The NFL trade deadline, on Oct. 31, is just over one month away and with each passing week it seems even this early in the season that there is already beginning to be some separation between contenders and pretenders and would be buyers and sellers as deal-making season nears.
Several teams might already be itching to get a look at young quarterbacks, others could be in need of a pass-rusher to put them over the top. Likewise, Super Bowl contending general managers might be inclined to start offering future draft picks for players they believe can put them over the top, and teams falling out of contention in the season's first month might already have one eye trained on how to begin a rebuild by moving on from high-priced stars.
Here's a first look at seven players around the league who could be on the move as the 2023 NFL trade deadline nears:
QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are 1-2, and coming off one of the most lopsided losses in the Mike Vrabel era, falling 27-3 to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Given that the Titans chose Will Levis in the second-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and also have second-year signal caller Malik Willis in the quarterback room, the clock might be ticking down faster than ever towards Tennessee turning the page to at least one of their young passers.
While Tannehill has not been great, completing a meager 59 percent of his passes for 549 yards with one touchdown to one interception, it is fair to wonder if a change of scenery and a new scheme wouldn't do the 35-year-old some good. If the Titans are potentially contemplating a quarterback change, anyway, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if Ran Carthon makes some calls to shop Tannehill to acquire some assets to build around either Levis or Willis in the future.
DE Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has built one of the most consistently dominant and disruptive defensive lines in the NFL, and as a result, former first-round pick defensive end Derek Barnett has struggled to see the field.
Barnett has appeared in only 41 snaps, in large part due to Brandon Graham still playing at a high level, and the emergence of first-round pick Jalen Carter emerging as a legitimate Defensive Rookie of The Year favorite. Prior to tearing his ACL in Philadelphia's season-opener last season, Barnett compiled 21.5 sacks and 149 total tackles through his first 68 career games. Because pass-rush remains a premium position, and the Eagles have a glut of rushers on the roster, Barnett is a name to watch for contending teams looking for depth at the position and for Roseman to flip for a draft pick to keep fortifying Philly's roster.
RB Michael Carter, New York Jets
It wasn't long ago that Michael Carter was viewed as one of the core players the Jets planned on building their offense around, that is, until Breece Hall's arrival last spring.
Carter's 21 games give him real in-game experience, and his 4.0 yards per carry average with seven touchdowns through his two-plus seasons make him an attractive option for teams looking for a capable complementary back, especially teams with legitimate postseason aspirations. Given that Carter has one more season on his rookie contract, he's an affordable depth player at an affordable price. Hall and Dalvin Cook are entrenched at the top of the Jets' depth chart, and Carter is a player general manager Joe Douglas could flip to add a draft pick to keep adding to one of the most exciting young cores in the league.
S Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals
Budda Baker will miss the next four games with a hamstring injury, while on injured reserve, but if the Cardinals hold a deadline fire sale, the veteran could give a contending team's secondary a significant boost for the stretch run.
The Cardinals gave Baker a raise prior to the season, adding a $300,000 signing bonus with the potential to reach an addition $2.1 million in incentives, after the veteran requested a trade during the offseason. However, Baker's new deal is hardly prohibitive to a trade, as Arizona would create $13.9 million in new cap space this season, while triggering $3.92 million dead-cap hits in 2023 and 204 if he's dealt. If Arizona falls further out of the NFC West race, expect Baker's name to re-emerge on the trade market.
WR Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams has once again made his frustrations with the Las Vegas Raiders known, and the organization could be teetering on the brink of throwing a 'for sale' sign in front of some of the team's highest-paid players amid a dreadful 1-2 start.
Adams remains a difference-making talent, and seems to have at least one eye trained on trying to compete for a Super Bowl ring. Las Vegas does not seem equipped to give the 30-year-old that chance anytime soon, and there are several contending teams who could be put over the top by adding a difference-making receiver such as Adams. Through three games this season, Adams has hauled in 25 receptions for 322 yards with three touchdowns, but his production would certainly be more impactful on a team closer to competing for a championship than the Raiders appear to be.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
According to ESPN, there hasn't been any progress on talks between Taylor and the Colts on any sort of contract extension or cooling of the star running back's desire to be traded.
While Taylor remains the most productive running back available on the market, the market at the position is in a much different place in late September than it was during training camp. Neither the Miami Dolphins nor Philadelphia Eagles — two teams initially linked to a possible Taylor deal, have any need for a running back. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns seem content to forge ahead with Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt. Still, if the Colts do decide to move Taylor, there's always the chance that a contending team views him as a difference-maker, which could hasten a trade going down.
Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore's five-year and $100 million commitment to Roquan Smith, and Smith starting the season at a dominant level, could make Patrick Queen expendable as the deadline nears.
The Ravens declined Queen's fifth-year option, and could shop him at the deadline, especially to defenses who view the 24-year-old as a missing piece. A versatile linebacker with a solid nose for the football, Queen has 11.0 career sacks and has started off the 2023 campaign with 31 total tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack.
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