The NFL trade deadline is kind of lame, let's be honest.
Big names rarely swap teams, there are never many massive deals, and most squads just sit pat. But, let's dream a little.
Here are four trades for pending NFL free agents I'd like to see in the next few weeks ahead of the deadline (these trades don't always fit with current salary cap situations, but the NFL cap is flexible enough that teams can make anything work):
1. Mike Evans To The Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are built to huck the ball around. With Justin Herbert at QB, Keenan Allen, Quentin Johnston, and even Austin Ekeler catching passes at RB, it's clear what LAC is trying to do. But, that gameplan took a big hit with Mike Williams getting hurt for the season.
In Los Angeles' only game without Williams this year, they managed to pass the ball for just 167 yards on 24 attempts.
So, bring in the best pending free agent receiver — basically, a better version of Williams — and the Chargers' offense can get back on track and back to air it out. They may already be out of the divisional race, but they can certainly compete for a playoff spot and a potential Super Bowl run.
Cost: 3rd-round pick
MIKE EVANS, WHAT A CATCH 😱— ESPN (@espn) September 26, 2023
📺 ABC, ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/XhT9f7ablK
2. Kirk Cousins To The Jets
This one gets less and less likely every day, but I'm still holding out hope. The Vikings are currently 1-4, basically already eliminated from playoff contention and one more loss away from surely being toast. Their stud QB Kirk Cousins is playing amazing heading into his free agent walk year. Do they re-sign him? Let him walk? Or deal him to a team in need of a gunslinger?
If Cousins is on the market, the Jets should be making calls. Despite losing Aaron Rodgers, New Yorks' season is still salvageable. With Mike White, Zach Wilson, and Joe Flacco at QB last year they nearly competed for a playoff spot. Give them big Kirk at QB, and I believe this New York team has enough talent for a postseason.
The Jets currently have +550 odds to make the playoffs this year (15.38% implied chance) so time is quickly running out for them to fix the problem at QB and turn the season around.
Cost: Two mid-round picks (2nd and 5th)
3. Derrick Henry To The Bills
Derrick Henry has clearly lost a step. The Titans' RB is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and 30 fewer yards per game than 2022. But, he's still an absolute menace to tackle, and that's exactly what Buffalo needs.
Derrick Henry bounced back from an injury-shortened 2021 season to post a 22.1% broken tackle rate in 2022 that was 6th best of regular running backspic.twitter.com/UaDgWv5Hhl— Scott Spratt (@Scott_Spratt) June 21, 2023
The Bills' current red-zone rusher is Latavius Murray, who has just 2.3 yards per attempt inside the 20. Imagine giving that role to Henry, and lining up at the three-yard line with Josh Allen, Henry, and then Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs out wide? I'm not sure how anybody could effectively defend that mixture of ground and air assault.
Cost: 5th-round pick
4. Yannick Ngakoue To The Jaguars
Bring Yannick home!
The Jaguars are playing okay so far, rocking three wins in their first five contests. But, after getting to the playoffs last year, expectations are high in the panhandle for 2023. One thing holding Jacksonville back from more success so far this season is the pass rush. The Jaguars rank 25th in pass-rush win rate and have just nine sacks through five games (sixth-lowest in the league).
Ngakoue isn't a game-changer, but he's a capable rusher who can add some pressure to Jacksonville's line for cheap this deadline. While the Jags no longer run the 4-3 defensive scheme Ngakoue was part of when he was first with the Jags, he's played in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses effectively during his long NFL career.
Cost: Late-round pick (6th or 7th)