This year’s NFL trade deadline wasn’t as action-packed as last year, when 12 players were moved on the final day and 19 players overall changed teams, but there were six deals Tuesday.
Big-name defensive players found themselves on the move. A quarterback changed addresses. And one team made an egregious error by not trading a talented wideout.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest winners and losers from the trade deadline.
Just three months into his tenure as Washington’s new owner, Harris made it clear his attention is trained squarely on the future as he traded away both of his starting edge rushers, Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Sweat, the 26th pick of the 2019 draft, went to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 second-round pick. Young, the second pick of the 2020 draft, went to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2024 third-round pick.
Sweat and Young are skilled, but neither would classify as dominant, and both have expiring contracts. So Washington’s ability to get two early-round picks for a tandem it was unlikely to retain is a win — particularly the Chicago second-rounder, which is likely to be among the first few selections of that round. Harris, who now has five picks in the first 100 selections of the draft, is collecting building blocks for the future.
NFL trade grades: Commanders commit to rebuild, deal Chase Young, Montez Sweat for Day 2 picks
Loser: Ron Rivera
Rivera called Young a generational talent when the head coach drafted him over quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa at a time when Washington badly needed a franchise passer (and still does). But Young, who has never improved on the 7 1/2 sacks of his rookie season, has yet to live up to expectations and has struggled to stay on the field. Harris clearly influenced this pick with an eye on the future. The rebuild and loss of their top edge rushers signals impending doom for the Commanders (3-5), who will struggle even more to win games. Washington’s draft selection order has improved, but based on Rivera’s results, it’s unlikely he will be on hand to help oversee the impending rebuild.
Two weeks after adding defensive end Randy Gregory to the mix, the 49ers continue to stockpile pass-rushing talent. They gave up a third-rounder, which could wind up being a steal if Young can fully tap into his potential. He joins fellow Ohio State Buckeye Joey Bosa on the 49ers and is now a part of a fierce defensive front that ranks among the best in the league.
Loser: Chicago Bears
Sweat is a good player, but people around the league don’t view him as elite. He has yet to record a double-digit sack season and entered 2023 averaging 7.25 per year. And then there’s the matter of his contract. He’ll be a free agent next offseason, so this very well could be a nine-game rental for the Bears, who aren’t in position to contend for a deep playoff run.
Adding Sweat is a curious decision that certainly raised eyebrows around the league — and not for good reasons.
The Vikings (4-4) lost quarterback Kirk Cousins to a torn Achilles tendon just as they seemed to be turning things around, having won three straight and four of five. They were determined to acquire a quarterback with starting experience, and the Arizona Cardinals deemed Josh Dobbs expendable with Kyler Murray almost ready to come off IR.
Dobbs didn’t light things on fire for Arizona, but he is solid and the quarterback (who went to school to become a rocket scientist) has demonstrated an ability to quickly learn offensive systems. The Vikings only had to give up a sixth-round pick to acquire him. Kevin O’Connell runs a quarterback-friendly offense that should position Dobbs for success.
The Las Vegas Raiders did the three-time All-Pro wide receiver dirty by not moving him at the deadline. They acquired Adams in the spring of 2022 in a trade with the Green Bay Packers to pair him with former Fresno State teammate Derek Carr — a deal the players themselves worked very hard to facilitate. Then Carr became new coach Josh McDaniels’ scapegoat last season, and the Raiders released him.
Adams is an exceptional talent, but McDaniels still hasn’t figured out how to feature him prominently, and Jimmy Garoppolo’s play has been awful, leaving Adams highly frustrated. The Raiders would have been much better off dealing Adams for draft picks to help with the rebuilding efforts they must embark on after this season.
Just after signing Frank Clark to bolster its pass rushing off the edge, Seattle dealt for defensive tackle Leonard Williams to strengthen the heart of its line. The Seahawks gave up a 2024 second-round and 2025 fifth-round pick for the Pro Bowl interior lineman, and now position themselves to better defend the offenses of the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals while trying to remain atop the NFC West standings.
(Photos of Josh Dobbs, Davante Adams, Chase Young: Christian Petersen, Quinn Harris, Jess Rapfogel / Getty Images)
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