As we get closer to next week’s NFL trade deadline, the chatter amongst NFL personnel executives will pick up, and their intentions will become clearer in terms of whether to pursue transactions to help their team make a push to the playoffs or to stay put.
In our NFL trade rumors notebook, let’s take an inside look at the moves that have already been completed, as well as some of the teams that could make moves by the deadline.
From the current NFL standings to team depth charts to coverage of every game in the 18-week NFL schedule, we have all the news from around the league to keep you up to speed!
NFL Trade Rumors and Insight Ahead of 2023 Deadline
Chargers Trade CB J.C. Jackson to Patriots
Oct. 5: The Los Angeles Chargers trade CB J.C. Jackson and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
Intel: At the time that the Chargers signed Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million deal in March 2022, it was thought that he would finally solidify their struggling secondary.
However, he wound up having ankle surgery before the season started and struggled to adjust to the Chargers’ defensive system, which is quite different from what the Patriots run, a league source said. To make matters worse, Jackson’s season ended after just five games due to a significant knee injury (torn patellar tendon).
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Jackson was finally recovered from his surgery by the start of training camp, a process that typically takes 9-12 months. But he clearly was going to be a backup this season.
With that being the case, the team could not justify paying him nearly $10 million in salary, so they wound up moving him to the Patriots. However, they had to take on a significant amount of that money (just over $7.8 million) for New England to agree to the deal.
Dolphins Acquire Chase Claypool From Bears
Oct. 6: The Chicago Bears trade WR Chase Claypool and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
New Miami Dolphins WR Chase Claypool pic.twitter.com/T1Ds45YOkV
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) October 11, 2023
Intel: The Bears acquired Claypool at last year’s NFL trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a second-round pick, which was surprising since it wasn’t a secret in personnel circles that he wore out his welcome with the team that drafted him.
With the Bears, Claypool wound up being benched and took a shot at the coaches prior to the team deciding he could no longer be on their roster.
Niners Trade for Broncos’ Randy Gregory
Oct. 7: The Denver Broncos trade DE/OLB Randy Gregory and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in return for a 2024 sixth-round pick.
Intel: The Broncos signed Gregory to a five-year, $69.5 million extension in March 2022, but the former Dallas Cowboys second-round pick wound up missing 11 games last season due to injury, and it started to become clear that his role was going to be diminished this season.
Part of the reason for the team’s urgency to move Gregory, as a league source points out, was to get 2022 second-round pick OLB Nik Bonitto in the lineup. And just like with what the Chargers did to move Jackson, the Broncos agreed to take on a significant portion of his salary for the 2023 season. He’ll be a situational pass rusher with the 49ers.
Rams Deal WR Van Jefferson to Falcons
Oct. 10: The Los Angeles Rams trade WR Van Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
Intel: No one could accurately predict a breakout season for fifth-round rookie WR Puka Nacua coming out of training camp, but that’s exactly what has happened.
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Jefferson, a starter to begin the season with the Rams, barely was targeted over the first few games, and his role was significantly reduced to the point it became obvious that he would have no clear role once veteran WR Cooper Kupp returned from his hamstring injury.
Jefferson is in the final year of his rookie deal. He could wind up being one of their top backups once he learns the scheme, as the team lacks proven depth at the position.
Chiefs Re-Acquire WR Mecole Hardman
Oct. 19: The New York Jets trade WR Mecole Hardman and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2025 sixth-round pick.
Intel: The Jets signed Hardman to a one-year, $4 million deal with the belief that he would be able to secure a role as the team’s best deep threat. However, a league source with knowledge of the situation said he couldn’t quite display that deep speed with the Jets that he showed previously with the Chiefs, so Hardman simply could not get into the rotation at the position.
Nevertheless, the team that selected Hardman in Round 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft wanted him back. During Sunday’s win over the visiting Los Angeles Chargers, Hardman got immediately involved for the Chiefs as their punt returner (one for 50 yards).
Mecole Hardman couldn’t walk or feel his legs for a week after he got injured last season with an abdominal injury. To see him get traded back home and do this his first game back gets me a little emotional! #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/EBHnHS2M5i
— Jeremy Davisson (@JtotheEtotheR) October 23, 2023
Potential Buyers Ahead of NFL Trade Deadline
As we noted last week, the big reason why NFL personnel executives wanted the trade deadline moved back a few weeks was in order to help accurately assess whether their respective teams had a realistic chance to make the playoffs.
That’s why the volume of moves within the weeks of the deadline started to grow over the years.
As for teams that could make a move or two?
Needs: G, OT
Intel: The team lost backup G Michael Dunn (calf) recently to injured reserve, who filled in for starting G Joel Bitonio (knee surgery). Thankfully, Bitonio only missed one game, but Cleveland could really use a backup with experience.
Keep in mind that starting RT Jack Conklin (knee surgery-IR) will not return this season. So, as a league source pointed out, players with experience behind rookie RT Dawand Jones and Bitonio should be on their radar.
Needs: CB, S
Intel: The Eagles have gone through several nickel cornerbacks since starter Avonte Maddox (torn pectoral) was lost for at least the rest of the regular season following the team’s win in Week 2 over the visiting Minnesota Vikings.
Philadelphia signed former Chicago Bears nickel CB Kindle Vildor to their practice squad recently, who played under current Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai in 2021 with the Bears. Because the Eagles are clearly going to be a playoff team and could make another deep run, they’re likely to continue to assess the nickel role as we get closer to the deadline.
During their win Sunday over the visiting Miami Dolphins, it appeared that the coaches used recently acquired CB Josiah Scott and UDFA rookie CB Eli Ricks in the nickel role. Scott was signed off the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad after he recovered from a hamstring injury, and Ricks was crossed-trained from playing on the outside, which is his natural position.
Once the season started, it appeared Philadelphia was somewhat set at the safety position, with starters Reed Blankenship and Justin Evans to go along with rookie Sydney Brown and veteran Terrell Edmunds. However, Blankenship has missed two games due to rib injuries, and Evans (knee) is on IR.
Brown, meanwhile, just returned against the Dolphins after missing the previous three games with a hamstring injury. As one league source told us last week, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t try to make a move here due to the revolving door at the position.
Potential Trade Pieces: CB Donte Jackson, OLB Brian Burns, S Jeremy Chinn
Intel: As mentioned in last week’s column, the Panthers have not looked to extend Chinn’s contract, and now he’s dealing with a quadriceps injury that he suffered during the team’s Week 6 loss to the Dolphins. An ESPN report pegs Chinn to miss about six weeks, which obviously could curtail any potential trade value.
Carolina received significant interest in Burns at last year’s trade deadline, sources said, but they rebuffed any inquiries as they have always believed he’s not only one of their best players but a building block for the team.
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However, the two sides were not close to agreeing to a contract extension before the season started, sources said, so he’s playing on his fifth-year option at roughly $16 million this season. Because the Panthers traded away their first-round pick for 2024 (in a trade to secure the 2023 first selection overall to pick QB Bryce Young), some personnel executives around the NFL wonder if GM Scott Fitterer will listen to trade offers this time around.
As for Jackson, he and third-year CB Jaycee Horn have formed a really strong tandem, but Horn continues to deal with injury issues and is on injured reserve for the third straight season. With Jackson restructuring his contract back in March and only carrying a $1.1 million base salary, that low money should be very attractive to other teams who are looking for help at the position.
It’s expected from talking to some teams that are seeking help in their secondary that they’ll wind up asking or inquiring about Jackson by next week’s deadline. His $4.8 million non-guaranteed salary for next season is very fair for a player of Jackson’s quality.
Potential Trade Piece: DE Montez Sweat
Intel: We noted last week that Vikings OLB/DE Danielle Hunter could be pursued closer to the deadline, but another pass rusher to keep an eye on is Sweat.
The first-round pick of the Commanders out of the 2019 NFL Draft is playing on his $11.5 million fully guaranteed fifth-year option. The team has not shown strong signs of wanting to extend his contract at this point, though it’s possible that they pursue re-signing him before free agency starts in March if he continues to play well this season.
Sweat, while not seen as a top-end pass rusher around the NFL, does well in the pressure rate area and has at least one sack in four of his first seven games this season. He’s known in personnel circles for playing the run fairly well and has been fairly durable in his career.
With the team declining DE Chase Young’s fifth-year option for 2024, Sweat could become a bigger priority to re-sign. Yet, it’s expected teams will check into his availability, a personnel source said, because he’s not signed through next season.
A league source said that they don’t appear to be shopping Sweat, and because Washington is still in the hunt for an NFC Wild Card spot (currently the ninth seed, a half-game out of the No. 7 spot), they may not be inclined to listen to potential interest in the fifth-year pass rusher.