For better or worse, this season’s NFL trade deadline could be unlike any before it.
One also could make the case it already has, considering the rash of injuries across the NFL — some surely due to limited offseason and in-season workouts — has hurt some teams while giving others hope.
It’s a weird time.
However, none of that has done anything to eliminate the inherent fun in speculating about what teams could do ahead of the NFL trade deadline. And, with the Nov. 3 deadline fast approaching, we figured now would be a great time to examine where each team stands prior to next Tuesday’s cutoff.
Buffalo Bills (5-2): Buyers
The Bills have come back down to Earth after an impressive start, but they still have a clear path to the postseason. And, if they beat the New England Patriots this weekend, they’ll be well on their way to their first AFC East title since 1995.
Regardless of Sunday’s result, the Bills absolutely should be buyers at the deadline. Shoring up their run defense would make a huge difference.
Miami Dolphins (3-3): Buyers
The Dolphins aren’t winning a Super Bowl this season, but they still have a decent shot at the postseason. Miami also has added a lot of talent in recent years and looks like an organization ready to adopt a “win-now” mindset. Take a swing, we say.
New England Patriots (2-4): Buyers
Our feeling on the Patriots could change if they lose to Buffalo on Sunday. Still, we think this team is far better than it has shown, and only needs a playmaker or two on offense and at linebacker — holes admittedly not easy to fill — to be considered real threats in the AFC, provided Cam Newton starts playing as if he has played quarterback before.
New England also could strike a balance, potentially moving high-priced luxuries like Stephon Gilmore while acquiring talent at positions it definitely needs help at.
New York Jets (0-7): Sellers
All indications are a teardown is imminent — as it should be. The Jets absolutely stink and all options should be on the table.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-1): Buyers
The Chiefs are buyers by default. They don’t need much help, but adding depth in certain areas never is a bad idea for a team with championship aspirations.
Las Vegas Raiders (3-3): Buyers
We’re not as high on the Raiders as others are, but we still think they should be buyers. The NFL is wide open this year, and Jon Gruden’s team is talented enough to make it to the divisional round. Most of Las Vegas’ needs lie on the defensive side of the ball.
Los Angeles Chargers (2-4): Buyers
Just how good the Chargers are is up for debate, but the emergence of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert should persuade the organization to add talent around him. The Chargers aren’t far off, and adding players at this year’s deadline could go a long way toward Los Angeles being competitive in 2021.
Denver Broncos (2-4): Buyers
We basically feel the same way about the Broncos as we do the Chargers, although Drew Lock isn’t nearly as impressive as Herbert. There isn’t much out there that could change Denver’s fortunes this season, but it nevertheless should avoid selling off assets before the deadline.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0): Buyers
No, the Steelers aren’t the best team in football, but they are a very good team, as well as the best Pittsburgh has had in a while. They, like most teams, could use reinforcements in the secondary.
Baltimore Ravens (5-1): Buyers
The acquisitions of Yannick Ngakoue and, to a lesser extent, Dez Bryant tell you all you need to know: Baltimore is going for it. The Ravens could use a boundary receiver (we’re not sold on Bryant) and a pass-rusher.
Cleveland Browns (5-2): Buyers
We still think Cleveland is fool’s gold, but who are the Browns to act like 5-2 records grow on trees? With Odell Beckham Jr. lost for the season due to a torn ACL, the Browns suddenly need help at receiver. If they can fill that hole, as well as add some talent at linebacker and/or in the secondary, they could make real noise in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1): Sellers
Joe Burrow looks like the real deal and has made it easy to believe the Bengals’ future is bright. But it’s not happening this year, and probably not next year, either. So, Cincinnati should do what it never does: Move overrated and/or overpriced veterans for draft picks or help at areas of need. Wednesday’s trade of Carlos Dunlap for center B.J. Finney suggests the Bengals finally have the right idea.
Tennessee Titans (5-1): Buyers
The Titans are a Super Bowl contender, but their defense might prove to be a fatal flaw. They need to add help on the defensive side of the ball if they’re going to have any chance against the Chiefs or Ravens in the postseason.
Indianapolis Colts (4-2): Buyers
Thanks to an awful quarterback situation, the Colts aren’t going anywhere this season, outside of a potential meaningless playoff berth. But the rest of the roster remains very, very good and worth investing in. Indy either should stand pat or look to add some high-end talent.
Houston Texans (1-6): Sellers
It’s time for Houston to focus on 2021 and beyond. If the Texans can add a No. 1 receiver (insert DeAndre Hopkins joke here) or pass-rushing help, they need to do it. A good deadline, solid draft and productive offseason could put Houston in position to contend next year.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6): Sellers
We think Gardner Minshew is worth believing and investing in, but the Jags might not be as high on Uncle Rico’s doppelganger. Either way, the roster around Minshew needs a ton of work, and selling off assets for draft picks and/or help up front should be a priority.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1): Buyers
You could make the case every team in this division should be a buyer at the deadline, as six wins might be all it takes to win the NFC East. However, we think the Eagles are the only team in the division that isn’t actually terrible and is closest to competing. Like the Patriots, Philly could be a buyer/seller hybrid, flipping players such as Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery for help in other areas.
Washington Football Team (2-5): Sellers
Washington seemingly is building toward something resembling respectable, but it nevertheless has multiple assets it can sell off to accelerate its rebuild.
At the end of the day, when you don’t have a quarterback, how could you consider yourself a buyer at the trade deadline?
Dallas Cowboys (2-5): Sellers
Wednesday’s trade of Everson Griffin to the Detroit Lions might have signaled the start of a firesale in Dallas. Something is rotten on that team — Maybe the coach? Maybe the owner? Maybe both? — and changes clearly need to be made.
That said, the Cowboys do have a lot of high-end talent on the roster, so they shouldn’t get carried away if they decide to sell at the deadline.
New York Giants (1-6): Sellers
New York needs to do everything it can to add talent on the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball. It also needs to decide whether Daniel Jones is the future at quarterback. Either way, it’s in no position to buy at the trade deadline.
Seattle Seahawks (5-1): Buyers
The Seahawks are one of the best teams in the NFL and already are proving to be buyers. However, while the Dunlap trade is nice and fits the organization’s DNA, Seattle really needs help in the secondary. This is one of the worst passing defenses the NFL ever has seen, and it likely will prevent the Seahawks from going all the way unless it is addressed.
Arizona Cardinals (5-2): Buyers
Kyler Murray is legit, and his team might be, too. The Cardinals are a team on the rise and should look to upgrade at the deadline. With Chandler Jones out for the season, Arizona would be wise to add pass-rushing help.
Los Angeles Rams (5-2): Buyers
We think the Rams, at their core, are frauds, but their talent is inarguable and they’re off to a good start. They should look to add depth on defense, especially at linebacker.
San Francisco 49ers (4-3): Buyers
The reigning NFC champions are tough to figure out, as they look great some weeks and awful other weeks. Injuries, Super Bowl hangover and roster flaws all have played a role. Still, the coaching is great, and there’s enough talent on this team for it to go on a run in the second half. The Niners could use depth everywhere.
Green Bay Packers (5-1): Buyers
The Packers are a bit overrated, but they still are the class of the NFC North and have an MVP candidate at quarterback. A slot receiver (conditional seventh-round pick for Julian Edelman, maybe?) could go a long way, as could help in the secondary. Regardless, Green Bay should buy.
Chicago Bears (5-2): Buyers
This is a tough one. The Bears are bad, but they also kind of aren’t. Nick Foles kind of is a legitimate starting quarterback, but he also kind of isn’t. Chicago has the ability to win a postseason game or two, but it also kind of doesn’t.
Ultimately, you don’t sell when you’re 5-2.
Detroit Lions (3-3): Sellers
We think Detroit should tear this thing down, including making a switch at head coach. But Wednesday’s acquisition of Griffen shows the Lions feel differently. Personally, we believe they should move players like Marvin Jones Jr. for draft picks.
Minnesota Vikings (1-5): Sellers
The Vikings should do whatever they can to out-tank the Jets and land the No. 1 pick in the draft. Selling off assets like Adam Thielen would be a good start.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2): Buyers
They’ve been buying ever since they signed Tom Brady. Tampa Bay is set on offense, but the defense isn’t as good as people think and needs help. Trade Scotty Miller for Edelman and Stephon Gilmore, or something.
New Orleans Saints (4-2): Buyers
With Drew Brees firmly in the twilight of his career, the Saints can’t justify rebuilding to their fanbase, even if parting with assets like Michael Thomas could help in the long run. At the end of the day, New Orleans should go all in before the deadline and hope Brees catches fire in the second half to lead the Saints to a Super Bowl.
Carolina Panthers (3-4): Sellers
We like the Panthers, but they still have some rebuilding to do and could use extra draft capital. Our advice? Trade Christian McCaffrey. Spending that much money on a running back makes zero sense.
Atlanta Falcons (1-6): Sellers
Blow it up. Kaboom.