The 2021 NFL Trade Deadline came and went, and it left a lot to be desired for fans hoping to see some league-altering fireworks.
Yeah, spoiler alert: there weren’t many big moves.
Still, we were able to come up with few teams who did impact their organization in a positive way, and the fact there weren’t many deals called many teams lack of aggressiveness into question.
Anyway, here are a list of winners and losers from the NFL trade deadline.
Present-Day Los Angeles Rams
Is it too early to tell if the Rams going all-in on a 2021 Super Bowl run was worth it? Yes, it is. But the Rams gave their fanbase another reason to celebrate heading into Week 9 with the trade for former All-Pro edge rusher Von Miller. Miller will give Aaron Donald, the best defensive player on the planet, the best pass-rush complement he’s ever played with. LA now features a Big Three of Jalen Ramsey, Donald and Miller on the defensive side of the ball with Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp looking unstoppable on the other side. LA has very realistic aspirations to play at SoFi Stadium in February.
Future-Day Denver Broncos
The Broncos were, of course, the ones who traded Miller to the Rams. And while it’s probably upsetting for Denver fans to have the face of the franchise sent out of town, it undoubtedly was an organization-building move. The Broncos, in essentially paying for Miller to play in LA, got a second- and third-rounder for a 32-year-old who was set to become a free agent after the season. This currently feels like a good move for all involved, but where we can judge the Rams pending their postseason run, the Broncos secure a pair of Day Two talents that will take more time.
Does Arizona’s trade for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz count as a deadline-deal? We’re of the belief it does — despite the fact Ertz has already played for the Cardinals. Arizona bolstered their already deep group of pass-catching options for Kyler Murray, almost immediately after losing tight end Maxx Williams for the season. And all they had to sacrifice was a rookie cornerback and fifth-round pick for the 30-year-old Ertz, who remains one of the best route runners at the position.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs barely escaped “Monday Night Football” with a win over the Giants, but were able to add something to their pass rush with Melvin Ingram from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ingram was thought to be a good complement to T.J. Watt in Pittsburgh, but faded from grace and playing time. Still, he’s an experienced edge rusher who should be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Kansas City got Ingram for a modest sixth-round pick, depicting maybe some other teams should have tried harder to acquire him.
Tua Tagovailoa… for now
The Miami Dolphins did not trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, meaning Tagovailoa keeps his job under center until at least the offseason. Would it really surprise anyone if the Dolphins traded for Watson this offseason? It shouldn’t. But at least the former Alabama product gets a second half of the season to try and keep his job in South Beach.
We’re of the opinion that New England Revolution coach Bruce Arena had the greatest sports quote of the year (“What a (expletive) I inherited”), but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had another one of his memorable one-liners Tuesday. And it came in regards to Pittsburgh trading Ingram. “It’s better to have volunteers as opposed to hostages,” Tomlin said of Ingram, who clearly wasn’t happy with the team. Tomlin, you may remember, said the same about Le’Veon Bell, but nonetheless.
NFL fans who are tired of hearing about Deshaun Watson
Yes, that’s right. Tuesdays’ deadline passing means we don’t have to hear about possible trade destinations for Watson until, well, March-ish. That’s good news.
The AFC feels completely wide open after eight weeks of the NFL season. But while that may feel like the case, save for the Chiefs, there wasn’t another contender that made a move to improve their team at the deadline. The Ravens didn’t add a running back despite having a need at the position. The Raiders didn’t add any receiving help. The Steelers, Browns, Patriots — nobody added anything. Obviously, we’ll see if things change in the next day or so with teams releasing players, but there wasn’t much to be had.
New England Patriots
If we think it’s fair game to loop in the Cardinals trade for Ertz, the same can be said about the Patriots trading away cornerback Stephon Gilmore for a bag of footballs. New England received a modest Day Three selection for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, who made his Carolina Panthers debut in Week 8 only to limit Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts and record the game-sealing interception. The Patriots, obviously, would be better with Gilmore still on their roster — like any team would — but now will have to suffer the consequences with a lack of secondary depth after a season-ending injury to Jonathan Jones.
Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr., Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson and Houston Texans speedy pass-catcher Brandin Cooks all will remain in their current (and probably unhappy) situations. It feels like it would have benefitted both player and team to go their separate ways in all aforementioned cases, but perhaps the money of both Beckham and Robinson turned off potential suitors. Regardless, it likely will be a long season for all three — but especially Beckham, Robinson and their respective fantasy football owners.
Aaron Rodgers & Green Bay Packers
It felt like a spot where the NFC-leading Packers could have pushed some of their chips in the middle like the Rams did. After all, the situation with Rodgers remains fluid — will he return? — and Green Bay seems to have a very good chance at putting together a postseason run. That would have been aided by adding another receiver, or possibly a tight end with Robert Tonyan out for the season. It was not to be the case, though, and Rodgers and Co. will have to do it with what they have.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It was a bit of a surprise to not see the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers bolster their secondary, specifically, at the deadline. Admittedly, Tampa Bay is so talented offensively that this could prove to not matter at all, but it still could be a mistake by the otherwise all-in Bucs if it becomes an Achilles’ heel down the stretch.