Get ready for the busiest week on the NFL calendar. Over 600 players will be a victim of NFL cuts by Tuesday [August 31] as teams pare down their rosters ahead of the 53-man deadline. Before that happens, these clubs will try to get some kind of value for guys that, while talented, teams simply don’t have room to keep. So NFL trades will happen in the next 48 hours — with some pretty significant names believed to be available.
NFL trades that could occur ahead of Tuesday’s roster deadline | AFC
Who could be on the move from the AFC?
Chase Daniel, Los Angeles Chargers
If Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco get an offer for Daniel, they will have to decide if it’s enough to risk not having an emergency quarterback in the era of COVID-19.
Daniel, who has appeared in just 69 games in 11 NFL seasons, entered camp as the favorite to be Justin Herbert’s primary backup, but that may have changed. Easton Stick has outplayed Daniel in the preseason.
Daniel has gone 38 of 57 for 234 yards (4.1 yards per attempt), zero touchdowns, an interception, and a passer rating of just 67.4. Stick’s stats, meanwhile, have been better across the board. Plus, he’s younger and slightly cheaper.
Staley said late Saturday that the Chargers have not ruled out keeping three quarterbacks, and L.A. can afford to do so. Combined, the two backups are making just $2 million this fall.
Jakeem Grant, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have a deep, diverse WR room, but they cannot keep them all. Jakeem Grant has probably been on borrowed time ever since the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle No. 6 overall in April’s NFL Draft, another speedy wideout who was electric in the return game at Alabama.
Grant received All-Pro votes as a specialist in 2020 after averaging 11.4 yards per punt return and 21.5 yards per kickoff return a year ago. He also set a Dolphins record with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Rams last fall. Therefore, Grant could be the final missing piece for teams with Super Bowl aspirations. His salary could be a complicating factor, however, as he is due $3.6 million this year.
Michael Ojemudia, Denver Broncos
We’re hearing the Broncos have been getting calls on their many talented cornerbacks, but very few of them make sense to move. Patrick Surtain II of course is untouchable, Kyle Fuller is on a one-year deal, Ronald Darby just signed a three-year deal with Denver in the offseason, and Vic Fangio is high on Bryce Callahan.
That would leave just Michael Ojemudia — a third-round pick in 2020 who forced 4 fumbles as a rookie — as the only one left as a possibility. Ojemudia, who gave up 3 touchdowns last year, seems unlikely to see the field much on defense short of a rash of injuries. Yet, a hamstring injury could complicate any trade talks.
Trades that could occur ahead of Tuesday’s roster deadline | NFC
What NFL trades might happen with players currently in the NFC?
Nick Foles, Chicago Bears
Of the three quarterbacks on the Bears’ roster, the one who performed the best in the preseason is the one least likely to see the field for Chicago this fall. The Bears brought in not one player to replace Nick Foles this offseason, but two: Justin Fields and Andy Dalton.
Head coach Matt Nagy is adamant that Dalton will be the team’s Week 1 starter, and Fields is obviously the team’s future. That makes Foles — the Super Bowl 52 MVP — expendable.
Foles, who had a passer rating of 138.0 during the exhibition season, has a manageable base salary ($4 million) that’s fully guaranteed. Nonetheless, any team that acquires him will be on the hook for another $5 million in guarantees next year.
Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys
It’s a foregone conclusion that Jaylon Smith will see fewer snaps this year after the Cowboys acquired linebackers Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal in the offseason. Smith also hasn’t played particularly well. Last year, he allowed 71.2% of passes in his coverage area to be completed for 10.4 yards per completion, 7.4 yards per target, and 3 touchdowns. It was the third straight year that opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of over 100 against him.
The only way Smith will get moved, however, is if the Cowboys agree to eat some of his guaranteed $7.2 million base salary. Cutting him is not an option. His cap number would be huge whether he’s on the team or not, even if the Cowboys apply the post-June 1 designation.