The NFL trade deadline came and went on Nov. 3, and while such a date isn't typically as exciting in the NFL as it can be in other leagues, there were plenty of rumors swirling around this year's date. Heading into the ninth week of the season, there are still four unbeaten teams in the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers.
On top of that, there are 17 teams with a sub-.500 record, and nine teams with just two wins or fewer. There is a lot of room for those teams to improve and start competing given the relative struggles across the league, but it's the second tier of teams trying to keep up with the undefeated teams that were most likely engaged in trade talks.
Even the unbeaten teams may have picked up the phone. The Panthers are in desperate need of wide receivers and the Packers are always looking for help at the tight end position. We'll take a look at some of the prominent rumors that were out there before the deadline ended.
Vernon Davis traded to Broncos
The Denver Broncos snagged tight end Vernon Davis from the 49ers on Monday for late-round draft picks in 2016 and 2017, picking up the more than $2 million remaining on Davis' contract.
Davis is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro and hasn't been able to do much this season, but he remains an intriguing offensive weapon. He is an excellent red zone threat and creates a mismatch against most linebackers and many cornerbacks. He has seemed at times like he's running out of steam as he's nearing the end of his career, but a change of scenery and a top-flight quarterback like Peyton Manning throwing to him could equate to big numbers.
Chargers shopped Weddle
The San Diego Chargers were said to be calling prospective buyers about safety Eric Weddle, according to Pro Football Talk. He's in the final year of his contract, and didn't do himself any favors with the current management by holding out during the offseason workouts this spring. At 2-6, the Chargers are probably safe to start thinking about next year, but no trade was made.
Cleveland Browns rumored fire sale yielded no trades
Massive changes were rumored to be coming to Cleveland, though none ultimately took place. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Browns were open to trading their two All-Pro offensive linemen, Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, both of whom would probably the biggest pieces moved at the deadline. Given the woeful state of O-line play across the league, the Browns could have expected to receive huge hauls in return for both players. Mack, who can opt out at the end of the season, has a no-trade clause and has no intention of waiving it. Thomas is signed through 2018.
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland also reported that the Browns were willing to trade players for draft picks. Trading Thomas may have netted them a first-round pick, but the Browns wanted more in return.
Speaking after Week 8, Thomas said that he isn't a "quitter" and that he didn't want to be traded because he doesn't want to give up on the Browns this season. He said that his goal was to be part of a "turnaround" in Cleveland, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
On top of Mack and Thomas, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Browns also tried to deal away linebacker Paul Kruger. Rapoport said that the Browns would even be willing to pay off some of his $7 million salary to make a trade. Kruger told Cabot that he wasn't surprised by the rumors "based on the way things have been playing out" with him.
Meanwhile, Cabot tweeted the Browns' 2013 first-round pick, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, was available as well.
Trading away all of those pieces, especially Thomas and Mack, would signal the 2-5 Browns have raised the white flag on this season. Given that they're barreling towards their eighth consecutive losing campaign, a major shakeup may be in order.
In addition to Davis, another big-name tight end garnered some interest as the trade deadline approaches: St. Louis Rams' Jared Cook. The 49ers and Rams took calls for both players, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. It sounds like Cook wasn't on the trade block officially, but if the interest had presented itself, a deal could have occurred. Cook's contract, which pays him $7 million a season for the next two seasons, could be the biggest hindrance.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said that the team takes calls all the time, however, and that the team has no interest in actually trading Cook, according to NFL.com. Cook had 52 receptions for 634 yards and three touchdowns last season, but this year has caught just 15 passes for 169 yards in five games.
The longtime Atlanta Falcons wide receiver has fallen out of the starting picture, behind Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson, and there have been plenty of trade rumors for him. White had just 952 receiving yards in his first two seasons, and then put up six consecutive seasons of 1,000-plus yards. But he's slowed down considerably, though he himself thinks he has more to offer. There were reports that multiple teams were interested in trading for White, though he himself said that he'll be a "Falcon for life." As expected, no deal came to fruition.
Steve Smith — Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith has experienced a nice career resurgence there, but the Ravens have been a bad team this season. There were rumors that Smith could be dealt, though the Ravens and Smith were quick to shut down those rumors, despite the fact that the veteran doesn't have a Super Bowl ring. Unfortunately, Smith tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the year, totally killing any chances of a trade.
Matt Forte — The Chicago Bears traded Jared Allen and Jonathan Bostic earlier in the season. It wasn't quite a fire sale, but running back Matt Forte was listed as a possibility for another trade at the time. Though the Bears are reportedly open to moving him, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport says it's unlikely he'll be moved given his age and salary. The deadline came and went without a Forte trade.
Robert Griffin III — The maligned Washington quarterback has had a roller coaster of a career with the team and just about everybody agrees the best thing for him would be a change of scenery. Washington is adamant they have no plans to trade RG3 in 2015, and no team has inquired about him due to his $16.2 million option. Griffin will spend the rest of the season in Washington.
Cordarrelle Patterson — Minnesota's disappointing wide receiver has bubbled up in trade rumors this fall, too. He's still getting work as a kick returner, but the team's all but given up on him in the passing game. He has the kind of physical tools that could have enticed a team ahead of the deadline, but no deal transpired.
Joe Staley – The San Francisco 49ers' offense has been dreadful this season, but that apparently hasn't stopped teams from inquiring about the availability of players on their offensive line. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, San Francisco was more willing to move Staley than other players, perhaps because he would have the most value on the trade market. The 2007 first-round pick has been named to the Pro-Bowl four times in his career, and could have helped out a number of teams that are looking for O-line help had a deal occurred.
Brian Cushing – The 2-5 Houston Texans remain on the periphery of contention in the dreadful AFC South, but they were still open to moving some pieces prior to Tuesday's deadline. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora writes the Texans listened to offers on Cushing, the former Pro Bowl linebacker. But given how Cushing's performance has tailed off in recent years –– he hasn't played a full season since 2011 –– it's unlikely he had much value.
Arthur Brown – It remains unclear how many players the 1-6 Ravens will look to ship off their roster, but Brown's name has supposedly been bandied about in trade discussions. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports Brown, who's vastly underperformed since being drafted in the second round three years ago, was available earlier this season. Perhaps a change of scenery could have done Brown some good –– he hasn't recorded a tackle since 2013.
Donald Brown – Brown has been an ancillary piece for the 2-5 San Diego Chargers all season, and was rumored to be available earlier. But with fellow running back Branden Oliver dealing with turf toe, Ian Rapoport reported that Brown is staying in San Diego .Brown, a seven-year veteran, has rushed for 2,600 yards in his career.
Tamba Hali — The former first-round pick is in the final year of his contract and there have been some talks about him potentially being available for a trade. The Chiefs haven't been great this season, so it makes sense, but the team moved to 3-5 on the season after a Week 8 win over the Detroit Lions. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the Chiefs are not expected to trade Hali at this time. In the end, the team decided to hold onto their pass rusher.
Seattle's Offensive Line — Russell Wilson has been sacked more than any other quarterback this season. He's getting dragged down multiple teams even against bad defenses, and the Seahawks are "working hard" to try and upgrade their offensive line prior to the trade deadline, according to Jason La Canfora of CSB Sports. They're willing to trade receivers like Chris Matthews to do so, according to La Canfora. However, they never reached a deal to help their quarterback's pass protection.
Willie Young — Young was listed among the players who could be dealt by the trade deadline, via La Canfora. He said that Young requested a trade and "badly" wants to move to a 4-3 team where he feels he can make a bigger impact. However, after no deal came to be, Young will remain an outside linebacker in the Bears' 3-4 defense.
Jets QBs — Ryan Fitzpatrick sustained an injury on Sunday and Geno Smith doesn't inspire a ton of confidence. It's no surprise that the Jets are exploring the free agent market for another quarterback, nor should it surprise that they're also exploring options via trade, according to Pro Football Talk. No deal came to pass, though Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger is mentioned.
* * *
SB Nation presents: The NFL needs to tell us what a catch is in plain language