The biggest winners and losers of the NFL trade deadline
Tuesday provided the most eventful NFL trade deadline of all time. Yet not everyone came away smiling following the bevy of moves. Let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers from a wild weekend of trades.
Before the season, the thought of dealing a talent like Jay Ajayi for a fourth-round pick would seem laughable. He's coming off a year in which he was fourth in the NFL in rushing, and sixth in yards per carry. Those numbers may have dropped off this year, but his rate stats are nearly the same. He's still averaging 2.8 yards after contact (fifth-best in the NFL) and his 23 broken tackles are the fourth-most at the position. The Miami offensive line just took a drastic step backward this year. The Eagles don't have that problem and are currently PFF's seventh-ranked run-blocking unit.
It's easy to forget about this move since it happened last Friday before all the craziness went down, but it involved as talented a player as any moved this past week. Marcell Dareus is arguably the most talented nose tackle in the NFL. He had 19 sacks in 1,549 snaps from 2013 to 2014, but hasn't been able to replicate that production since. There are concerns about his effort and he's been suspended multiple times already, but if he wants to try, he's the missing piece on the Jaguars defensive line. Jacksonville just ended the argument on who the best defense in the NFL is, now they'll find out if it's good enough to carry them to a Super Bowl.
Kelvin Benjamin was never an ideal fit as the No. 1 receiver in Carolina's offense. His two exceptional attributes are his catch radius and his ability to make contested plays. The latter has never been Cam Newton's style. The Panthers quarterback is at his best when seeing a man open, not when he has to place a ball toward a receiver's leverage when locked up with a defensive back. Benjamin's separation ability was always lacking and it's why the offense not only didn't miss a beat, but also got exponentially better without him in 2015. To get picks in return for him was huge.
This is by far the biggest winner of the trade deadline. Wilson will be able to sleep far easier at night with Duane Brown at left tackle. Over their last 16 games, the left tackle position in Seattle has yielded 76 total pressures. Over Brown's last 16 games, his given up exactly half as many. That's over two pass plays a game where Wilson won't have a defensive end barreling down on him.
The rest of the NFC
If you were one of the contenders in the NFC that didn't make a move at the deadline, you fell behind. The 7-1 Eagles and the 5-2 Seahawks got objectively better while the 6-2 Vikings, 5-2 Saints and 5-2 Rams rested on their laurels. There is no shame in not making a deal, but it's no fun seeing your competition acquire plug-and-play talent.
One can debate the merits of their reported trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron all you want, but agreeing on a trade and then forgetting to report it to the NFL is going to put you on this list. It's simply bad business and only further polarized the public perception around the franchise.
Garoppolo was half a season away from almost assuredly pocketing upward of $20 million dollars guaranteed for 228 career snaps. Now he has to prove he's worth that deal in a brand-new scheme, with little talent at the skill positions, behind an offensive line with both starting tackles banged up. Brock Osweiler and Mike Glennon were able to get their deals because of the allure of their unknown potential. If the Texans and Bears had gotten the chance to wait until after their first eight starts with their new teams to decide how much to pay them, both probably would have received a small fraction of their current salaries.
Blount was on pace to come up just shy of his second straight 1,000-yard season and likely earn himself an upgraded contract this offseason. Now he may not even make it through the rest of the season as the Eagles' starter. The Eagles didn't give up a fourth-rounder for Jay Ajayi to sit. In all likelihood the former Dolphin will receive the bulk of the carries and that's not going to sit well with Blount.