Five Players That Could Be Traded Before the Deadline

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Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrate a touchdown during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The NFL trade deadline of November 3rd is approaching fast. As the deadline comes closer, rumors begin to fly as to which players might make their way out of town. Here are five players that could be traded before the deadline.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan appears on the trading block after the report that the Falcons could be looking to blow up the team after a horrendous 1-5 start.

Since entering the league in 2008, the former Boston College quarterback has been the franchise quarterback that the Falcons imagined he would be. He has been remarkably durable, only missing 2 games since 2009 and starting every game he has played in. Ryan has also only thrown for less than 4,000 yards in three of his thirteen years in the league. The Falcons quarterback was rewarded for his stellar play in 2018 with a 5 year, 150 million dollar contract.

While great for Ryan, the contract makes his trade value go down. Teams will be hesitant to trade for a quarterback owed 30 million dollars a year through 2024, especially given he has already played 13 years’ worth of games. With that being said, Ryan is still a premier player at a premier position in the NFL. Depending on a team’s assets and value of Ryan at this point in his career, he could be worth a first-round pick on the open market. The Colts or Browns could be two teams interested in a player like Ryan. Their quarterbacks have underperformed so far this season, and the organizations are looking to capitalize on strong, win-now rosters.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Jones is also subject to a change in scenery, with league insiders speculating he could also make his way out of Atlanta sooner rather than later. Jones is a more intriguing trading chip in comparison to his current teammate Ryan. The former Alabama receiver has had franchise-altering effects, similar to Ryan. Through 10 years in the league, Jones has amassed over 12,000 yards receiving along with 59 touchdowns. In five of his ten years in the league, he has averaged over 100 receiving yards per game. Along with Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins and Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Jones is considered by some as the best receiver in the game. His combination of speed and size is reminiscent of legendary Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

In his career, Jones will still be a top-3 receiver in the league for 4 to 5 more years. With that in mind, Jones will likely fetch at least two first-round picks on the open market. Potential trade partners for Jones include the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams have talented quarterbacks but lack a true number 1 wide receiver.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns

The rumor came out that Njoku requested a trade away from the Browns organization. However, following that news, Njoku released his own tweet, denying the rumors.

Despite a denial from Njoku himself, a trade away from Cleveland could be the right career choice for the former Miami man. After being drafted in the first round in 2017, Njoku enjoyed two successful seasons. In 2017 and 2018, he had combined over 1,000 yards receiving for 8 touchdowns. Then things took a turn for the worse. Njoku fractured his wrist in Week 2 of the 2019 season and was placed on injured reserve. He missed 10 games due to injury and only appeared in four total games that season. Then, this past offseason, the Browns signed former Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to a 4-year deal. The Browns also used a draft pick on Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant. These two transactions spelled the end of meaningful production for Njoku. Through three games so far this season, Njoku has just three receptions for 63 yards.

Cleveland did exercise Njoku’s 2021 option, making his base salary roughly 6 million dollars for the next season. The Browns will certainly not get a first-round pick in Njoku’s return if they decide to trade him. A mid to late-round pick would be appropriate value given his contract and current production. The 49ers or Eagles are potential trade partners for Njoku after both teams experienced a significant injury at Tight End (Jordan Reed for 49ers and Zach Ertz for Eagles).

Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

The NFL may never see another team as bad as the 2020 New York Jets. Through 6 weeks of the season, the Jets have yet to win a game, and their average scoring margin is -18.3, solid for last in the NFL. For comparison, the second to last team in average scoring margin, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are at -9.3. With nothing going right for the Jets, all football fans should be rooting for Darnold to get a trade away from the Jets.

Since being drafted in 2018, Darnold has struggled to be the franchise savior the Jets anticipated. The Jets only have themselves to blame for that. His best receiver since being drafted has been either Robby Anderson or Jameison Crowder. The offensive line has been subpar every year, only recently addressing the issue with the draft pick of offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. Darnold also always finds himself having to chase games as the defense isn’t much better than the offense. Of the three main quarterbacks that came out of that 2018 draft (Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Allen), Darnold has had by far the worst situation around him.

Potential Destinations

All of that to say, Darnold does not deserve to suffer any more pain from the Jets organization. He is still just 23 years old and on his rookie scale contract. If the Jets decide they will move on from Darnold, teams could be getting a real bargain by only having to give up at most a late first-round pick to get the former Trojan. Teams with older quarterbacks that will eventually be retiring in the next few years are Darnold’s ideal situations. With that in mind, the Buccaneers, Saints, Steelers, and Colts are all potential teams to watch should Darnold become available closer to the deadline.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Former Washington receiver John Ross approached the Bengals about a potential trade on October 20th

Ross has struggled to make a meaningful impact after the Bengals selected him 9th overall in the 2017 draft. Ross’s stock rose after his infamous run in the 40-yard dash, where he set the record at 4.22 seconds. The Bengals felt they couldn’t pass on the chance to get such an elite outside threat and selected him in the top-10.

Ross has had a lot of issues with injuries dating back to his college days. He suffered a torn ACL at Washington in 2015, which knocked him out for the whole season. Ross has also dealt with two meniscus tears and a shoulder labrum tear at various points in his career. Since entering the league, Ross has been limited to just 27 games through 4 seasons.

The trade request comes after Ross’ frustration with playing time. He has only been active for three games so far this season and has just 2 receptions for 17 yards. After the emergence of Tyler Boyd and the selection of former Clemson wideout Tee Higgins in the past draft, Ross’s path to playing time looks unfavorable. Ross certainly will not warrant a first-round pick given what he has accomplished so far in his career. The Bengals declined his option for 2021 to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason if the Bengals cannot move him before the deadline.

For a mid to late-round pick, teams may be willing to take a chance on the speedster. The Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Baltimore Ravens could be a few teams that can utilize Ross’ speed to maximize his output for the remainder of the 2020 season.

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