The NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday, which means we’ll probably be underwhelmed by the lack of significant deals made before then. With that being said, there have already been nearly a dozen significant trades made this year since the start of March.
The Patriots and Eagles have been at the center of most of those deals, including some of the biggest.
With a few days to go before the deadline hits, let’s take a look back at some of the most important deals struck in 2016 – including a handful that have shaped the NFC this season.
Patriots trade for Eagles CB Eric Rowe
The Eagles and Patriots have been big movers this year, making several trades each. This one, however, was made between the two teams. The Eagles continue to purge Chip Kelly’s roster, this time trading 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe to New England for a conditional fourth-rounder. Rowe is a versatile defensive back with cornerback and safety experience, but he’s played the former in New England.
Rowe played all 73 snaps on Sunday against the Steelers, which is good for both the Patriots and Eagles. The Patriots appear to have found a starter at cornerback, while the Eagles will get a third-rounder if he plays 50 percent of New England’s snaps this season. The trade hasn’t had a huge impact just yet, but if Rowe continues to play well, the Patriots may have gotten a steal.
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Eagles trade for Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham
The Titans had a fire sale at wide receiver this offseason, getting rid of most of their top pass-catchers before the year began. Trading Dorial Green-Beckham was the biggest surprise of them all, netting veteran lineman Dennis Kelly in exchange. Kelly has played seven games and started two, serving as a viable swingman along the line.
Green-Beckham hasn’t been the Eagles’ best receiver by any means (13 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown), but he’s had an impact and has provided Carson Wentz with a big target in the red zone. He’s still developing as a receiver and the Eagles knew that when they acquired him, but he has great potential and could mold into a great weapon for Wentz.
Chiefs trade CB Marcus Cooper to Cardinals
Arizona acquiring cornerback Marcus Cooper flew under the radar a bit, given the Cardinals’ talent in the secondary and his lack of production in Kansas City. However, it was a trade that’s had a huge impact on the Cardinals. He’s started five games and played in seven, picking off three passes (one pick-six). Incredibly, it only cost the Cardinals a conditional seventh-round pick to acquire Cooper.
He’s taken over as a starter next to Patrick Peterson, a spot that was troublesome for the Cardinals after Brandon Williams struggled early on. Cooper isn’t the best player on Arizona’s defense by any means, but he’s elevated the play of the secondary and not gotten much credit for it.
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Dolphins acquire LB Kiko Alonso, CB Byron Maxwell from Eagles
When the Eagles’ new regime with Doug Pederson stepped in, the team immediately began axing the roster that Chip Kelly built. One of the biggest moves made by the front office was trading Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell and the 13th pick to the Dolphins for the No. 8 overall selection. Of course, the Eagles didn’t use that pick to select a player, instead bundling it with their other assets to trade up for Carson Wentz.
Alonso has stayed healthy for the Dolphins this season, starting all seven games thus far. However, he hasn’t had a huge impact in the turnover department – an area where he thrived in Buffalo. He’s recorded 62 tackles but has yet to force a fumble, pick off a pass or knock one down. Still, he’s been a solid starter in Miami. Maxwell, on the other hand, has struggled, just as he did with the Eagles. His play in recent weeks has improved, but he’s more of a No. 2 cornerback rather than a No. 1. In the draft, the Dolphins used the 13th pick on Laremy Tunsil, who fell in their lap.
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Bears trade TE Martellus Bennett to Patriots
At the time, this looked like Bill Belichick acquiring a player who wasn’t being properly utilized elsewhere, hoping he could turn said player’s career around. Seven months later, it’s worked out great for the Patriots.
New England traded a fourth-round pick for Martellus Bennett and a sixth-rounder back in March. Since then, Bennett has paired nicely with Rob Gronkowski and even filled in for him while Gronk was injured, catching 27 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Bennett will always play second-fiddle to Gronkowski in New England, but he’s accepted that and thrived in his role. His presence has made the Patriots’ tight end duo nearly impossible to stop with their massive size and great catching ability.
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Titans acquire RB DeMarco Murray from Eagles
After a disastrous season in Philadelphia last year, it looked like DeMarco Murray might be done as a productive NFL back. Needless to say, that simply wasn’t true. Murray has rushed for 633 yards and five touchdowns to go along with 192 receiving yards and two additional scores. The Titans landed arguably the third-best back in the NFL this season for next to nothing as they gave the Eagles a fourth-rounder, but received one in return, too.
The Eagles packaged the 100th overall pick to go up and draft Carson Wentz, so it wasn’t all bad for them, but it’s clear Murray needed a change of scenery and an offense that thrived on downhill running. The price to land Murray was miniscule while the payoff has been great.
Rams trade up to No. 1 overall to take Jared Goff
This was a big trade, but not because Jared Goff has lit the NFL on fire with 15 touchdowns. Heck, he doesn’t even have a single snap under his belt through seven weeks. It was an important trade because of the impact it’s had on the Titans, and the controversy it’s created in Los Angeles regarding Goff. Did the Rams make a mistake by mortgaging their future to get Goff? It’s too early to tell, but the fact that he can’t beat out Case Keenum is concerning.
As for the Titans, they netted two impact rookies and one who figures to be a big part of the defensive line in the future. Jack Conklin and Derrick Henry have both played well for the Titans in Year 1, while Austin Johnson has yet to make an impact. And in the upcoming draft, the Titans will have an extra first- and third-rounder thanks to this trade. Unless Goff turns out to be a perennial Pro Bowler, the Titans will likely come away as winners of this one.
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Patriots trade DE/LB Chandler Jones to Arizona
The Patriots have never been afraid to wheel and deal under Bill Belichick, and this trade from March was one that shocked a lot of people. The Patriots traded their best pass rusher, Chandler Jones, to the Cardinals for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick. New England traded that second-rounder and used it to acquire more picks, which landed them Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell. While Cooper is no longer with the Patriots, the two rookies have been solid contributors, particularly Thuney.
As for Jones, he’s had a noticeable impact on Arizona’s defense. He has five sacks in seven games, as well as two forced fumbles and two recoveries. Jones looks like a natural at outside linebacker and the Cardinals have greatly benefitted from the trade, but it’ll come down to his contract situation after this year. If they can’t re-sign him long-term, it’ll make this trade look better for the Pats than Arizona.
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Eagles trade up to draft Carson Wentz
Despite having Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel on the roster, the Eagles opted to trade up to No. 2 in the draft to select Carson Wentz. They did so by trading two first-rounders as well as a second-, third- and fourth-round pick to the Browns. In return, they landed Wentz and a fourth-rounder – or in other words, security at quarterback for the next decade, presumably.
Wentz has played remarkably for the Eagles and is one of the main reasons they’re 4-2 after six games. The trade looked questionable at the time given Philadelphia’s situation at quarterback, but there’s no doubt the Eagles made the right move by going up and getting Wentz. He’s the future of the team and has shaped the NFC East this season, and will for years to come.
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Vikings acquire QB Sam Bradford from Eagles
There’s absolutely no doubt which trade has been the biggest of 2016, and it’s the move that netted the Vikings Sam Bradford and Super Bowl aspirations. After Teddy Bridgewater went down with a horrific knee injury, the Vikings quickly called up the Eagles and struck a deal to acquire Sam Bradford for a 2017 first-round pick and a fourth-rounder in 2018. It was a costly price to pay for Minnesota, but it’s worked out in a big way for both teams.
The trade paved the way for Carson Wentz to take over the starting job in Philadelphia, which he’s made the most of by winning four of his first six games. Of course, it hasn’t been all Wentz with regard to the Eagles’ success, but he’s played a huge role in it. Had it not been for Philadelphia shipping Bradford to Minnesota, these two teams probably wouldn’t be 4-2 and 5-1, respectively.