With the 2021 NFL trade deadline on the horizon -- it's set for Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m. ET -- it's time to start thinking about which players should be dangled as pieces in potential deals.
I've identified nine players who should be on the trade block, presented essentially in alphabetical order below. That's not to say I expect all of these players to be traded -- that depends on how the market shakes out, and whether the best deal can be struck. I'm simply saying the teams that hold the rights to these players should be thinking about whether they can get good value back.
Cleveland could theoretically use Beckham's help at receiver, even with go-to option Jarvis Landry nearing his return from injured reserve. The trouble is, Beckham hasn't really produced yet in three games this season after missing much of 2020 with a torn ACL. Beckham posted solid -- if unspectacular -- numbers in 2019, logging 1,035 receiving yards and four touchdowns while finishing behind Landry in targets. But Beckham and Baker Mayfield have had a difficult time establishing a reliable connection in their time together. If they're not able to get on the same page in the immediate future, the Browns would be better off getting what they can for a player who should still attract plenty of interest, with a contract that is set to run through 2023. Cleveland's competitive window is wide open now, and further upgrading its improved defense could potentially help the team more than continuing to wait for Beckham and Mayfield to jell.
Ferrell has played in 30 NFL games -- and he's failed to log a sack in 26 of them. Unfortunately for both him and the Raiders, he's having even less of an impact this season than he did in either of his previous two campaigns. He was a healthy scratch against Baltimore in Week 1, and while he's played in all four games since, he has yet to participate in more than 30 percent of the team's defensive snaps in any contest in 2021. He's also notched just four pressures this season, per Next Gen Stats, and zero QB hits. Perhaps a change of scenery would do him good, if there is a team out there that believes it can unlock the potential that made him the fourth overall pick in 2019.
Flowers is a vestige of the Matt Patricia/Bob Quinn regime -- and it's fair to say the five-year, $90 million deal he signed back in 2019 did not exactly work out as hoped. Flowers had seven sacks in his initial season in Detroit, but has just 3.5 since, having missed much of 2020 with a fractured forearm. Still, he's versatile enough to play outside linebacker or defensive end, and he remains solid against the run, garnering run-defense grades of 70 or better from Pro Football Focus in each of his three Detroit seasons so far. With the 0-5 Lions in clear rebuild mode, perhaps a contender could be enticed into coughing up some draft compensation in exchange for veteran help up front.
Including Mack is a bit of a cheat, given that we learned of his availability in September. But he's such a screamingly obvious candidate to be moved that I had to do it. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines make him expendable in Indianapolis, but it was only two years ago that Mack racked up 247 rushing attempts, 1,091 rushing yards and eight scores as Indy's primary ball-carrier. Any team that needs RB help should be able to pry the 25-year-old away from the Colts and give him a chance to log big-time carries again.
The Jets failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract with Maye over the summer, and they should consider getting what they can for him now rather than risk losing him to free agency or having to tag him a second time. Though he's been out with an ankle injury, he could be back before the deadline. Good players like Maye can always help any team in any situation, but with the Jets' competitive window still a ways away from opening -- and given that Robert Saleh's scheme is not dependent on the presence of a top-end safety -- they should move him and try to build for the future.
This is a bit of a tricky proposition. Yes, it is paramount to provide rookie QB Trevor Lawrence with the friendliest environment possible, and the offensive line is a big part of that. However, it's also important to build for the future, when Lawrence and the Jags should be more competitive, if everything goes according to plan. Robinson (who is playing on the franchise tag) and Norwell (who is turning 30 this month and is the Jags' top-graded lineman, per Pro Football Focus) might not be part of the team's long-term plans anyway. Rookie Walker Little has yet to play a snap, but he is theoretically waiting in the wings. Capitalizing on another team's need for immediate help up front could be the right move.
Robinson has failed to top 70 receiving yards just 25 times in his four seasons with the Chicago Bears -- but five of those instances have come this season, during one of the worst starts of Robinson's career. Excluding 2017, when he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, Robinson's put up the lowest yardage total (181) in the first five games of a season since he entered the NFL. The Bears' team-wide offensive struggles likely have something to do with this, however, and there are surely receiver-needy squads out there that would love to add a player who has otherwise managed to produce in unfavorable conditions over his NFL tenure. Like Maye and Cam Robinson, Allen Robinson is playing on the franchise tag, and the Bears should try to get value from him rather than go into the offseason facing the chance that he'll walk.
Watson trade talk is now nine months old, but I'm including him because, while the QB's status remains murky, with no resolution yet to his serious off-field issues, one thing is clear: Houston needs talent and draft capital. If a trade partner is willing to offer up the latter, the Texans MUST pull the trigger.