The 2022 NFL trade deadline is fast approaching. Once the clock strikes 4 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 1, the Tuesday after Week 8, that’s it. Historically, the biggest blockbusters are reserved for the offseason, but considering how much parity there is throughout the league six weeks into the year, there could be a bevy of teams working the phones to make or entertain offers.
Some clubs are poised to be buyers. Others are better positioned to sell. But here are 12 potential moves, with one already happening on Thursday (as we predicted) we like for both sides:
49ers acquire: RB Christian McCaffrey
Panthers acquire: 2nd round pick in 2023, a third-rounder in 2023, and a fourth-round pick in 2023. Plus, a fifth-rounder in 2024.
Kyle Shanahan can make most anyone thrive in his run-heavy system, but McCaffrey is of a different breed — so proven as a pass catcher that he’d give Jimmy Garoppolo (and/or Trey Lance down the road) an every-down safety valve, not to mention another Swiss Army Knife alongside Deebo Samuel. It wouldn’t be an easy pill to swallow for Panthers fans, but Carolina’s long-term needs are more important, and two picks plus a third-round rookie for a pricey, injury-prone RB is reasonable value.
Rams acquire: RB Melvin Gordon, 2023 sixth-round pick
Broncos acquire: RB Cam Akers
Gordon was briefly shunned for his fumbling issues in Denver, while Akers is already being shopped from L.A.’s nonexistent ground game. Why not swap outcast for outcast? Gordon would complement Darrell Henderson Jr., while Akers could instantly take over as the hurting Broncos’ RB1, then share touches with Javonte Williams in 2023.
Bills acquire: RB Antonio Gibson
Commanders acquire: 2023 fourth-round pick
Rather than surrender multiple picks for McCaffrey, Buffalo could enhance its backfield by permitting Ron Rivera to make Brian Robinson Jr. the undisputed No. 1 in Washington. Gibson’s skill set as a former hybrid wideout fits perfectly in an offense built to let Josh Allen air it out, and his arrival would take pressure off James Cook to be a play-making No. 2 for their playoff run.
Packers acquire: WR Kendrick Bourne
Patriots acquire: 2023 fourth-round pick
Between Bourne and Nelson Agholor, the Patriots wideouts on the fringe, the latter probably offers more of what Aaron Rodgers is desperately missing — proven downfield speed. But the former is younger, cheaper and generally more well-rounded, making him a better immediate chess piece for A-Rod and a better multi-year play for general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Ravens acquire: WR Denzel Mims
Jets acquire: 2023 conditional sixth-round pick
Adding DeSean Jackson is fun, but trusting the 35-year-old to stay healthy at this juncture is like trusting your slowest linebacker to chase down Lamar Jackson. Mims, meanwhile, is just 25 and could vie for a role in Baltimore’s lackluster WR corps through 2023. Jets GM Joe Douglas is friendly with the Ravens, spending the first 15 years of his career in Baltimore.
Rams acquire: OT Riley Reiff
Bears acquire: 2023 sixth-round pick
Wasting away on Chicago’s bench, Reiff is no longer full-time material, but he’s got 139 career starts at left or right tackle. Matthew Stafford has folded behind shoddy protection for much of the year, and with blind-side blocker Joe Noteboom now out for the year, the Rams could use any insurance they can get.
Chiefs acquire: DE Cameron Jordan
Saints acquire: 2023 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick
An all-time Saint, Jordan may desire to retire in New Orleans, but he’d probably rather go out chasing a ring, and his team is in dire need of restocking for a rebuild. This is the same price the Rams paid for Von Miller in 2021. The Chiefs could use a steadier edge presence alongside Chris Jones as they seek a Lombardi, and the natural follow-up would be …
Browns acquire: DE Frank Clark
Chiefs acquire: 2023 fifth-round pick
In the scenario where Jordan lands in Kansas City, Clark and his lucrative contract could be shipped out after several underwhelming seasons. The Browns already have a pair of big-name pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, but both starters have been banged up, their “D” badly needs reinforcements, and they’ve got money to spend. As a bonus, Cleveland is Clark’s hometown.
Patriots acquire: DT Daron Payne
Commanders acquire: 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick
Bill Belichick already has a stingy defense featuring Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux on the interior, but when has that stopped him from investing in more pieces for the front seven? The Pats’ run “D” could also stand to take a leap, and Payne might be one of the best up-and-comers at the position; he just happens to reside on a team that’s already up against it with big-money deals along the defensive front.
Dolphins acquire: OLB Robert Quinn
Bears acquire: 2024 fourth-round pick, 2023 seventh-round pick
Quinn has been a trade chip ever since Khalil Mack was moved this offseason. And Miami, which employed him for a single season back in 2018, ranks 22nd in defensive sack percentage. As a short-term bid to improve a hit-or-miss unit, you could do a lot worse, especially since Quinn, 32, could still be cut to save a big chunk of money in 2023.
Seahawks acquire: LB Roquan Smith
Bears acquire: 2023 third-round pick, 2024 fourth-round pick
Pete Carroll and Co. have been burned spending picks on big-name defensive veterans before, but Smith is the kind of heat-seeking missile their porous “D” desperately lacks. Chicago has already failed to extend the Pro Bowler long-term, whereas Seattle would ideally be getting a multi-year building block, presuming they extend him as part of the move.
Steelers acquire: CB William Jackson III, 2024 sixth-round pick
Commanders acquire: QB Mason Rudolph, 2024 seventh-round pick
Pittsburgh shouldn’t be in a hurry to forfeit assets for a struggling soon-to-be 30-year-old corner with a high salary, but their secondary could use reinforcements, they liked Jackson coming out of Houston, and they’ve revived former AFC North rivals at this position before. Rudolph, meanwhile, has no role with Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky at QB, but could at least give Washington added insurance for its inevitable 2023 QB competition. Bonus: he grew up rooting for the Commanders!
Vikings acquire: S Johnathan Abram
Raiders acquire: 2024 fifth-round pick
Minnesota’s cruising toward a potential playoff run, but with first-rounder Lewis Cine injured at safety, they could use more of a thumper to pair with Harrison Smith on the back end, allowing Camryn Bynum to roam in a situational role. Abram is basically a lost cause in Las Vegas, relegated to the bench after a mercurial run for the replaced regime that drafted him.