Predicting the Biggest Moves Ahead of the 2020 NFL Trade Deadline
The NFL is not the NBA. Blockbuster trades don’t go down all that often, and when they do, they very rarely end up being the difference on a team’s run to a championship.
Of course, there are some that have already paid dividends.
DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs are winning in their new cities, DeForest Buckner has played a huge role for a strong Colts defense, and Calais Campbell is a force up front for the Ravens.
If Baltimore, Arizona, Buffalo, Indy, or any other team that made a big trade ends up winning it all, you’ll see a lot of people look back and say “see?”.
Teams always have holes to fill, and if you’re one big move from chasing down a Super Bowl, sometimes you just need to pull the trigger to find out. That’s the logic for several teams as the 2020 NFL trade deadline approaches.
Our own Michael Wynn already explored some possibilities in NFL trades that could happen, and I’m here to offer my NFL trade deadline predictions for 2020.
Let’s dive into some big names that could be shipped out of town, where I see them going, and what it may mean for all parties involved.
Washington Trades Dwayne Haskins to the Steelers
The first guy that lands in my NFL trade deadline predictions for 2020 is Dwayne Haskins.
The Dwayne Haskins era is over in D.C. There is no denying the former Buckeyes star has disappointed with the Washington Football Team, but it’s about as bad as it gets when you get passed over for Kyle Allen.
Haskins hasn’t had the demeanor or consistency of a first-round franchise passer, but he still could. He has the size and arm strength to drop bombs in the NFL, and it’s pretty arguable he never stood a chance with this team.
A change of scenery could do him some good, and the fact that he’s sitting on the bench as the third-string option tells you he’s done in this town. Pittsburgh is enjoying a nice comeback campaign out of Ben Roethlisberger, but Big Ben hasn’t shown the ability to keep defenses honest, and the guy is 38 years old.
Haskins could be had for a mid-round draft pick, and it’s possible he could be groomed to be Roethlisberger’s eventual successor.
Jets Trade Sam Darnold to the Colts
Another would-be NFL franchise passer that I have on the move in my 2020 NFL trade deadline predictions is Sam Darnold.
In all fairness, Darnold has never had a chance to prove he can get it done in the NFL. The Jets have struggled to surround him with viable offensive weapons, his pass protection has been spotty, and Adam Gase is his head coach.
Darnold has not played well, but he’s flashed elite ability, and there’s no way he’s the main problem with this team.
That said, Gang Green is very much on their way to earning the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Once that happens, it’ll be awfully difficult for this regime to refrain from hitting the reset button. A new coach will be hired, and with that first pick, who isn’t taking Trevor Lawrence to help kick off another rebuild?
Darnold may be damaged goods, but he’s worth a shot for a franchise that doesn’t immediately need him. Indy checks that box. They’ve done a marvelous job of twice licking their wounds when they had to move on from a franchise quarterback, and this time they’re counting on an aging Philip Rivers.
Rivers has been solid, but the Colts need a long-term contingency plan under center. They’re winning too much right now to guarantee they get a crack at getting a viable prospect in next year’s draft, so trading an asset to get Darnold now could make sense.
Washington Trades Ryan Kerrigan to the Cardinals
The Washington Football Team should be busy at the 2020 NFL trade deadline. They weirdly still have a shot at winning their division, seeing as the NFC East has five total wins.
Much like the Jets, Washington is among the teams you need to look at if you’re betting on who will get the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Washington can’t operate like they’re going all-in to make the playoffs. They have to be more realistic than that, especially since they’re trotting Kyle Allen out there these days.
Instead, they need to groom the young guys and find out who fits for them going into 2021 and beyond. The team invested a high pick in Chase Young last year and spent a first-rounder on Montez Sweat the year prior, so they look set on the edge.
That should bring up Ryan Kerrigan trade rumors. He’s still a very useful player, and Ron Rivera pointed out how valuable he is for the young guys.
Ron Rivera calls Ryan Kerrigan 'very valuable' for young Washington players https://t.co/iMfQoSpdZ8— NBC Sports Washington Football (@NBCSWASFootball) October 20, 2020
But he’s 32 and in a contract year. It’s highly unlikely Washington keeps him, so it is only logical that they’d see what they can get for him.
Arizona stands out as a team that could offer something of merit in a trade, especially since an underrated Cardinals defense just lost Chandler Jones for the year.
That’s the Cardinals’ best defensive player, for those keeping score at home. Kerrigan isn’t a direct replacement for a player as talented and disruptive as Jones, but few are. He’s a strong addition to a solid defense that could use a little more help, however.
Eagles Trade Zach Ertz to the Patriots
The timing will be interesting with this one, as Zach Ertz presently isn’t a very attractive option given that an injury is going to keep him on the shelf for the next 3-4 weeks.
More info on Eagles’ TE Zach Ertz: he suffered a high-ankle sprain, per source. It is likely to sideline him a month, as @mortreport reported.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 19, 2020
Still, a trade makes a lot of sense for Philly. Not only does the team get back their tight end of the future in Dallas Goedert, but they’re getting healthier across the board in their passing game.
Ertz has also been griping about his contract all season, and the 29-year old has struggled immensely all year. Still on the books for another season, the Eagles could dump their star tight end for a mid-round pick and promote Goedert to full-time stud status.
Playing out of the impossibly bad NFC East, the Eagles are still technically one of the best Super Bowl 55 longshot bets out there. Dropping dead weight like Ertz could give them a little boost.
This could be a coup for the Pats, too. New England hasn’t had a tight end they could trust ever since Rob Gronkowski retired (and was later traded), so bringing in a proven pass-catcher like Ertz could help them out on offense.
Bill Belichick wouldn’t give up much, and it’s unlikely he’d fork over the cash Ertz wants, but he could use him to beef up an offense that has struggled to start the season.
Falcons Trade Matt Ryan to the Bears
Here’s a big one. It feels a bit weird considering Matt Ryan and the Falcons literally just started cooking with gas, as Matt Ice and co. absolutely shredded the Vikings in week six.
While true, it’s the classic case of “too little, too late”. Ryan and this offense have been largely bad on the season, and there has been talk of Matt Ryan’s decline for years now.
Basically ever since Atlanta’s Super Bowl collapse, Ryan has been regressing.
Now 35 years old and stuck on a losing franchise, it’s possible all parties decide a divorce is what’s best. Ryan may still be able to be effective in a better environment, and there’s little doubt he’d be a massive upgrade for the 5-1 Bears.
Ryan wouldn’t have to do much initially, and this prospective trade would still bring the Falcons back a quarterback they could use – either Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles.
It’s a gamble for the Bears, but Ryan is much more accurate and consistent than their current options. Chicago has mostly been a defensive team that has grown accustomed to winning ugly, but adding a legit quarterback like Ryan to the mix could change that.
Bengals Trade A.J. Green to the Raiders
Some teams will be looking to unload star players due to salaries, contracts ending, or just trying to acquire assets in a lost season.
Others will consider going out of their way to take the next step. One team to watch is Las Vegas, who just may be a legit title threat if things break their way.
The Raiders aren’t the most consistent team, but they have beaten the Saints and Chiefs now, and bettors probably need to take them seriously. Super Bowl betting sites aren’t pricing the Raiders as a true title threat (+4500), though, so this could be a team to keep tabs on.
That may be especially true if Las Vegas can make a run at a big playmaker. It’s pretty arguable the Raiders need most of their help on defense, but there has been chatter than they feel they’ll improve from within.
Las Vegas has limited weapons in their passing game, though, with tight end Darren Waller and rookie speedster Henry Ruggs III being their only viable options.
Bryan Edwards hasn’t taken the big step the organization had hoped, and Tyrell Williams is out for the year. Las Vegas could entertain fully bolstering Derek Carr’s arsenal by swinging a trade for A.J. Green, who finally flashed his old form in week six.
Green can still potentially dominate on the outside, move the chains, and win in the red-zone. If that’s true, the Raiders could land a stud receiver at a discount and give themselves a real shot at overtaking the Chiefs in the AFC West.
Texans Trade J.J. Watt to the Packers
Green Bay has been chastised for years for not getting Aaron Rodgers more weapons. Weapons haven’t really been the problem, though.
Before last week, Rodgers had pristine protection, his guys were getting open, he was trusting the system, and he looked like an MVP candidate. In week six, the protection fell apart, and Rodgers simply played poorly.
Long-term, the Packers are going to be fine-to-great on offense. That may not be the case on defense, the way things are trending.
I mean, when Ronald Jones II carves you up all day, you have to know something is wrong. And really, the Packers haven’t stopped the run effectively all season. In the spots where you’d argue they have, the fact that they’ve controlled games and forced teams to throw is what makes the difference.
If the Packers are to go anywhere once they’re in the playoffs, they need to improve upfront. It’s worth wondering if that can happen by trading for a 33-year old defensive lineman, but Watt can still play.
Watt isn’t the fastest guy and the Packers could use some speed, but he’d instantly be their best defensive lineman. He can be shifted all across the line, he can rush the passer, he can take on multiple blockers, and he can help against the run.
That ability to be a monster in two capacities makes Watt such an intriguing addition, and it’s a situation he should want to be in. Let’s not forget that Watt went to school at Wisconsin, and he isn’t likely to make the playoffs this year (Houston is 1-5), in his age-33 campaign.
It’d be a dream for him to return home to help boost the Packers in their plight to contend.
Falcons Trade Julio Jones to the Ravens
Lastly, let’s be realistic about the 2020 Baltimore Ravens; they’re not nearly as good as they were last year.
Lamar Jackson is missing a lot of the big plays he’d hit last year, his mediocre weapons are sabotaging him with drops even when he does find them, and he hasn’t been as dominant on the ground.
We saw flashes of his MVP form this year, but something is missing. That, and it’s tough to fairly judge a team when their five wins come against a collection of teams that have eight total wins.
Baltimore has been a little lucky, and it’s time for their under-performing offense to get a serious jolt. Mark Andrews is a fantastic tight end and Marquise Brown can take the top off a defense, but they really don’t have that reliable stud that can consistently win one-on-one matchups.
Insert Julio Jones, who is just wasting away on a terrible Falcons team.
If you were wondering if he was done, however, the answer is an emphatic “no”. Jones cooked the Vikings last week, confirming that he is still, in fact, still very good.
Atlanta doesn’t need this guy. He’s a luxury they really can’t afford, as they’re 1-5, are stacked elsewhere in the passing game, and could use this cash to rebuild an awful defense.
The Falcons could try to save face, hold onto aging stars, and try to rack up some meaningless wins to close out 2020. But then they’d just keep repeating what they’ve been doing the past few years.
Jones isn’t destined to retire in Atlanta. Baltimore could really use him, the marriage makes sense, and he gets a chance to win that elusive ring.
My 2020 NFL trade deadline predictions feature some huge names that have to be on the move. There are just so many situations where it’s obvious a player’s time in a city is done, or the cloud of losing or finances make a move inevitable.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t going to retire as Falcons. Sam Darnold and Dwayne Haskins aren’t going to rescue their awful franchises. The Bengals can’t afford to hold onto A.J. Green.
Predicting NFL trade deadline moves is a lot harder than people might think, just because teams don’t always make the decisions you’d think they should.
That, and some trades that almost happen ultimately fall through.
I do think there’s a real chance some huge moves listed above go down. And some of these teams just might boost their Super Bowl 55 odds if they can land the right deal.