Winners & Losers At The NFL Trade Deadline
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
New head coach Kyle Shanahan and new GM John Lynch finally have a quarterback. Trading for New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners get the most sought after backup in the league. The beauty of the trade is that Garoppolo will become a free agent at the end of the 2017 season. The next two months serve as an audition for the Eastern Illinois product who spent four seasons behind Tom Brady in New England. Excel and the Niners will likely give Garoppolo a nice long-term deal or possibly even use the franchise tag. Flop and San Francisco lets him go and goes to the draft for a quarterback of the future.
One minute you’re playing for the worst offense in the NFL and the next? Well, you’re packing your bags and heading to the best team in the league. That would be Ajayi’s story. The third-year pro was Miami’s leading rusher with 465 yards, but was deemed a problem by the Dolphins’ management. There was his less-than-desirable attitude as well as a past knee injury that Miami didn’t like. Long-term, the Dolphins felt like Ajayi would be more of a liability so they shipped him off to Philadelphia where he will pair with LeGarrette Blount in the NFL’s third-best rushing offense. Ajayi will also have a shot at a division title, a conference title, and the ultimate prize, the Super Bowl, all things that are far-fetched in Miami.
RUSSELL WILSON & THE SEATTLE RUNNING GAME
The most unsung hero of the NFL season’s first half is Wilson who has almost single-handedly willed Seattle to five wins. Take his performance in a Week 8 win over Houston. Wilson threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns and was the Seahawks leading rusher with 30 yards on four carries in a 41-38 win over the Texans. The Seattle ground game, once among the league’s most prolific, averages just 97.6 yards per game, 21st in the NFL. Before the NFL trade deadline, Seattle acquired offensive tackle Duane Brown from Houston. His acquisition will not only help to protect Wilson in pass protection, but also help improve the Seattle running game. Brown has played in similar zone-blocking systems in the past and should get acclimated to the Seahawks’ offense very quickly.
New head coach Sean McDermott has built the Bills around a strong running game led by RB LeSean McCoy and a stout defense that is third in the NFL in scoring defense allowing just 16.4 points per game. Where Buffalo needs help is in the passing game, which is 29th in the league at 178.7 yards per game. The Bills wide receivers are dead last in the NFL in receptions and yards. That is why the trade for former Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin made all the sense in the world. Benjamin (32 receptions, 475 yards) has nearly as many catches as the entire Bills’ receiving corps. He will provide QB Tyrod Taylor with a big (6-foot-5-inches) target as well as one that can get down the field.
The Browns started the 2017 season by going 0-8 for the second consecutive season. It’s almost as if nothing can go right for in Cleveland. The Browns also failed in attempting to make a trade for Cincinnati quarterback A.J. McCarron. It’s no secret that the Browns have struggled to find a franchise quarterback. The team reached out to the Bengals and thought they had a deal for Andy Dalton’s backup. Cincinnati informed the league office of the trade at 3:55 p.m. ET. The Browns then informed the NFL of the deal at 4:05 p.m., five minutes after the NFL trade deadline. The league nullified the trade. It’s just one more thing that Cleveland has failed to get right in 2017.
The Steelers’ receiver, who was suspended all of last season for violating the NFL’s drug policy, tweeted about how much better he was than rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster. Then, Smith-Schuster caught seven passes for 193 yards and touchdown in a win over the Lions while Bryant watched from the sideline. While the former Clemson star wanted to be traded, Pittsburgh never entertained the idea leaving Bryant as the Steelers’ fourth- or fifth-best option.
The Washington Redskins quarterback still stands to make a lot of money in free agency this offseason; it just won’t be with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners signing of Garoppolo puts any inkling of the whole Cousins-to-San-Francisco thing to rest. Remember, Cousins really developed as an NFL quarterback under new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. A reunion would have been nice, but Cousins, who is playing under the franchise tag in Washington for the second straight season, will surely do fine both financially and on the field next season (even if it is with a new team).
Head coach Adam Gase was the one who declared that his Dolphins have the NFL’s worst offense. What does he do? He goes ahead and trades away his team’s best rusher. The trade comes on the heels of a 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at a time when Miami’s starting quarterback is coming off an injury. Without Ajayi, the Dolphins turn to the dynamic duo of Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake. The pair has a combined 22 carries for 57 yards this season. Miami has the NFL’s 31st-ranked rushing offense and the Dolphins have yet to rush for a touchdown. How Miami’s ground game is supposed to improve over the last half of the season is anybody’s guess. Somehow, the Dolphins are 4-3 but still have to play both Buffalo and New England … twice.