2021 NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 6
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
We’re now more than a month into the 2021 NFL season, and the great teams are beginning to separate themselves.
The Buffalo Bills, for example, made a statement with their 38-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. The Baltimore Ravens did the same with an epic comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday.
While a few teams are rising to the top, others are struggling to find an identity. As injuries continue to mount around the league—Russell Wilson, Daniel Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Saquon Barkley headlined Week 5’s injury list—soon we’re likely to see clearly defined buyers and sellers on the trade market.
And the trade market is moving. The Carolina Panthers traded for cornerbacks CJ Henderson and Stephon Gilmore over the past couple of weeks, and more significant deals are likely on the way.
The market is open until Nov. 2. Each week until then, we’ll examine the NFL’s top 10 trade targets based on each team’s on-field and salary-cap situations, players’ roles, any relevant trade buzz and a little common sense.
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To reach our top 10, we’ve gathered 15 players who are likely to be on the trade block based on prior reports and logic.
Joining the list this week is Houston Texans wideout Brandin Cooks. The 2014 first-round pick continues to shine for a 1-4 Texans team that could be gunning for the top pick in next year’s draft. Cooks has already been traded three times in his career, and a fourth move would be anything but surprising.
Cooks will replace Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku, who finally found a role during Cleveland’s latest loss. Njoku caught seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Also joining the list is Baltimore Ravens running back Ty’Son Williams. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have “received trade inquiries” about their running backs. Williams, who started the first three weeks of the season, has seen just four carries over the past two weeks—he was inactive in Week 4.
To make room for Williams, we’re removing Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. According to Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer, Duvernay-Tardif’s name did “come up in talks” before the season. However, Duvernay-Tardif has a no-trade clause in his contract and has yet to play this season after breaking his hand in training camp.
The updated list, in no particular order, is as follows:
- N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
- Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
- Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
- Cameron Dantzler, CB, Minnesota Vikings
- D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
- Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Las Vegas Raiders
- Ty’Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens
- James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears
- Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
- Denzel Mims, WR, New York Jets
- Trevor Siemian, QB, New Orleans Saints
- Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears
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We have a fair bit of receiver shuffling this week. Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James Washington falls out of the top 10, as teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Chicago Bears wideout Allen Robinson II falls significantly following a two-game winning streak that has suddenly made the Bears relevant in the NFC North.
This week’s showdown with the Green Bay Packers could put Chicago at the top of the division. If the Bears continue winning, Robinson isn’t going anywhere.
However, if Chicago falls to Green Bay and continues losing, moving Robinson would make a lot of sense. Robinson is playing on the franchise tag and may not return in the offseason anyway. He has also fallen behind second-year wideout Darnell Mooney in Chicago’s pecking order of top targets.
Mooney leads the Bears with 31 targets and 20 receptions, while Robinson has 17 receptions on 29 targets. Mooney, not Robinson, is likely to be Justin Fields’ long-term No. 1 option. Robinson, who had 1,250 receiving yards last season, would be a very attractive short-term rental for a contender, however.
Targeting Robinson could be an ideal win-now move for a team like Cleveland or Indianapolis at the deadline.
A lot is going to hinge on how Chicago fares against the Packers this week and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.
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New England Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry is not nearly as proven as Allen Robinson II. However, there’s a better chance that he can be had before the trade deadline. At 2-3, New England is quickly falling behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, and it continues to have little use for Harry.
A first-round draft pick in 2019, Harry has become a complete afterthought in New England’s offense. He’s appeared in each of the last two games but has played less than 35 percent of the offensive snaps in each contest. Harry opened the season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Harry formally requested a trade in the offseason, and with the Patriots continuing to utilize other pass-catchers, they may now be inclined to grant it.
While Harry doesn’t bring a lot of proven production to the table—he has just 47 receptions in three years—a team willing to work with a developmental project should be happy to take a flier on him.
The physical upside that made Harry a first-round selection remains in place, and a receiver-needy team like Pittsburgh or Cleveland should be interested in trying to extract that talent.
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The New Orleans Saints continue their trend of alternating wins and losses. Following Sunday’s 33-22 win over the Washington Football Team, New Orleans sits at 3-2 and just one game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South.
Wideout Michael Thomas, meanwhile, maintains his spot on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Whether New Orleans is willing to move him will depend on how the Saints fare over the next three weeks—specifically against the Buccaneers in Week 8.
If the Saints believe they can take the division, bringing back a healthy Thomas would be logical. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the game’s best pass-catchers when not hampered by injury. If the Saints are only going to be a middling team, though, moving Thomas would make sense.
Thomas’ pending cap hit would be a problem for many teams, but the New York Jets and Colts are expected to be flush with space next season and could use some additional help at receiver.
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Though Baltimore’s top running backs to start the season—J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards—are all out for the year, the Ravens backfield is drawing trade interest.
“[The Ravens] have received trade inquiries from teams interested in their current group of running backs, league sources told ESPN,” Schefter wrote.”
According to Schefter, some trade inquiries came “as recently as last week.”
If the Ravens are open to moving a running back, Ty’Son Williams would be the logical choice. He’s fallen out of favor, as Baltimore has leaned more heavily on veteran backs Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell.
Williams was inactive in Week 4 and played just 14 snaps in Week 5. However, he flashed his rushing ability early in the season, racking up 142 yards and a touchdown in the first two weeks.
While the Ravens may not be willing to offer Williams a prominent role right now, a team like the Chiefs or the Miami Dolphins might. Kansas City recently placed Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve, while the Dolphins rank dead last in rushing yards per game (70.4).
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Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian drops a couple of spots following the concussion suffered by backup/utility man Taysom Hill in Week 5. Hill took a scary-looking helmet-to-helmet hit from Washington Football Team cornerback William Jackson III and was quickly ruled out with a concussion.
With Hill in concussion protocol, the Saints may be apt to keep Siemian on the roster for the time being. However, Siemian is still a strong candidate to be moved before the deadline.
Quarterback injuries are continuing to pile up around the league, with Russell Wilson and Daniel Jones the latest starters to go down—we’ve already seen Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor and Tua Tagovailoa miss significant time. Jones suffered a concussion and is also in the protocol, while Wilson is out indefinitely following finger surgery.
“Russ had a very successful surgery and we’re really happy with all the reports and we don’t have any timelines for you at all right now,” coach Pete Carroll said, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson.
Teams that are looking for a spot starter or simply seeking more quarterback depth—Seattle and New York currently fit the bill—should have interest in Siemian, who has a 13-12 starting record. In addition to Siemian and Hill, New Orleans has starter Jameis Winston and rookie Ian Book on its roster.
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The Las Vegas Raiders have dropped two in a row, and it’s going to be up to interim head coach emails were uncovered from his past that included racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language, per Ken Belson andto right the ship. Jon Gruden resigned Monday after
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Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler can likely be had for the right price. After starting 10 of 11 games as a rookie in 2020, Dantzler has been in and out of the lineup for various reasons this season.
Dantzler missed Week 5 while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He didn’t play in Week 1 and played only special teams snaps in Week 3. According to head coach Mike Zimmer, special teams is Dantzler’s key to earning more playing time.
“First of all, he has to play special teams,” Zimmer said, per Sean Borman of Vikings Territory. “If you’re a backup player, you have to play special teams.”
After filling a special-teams role in Week 3, Dantzler played 92 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 4. After being sidelined again, though, Dantzler’s status in the Vikings defense is uncertain. If Minnesota isn’t going to have a significant role for Dantzler, another team will—and according to David Lombardi of The Athletic, the San Francisco 49ers have already inquired about Dantzler once this season.
The 49ers, Browns and other teams dealing with cornerback injuries should be calling about Dantzler’s availability—in San Francisco’s case, it should be calling again.
In 14 career games, Dantzler has logged six passes defended and two interceptions while allowing an opposing quarterback rating below 93.0.
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Justin Rex/Associated Press
Though there hasn’t been any chatter about the Texans shopping Brandin Cooks, logic suggests that they would be open to a deal. Houston is in the early stages of a rebuild and, at 1-4, isn’t particularly relevant in the AFC South race.
Cooks, meanwhile, is set to become a free agent after the 2022 season, so he’ll likely be gone before Houston is competitive again.
Receiver-needy teams should be interested in Cooks, as he remains a quality deep threat eight years into his career. He has been one of the few bright spots in Houston’s offense, leading the Texans with 44 targets, 31 receptions and 392 receiving yards.
Cooks has already been traded by the Saints, Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, so those teams may be out of the Cooks market. However, a team that lacks receiver depth like Cleveland or Pittsburgh could view Cooks as a top target.
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The Colts have already looked into trading running back Marlon Mack this season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this was among the reasons they made him inactive in Week 3.
While Mack did play in both Week 4 and Week 5, he continues to look like an expendable player. Mack carried 10 times against the Miami Dolphins but only five times against Baltimore. With Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins on the roster, Mack is a luxury.
However, Mack could be a starter on a different team. He was a 1,000-yard runner in 2019 and has averaged 4.4 yards per carry over the course of his career.
Aforementioned running-back-needy teams like Miami and Kansas City should be interested in Mack. The Philadelphia Eagles could also be a landing spot. Quarterback Jalen Hurts currently leads the Eagles in rushing, while Mack’s former offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni serves as head coach.
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Bears quarterback Nick Foles remains in the top spot for a couple of reasons. We’ve already mentioned the growing list of injured quarterbacks, which is reason No. 1. Secondly, Chicago has committed to rookie Justin Fields as the permanent starter, while Andy Dalton was healthy enough for backup duty in Week 5.
“He’s done everything to show us that he’s ready for this opportunity,” head coach Matt Nagy told reporters with regard to Fields before Week 5.
Foles is stuck being the No. 3 quarterback, and the Bears should be eager to move him by November 2. Organizations that are dealing with quarterback injuries like Seattle and Washington should give a Foles trade strong consideration.
Foles, who has 55 regular-season starts and a Super Bowl MVP on his resume, is the best option teams can realistically acquire ahead of the deadline.
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