(Image credit John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
The NFL Trade Deadline is approaching soon and this got me thinking. Who will be the teams that buy, Avoid any negotiation, or sell players during the trade deadline? In this article, I continue by looking at the NFC South and take a look at what each team in that division will possibly do during the trade deadline.
Atlanta Falcons - Sellers
Absolutely the Falcons should be sellers during the trade deadline. The Falcons can’t grow too much via free agency because of the bad contracts that were on the team this season. But what the Falcons can do is to build through the draft. The Falcons started to acquire draft capital after the Julio Jones trade to the Tennessee Titans. Now the Falcons are not going to make the playoffs this year due to how competitive the NFC South is right now. What I would do if I was GM Terry Fontenot during this deadline is two things. First, try as much as you can to acquire more draft capital that can be utilized to help improve the Falcons. The second is to try getting rid of one of their bad contracts on their team (We Will get to that). I fully expect Atlanta to be active sellers during this trade deadline. In fact, I will list 5 players that the Atlanta Falcons can trade away during the trade deadline.
Players the Falcons can trade away
RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson - Many will disagree with me right now as Patterson has been the best player on this offense that came out of nowhere. Patterson has fit very well in Arthur Smith’s offense. The problem is Patterson is now past his prime and is currently 30 years old. I have never seen Patterson's value this high before ever since the Vikings reached on him and was selected in the first round 29th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. It would be foolish if the Falcons did not market Patterson in the trade market, especially with how good his contract is to a team that needs a WR, Running back, or special teams player on their team. They can get some solid draft capital in the mid-rounds if they trade Patterson and help build the Falcons.
TE Hayden Hurst - Look I like Hayden Hurst and his journey to get into the NFL as he went from being a baseball prospect from the Pittsburgh Pirates to a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. But I don’t see Hayden Hurst as the long-term starter on the Falcons especially as they used a first-round draft pick on Kyle Pitts. Hurst’s contract expires at the end of the season as the team chose to decline his 5th-year option and I question whether the Falcons will extend him or not. What they can do is acquire more resources to use when building this team. I would definitely get what I can for Hayden Hurst and stockpile draft picks to help rebuild the Falcons when they can fully blow the team-up.
OL Kaleb McGary - The Kaleb McGary selection has not worked out as of now for the Atlanta Falcons as he has not been consistent throughout his time as the starter. It also does not help that McGary has had some durability concerns with the Falcons as well. He is not working with the Falcons but I guarantee that a team that has a poor offensive line could take a chance on McGary and see if a change of environment will help the young offensive lineman.
LB Dante Fowler Jr. - This Atlanta Falcons defense is a complete trainwreck right now. One of the few bright spots on this defense has been Dante Fowler Jr. Especially as he has been one of their strongest pass rushers on the team. Unfortunately, his contract will expire at the end of the season and I don’t see how the Falcons will re-sign him as they don’t have a ton of room to re-sign him due to the low salary cap. According to Spotrac the Falcons currently have 1.3 million on their salary cap currently ranked at 26th. If I am the Falcons what I could do is to trade Dante and his 10.6 million dollar cap hit to a team that desperately needs LB help. If Fowler continues to play well in these next few weeks they can easily get a lot of draft capital value to help build the team and gain more salary relief. I can absolutely see Fowler being moved during the trade deadline like he was years ago when the LA Rams acquired him.
DT Grady Jarrett - Remember when I said the second goal Terry Fontenot should do during the trade deadline is to try getting rid of one of their bad contracts on their team. This is one of their opportunities to try and utilize the Osweiler Effect. If you didn't read my NFC North Buyers, Avoiders, or Sellers article, the Osweiler Effect is when a sports organization trades a player with an awful contract but offers a high draft pick in order for the opposite team to accept the trade and allow that bad contract on their salary cap. It is commonly seen in the NHL but there are many scenarios of it happening in the NFL as well and the most notable one is the Brock Osweiler trade between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns. I can see the Falcons try to do this as the Falcons still have their own draft pick and the Titans 2nd round pick as well from the Julio Jones trade. The Falcons will most likely be picking in the Top 10, maybe Top 5 of this year's draft. What they can do is market that second-round draft pick or both of those two picks to any team and take Grady Jarrett’s awful contract. Grady Jarrett currently has a 21 million dollar cap hit and his contract expires in 2023 and would immediately solve the salary issues with the Falcons if the Falcons can get a buyer for his contract. The only way to do that is to offer draft picks to take his awful contract.
Carolina Panthers - Avoiders
Carolina already showed that they were buyers early in the season after acquiring CJ Henderson and Stephon Gilmore to their secondary in exchange for next to nothing. But I don't see Carolina doing much during the trade deadline. Especially as they will be getting healthier in the season and I would not sacrifice any more draft capital than they already did. The Panthers in the 2022 NFL Draft don’t have a Day 2 pick in this draft class. So if they buy at the deadline they will have to sacrifice draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft which I don't see Carolina doing that now. I Don't see Carolina selling as they are pushing to try and make the playoffs this season. It would be best for Carolina to avoid making moves during the Trade Deadline.
New Orleans Saints - Avoiders
I don't see the Saints doing anything during the trade deadline. They cant be buyers as the Saints as according to Spotrac are ranked 27th in total salary cap with around 1.1 million in cap space. I don’t see the saints selling at the deadline unless they get a good offer for WR Michael Thomas which I don’t see happening this season due to his injury concerns. The Saints current main goal right now is to battle for a playoff spot and I don’t see them selling now. If they don’t make the playoffs this season then I absolutely see the Saints trying to trade some players during the next offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Buyers
I debated Tampa Bay being either Avoiders or Buyers during the trade deadline as the Buccaneers don't really have a lot of weaknesses on their team. However, I decided to put them as buyers during the deadline especially as there is one big weakness that the Buccaneers need to improve if they want to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Position the Buccaneers could trade for
Cornerback - Tampa Bay’s defense is one of the best in the NFL today. The biggest weakness on that defense is at cornerback. Mainly due to injuries to Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Antonie Winfield (Safety). The team signed Richard Sherman to help out with their cornerbacks weakness but he didn’t last a drive and suffered a hamstring injury vs the Philadelphia Eagles. Who knows when the Buccaneers cornerback core will be healthier and I can see the Buccaneers be active during the trade deadline and acquire more depth at cornerback to currently fill in the weaknesses of the corners.