Wrapping Up The Ridiculous NFL Trade Deadline

I didn’t know the NFL turned into the NBA all the sudden!  Tuesday’s trade deadline was completely insane for the first time ever.  We saw defenses get better, San Francisco get a potential starting quarterback, and teams gearing up for a playoff run.  It really was like the NBA!  Anyways, here’s a recap of the deals that went down.

Jaguars get: Marcell Dareus

Bills get: 6th round pick

The Bills’ moves over the past two months have been… interesting.  None of them have been terrible though:  Sammy Watkins only has the 4th most catches on the Rams; Buffalo got great value out of him.  Jordan Matthews has been solid, though giving up on Ronald Darby still confuses me (It’s not like their defense really misses him).  Reggie Ragland has been just as dormant in Kansas City as he was in Buffalo.

The moves make no sense on paper.  In one deadline, they shipped out Marcell Dareus, an absolute beast of a defensive tackle to Jacksonville, to a team that doesn’t need him whatsoever.  They traded for Kelvin Benjamin, who was Carolina’s only reliable receiver by a mile.  I’ll explain their strategy more below.

As for the Dareus trade, I thought a 6th round pick was an incredibly weak return.  I understand he’s on a massive contract, so the Jags wouldn’t have given up much more, but Buffalo sent a quality player to a team that didn’t need him.  Even a 5th round pick makes this trade look much better.

All that said, Buffalo didn’t really need Dareus either, and you shed that kind of contract any time you can.  The Bills defense is 8th in DVOA so far; much better than I thought they’d be.  They swarm to the ball, and finally have a competent secondary (Micah Hyde has been phenomenal and Tre’Davious White has not played like a rookie).  They’re here to stay.

Seahawks get: Duane Brown, 5th round pick

Texans get: 3rd round pick, 2019 2nd round pick

The original trade had Houston getting Jeremy Lane and a 5th round pick in addition to the 2nd rounder.  That would have been quite a haul.

Seattle was clearly willing to overpay for offensive line, and with the way that group has played this year, they should have.

Really, either deal is a steal.  Lane would have made a ton of sense for Houston, whose secondary has been bad all year and was totally embarrassed against the Seahawks Sunday.  Lane isn’t amazing, but he would have been a competent addition.

It’s a little bit of a weird move for the Texans, whose offensive line has been awful all year.  But Duane Brown started playing just a few weeks ago after a lengthy contract holdout, and Houston has a quarterback who can escape literally anything (If there was an astroid coming at Earth Deshaun Watson would survive).  So trading Brown, especially for a package like that, is probably okay.

Brown’s awesome, which is why Seattle had to give up so much.  The Seahawks offensive line has been as bad if not worse than Houston’s, simply because they lack NFL players on it and have no other offense besides their defense and Russell Wilson doing whatever he can.  They’re very similar to Houston, which is why Sunday’s game was so close.

It was a lot to give up, but Brown’s an all-pro and moves that John Schneider makes usually work out.  This was a win-win trade.

49ers get: Jimmy Garappolo

Patriots get: 2nd round pick

I’m still stunned.  Jimmy Garappolo was supposed to be the next great Patriots quarterback.  The Brady Successor.  The guy Bill Belichick hit right on the head again.  The future.

You could make a case that drafting Garappolo is Belichick’s biggest mistake as GM/Head Coach of New England.  Then again, can you really blame him?  As amazing as Tom Brady is, did the Patriots really think in 2014 that Tom Brady would play till he was 45?  Did they really think Brady would still be this good at 40 years old?

And plus, his value never changed!  In fact, it went up!  Garappolo was taken at No.62 overall, which is deep in the 2nd round.  San Francisco’s 2nd rounder, which New England received in this deal, will end up being No.33 or No.34 overall, essentially a first rounder.

Sure, you could knock Belichick for Garappolo.  Jarvis Landry went next in that draft (Boy, could they of (or a lot of teams) used him).  Preston Brown was there.  So was Devonta Freeman.  But the Patriots took an asset and cashed in big time, which really tells the “It’s a business” truth.

The San Francisco side of this trade is fascinating.  Garappolo’s their guy.  Not Kirk Cousins.  Not Sam Darnold.  Not Josh Rosen.  Unless they’re the Bears.  Then one of those guys is also their guy.

The deal they made for Garappolo feels like a steal compared to the trade rumors we heard around the draft.  New England was looking for two first rounders or No.1 overall from Cleveland.  You have to think the 49ers were sniffing around him too.  A 2nd round pick for a potential franchise quarterback is 100% worth it.

We haven’t seen a lot from Garappolo, but in those two games during Brady’s DeflateGate suspension, he was decently impressive.  They got lucky against Arizona, but Garappolo played pretty well.  Against the Cardinals, Garappolo put up  264 yards on 24/33 passes with three TDs for a QBR of 98.9.

The eye test was passed too.  While watching those two games, I remember thinking “Man, he’s got it.”  And that was against a good Cardinals defense.

With Garappolo’s contract up after this season, the 49ers have a big decision to make. If he has an awesome 7-8 games (It’s not likely Garappolo is starting this weekend), the 49ers could offer him a giant contract to make him the face of the franchise.  But we’ve seen a team make that mistake before, signing a guy to a big deal after just a few games.

It’s more likely San Francisco tags him, which would impose a heavy, one year price tag, but would also give them flexibility, and time to really evaluate Garappolo.

The move also suggests two things:  1) They like Garappolo’s upside more than the idea of giving Cousins a long term deal (Smart).  2)  They don’t like any of the quarterbacks in this draft, which seems to be a growing opinion around the league.  This draft seems much more likely to have a Dak Prescott than a guy at the top really impressing.  I would still take Josh Allen high though.

If Garappolo doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world.  Sure, that’s a high 2nd round pick out the window.  But this San Francisco team certainly isn’t a contender next year no matter how good their quarterback play is.  They’re still a couple years away.  Talent is needed at practically every offensive position, and the back seven needs upgrades.

However, San Francisco might be closer than we think.  If Garappolo is the real deal, they could enter the frisky tier next season.  Carlos Hyde has to stay healthy, and the defensive line has to take strides.  But SF has made a move that, if successful, will give them stability they haven’t had in years.

Eagles get: Jay Ajayi

Dolphins get: 4th round pick

This had to be the most confusing move of the deadline.  In the past two years, Jay Ajayi has grown into one of the league’s best running backs.  He’s labeled as a power back, but is actually quite fast for his mold and has underrated shiftiness.

So why would Miami trade him?

It’s not like they’re about to embark on a rebuild.  Sure, they need upgrades on the defensive end.  But this was a playoff team before Ryan Tannehill went down in the preseason.  Ajayi was a big reason why.

To make this drastic of a move simply because of a rough year is way too reactionary.  The Dolphins should have just accepted this year as a lost one when Tannehill went down.  Did they really expect to compete with Jay Cutler?

If they took that approach, Miami comes in next season with Tannehill, Ajayi, Jarvis Landry (Whose name was also for some reason floating around), DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.  That’s a good offense!  It might even be able to make up for some of the defensive mistakes.

Now, that’s out the window, and the Dolphins are turning to Damien Williams, a more specialty like runner than a lead back, and Kenyon Drake, who was awesome in college but is probably best suited out of the backfield.

Ajayi was someone to lean on with Cutler’s struggles, but with him gone, it increases the amount of times Miami has to throw the ball.

Plus, if you’re gonna trade someone as good as Ajayi, you better be getting good compensation.  Miami failed to do that, only netting a 4th round pick from Philadelphia.  I understand running backs can’t be trusted like other players when it comes to reliability and performance, but Philly is one of the best teams in the league and probably didn’t really need Ajayi.  Therefore, you should make them pay appropriately.

For Philadelphia, I mean, what a trade.  As deep as they are at running back, they lack an every-down ball carrier.  LeGarrette Blount’s been effective, rushing for 4.7 yards per carry, but he’s 30, and hasn’t gotten more than 20 carries in any game.  He’s more suitable as a 3rd down back these days, which is why trading for Ajayi, a lead rusher, makes the Eagles even more dangerous.

Bills get: Kelvin Benjamin

Panthers get: 3rd round pick, 7th round pick

This trade came in like 15 minutes after the deadline, which was pretty fitting considering how ridiculous this deadline was.

Carolina’s one of the teams that are much worse than their record.  Aren’t you surprised this team is 5-3?  Their offense has been mediocre, with Cam Newton struggling to find a rhythm and Christian McCaffrey playing exactly like I thought he would.  Their receivers haven’t been reliable besides Benjamin, who… Oh wait!  He’s gone!

If Carolina had any consistency in their offense, it was Benjamin.  He’s got 475 yards on the year, and has certainly been their most efficient receiver on the roster.  Now, they lack a deep threat and a reliable target for a struggling Newton.  But here’s for more McCaffrey screens!

Carolina got pretty good value for a guy who’s been injured and has effort questions.  A 3rd round pick (plus a 7th!) was much more than I’d give up for Benjamin.  But for Buffalo, they see a window, and there’s a lot of light in it.

Despite the steep price tag, I thought adding Benjamin was an excellent move.  Their receivers haven’t been great; they drop a lot of balls, and Andre Holmes is their go-to guy right now.  They don’t have a big, go-up-and-get-it target; Anquan Boldin was supposed to be that guy.  Now, Benjamin gives Tyrod Taylor a reliable weapons on the hashes.

I think the rhythm to Buffalo’s deals over the past two months follow this track:  They wanted to change the culture slowly, but not to the point of a blowup.  They were gonna take this year to evaluate Taylor once again, and see whether he’s the guy.  Not only was that questioned answered, but the team ended up being much better than they thought due to a dominant defense.  They got rid of Dareus because they didn’t need him or his contract, and upgraded the offense to try and make a run.

That’s my guess as to why their moves have been so strange lately.  But strange isn’t always bad.  Sometimes you have to adjust on the fly, for better or for worse.