The NFL is losing its reputation for boring trade deadlines.
Jalen Ramsey, Marcus Peters, Emmanuel Sanders, Mohamed Sanu, Michael Bennett and Quandre Diggs have already changed teams in the past two weeks and several more established players could be on the move before Tuesday’s deadline.
Not long ago, it was rare to see a lot of trade activity during the season. There were occasional blockbuster moves – Herschel Walker, Eric Dickerson – but you had to look to MLB, the NBA and NHL for a flurry of deals.
Times have changed, and NFL teams are now more aggressive. General managers are wheeling and dealing, making things interesting for contenders trying to add the missing piece and bottom-dwellers looking to stockpile draft picks.
Ramsey, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, forced his way out of Jacksonville. He was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams (5-3) last week for two first-round picks and a fourth. On the same day, the Rams sent cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore (5-2). Ramsey forced a fumble and held Julio Jones to four catches in his Rams debut. Peters returned an interception – Russell Wilson’s first of the season – for a touchdown in his Ravens debut.
The New England Patriots (7-0) sent shockwaves through the league by trading a second-round pick for Sanu just hours after routing the Jets 33-0 on Monday night. It was a steep price for a 30-year-old wideout who has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season, but the Patriots wanted another quality target for Tom Brady to pair with Julian Edelman.
The deal drove up the market value for receivers. That was quickly evident when the San Francisco 49ers, the league’s only other undefeated team, also paid a big price to get the 32-year-old Sanders. The 49ers (6-0) sent a third-round pick and a fourth-rounder to Denver for Sanders and a fifth, giving Brady’s former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, another weapon.
Dallas (4-3) upgraded its pass rush by acquiring Bennett from the Patriots for a conditional seventh-round pick. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive end quickly wore out his welcome in New England as he did in Philadelphia after making nine sacks in one season with the Eagles.
Seattle (5-2) bolstered its secondary by getting Diggs along with a seventh-round pick from Detroit for a fifth-round pick. That move upset several players on the Lions (2-3-1) because they’re not ready to give up on the season.
Last month, the Steelers acquired safety Minkah Fitzpatrick along with two draft picks from Miami for three picks, including a first in 2020.
Even if there are no more significant deals, we’ve seen plenty of action this season and in recent years to change the old narrative that the NFL trade deadline is a snoozer.
Last year, the Cowboys turned their season around after giving Oakland a first-round pick for wideout Amari Cooper. He provided an instant boost for Dak Prescott and the passing attack and Dallas went 7-2 following the trade to win the NFC East.
In 2017, the Eagles traded a fourth-round pick to Miami for running back Jay Ajayi. He played a big role in helping Philadelphia win its first Super Bowl title.
Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers for a second-round pick also in 2017. He went 5-0 down the stretch and is 14-2 as a starter in San Francisco.
Other major trades before the deadline during this decade: running back Trent Richardson to the Colts from Cleveland in 2013; cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots from Tampa in 2012; quarterback Carson Palmer to the Raiders from Cincinnati in 2011; running back Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks from Buffalo in 2010.
Dickerson went from the Rams to the Colts in a three-team trade in 1987. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls thanks to picks acquired from Minnesota for Walker in 1989.
Some trades help both teams. Some don’t pan out for either. Teams aren’t hesitant about making deals anymore in the NFL.
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