The 2023 NFL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and teams are trying to supplement their rosters before the league cuts off trades at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Who won and who lost on deadline day? We’re grading every NFL trade.
Grading Every Trade From the 2023 NFL Trade Deadline
The NFL trade deadline is often more bark than bite. However, the deadline made deals a season ago, and the league started a bit stronger this year, with two deals being done on Monday and a trade request happening on the day before the deadline.
Leonard Williams Moves to the Pacific Northwest
The Seahawks are going all-in on 2023. They smell blood in the NFC West waters, and they were looking to add some firepower along the defensive line to complement Dre’Mont Jones and Boye Mafe after Uchenna Nwosu’s season-ending injury. But a 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick is a hefty price to pay for a potential rental.
The Giants made out like bandits in this deal. Leonard Williams was in the final year of his deal, and New York had no desire to bring him back after 2023.
Dexter Lawrence is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is starting to put things together. The Giants will also not be competing for anything this season, so getting future draft capital was a huge win. And they got a lot of it.
Kentavius Street Heads to Atlanta
Keith Lee has set the Atlanta food scene ablaze this week, but at least now the Falcons’ DT might know what places to frequent and which to avoid. Kentavius Street is a versatile defensive lineman who is a bit of a “tweener” by general definition.
But Atlanta remains multiple up front and needed some help after Grady Jarrett’s season-ending injury. Street can play anywhere from the B gap to outside of the tackle, and he’ll have more opportunities in Atlanta than on the Eagles’ loaded defensive front. He’s an inexpensive depth piece.
The Eagles have arguably the deepest DL units in the league. The move sending Street to Atlanta allows Philadelphia to get rookie defensive lineman Moro Ojomo on the field. The rookie from Texas made the roster out of camp, and his athleticism could be used as a weapon on obvious passing downs.
Montez Sweat Moves Midwest
The Chicago Bears needed a pass rusher in the worst way. But things are becoming curious in Chicago.
Adding Montez Sweat and even committing to pay for his extension itself is a fine move. The 2024 NFL Draft class is incredibly strong, but it’s not a great EDGE class. Even the better players in the class will need some time to develop at the NFL level. Spending a high second-round pick for Sweat is not the end of the world.
But doing so while also deciding not to pay Jaylon Johnson is… a decision. It’s hard to fathom what the vision could be in Chicago outside of simply wanting the team to be completely compromised of their guys, either from the draft or by trade.
This move, much like trading Roquan Smith to pay two linebackers months later, feels like cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.
The Commanders probably made the right decision at the deadline. They were almost surely going to trade one of their top two pass rushers on expiring contracts.
It’s debatable whether Sweat or Chase Young is the more talented player. However, Young likely would not have commanded the same sort of capital in return for a trade.
Additionally, because of his injury history, he’ll likely be the more inexpensive second contract as well, and he has all the perceived talent in the world to potentially outproduce that contract.
Now, the Commanders will have what will likely be a top-40 draft pick to retool their roster. The only way this could have been a better deal was to get another Day 3 pick in return, as the Giants did for Williams.
Joshua Dobbs Tries Righting Vikings Ship
Although the Minnesota Vikings went 13-4 a season ago, it was clear that they overperformed. The Vikings had no chance of repeating that performance this season, but things looked ugly early on.
However, their defense has shown steady improvement, and Kirk Cousins was playing great football before his injury.
Joshua Dobbs played well early for the Cardinals, but the lack of talent on Arizona’s roster became clear in recent weeks. Additionally, Dobbs’ play has declined in that time as well. But Cousins is on the last year of his deal, and Dobbs, if nothing else, could provide upside as the Vikings’ eventual backup.
With Kyler Murray nearing a return and Clayton Tune waiting in the wings, Dobbs became slightly redundant in Arizona. The Cardinals are clearly rebuilding, so getting any sort of compensation for Dobbs is a win for them.
Jaguars Pick Up Ezra Cleveland From Vikings
Ezra Cleveland may not be a household name, but he’s been a solid guard over four seasons in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars have dealt with interior line issues all season long, as guards Walker Little and Brandon Scherff have both missed ample time.
Cleveland may start over Little at left guard from the get-go, but he could also become overqualified depth. The Jaguars only gave up a sixth-round pick to get Cleveland. That’s a more-than-fair price, especially if Cleveland plays significant snaps.
Minnesota GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is buying and selling on deadline day. Josh Dobbs will give the Vikings a fighting chance down the stretch, but the club never seemed likely to re-sign Cleveland in 2024, especially with an extension for left tackle Christian Darrisaw on the horizon.
The Vikings signed veteran guard Dalton Risner in September. He’s filled in at left guard while Cleveland was sidelined by a foot injury over the past two weeks and will continue to start up front.
Chase Young Heads West to San Francisco
The San Francisco 49ers have always been built from back to front on defense. Nick Bosa is one of the best defensive ends in the game, and Javon Hargrave is one of the best interior rushers in football. Arik Armstead is no scrub on the inside, either.
Getting Chase Young for a conditional third-round pick is a low-risk, high-reward move by a team that’s been reeling defensively over the past few weeks. Kyle Shanahan wants to get pressure with four and play coverage behind that. Adding Chase is an attempt to maximize that.
It probably hurts Washington fans to see a player who was the second pick in the 2020 NFL Draft leave for a conditional third in the final year of his rookie deal. However, between injuries and lackluster production, getting any sort of compensation for Young was likely better than letting him walk and getting a lower-end compensatory pick in the subsequent draft.
Lions Add Receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Mix
Jameson Williams may eventually get into a groove, but the Lions need a receiver who can be a reliable presence in the vertical plane. Although Williams has the speed and ability necessary, he has not yet proven consistent enough to handle that role, or any more significant role, alone.
For a 2025 sixth-round pick, there truly is no negative for the Lions here.
In the micro, it’s hard to make sense of trading a starting receiver in the middle of a battle for AFC North supremacy. But in the macro, the team spent a sixth-round pick on DPJ and eventually received the same compensation back for him in a trade after playing him for 3.5 seasons.
Although we don’t know their plans to replace him at the moment, perhaps there is a secondary move to be made here.
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