Arizona Cardinals: Sell Larry Fitzgerald
Jeremy Bergman: Remember Week 6, when, like many Arizona residents, the aging Cardinals stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth? A long trip across the pond has since clarified the Cards’ mortality. With backup Drew Stanton under center in place of Carson Palmer (out with a broken arm) and the Rams (5-2) and Seahawks (4-2) out of reach in the NFC West, it’s time to rebuild and sell the franchise player. Maybe even to his hometown Minnesota Vikings, who already have two great receivers but could use a third to steal the NFC crown.
Atlanta Falcons: Buy Vontae Davis
Around The NFL staff: We’re assuming a trade with San Francisco to bring back Kyle Shanahan is out of the cards (sorry, Falcons fans). With the offense still struggling, Dan Quinn’s defense must pick up the slack. It’s not the biggest need, but adding a physical corner like the Colts’ Davis could transform Atlanta’s defense. He’s an upgrade over Robert Alford on the outside. Becoming stickier on the back end would help elevate Quinn’s pass rush. With the Colts headed down the tube and Davis about to hit free agency, it shouldn’t cost a ton to pry him away from Indy.
Carolina Panthers: Sell Julius Peppers
Nick Shook: Peppers is being used marginally at best, participating in just about half of Carolina’s defensive snaps this season (198 of 383). With Peppers in the twilight of his career, this move seems like a deal Bill Belichick would make if he felt Peppers had demonstrated he has enough value to contribute. New England also happens to be in the market for an edge rusher. This one seems out of left field, but also completely plausible.
Chicago Bears: Buy wide receivers
Around The NFL staff: Winning with a run game and a stout defense is all well and good, but it isn’t helping speed up Mitchell Trubisky’s development. The rookie quarterback needs players who can win a route versus coverage and be a weapon on the outside — even after the Bears acquired Dontrelle Inman from the Chargers for a seventh-rounder. Getting Trubisky receivers who can demand attention and get open in key spots will go a long way toward aiding his growth. The Steelers have said they won’t trade Martavis Bryant, but it’s worth making a call. Or perhaps the 49ers would be willing to let Pierre Garcon go at the right price. A veteran who can help Trubisky with the nuances of the pass game would help boost hope for the Bears’ future.
Dallas Cowboys: Buy T.J. Ward
Edward Lewis: The Cowboys seem to be satisfied with Jeff Heath’s play at safety so far this season, and they like the potential shown by rookie Xavier Woods. But a veteran like Ward, who’s disgruntled with his playing time down in Tampa Bay, would no doubt be an upgrade over both of those DBs. Ward might not be the best cover guy, but he isn’t afraid to play in the box, which would help the Cowboys’ weak run defense immensely.
Detroit Lions: Sell Eric Ebron
Marc Sessler: I talked about this in my trade proposals piece. It’s the most logical move for Detroit after three-plus frustrating seasons with a first-round tight end who has yet to live up to the billing. Promising general manager Bob Quinn could net a draft pick for a player other teams will believe they can groom into something valuable. It just isn’t working out with the Lions, and these trades often boil down to team fit and locker-room sanity. The compensation will be modest.
Green Bay Packers: Buy offensive-line depth
Around The NFL staff: GM Ted Thompson isn’t going to shell out valuable draft picks for stop-gap help while his franchise quarterback sits on the sideline. Likewise, he’s not going to sell quality players on team-friendly deals, especially when the Pack still has a chance to sneak into the postseason. Perhaps Green Bay can try to fill a minor void by finding a low-level backup offensive lineman to aid a unit that has been injury prone all season.
Los Angeles Rams: Sell Sammy Watkins
Edward Lewis: Watkins hasn’t been bad for the Rams this season, but he certainly hasn’t been worth the second-rounder they gave up for the soon-to-be free agent. He has just 264 yards and two touchdowns thus far, so the Rams wouldn’t miss his production. And with a name brand that would command more than he’s probably worth at the moment, the Rams could possibly get back a starter somewhere else, or at least future draft compensation.
Minnesota Vikings: Don’t do a thing
Marc Sessler: Every team comes packed with strengths and weaknesses. The Vikings, though, are leaning on a formula that feels destined to take them deep into the NFC playoffs: They have a Super Bowl-worthy defense and just enough from an offense missing rookie running back Dalvin Cook. It makes no sense to jettison one of the quarterbacks — not this year, and not considering the durability questions — and Minnesota has gotten by in the backfield with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. In this exercise, this is one team that should sit tight and not fiddle with the roster’s chemistry.
New Orleans Saints: Sell Hau’oli Kikaha
Nick Shook: With new arrival A.J. Klein thriving in the Sam linebacker role in New Orleans’ defense, his understudy, Kikaha, could be had by another team in need of an on-ball linebacker. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport already tossed Kikaha’s name into the trade conversation last week, and with New Orleans again stuck in the salary-cap underworld, the Saints could use another late-round pick that could potentially be combined with others in a deal for a higher pick in the upcoming draft.
New York Giants: Sell Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Jeremy Bergman: Save an Advil. The Giants can ship their headache away. DRC is a talented albeit aging corner with two years left on his deal in New York, and he’s inspired more headlines this season for off-field dramatics than on-field production. The 1-6 G-Men should focus on securing the No. 1 pick, not replicating last year’s defensive dominance. That means parting with a key piece of what was once an unbeatable secondary.
Philadelphia Eagles: Buy Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Edward Lewis: The Eagles desperately need corners, even with the additional help Ronald Darby will provide upon his return from an ankle injury. Landing a player like Rodgers-Cromartie, who’s been one of the best cover corners in the NFC East but has butted heads with Ben McAdoo in New York this season, could turn the Eagles from the NFC’s top team to perhaps the Super Bowl favorite.
San Francisco 49ers: Sell everyone — starting with Carlos Hyde and Joe Staley
Jeremy Bergman: Winless and losing a neck-and-neck race with the abhorrent Browns for the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, San Francisco should be in the business of exporting veterans, beginning with Hyde. Kyle Shanahan clearly has a preference for rookie running back Matt Brieda, and Hyde’s services would be indispensable on an offensively-challenged playoff hopeful like the Ravens. Staley, a five-time Pro Bowler, could be plugged right into the slot vacated by injured vet Jason Peters on the Eagles’ offensive line.
Seattle Seahawks: Buy Duane Brown
Edward Lewis: The Seahawks’ O-line situation has been rough for several seasons now, and they continue to look for offensive tackles they can rely on week to week. Brown would solve those issues. He’s a rock-solid pass protector, and given his issues with the Texans, which included a lengthy holdout, the ‘Hawks could get him for a reasonable price.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Buy Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Jeremy Bergman: Despite being two games under .500, Tampa Bay still considers itself a playoff contender in the wide-open NFC South. The Bucs’ defense just needs to be more consistent and get off the field on third down. Tampa Bay has issues in the secondary. While playing T.J. Ward more (provided the Bucs don’t follow Edward Lewis’ advice in the Cowboys blurb above) might solve that problem, the Bucs can address their immediate concerns at nickel with a trade for an unhappy veteran corner on a dysfunctional team.
Washington Redskins: Sell Terrelle Pryor
Around The NFL staff: Pryor has seen his play time decrease sharply in favor of former first-round pick Josh Doctson. If Doctson stays healthy, Pryor will likely continue to be shackled to the sidelines for stretches. With Pryor in Washington on a one-year deal, it makes sense for the Redskins to get what they can for the receiver now rather than watch him walk away for nothing in the offseason. Perhaps shipping him to receiver-needy Buffalo could make sense for both sides?