Not hyperbole: the 2017 NFL trade deadline was the most exciting trade deadline in NFL history. Even as a few big trade rumors failed to come to fruition1 there was a flurry of activity including two trades – Jay Ajayi to the Eagles and Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills – that came out of nowhere and that could prove to be very meaningful to the remainder of both the NFL and fantasy football seasons.
In light of all this game changing activity, our team of analysts set out to determine which trades were the best, which trades were the worst and which trades they wanted to see happen but didn’t.
Best Trade: Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco
Remember when San Francisco went, like, a century without ever having to worry about their quarterbacks? Well, that’s not the case anymore. Since 2004, the 49ers have had 13 different starting quarterbacks and only Alex Smith and Colin “Somehow I’m Still Not On A Team” Kaepernick have played an entire season for them in that span of time. Queue Jimmy. He might only have a total of 94 passes attempted in the NFL, but he’s already proven he’s a better option than the Blaine Gabberts, J.T. O’Sullivans and Trent Dilfers of the world. Holy God they’ve had some bad quarterbacks.
Worst Trade: Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo
Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has all the talent in the world, but never seems to be, well, good. He finished last year as the eleventh ranked QB in fantasy scoring. And when Jordan Matthews went down early last month, things weren’t looking good for his 2017 prospects. But with the addition of Benjamin, Taylor’s got another deep threat that can complement Zay Jones’s speed and Brandon Tate’s random exceptional playmaking. The problem here is that the Bills don’t throw the ball often enough to give Benjamin any real opportunity. Buffalo ranks 9th in the NFL in pass yards per game and 0th in pass plays. Benjamin has talent but the Bills might not be able to capitalize on it.
Wish List: Martavis Bryant to any other team
Let’s face it, everyone is #TeamJuJu in the Bryant-JuJu dust-up, and clearly Bryant is feeling the heat. He missed last week’s game against the Detroit Lions and Smith-Schuster put on a show. Dude caught 7 balls for 193 yards, scored a touchdown, and won everyone’s heart with his heartwrenching stolen bike fiasco.
All things considered, Bryant’s looking like he’s gonna lose some targets going forward. He would have been much better served had he been moved to a team in need of a speedy deep threat. But who needs that?
Best Trade: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
Every week I write about the dumb things that happen in the NFL so naturally when I learned that the Cleveland Browns – the NFL’s foremost experts in incompetence – had botched a trade by fucking up the required paperwork, well, it just made my day. Part of what makes this disaster so spectacular is that not executing the deal – i.e. an absolute failure to complete Cleveland’s objective – is probably the best possible outcome for the Browns as far as roster construction is concerned. Sure McCarron looked pretty good in his extremely limited Bengals appearances, but he was playing behind a great line and surrounded by a ton of weapons. That’s, um, not the situation in Cleveland. And while McCarron – a former fifth round pick – would have been playing on a restricted tender next year, the second and third round draft picks Cleveland had planned to give up to get him would have been playing on, bear with me here, rookie contracts. I’ll take my chances with the rookies.
Worst Trade: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
Can we go back to the part where Cleveland lost out on this trade because they failed to execute basic league requirements? Then they appealed for an exception and were denied? It’s one thing to try and fail at acquiring a superstar but this is not that. McCarron is far from a sure thing – Cleveland’s long pursuit of Jimmy Garoppolo indicates that McCarron wasn’t even their first choice – but that they tried so hard to get him and then celebrated so much once they thought they had…I mean, this is pretty bleak for Cleveland. After decades of misery, they didn’t have much respectability to lose but what little they had is certainly gone now.
Wish List: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
There is nothing left to wish for. This debacle has everything I could ever want in an NFL trade: a flailing team desperately trying to trade valuable assets for an unknown quantity, an entire organization spiraling into self-parody and front office nerds celebrating so hard that they forget to do their paperwork. Front office nerds love their paperwork! It’s practically their defining characteristic. Think about how hard those nerds must have been celebrating! And still, however boisterous the Browns’ brouhaha, however fabulous their fete, know that their celebration paled in comparison to my unquenchable glee when I heard this ridiculous-ass story. Thank God for the Browns.
Best Trade: Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco
The 49ers – a QB black hole this year – acquire a clear cut #1 QB that has been waiting patiently behind the GOAT, Tom Brady. Jimmy G brings a spark to the Bay Area and this move will attract free agent weapons in the upcoming offseason. The 49ers were able to finally solidify this position of need and Garoppolo’s arrival should allow them to get back on their feet sooner rather than later.
Worst Trade: Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia
Ajayi was a disturbance in the Dolphins locker room and the franchise promptly sent him packing. Now, Ajayi is running behind an offensive line that has lost LT Jason Peters for the season. Ajayi will have to split carries with LeGarrette Blount and doesn’t offer much in the versatile passing scheme that the Eagles have flourished with this season.
Wish List: Jarvis Landry to a competent offense
Honestly, I would’ve like to have seen Jarvis Landry sent to a team that is willing to expand upon his skill set. Without Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins have had major issues at the QB position. Jay Cutler and Matt Moore simply have not been able to funnel the ball to Landry and his average YPC is a measly 8.0. Landry would’ve been a nice addition to any team in the playoff hunt and could’ve blown up even more in a pass heavy system. Instead, his value remains stagnant as he’s stuck in this anemic Miami offense.
Best Trade: Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo
I know, I know. This is such a 2015 pick. However, the Buffalo Bills are a top 10 red zone team this year without a true number one receiver. Perhaps Benjamin will enjoy a resurgence on a team that has actually been able to move the ball pretty well despite a lack of star power outside of LeSean McCoy. Tyrod Taylor, for all the criticism he receives, is actually a better of a passer than Cam Newton in terms of air yards per completion and AYD.2 Assuming he gets healthy, Benjamin instantly becomes the big playmaking number one receiver the Bills have needed.
Worst Trade: Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia
Jay Ajayi is a volume running back. In 2016, when Ajayi broke out, he averaged 18.6 rush attempts per game in a lead back role. He’s not going to get that in Philadelphia with LeGarrette Blount playing as well as he is. Had Ajayi been traded in the offseason, I would have liked this trade a lot more. Assuming he does take the lead role from Blount, he’ll be facing eight in the box around 35% of the time3 which is an awful lot higher than the 22% Ajayi saw in 2016.
Wish List: T.Y. Hilton to a team with a quarterback
I selfishly want this because I drafted Hilton with the anticipation that he’d get Andrew Luck back at some point. Alas, Luck is done for the year and Hilton is stuck with Jacoby Brissett passing to him. If last year’s leader in reception yards could have gotten traded to a team like New Orleans, Seattle or Kansas City he could have re-established himself as one of the better wide receivers in the league. That didn’t happen and now we’re stuck with another half season of Hilton chasing down errant passes and failing to put up the type of numbers he’s capable of.
- TY Hilton to the Chiefs, Larry Fitzgerald to the Patriots, Carlos Hyde to anywhere outside of San Francisco, etc.
- Average air yards differential.
- Assuming teams continue to roll with eight in the box as much as they have against Blount.