NFL teams did their wheeling and dealing early this year
The NFL trade deadline was a dud this year but only because teams didn't wait for the cutoff to swap draft picks and established stars, something they'd been doing since August.
The big news Tuesday was Williams returning to the Washington Redskins. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the left tackle ended his season-long holdout after not getting traded.
During Cleveland's recent bye week, Browns general manager John Dorsey said he's spoken with Redskins president Bruce Allen about acquiring Williams. But when asked if there would be a deal, Dorsey said, "it takes two to tango."
Dorsey, who pulled off a blockbuster trade for Odell Beckham Jr. in March, couldn't get the Redskins to dance, leaving the Browns to solve their left tackle situation in the offseason.
The only big name traded at the deadline was Aqib Talib , but unlike seven years ago when he was dealt from Tampa Bay to New England at midseason, Talib is no longer in his prime or headed to a contender.
The Rams traded the 33-year-old cornerback to Miami along with a fifth-round pick in 2020 for an undisclosed draft choice. But the 12-year veteran is on IR with a rib injury and likely won't play again this season.
Talib will be an unrestricted free agent this winter after playing out the six-year, $57 million deal he signed with the Denver Broncos, with whom he won the Super Bowl four seasons ago.
That makes this deadline deal akin to the ones seen so often in the NBA when a tanking team absorbs a contract from another team in exchange for draft capital.
The Dolphins (0-7) could keep Talib on IR before letting him walk in free agency, an approach that would allow them to keep piling up losses to fast-track their rebound after this year's player purge and could also net them a compensatory draft pick.
The Rams (5-3) have traded both of their starting cornerbacks this month and the trade of Talib clears salary cap space for them to sign recently acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey to a contract extension.
For years, the NFL trade deadline was pretty much the most anticlimactic date on the sport's calendar, coming and going without general managers parting with any draft picks and coaches relieved at not having to teach newcomers their offensive or defensive schemes on the fly.
Minor midseason deals neither shook up the playoff races nor excited the public.
That all changed two years ago when Bill Belichick called John Lynch and offered him Tom Brady's backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers were 0-8 when they grabbed Garoppolo from the Patriots for a second-round pick and two years later they're 7-0, the only undefeated team besides Brady's Patriots (8-0).
Belichick sent more shockwaves through the league this month by trading a second-round pick to Atlanta for Mohamed Sanu, a steep price for a 30-year-old receiver who has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season, but the Patriots wanted to take pressure off top target Julian Edelman.
The Patriots' move was another example of how this year teams didn't wait for Tuesday's cutoff to upgrade their roster or stockpile draft picks.
Other stars who changed teams before Tuesday's deadline:
—Emmanuel Sanders, who gave the 49ers another playmaker along with a fifth-round pick from Denver for third- and fourth-rounders.
—And Michael Bennett, who bolstered Dallas' pass rush after wearing out his welcome in New England.
Also, the Eagles acquired edge rusher Genard Avery from the Browns, the Cardinals added running back Kenyan Drake from Miami and Seattle propped up its secondary by getting safety Quandre Diggs from Detroit in a move that upset several players on the Lions (3-3-1), who aren't ready to give up on the season.
The Dolphins and Texans were busy dealing on the eve of the season. Miami sent left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to Houston for a package of high picks and players. The Dolphins also traded Kiko Alonso to the Saints for linebacker Vince Biegel, and the Texans traded Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle for a 2020 third-round pick and linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.
Some of those swaps could prove crucial come playoff time as in 2017, when the Eagles added running back Jay Ajayi from Miami in a deadline deal that helped them beat New England in Super Bowl 52.
The Rams made a splash at the deadline a year ago when they landed Dante Fowler from Jacksonville, who bolstered an already formidable front and helped them reach Super Bowl 53, where they lost to the Patriots.
Teams got a jump-start on those types of benefits this time around.
Sanders caught a touchdown pass in his first game for the 49ers last week.
Ramsey's impact in L.A. was immediate as he forced a fumble and affected almost every passing down in a 37-10 rout at Atlanta two weeks ago that ended the Rams' three-game losing streak. And Peters had a 67-yard pick-6 of Russell Wilson in sparking the Ravens' 30-16 victory over Seattle.
"That's why we got him. Make plays like that," Baltimore running back Mark Ingram said. "He has a knack for getting the ball, a knack for getting in the end zone. Shout out to our GM for getting him because that paid dividends today in getting this victory."