The 2018 NFL trade deadline promises to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. This offseason provided a flurry of trades around the NFL, with a combination of cap space and a shrunken free-agent market allowing teams to move mid-level veterans at will.
The same combo is going to create a ton of trades at the deadline this year: rebuilding teams are going to be much more willing to ship players out because there’s an opportunity to actually accrue some assets. Teams making a push will be much more willing to sacrifice assets — like a fourth- or fifth-round pick — in order to get veterans who provide upside and depth, because they have room under the cap to make the moves.
My colleague Sean Wagner-McGough did an excellent primer on the 2018 NFL trade deadline here, and if you’re just thirsty for Steelers-specific news and updates, I’m tracking all the Le’Veon Bell news and rumors here.
Below we’ll detail each trade and perhaps even past SWEEPING JUDGMENTS on each deal mere minutes and hours after it happens.
Giants trade Damon Harrison to Lions
The fire sale is ON for the Giants, with New York shipping the run-stuffing “Snacks” to Detroit for a fifth-round pick.
For the Giants: This is a real sign the Giants have decided to completely reboot the franchise. Snacks was the anchor of this defense and had two years left on a splashy contract he signed back before the 2016 season during Jerry Reese’s ill-advised spending spree in free agency.
For the Lions: This is a big acquisition, with Detroit struggling to stop the run this season. Harrison will be 30 years old next year, but he doesn’t have an outrageous cap hit next season, at just $8.6 million. They can cut him next offseason and battle just $3.2 million in dead money against the cap.
Who wins? The Lions got a stud run stopper for nothing, a guy who should help them make a playoff push. Great work by Detroit here taking advantage of a team that’s blowing it all up.
Browns trade Carlos Hyde to Jaguars
Hyde, who the Browns signed in free agency, was shipped to Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick.
For the Browns: This makes sense because they have Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. Chubb, a second-round pick this year, has flashed in limited action and looked good against a sneaky Tampa Bay run defense last week with 80 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland was going to cut Hyde this offseason anyway, so they shave a few million in dead money off their salary cap and get a fifth-round pick out of it.
For the Jaguars: This makes sense because Leonard Fournette is hurt and T.J. Yeldon is not a workhorse answer. Hyde is a little redundant with a healthy Fournette, but Jacksonville needs to stack some wins now and can’t do it by leaning on Blake Bortles. The cost was cheap and worst case Hyde is insurance.
Who wins? Both teams. Fair price for a cheap, effective player who fits a scheme, although Captain Hindsight would like to know why the Jags didn’t draft Deshaun Watson and pay Hyde in free agency instead of doing what they did.
Raiders trade Amari Cooper to Cowboys
Shocker of a deal in that it actually happened and included a first-round pick. Less shocking because Jerry Jones traded for a big-name wide receiver.
For the Raiders: This is a MASSIVE win. Getting a first-round pick for Cooper, who had just one year left on his rookie deal plus his fifth-year option at more than $13 million guaranteed, is a really nice haul. When the Raiders floated their preference for a first-round pick, we all sort of scoffed, but turns out it was not too crazy after all. A first for Cooper mitigates the Khalil Mack trade to some degree, it feels like. It’s very clear the Raiders are putting all their chips in on their Vegas move.
For the Cowboys: This is a risky move that could be expensive. Dallas definitely made the mistake of not investing in the wideout position this offseason; you can’t come into a make-or-break year for a young franchise quarterback with Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup at the top of the depth chart. But giving up a first for Cooper is a high price to pay. The Cowboys would be surrendering the 10th overall pick as they head into their bye. They have to win a lot of games to justify this, and there’s almost no way they can’t give Cooper an extension at this point. He’ll already be owed $13 million in 2019, which is a top 10 or top 15 wideout salary. If they make the playoffs, this was worth it.
Who wins? The Raiders by a significant margin in my book.
Giants trade Eli Apple to the Saints
After the Giants lost on Monday night to the Falcons, it became clear they’re not making a playoff run and as such they are dumping any and all talent that teams are interested in. This includes Apple, the former first-round pick, who was shipped to New Orleans for a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2020 seventh-round pick.
For the Giants: This is just part of their fire sale. They’re willing to move everyone as they rebuild after convincing themselves they didn’t need to do just that this past offseason. Denial is not just a river in Egypt after all. Getting picks back is important and Apple’s been … rotten at times in New York, both on and off the field. Apple was one of the players we listed as a candidate to be dealt, so this move should not be surprising.
For the Saints: This is a cheap move to land a young veteran with a pedigree who gives them depth in the defensive backfield. They have Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, but the defense has struggled to maintain last year’s success, so they might view Apple as a potential upgrade. Worst case he gives them depth and insurance at cornerback at a really cheap cost.
Who wins? The Saints but not in a landslide — Giants need picks but might struggle to fill Apple’s spot that late.
Patrick Peterson on the block
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora first reported several weeks ago the Cardinals cornerback wants to be dealt, and P2 has made it clear he would like to be moved, although it remains to be seen whether or not Arizona will acquiesce. CBS Sports HQ’s Bryant McFadden — Peterson’s cousin! — reports the Saints would be the destination of choice, and that they are interested, although the Eagles and Patriots are also in hot pursuit.
Giants holding a fire sale
La Canfora reports the Eli Apple deal was just the “tip of the iceberg” for New York, and the Giants could ultimately set up shop on the side of the Turnpike and try to dump off as many players as possible.
Semi-serious inquires only, please. (Also don’t bother asking for Saquon Barkley or Odell Beckham.)
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