The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, with several teams making legitimate haymakers of moves aiming to load up for the stretch run of the 2023 season and others clearly put up a "for sale" sign with an eye towards next spring's NFL Draft.
Stars such as Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Kevin Byard, and Ezra Cleveland were among those on the move, as the Chicago Bears made one of the most fascinating trades of the day, and the San Francisco 49ers added yet another game-altering weapon to one of the league's deepest front-sevens.
Here's a look at a grade for every team, involved in every trade made ahead of the 2023 NFL trade deadline:
Bills Trade for Packers CB Rasul Douglas
The Trade: The Bills traded a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Packers in exchange for CB Rasul Douglas, and a fifth-round pick.
The Grade for Bills: A
Buffalo picks up a more than competent cornerback to stem the tide in a secondary that had been reeling since Tre'Davious White was lost for the season. Douglas has plenty of big-game experience, and so far this season has already intercepted a pass, while holding opposing wide receivers to 11.9 yards per reception when quarterbacks target him. Douglas has the chance to make an immediate impact on the Bills' secondary down the stretch.
The Grade for Packers: A
This might be the prototypical example of a trade that — at least on paper — works out for both teams. Buffalo fills a pressing need, and the Packers, who might be facing a need to retool this offseason, pick up a Day 2 draft pick for a player they were likely going to struggle to keep long-term, anyway.
Lions Trade for Browns WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Trade: The Lions traded a sixth-round pick in the 2025 draft to the Browns in exchange for WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Grade for Lions: B+
Anytime a team can swap a late Day 3 pick in the NFL Draft for a player who can contribute immediately, that's a win for all parties involved. Donovan Peoples-Jones saw limited playing time with the Browns this season, catching eight of just 17 targets for 97 yards. But, Peoples-Jones is also a vital special teams contributor, and helps round out one of the more balanced receiving corps in the league, alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown, Khalif Raymond, and emerging deep-threat Jameson Williams.
The Grade for Browns: B
Cleveland, even without Nick Chubb, has seen its offense develop into a ground and pound operation with Peoples-Jones seeing a diminished role in what has become a diminished passing game. The Browns add a draft pick that could be used to create some flexibility sometime over the course of the next two drafts.
49ers Trade for Commanders EDGE Chase Young
The Trade: The 49ers traded a third-round pick to the Commanders in exchange for edge rusher Chase Young
The Grade for 49ers: A
John Lynch is nothing if not aggressive at the trade deadline. One year removed from the 49ers general manager trading for Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco adds Chase Young to what was already one of the deepest collections of pass-rushers in the NFL. Young, who has 5.0 sacks so far this season, now gets to race Nick Bosa to the quarterback every down with the likes of Randy Gregory, Clelin Ferrell, and Dre Greenlaw also contributing meaningful snaps off the edge.
The Grade for Commanders: D
Pass rush is a premium position in the NFL, as underscored by the 49ers adding Young to one of the deepest rotations of rushers in the league, and in the span of four hours, Washington traded both Young and Montez Sweat. While Young's career has been plagued by injuries, it's difficult to judge this trade without also recalling the fact that Washington passed on the likes of quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert to select the game-wrecker out of Ohio State. While no one would blame Washington for taking Young, when you look at the meager return the Commanders netted in this trade, combined with passing on two franchise quarterbacks, it becomes a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
Jaguars Trade for Vikings OG Ezra Cleveland
The Trade: The Jaguars traded a Day 3 pick to the Vikings in exchange for offensive guard Ezra Cleveland
The Grade for Jaguars: A
Jacksonville is one of the hottest teams in football, in the midst of a league-high four-game winning streak, and adding an interior offensive lineman of Cleveland's caliber further strengthens what has become a pretty prolific offense. So far this season, Cleveland has only allowed one sack and 10 total quarterback pressures. With the Jaguars, Cleveland gets to reunite with former Vikings offensive line coach Phil Rauscher. Not to mention help keep Trevor Lawrence upright, and open running lanes for Travis Etienne.
The Grade for Vikings: C
Cleveland is set to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, and after Dalton Risner stepped in over the past two games with Cleveland sidelined, and played well, the 25-year-old became a bit expendable. Still, for a team that believes it is legitimately in the playoff mix, trading away young offensive line talent doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If the Vikings had no plans to bring Cleveland back for 2024, or beyond, than acquiring any sort of draft capital is a win, and a step towards beginning an overdue rebuild.
Vikings Trade for Cardinals QB Joshua Dobbs
The Trade: The Vikings traded a sixth-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for quarterback Joshua Dobbs, and a seventh-round pick.
The Grade for Vikings: C+
Minnesota needed to do something at quarterback, in the aftermath of losing Kirk Cousins for the remainder of the season after tearing his Achilles Sunday against the Packers. However, it remains to be seen if Dobbs is capable of steadying the ship and keeping the Vikings in the throes of the postseason chase. In 16 career games, the former fourth-round draft choice has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,025 yards with 10 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
The Grade for Cardinals: B
The Cardinals get to simultaneously move on from a quarterback who threw five interceptions over the past four weeks, while clearing the deck for Kyler Murray to return for this year's stretch run and potentially open the door for either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye's arrival in next spring's NFL Draft, while accumulating an asset to their arsenal.
Bears trade for Commanders EDGE Montez Sweat
The Trade: The Bears traded a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Commanders in exchange for edge rusher Montez Sweat.
The Grade for Bears: B
Ryan Poles pried arguably the top pass-rusher available at the trade deadline, but paid a king's ransom to do so. The Bears have 10 sacks as a team, so far in 2023, and Sweat arrives with 6.5 so far this season. Meanwhile, Yannick Ngakoue, Rasheem Green, Khalid Kareem are all free agents at year's end. Chicago is projected to have a league-high $95.7 million in cap space in 2024, so there is a possibility that a long-term extension with Sweat comes together quickly and the 29-year-old becomes a centerpiece of a rebuilding defense. Otherwise, if this is an eight-game rental for a team that will likely be underdogs each week the rest of this season, this would be an awful deal for Poles and the Bears.
The Grade for Commanders: A+
Washington was never going to re-sign Sweat, and the Commanders have solid depth along the front-seven, even without the former first-round draft choice. Martin Mayhew comes away with a draft pick that could potentially fall in the top-40 selections next spring which could be equally valuable as a trade chip to move back into the first-round or select a blue chip prospect in Round 2.
Seahawks Trade for Giants DL Leonard Williams
The Trade: The Seahawks traded a 2024 second-round pick, and a 2025 fifth-round pick to the Giants in exchange for Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
The Grade for Seahawks: B-
Seattle adds an immediate and potentially high-impact starter at defensive end, further buttressing a young secondary that has become the backbone of a promising young defense. From an on the field production standpoint, this move is a home run for general manager John Schneider. Williams arrives in the Emerald City having logged two sacks with 22 quarterback pressures so far this season. However, Williams is in the final year of his contract, and with just $1.24 million in projected cap space for 2024, the Seahawks paid a hefty price for a potential rental player. Especially if Seattle can't get a long-term agreement done prior to free agency.
The Grade for Giants: A
The Giants were never going to bring back Williams, and the 29-year-old might have been New York's most valuable trade chip. General manager Joe Schoen was able to add a premium draft pick in 2024 that could easily be flipped in a future trade to move up in the draft. Given that the Giants could be in the market for a quarterback, and might be within range to move up to select one of the top prospects next spring, Schoen did a nice job bolstering his ammunition to potentially trade up next spring or to keep adding talent to a roster in the relative early stages of a rebuild.
Eagles Trade for Titans Safety Kevin Byard
The Trade: The Tennessee Titans traded All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for safety Terrell Edmunds, a 2024 fifth-round pick, and a 2024 sixth-round pick.
The Grade for Eagles: A+
Howie Roseman strikes again. In an encore of a 2022 draft night heist of All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown, Roseman plucked an immediate upgrade at one of the Eagles' few remaining positions of need by investing a pair of late-round draft picks in All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. Byard, deemed by one NFL Scouting Director as an "excellent fit" for the Eagles defense, has already logged 56 total tackles this season and provides a versatile presence on the back end of Philly's secondary capable of dropping into coverage or throwing his weight around near the line of scrimmage in run-support.
The Grade for Titans: C
Tennessee seems to be walking a tightrope between committing to rebuilding, and trying to make a playoff push in the somewhat wide open AFC South. It is hard to imagine that the package of picks coming back to Tennessee was the best that general manager Ran Carthon could have fetched for one of the premier defensive players in recent franchise history. But, it's unfair to fully judge this trade from the Titans' perspective until seeing what other moves Carthon makes at the deadline, and how he invests these selections next spring.
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