NFL
October 23, 2020
BY Isaiah Freedman

10 NFL Players That Need to Be Traded

The NFL is a business, and if losing teams are paying disgruntled and underutilized players in a lost season, there’s going to be pressure to make a deal. The same goes for promising players on underperforming teams who are primed for a big payday the next season. NFL general managers are more willing to trade like they are playing Madden than ever before, so expect some fireworks prior to this year's NFL Trade Deadline on Nov. 3. 

Here are 10 players who could be dealt in the near future. 

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Ideally, the Jets deal Sam Darnold in the offseason, when they'll know exactly which pick they own. But as 2020 has proven, this isn't an ideal world. Unfortunately, the Jets might not get max value if they wait to trade him until after the season. With presumably a new coaching staff, teams know that New York will select a quarterback and Darnold's value will plummet even further.

While the Jets are the clear favorites for the No. 1 pick — aka Trevor Lawrence — there's no guarantee that they'll earn that top pick. Now, don't get us wrong, we're not expecting Adam Gase's winless Jets to go on a winning streak, but crazier things have happened in the NFL.

But with teams — such as the Cowboys, Bears, Washington, Browns, Steelers and Colts — all potentially in the QB market, now is the time to trade the third-year starter. 

Darnold has failed to develop as a franchise QB with the Gase and the Jets, sure, but he's still just 23 and has shown flashes of brilliance. The former third overall pick represents a perfect buy-low candidate for teams with short-term solutions under center.

With a handful of teams interested, who would be the best fit for the young passer? How about the Pittsburgh Steelers, who employ the aging Ben Roethlisberger and do not have a solid succession plan in place. Big Ben has played well this season, but at 38, and coming elbow surgery, his days as the starter are numbered. 

Darnold could be the perfect backup for the Steelers while learning under Roethlisberger until it's his time to shine. 

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons might've fired their head coach and general manager, but don't expect a fire sale in Atlanta. It would be pretty shocking if the franchise pulled the trigger on a trade for their big stars such as Matt Ryan or Julio Jones. But a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano believe people around the league are “openly wondering” whether Jones and Ryan will be shopped ahead of the deadline. While it'd be great if the Falcons could get value for their older stars, the dead money would make it nearly impossible for either to be dealt. Jones' contract alone has over $58 million in dead money if he's moved. 

However, if Atlanta can work some cap magic, then we'll play along. Despite still being a force of nature, Jones is 31 and has struggled with injuries recently. His value will never be higher than it is today. He’s not going to be in his prime when Atlanta is prepared to compete again, so maybe a blockbuster trade to the Packer or Ravens is in the cards. 

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Football Team

Ryan Kerrigan is an accomplished, productive veteran in the last year of his contract on a team that is going nowhere, so it makes sense for the Washington Football Team to see what they can get for the pass rusher.

At 32, Kerrigan has tallied an impressive 93 career sacks, and his $11.6 million cap hit this season reflects that. Kerrigan is exactly the type of player a team that desperately needs pass rushers — such as the Seahawks — should target. That's Seattle's most glaring need, and Kerrigan could potentially step in and be a difference-maker for a Super Bowl contender.

Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team

Not even two years after being drafted with the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Washington Football Team is ready to move on from their young QB. Dwayne Haskins was benched earlier this season and has not been able to consistently lead the team to victories. Despite his 3-8 record, 59% completion rate, and 11:10 TD to INT ratio, Haskins is just two years removed from lighting it up at Ohio State.

The Football team has done a poor job of surrounding Haskins with enough quality offensive talent, with receiver Terry McLaurin and rookie running back Antonio Gibson as the only starting-caliber weapons on the team. The Indianapolis Colts, who currently employ a declining Phillip Rivers, should take a shot on Haskins producing better results under a more, shall we say, professional team.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Zach Ertz’s situation has slowly disintegrated with the Eagles ever since the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension. Even though Philadelphia has been decimated by injuries this season, Ertz struggled to make an impact in the passing game. Before getting injured, Ertz was having the worst statistical season of his career.

Instead of paying Ertz a contract similar to George Kittle or Travis Kelce, the Eagles need to get whatever they can for Ertz. Even if it's harder to pull off with his injury. The Eagles already have his replacement in Dallas Goedert, and it makes all the sense in the world to move on from a declining Ertz.

Once he recovers from injury, Ertz could be a huge addition for a team such as the Bills, who could use a big target down the middle for Josh Allen.

Anthony Harris, Minnesota Vikings

Anthony Harris might be one of the best safeties in the league, but it's probably unrealistic that he'll get a big contract extension from a franchise with a 1-5 record, especially at the age of 29.

Perhaps his skills would be better served on a contender. Harris intercepted six passes last season, which tied for first in the league. He also recorded 11 pass deflections. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league and he's being wasted on an incompetent Vikings squad.

Harris could be moved to the Cowboys, who are still somehow in first place in the putrid NFC East. Dallas’ defense is a swiss-cheese until that could desperately use a ballhawk like Harris patrolling the secondary. 

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Once one of the premier receivers in all of football, the 32-year-old has battled through injuries and inconsistency in his last couple of years. He’s misplaced on a young Bengals squad with promising receivers such as Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins who need to be fed the ball.

A.J. Green has not said it, but it would not be shocking if he wants to be traded. His effort on some plays has been downright negligent. In the passing era, every team is always looking for more weapons. Perhaps the Patriots feel they need to bring in an established WR1 to replace the disappointing N'Keal Harry or Damiere Byrd

John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals

Aside from a few breakout games last season, John Ross’ Bengals career has consisted of unfortunate injuries and a lack of production. The speedster has proven he can be a force when given the ball in the open field, but rumors are swirling that he wants to be traded, and it looks like now may be the best time for both sides to part ways.

If healthy, Ross' speed would be a welcome addition to nearly any team that needs a wide receiver. The 49ers, Patriots, Packers, Eagles and Colts could all use him. 

Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

Jamison Crowder is one of the few (only?) bright spots on a Jets team that resembles a burning dumpster truck that is leaking toxic fumes. Their running backs are rookie LaMical Perine and the ageless Frank Gore. Crowder is their only receiver that inspires any fear from opponents, and tight end Chris Herndon has flopped.

Crowder is slightly overextended as a team’s first option, but he would thrive as a team’s primary slot option. He'd be a perfect addition for the Packers. 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

David Njoku requested a trade before the season, and his role has been diminished with the addition of free-agent TE Austin Hooper, who is gobbling up targets. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot recently reported that Njoku still wants to be traded, although Njoku later denied that he made the request.

While he hasn't realized his potential, Njoku is the kind of player smart teams make trades for. A former first-rounder, Njoku is an incredibly athletic pass catcher who needs to work on the intricacies of playing the position.

The Steelers would be smart to pursue Njoku, who offers more upside than Eric Ebron.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration