The NFL trade deadline is coming up on Nov. 1, and although it usually ends up more anticlimactic than the deadlines in other leagues, rumors frequently run rampant. Considering that most teams remain in contention for a playoff spot, very few “sellers” exist in the market. Of those few teams, the veterans who could be traded normally do not move, thanks to their massive contracts.
One big trade has already happened, though, when the New England Patriots shipped star linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a third-round draft pick.
The question many were asking of the deadline was whether or not Minnesota’s ugly Monday night loss to the Bears will prompt them to make a deal for a tackle like Joe Thomas or Joe Staley. The need was apparent, but neither one of those trades would be easy or cheap to make. As the 4 p.m. deadline passed, both Thomas and Staley remained with their respective teams.
Here is a list of some high-profile players who were considered on the trading block.
Josh Gordon, wide receiver, Cleveland Browns
It has been three years since Josh Gordon’s All-Pro season in 2013, and mostly frustrations for the Browns since. The talented wide receiver led the NFL in receiving in his second season, but served a 10-game suspension in 2014, a one-game team suspension at the end of the season, a full-year suspension in 2015, and recently had a stint in rehab.
Gordon was not moved at the deadline, and remains with the Cleveland Browns.
Sheldon Richardson, defensive lineman, New York Jets
The New York Jets defense hasn’t been the same in 2016, but Leonard Williams has stepped up to become a star in the defensive front. After drafting four first-round defensive linemen in five drafts, it’s a bit crowded up front for the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson isn’t going anywhere after signing a five-year, $86 million contract in July.
That means if there’s a player to move, it’s probably Sheldon Richardson. Set to reach free agency in 2018, the Jets don’t have long-term ties to the lineman and might be better off without him after some off-field troubles, including an incident that led to a one-game suspension.
Other teams haven’t been scared off, though.
The trade deadline is usually quiet, but teams are calling about a big-name #Jets DL: Sheldon Richardson. There were talks. Will it pick up?— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 30, 2016
Still just 25, Richardson could be a valuable young piece for another franchise and come at a reasonable price. He’s a versatile player who can play multiple positions along the defensive line, although that makes him a tough one for the Jets to part with. One team they did reach out to was Dallas, but the $8.1 million salary was too steep for the Cowboys, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Hours before the deadline, the Jets were still trying to find an interested trade partner:
Source says Jets are "actively shopping" Sheldon Richardson as trade deadline approaches.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 1, 2016
As the deadline passed, Richardson remained with the Jets.
Joe Thomas, left tackle, Cleveland Browns
Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has been a model of consistency for Cleveland since 2007. The 31-year-old tackle is a nine-time Pro-Bowler and a six-time First-team All-Pro player. While Thomas has had a stellar career in Cleveland, the Browns, who are 0-7 this season, still see trade value in him. And the organization wants to rebuild its football team.
Thomas said that he doesn't want to leave Cleveland because he wants to win a championship there. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that Browns head coach Hue Jackson said the team is not trading their star left tackle.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and New York Giants could all use an upgrade at left tackle and some have discussed the possibility of adding Thomas.
#Browns Joe Thomas doesn't expect to be traded by deadline Tuesday: I'd be surprised. But you never know.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) October 30, 2016
The Browns may not trade Thomas because premier left tackles are hard to come by in the NFL. Since the Browns are always on a quarterback carousel, it would make sense for the team to keep Thomas to protect the quarterback’s blind side.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: as the deadline passed, Thomas remained with the Browns.
Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, Chicago Bears
The Bears receiver has proven to be a relatively consistent offensive weapon in his five seasons with the team. However, with Chicago’s record at a lousy 1-6, rumors have emerged that receiver-needy teams including the Eagles and Buccaneers may be interested in a trade.
These deals, however, remain unlikely to materialize. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that trading a franchise player is “essentially unprecedented,” as the new team would not be allowed to sign the player before free agency. Rapoport also reported that no talks have occurred between the Eagles and Bears for Jeffery, and Eagles coach Doug Pederson shot down suggestions that the team would have interest in making a trade for the Bears’ top wideout.
Jeffery himself seems content with the situation in Chicago. A tweet from Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune shows that Jeffery is quite happy to see a familiar face returning to the quarterback position.
Alshon Jeffery on Jay Cutler's return: "I'm excited. It don't matter who's out there at quarterback, but Jay is my guy." #Bears— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) October 27, 2016
Jeffery’s Monday night performance must have helped! The Bears did not trade him at the deadline.
Joe Staley, left tackle, San Francisco 49ers
Like Thomas, 49ers left tackle Joe Staley has been consistent for the club since 2007. The five-time Pro-Bowler is one of the toughest tackles in all of football. ProFootballTalk.com reported that San Francisco wants to trade the 32-year-old tackle to a contender for a late first-round pick.
The Vikings, Giants, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Patriots are all rumored to be interested in trading for Staley.
However, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, the trade talk involving Staley is “news” to 49ers head coach Chip Kelly. Staley is under contract through 2019, with a $5.4 million base salary this year that will increase to $8.25 million in 2017.
Staley remained with the 49ers as the clock struck 4.
Joe Haden, cornerback, Cleveland Browns
The Browns cornerback could be the big name most likely to be dealt, according to Ian Rapoport. If he shows he’s healthy this week, talks with other teams could start to get serious.
Haden has suffered through a series of injuries that have limited him to just nine games over the past two seasons. Haden has proven that he can be a star when healthy, as he has made two Pro Bowl teams, but he has not consistently demonstrated that since 2014. For the 0-7 Browns, it may make sense to unload a pricey veteran with some remaining value to accumulate at least one draft pick in return.
Haden’s contract could be one issue for teams. CBS’ Jason La Canfora suggests that given Haden’s bloated extension, a five-year, $67.5 million deal that does not expire until 2019, it remains unlikely that any team would be willing to take on a contract that large.
Nevertheless, the Browns may be inclined to move Haden due to incidents like the one last year in which Haden told the coaching staff that he would choose not to play with an injured finger, according to a report from ESPN’s Pat McManamon. McManamon notes that the Browns may be able to extract a third- or fourth-round pick in a deal should they find a team that would take on Haden’s contract.
Haden will have a chance to add to Cleveland’s “titletown” hopes, as he’s still with the Browns.
Tramon Williams, cornerback, Cleveland Browns
Haden isn’t the only cornerback the Browns might be looking to trade. Tramon Williams, an 11-year NFL veteran, is another name to watch before the deadline:
It’s not just Joe Haden who the #Browns have talked about dealing, but CB Tramon Williams, as well. Both signed, at least, through 2017.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 1, 2016
In his second season with the Browns, Williams has 22 tackles and an interception. He spent nine years with the Packers and has a total of 30 picks in his career.
The Browns did not move Williams.
Torrey Smith, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers could look to trade Torrey Smith in order to gain value from a team in need of a veteran wideout. Smith came to the 49ers in 2015, two years removed from a monstrous 1,128-yard 2013 campaign for the Ravens. His production with the 49ers has been a far cry from his past performance, catching just six touchdowns and gaining 862 yards in his two seasons with the team.
However, the market seems to be in demand for Smith’s services. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that “multiple teams” have shown some sort of interest in Smith as the Nov. 1 trade deadline approaches. Jason La Canfora of CBS sees the Eagles as a likely destination for Smith, expecting that the team will look to acquire a wideout.
Wherever Smith ends up, the 49ers should not expect a massive loot in return. Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News believes that Smith’s underwhelming statistics during his SF tenure will prevent the team from swapping the receiver for a first-round pick.
When all dust settles, Smith may remain in San Francisco. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that the “49ers are neither shopping Smith nor is a trade anticipated.”
Despite tons of talk of him being moved, Smith remained with the 49ers.