Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders are grabbing all the headlines right now when it comes to big-time wide receivers that could be traded before the NFL deadline later this month, but expect the market to widen in the next two weeks.
Teams that are now out of contention for a playoff spot, like the Falcons (1-4), Redskins (0-5) and Jets (0-4) will now start exploring trade opportunities.
Atlanta is one team to keep a close eye on.
Thomas Dimitroff comes from the Patriots front office tree, and New England started making NBA-style trades ahead of the NFL trade deadline before trading at the NFL deadline was cool.
There was the blockbuster trade for cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012, the trades for linebackers Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas in 2014, the trades for defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and linebacker Jonathan Bostic in 2015, and the landing of linebacker Kyle Van Noy in 2016.
Bill Belichick also hasn’t been shy about shipping out top talent at the deadline, as he dealt away Jamie Collins to the Browns in 2016, and traded away Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers two years ago.
The rest of the league took notice of the Pats October transaction activity, and now the NFL deadline resembles something more close to the NBA – where the have nots in the league are compelled to trade off top talent in exchange for draft picks and future assets.
Just take a look at the Oakland Raiders last year. They traded away Khalil Mack for a pu pu platter of picks early in the season and also dealt away Amari Cooper to Dallas for a first rounder. It’s largely worked out for all sides as Mack has solidified the Bears defense and has Chicago in the mix. Cooper vaulted the Cowboys into contention last year and remains the team’s top top receiver.
As for last year’s big seller, the Raiders loaded up in this past spring’s draft, and now – just a year later – have a 3-2 record and are one of the surprise teams of the season.
No doubt, the entire league has taken notice of this phenomena and this could be the wackiest NFL trade deadline month in memory
The Falcons aren’t about to trade Julio Jones, who they signed to a three-year, $66 million deal last month, but another veteran wide out could soon be on the move.
Mohamed Sanu immediately becomes a sought-after player with the Falcons ready to sell.
Top contending teams will be lining up to make offers for Sanu, who is relatively cheap ($6 million base salary) and is still productive (29 catches for 281 yards so far this season).
The aforementioned Patriots are the most logical destination for Sanu, not just because of the Pats’ ties to Dimitroff but also considering that Sanu is a Rutgers product. The Patriots roster has been littered with Rutgers alums over the past decade or so as Bill Belichick is also close for former Scarlet Knights head man Greg Schiano.
The Patriots are itching to get more production at the wide receiver position after the Antonio Brown experiment didn’t pan out.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Eagles are also a team to watch when it comes to activity at the trade deadline. Howie Roseman has been sniffing around on all the major names available over the past few weeks (Melvin Gordon in September, Jalen Ramsey) but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet on a deal. Sanu represents a perfect trade opportunity, given that whatever team trades for him would only be on the hook to pay him for one more season.
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The Ravens will also be looking for upgrades in the next few weeks. Eric DeCosta has managed Baltimore’s cap situation extremely well since he took over from Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens could easily slide Sanu under their cap. Given style of play, Sanu would be the perfect fit next to Marquise Brown and would give Lamar Jackson another option.