The NFL trade deadline isn't the most exciting swap season in professional sports, but there are always a few names who change teams. Most importantly: there are clear winners and losers.
Here are those champs and chumps from this year's 2023 NFL trade deadline:
Winner: Washington Commanders
This might be a hot take, but I like what the Commanders did on deadline day. It was no secret Washington was going to move an edge rusher on deadline day, and they decided to move both.
With Chase Young and Montez Sweat both in the final year of contracts, the Commanders were posed with a choice of trying to extend, risking them walking to free agency for nothing, or trading. Door number three was the safest bet — especially when you can get a second and third-round pick for the pair. That Bears 2nd-rounder would also be the 35th overall selection if the season ended today, making the pick nearly a first-round value for Washington.
Sure, the Commanders could've kept the pair and made a bid for the playoffs. But this is a move to set up the future. Sam Howell may actually be the answer at QB for Washington, and the picks they just got at the deadline should help them build a new young core to capitalize on the Howell window.
Trade: Commanders and Bears have agreed to a trade that is expected to send DE Montez Sweat to the Chicago for a 2024 second-round pick, per sources. Sweat is in the last year of his contract, and the Commanders are opting for a draft pick now. Chicago beefs up its line. pic.twitter.com/Hd7jtqDtWY— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2023
Loser: Chicago Bears
On the flip side of Washington's Sweat move, the Bears made the pretty wild decision to overpay for the right to extend the pass rusher as one of the worst teams in football.
Didn't they learn from their mistake last year? The Bears stupidly traded an early second-round pick at last year's deadline to the Steelers for Chase Claypool, a receiver who lasted like three games in the organization before they had to cut bait. I'm not saying Sweat will have the same fate, but the Bears should be in full-on rebuild mode right now. Trading a second-rounder for Sweat ain't that.
Winner: QB Josh Dobbs
A year ago, Josh Dobbs was a backup quarterback for the Tennessee Titans with two career passing touchdowns to his name. Now, he's QB1 for a Vikings team with plenty of talent around him and playoff hopes still alive.
The #Vikings are trading for #AZCardinals QB Josh Dobbs, with plenty of starting experience, per me and @TomPelissero.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 31, 2023
It helps make up for the loss of Kirk Cousins. And gives MIN a chance… pic.twitter.com/TUEnTemakr
As of deadline day, the Vikings had +240 odds to make the playoffs, implying a 29.41% chance. They'll still be dogs after the Dobbs trade, but at least having an experienced quarterback will give Minnesota a shot. And for Dobbs, he's got an opportunity to become a hero and earn himself a continued run as a starter in this league. Maybe he even works himself into the Vikings' long-term plans, with Cousins set for free agency at the end of the season.
Loser: RB Derrick Henry
Free the king!
Unless Will Levis is somehow the god he appeared to be in Tennessee's Week 8 win over the Falcons, the Titans aren't going to sniff the postseason this year. The Titans missing the playoffs isn't entirely unexpected, but for a soon-to-be 30-year-old running back like Derrick Henry (with almost 2,000 carries in his eight-year career), the opportunities for playoff football are dwindling.
This year's deadline was a chance to get Henry to a competing team, behind a better offensive line, with some real title hopes. After Tennessee owner Amy Adams Strunk reportedly nixed a Henry trade to the Ravens, the king isn't going to get that shot.
Somewhere in Between: San Francisco 49ers
Three weeks ago, the 49ers were sitting pretty. They were one of the NFL's few undefeated teams, Brock Purdy was an MVP candidate, and San Fran was the favorite in Super Bowl odds. Since then, things have gone south.
So, on deadline day, the 49ers had to make a splash. Getting Chase Young from Washington for a third was a tidy piece of business. Pairing him with Nick Bosa should give San Fran maybe the most feared pass-rushing duo in the league.
The reason the Niners weren't clear winners on deadline day, though, was less about what they did and more about the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have quietly pushed up to a 5-2 record and first place in the NFC West. They got even better at the deadline, too, acquiring interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams from the Giants. Sure, the 2nd and 5th-round picks they sent to New York was a steep price, but the Seahawks are now a real threat to win the NFC West.
A month ago, the 49ers seemed like a lock to compete for the NFC's bye. Even with Young in the fold, they'll now be scratching and clawing to even win the div.
Winner: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have been looking for secondary help since starting cornerback Tre'Davious White went on IR. They found their man on Tuesday in former Green Bay Packers stalwart Rasul Douglas. Brandon Beane flipped a 3rd-round pick to the Packers for Douglas and a 5th-rounder in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.
Ultimately, this is a bargain move for a contending franchise in desperate need of help at corner. White was their best cover man, and former 1st-rounder Kair Elam has been a turnstile this season. Now, they add the ball-hawking skills of Douglas to aid in their quest to slow down the AFC's best offenses.
Loser: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore tried, and failed, to add a difference-making running back at the deadline. Although they apparently tried to trade for both Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs, no deal materialized.
Sure, Gus Edwards looked great last week, but the lack of an elite backfield option could come back to bite Baltimore. Even a low-cost move for someone like Dalvin Cook or Clyde Edwards-Helaire could have provided a jolt to this offense down the stretch.
Baltimore is an Edwards injury away from ruing their lack of action on NFL deadline day.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Somehow, someway, Howie Roseman just keeps finding quality players in the trade market. The Eagles' general manager added a former 2-time All-Pro in safety Kevin Byard last week. Philadelphia ranks 26th against the pass heading into Week 9, but now add a man with 27 career interceptions.
This is one of those deadline deal moves that few talk about until Byard balls out in the playoffs. Byard's ball-hawking skills will aid Sean Desai's defense down the stretch. Roseman continues to make the exact kind of low-cost moves that form Super Bowl contenders. The rich get richer.