, but having a veteran presence at quarterback is what the Browns need.
Joe Haden isn’t the cover man he once was and has dealt with injuries the past few years, but he would immediately become the Bears’ best cornerback. And he’s signed through 2019 and will only be 30 in the final year of his contract.
Jamaal Charles to the Vikings for Danielle Hunter and a third-round pick
The Vikings could obviously use an offensive lineman or two after seeing Sunday’s debacle against the Eagles, but a deal for a tackle is much more likely than this one – which is what makes it so fun. The Vikings have a hole at running back left by Adrian Peterson, and while Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are decent fill-ins, a healthy Jamaal Charles would be outstanding.
He’s obviously not completely healthy at this point in time, but the Vikings – like the Chiefs – would be deep enough at running back to take their time with his recovery process. When he is back and 100 percent, Charles would elevate the Vikings offense significantly. He can contribute in the passing game and running between the tackles, providing great versatility. The Chiefs would be welcome to dealing him, too, given the emergence of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. They’re stacked at running back but could use help at defensive end.
Danielle Hunter isn’t a premier pass rusher, but he’s great against the run, just as he was in college. He would immediately become a starter in Kansas City, especially after losing Allen Bailey to IR. Just as the Chiefs are at running back, the Vikings are deep at defensive end with Everson Griffen, Brian Robinson and Hunter. This trade would help both teams at positions of need.
USA TODAY SportsDenny Medley
Cliff Avril to the Patriots for Shaq Mason and a first-round pick
The Patriots traded away their best pass rusher in the offseason, sending Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick. That trade hasn’t exactly worked in their favor as Jones is a monster in Arizona and Cooper is no longer on the team. However, they did use the pick (they traded it for two more picks) to select Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell, providing them with depth at guard and wide receiver.
With New England having depth at guard and probably some regret for ditching their best pass rusher, they wouldn’t mind acquiring one to shore up their defensive line, and Cliff Avril would be a perfect guy to get. He’s 30 years old and definitely not past his prime, while he’s also locked up through 2018 making a measly $7.125 million per year. He’s a guy the Patriots wouldn’t have to worry about signing long-term as they would have with Jones. This is key because of the number of free agents they’ll have this offseason: Jabaal Sheard, Martellus Bennett, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower. They can’t resign all of them, so having Avril under contract would be huge.
It wouldn’t be cheap to acquire him, though. The Seahawks could use help at left guard, and Shaq Mason would be a good piece for Seattle to acquire with Tre’ Jackson coming back and Joe Thuney entrenched at right guard for New England. The Patriots would have to surrender a first-round pick, too, if not more. With the way Bill Belichick wheels and deals, though, the Patriots would be OK with sending a pick Seattle’s way (maybe). Heck, they’d probably recoup it by trading on draft day.
The Patriots need pass-rush help, and Avril’s 6 1/2 sacks would undoubtedly help. He’s fourth in the league in that department whereas the Patriots are 24th as a team with 11 sacks.