The 2020 NFL trade deadline (4 p.m. ET Tuesday, just hours away) is unlike any that fans have seen. Teams are navigating the league’s COVID protocols and when they can get players in and out of their building. There is a rather clear line distinguishing the league’s best teams from the worst, which should make positions as buyers or sellers more straight forward. The league has already seen some trades come across the transaction wire but more are expected prior to the Nov. 3 trade deadline.
CBS Sports is compiling those moves below and providing grades for each.
This is a win-win situation for Tennessee, as the Titans only had to part ways with a Day 3 draft pick in exchange for a former All-Pro defensive back that fell out of favor in Los Angeles. The Titans, already having one of the worst pass defenses in the league, get a major addition with King as head coach Mike Vrabel usually lines up in a nickel defense. King will slide into a secondary that starts Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler at cornerback along with Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro at safety — providing a major boost as a fifth defensive back.
King will play out the final year of his contract, but is auditioning for a long-term deal in Tennessee. If the Titans pass defense improves in the second half of the year and the team makes another deep playoff run, King will be back in the fold more many years to come. Vrabel will look to get King back to his All-Pro form from two seasons ago.
The Chargers took a sixth-round pick just to move on from King — a first team All-Pro in 2018 — which is way too low for a player of King’s caliber. King fell out of favor in Los Angeles after a significant drop in playing time over the last two seasons, despite having previous success under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as one of the best slot defensive backs in the game. The Chargers essentially moved on from King this offseason with the free agent signing of Chris Harris Jr., leading to a significant drop in playing time for King and, in turn, frustration from the 2017 fifth-round pick.
The Chargers couldn’t wait to move on from King as they start a fire sale of trading players on expiring contracts. King wasn’t coming back to Los Angeles, but the Chargers could have received a fourth-round pick for a player of his talent. They just gave King away.
– CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr
New Orleans is in win-now mode and they are not overly concerned with the long-term ramifications. If that is the strategy, then commit to it and deal with the complications later. Those issues are certainly coming but the Saints realize they are in a Super Bowl window and do not want to squander Drew Brees‘ final years. San Francisco has come to terms with the understanding that this is simply not their year. Along the way, Kyle Shanahan’s team has dealt with a stockpile of injuries and a handful will cost key players the entire season. By moving Alexander’s contract, it helps create some long-term flexibility for San Francisco to retain key players. In the offseason, they were forced to make a decision between Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner that could have potentially been avoided if Alexander’s contract had been off the books.
– CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards
It is a relatively even deal for both parties. The Steelers minimally get a veteran backup with extensive repetitions in the league. Williamson is not going to make a critical error in an impact situation. The Pittsburgh defense was terrible between injuries to linebackers Ryan Shazier and Devin Bush. The organization made it clear that they do not want to experience life without a competent linebacker during a potential title run.
As for the Jets, they are clearing salary cap space and acquiring assets. General manager Joe Douglas is facing a lengthy rebuild and has to consider the long-term fortunes for the franchise. If there are players excluded from that long-term vision, whether because of age, attitude or play, then now is the time to move them with the hope of acquiring some assets in return.
– CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards
Seahawks acquire Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap in exchange for C B.J. Finney, seventh-round pick
The Seahawks desperately needed a pass rusher, and Dunlap gives them one, albeit in solely short-term fashion, with the longtime Bengals end already 31 and due more than $11 million in 2021. It’s not a perfect addition; there’s a reason, after all, that a former two-time Pro Bowl edge presence went for little more than scraps. But it’s something for Seattle, and there’s upside considering Dunlap should be motivated now that he got his wish to depart Cincy.
From the Bengals’ perspective, it’s hard to jump for joy at the return — a seventh-round flyer and a fill-in center with a decent 2021 cap hit (which can, of course, be dumped in the event Finney is cut). But still, to get anything more than a late-rounder for a guy in Dunlap who was struggling on the field and causing a stir off it, is solid. Good on them for at least going through with the sale.
– CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin
Lions acquire Cowboys DE Everson Griffen in exchange for sixth-round pick
Are the Lions contenders? Probably not. But with Matt Patricia’s squad at least hanging around in the NFC North and the defense in need of edge help, Griffen represents a welcome addition to a familiar division. He didn’t pop in Dallas, but he’s still got a great track record and will relish the chance to match up against his old friends in Minnesota.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, deserve a bit of credit for acknowledging the cold, hard truth (that they are bad) and parting ways with under-performing old vets sooner rather than later. Still, getting a future sixth-rounder less than three months after handing Griffen $6 million to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence? That’s a loss, in the grand scheme of things.
– CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin
Vikings trade EDGE Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens in exchange for 2021 third-round pick, 2022 conditional fifth-round pick
Already loaded on defense, they land another talented pass rusher in the hopes of getting over the hump named Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens were seeking yet another complementary pass rusher for Calais Campbell, who himself has four sacks through six games, and Ngakoue stands to instantly become exactly the medicine that ails them in this regard. To land him from the Vikings in exchange for a third-round pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2022 is awe-inspiring, considering there’s not a third-round (and most certainly not a fifth-round) talent who can be viewed in the same lane as what a team will get from Ngakoue.
In other words, based upon the current trajectory of both clubs, the Vikings wound up losing upwards of 60 slots in the coming draft by trading for and then trading away Ngakoue, while the Ravens land a pass rusher who has five sacks this season already, 37.5 over his first four years in the NFL, and should fit their scheme masterfully. This is an A+ maneuvering by the Ravens front office, who reportedly pursued Ngakoue earlier this offseason, as the rich get richer atop the AFC.
[Full grade reasoning can be found HERE.]
-CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker