When Tuesday began, it wasn’t just the start of Election Day. It also marked trade deadline day in the NFL. But if somehow you were completely unaware of the latter, you’d be fully forgiven for your mistake thanks to an especially quiet afternoon around the league. Despite big names like Jimmy Garoppolo, Amari Cooper, Golden Tate, Duane Brown and Dante Fowler being moved mid-season from 2017-2018, this year’s deadline — much like that of 2019 — failed to produce just about any notable action.
With teams hesitant to take on future salary cap space and part with 2021 draft picks, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, only a handful of low-tier reserves found new homes on Tuesday, with the New England Patriots landing wide receiver Isaiah Ford and the Miami Dolphins acquiring running back DeAndre Washington.
That said, it’s not too hard to identify winners and losers from this year’s deadline:
Desmond King is a 25-year-old former All-Pro cornerback, and somehow the Titans got him for just a 2021 sixth-round draft pick the day before the deadline. Is there something we don’t know, or was King’s once-promising role with the Los Angeles Chargers really that unclear that 30 other teams couldn’t make a better offer? In any event, Tennessee’s secondary should be better for it, even if it’s just for the stretch run. Good on them for seeing a bargain and seizing it.
Kwon Alexander isn’t a special addition, but swapping him in for Kiko Alonso at the cost of a conditional fifth? Yes, that’s a deal you make every day of the week. Alonso has been tossed from team to team over the years for a reason, and while Alexander has battled issues in both coverage and the injury department, he represents a high-upside find for a defense that needed reinforcements in the middle. Worst-case scenario, he doesn’t pan out, and the Saints can cut him at no cost in 2021.
The pass rusher was technically dealt from the Minnesota Vikings to the Baltimore Ravens more than a week before the deadline, but since literally no other big names swapped teams Tuesday, he warrants inclusion. Ngakoue may be building a reputation as a journeyman for his back-to-back exits, but think about it: He successfully orchestrated a departure from one bad team (Jaguars), then escaped another (Vikings) for a likely playoff contender (Ravens), all with 2021 free agency and a big payday still on the horizon.
All of us
Shame on us who expected fireworks at the deadline, what with so many uncertainties hanging over 2021 rosters and salary caps. But still, there’s no doubt this year’s cutoff was the most anticlimactic in recent memory. Even 2019 brought us Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals and Leonard Williams to the Giants, with Emmanuel Sanders, Mohamed Sanu and Michael Bennett being dealt just a few days prior. This year, we got Isaiah Ford and DeAndre Washington — two players most fans probably forgot existed.
The one prominent name consistently floated in reports of trade talks Tuesday, Fuller appeared to have a legitimate chance of winding up with the Green Bay Packers, even hinting at a possible move on social media. Now, he’ll ride out his contract year with the 1-6 Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers would’ve had a ball throwing to him deep during Green Bay’s playoff run. What a shame.
New England Patriots
You never say never with Bill Belichick, but at 2-5, with the Buffalo Bills (6-2) and Miami Dolphins (4-3) comfortably ahead in the AFC East race, this was the rare occasion where New England would’ve been right to sell off assets. An aging Stephon Gilmore? If just a single first-rounder was offered, they should’ve given it long and hard consideration. And how about Joe Thuney? They couldn’t have sold their veteran lineman, who’s due to hit free agency after playing under the franchise tag, to a needy contender? Instead, they chose to give up a future seventh for a reserve wide receiver. Meh.
New York Giants
Dave Gettleman’s essentially managing this roster for his own job right now, so a major selloff would be an admission of yet another rebuild, but at 1-7, did he really have a choice? You’re telling us nobody wanted to give up a mid- or late-rounder for Kevin Zeitler or Golden Tate? New York will inevitably be forced to overturn its lineup to either replace or further build around Daniel Jones, so standing pat, while consistent with the rest of the NFL, wasn’t ideal.
Maybe they’re pumped up after Sunday’s upset of the Packers, but if that actually blinded them to the reality of their situation, they deserve scolding. We know Kirk Cousins, Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are all officially tied to the organization for the foreseeable future, but the 2-5 start suggests wholesale changes should be in order. There’s a good argument to be made they could’ve gotten decent picks for any one or package of Riley Reiff, Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Harris or Harrison Smith.
The former first-rounder was always a long shot to be moved, but the ex-Ohio State standout better saddle up for a long winter in D.C. Washington Football Team has no plans to give him the reigns again (Alex Smith would see the field before he does, even as Ron Rivera tries to win the division), so the earliest he’ll find a fresh start will be in March.