Three big transactions in the NFL have already hit the league, sowing discord and madness; matt discusses their potential implications.
Big name trades don’t really seem to happen all that often in the NFL. In a conservative, copycat league, front offices and general managers are not prone to letting go of their best assets to build for the future – instead, the “win now” mentality dominated the league for many years. Because of this, the trading deadline in the NFL used to be a snoozefest. No longer the case, my friends.
These past couple weeks, we have witnessed the start of the changing NFL. The teams that used to be dominant are no longer atop their old divisions, and perennial losers are now poised to win the whole thing. This season just proves that anything can happen.
Three big name trades happened over the last few days, and I’d just like to take a moment to discuss their implications.
Miami Dolphins Send Jay Ajayi To The Philadelphia Eagles For 2018 4th Round Draft Pick
For many, this came as a surprise because Jay Ajayi is still fresh in our memories as having been the life and spark of the Miami offense these past few seasons. Apparently, this was not really the case, and his lack of work ethic on and off the field was starting to damage his relationship with the team. In truth, Miami isn’t losing out on their biggest weapon on the ground, although I think the fourth round pick is not due compensation for Ajayi’s potential.
Ajayi joins a fairly talented Eagles backfield consisting of LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles. He will likely see a lot of third down action, sharing with Darren Sproles. Making this trade might signal that Philadelphia is strengthening their rushing attack to complement Carson Wentz’s passing prowess – one more RB to worry about means Wentz can work with an easier defense. It also means that the Dolphins want to overhaul their offense, starting with Jay Ajayi and probably ending in the release of another Jay on the team (the quarterback, if you couldn’t tell).
Carolina Panthers Send Kelvin Benjamin To The Buffalo Bills For 2018 3rd & 7th Round Draft Pick
Something stands out to me about this trade: The Panthers are losing a really good wideout, and the Bills are just getting one back.
After the Bills traded Sammy Watkins away, I wondered who they had at the receiving options: Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes – not exactly household names. They seem to have been managing just fine, but now that Benjamin is in town, the absence of Watkins might be felt a little less. Interesting thing to note: The Buffalo Bills currently employ former Panthers defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, and former Panthers assistant general manager, Brandon Beane. Perhaps they had something to do with this trade?
Meanwhile, the Panthers are letting go of a dynamic player, but not one they feel is irreplaceable. Their likely move will be to place Devin Funchess in Benjamin’s old spot, and promote one of their speedier receivers to the WR2 spot. How this works out is entirely dependent on if the Panthers offensive scheming actually works out.
ESPN reports that the Panthers want to reduce redundancies on the field, which makes some sense. Kelvin Benjamin is built like Panthers WR2 Devin Funchess, but they are not the same receivers. I also do not think the Panthers are getting proper compensation for Benjamin (just a 3rd? and a 7th?), but perhaps I’m overrating his impact to the team myself.
Still, it’ll be exciting to see what the Bills can do with their new, powerful WR1, and what the Panthers will do offensively to fill that void they just created.
New England Patriots Send Jimmy Garoppolo To The San Francisco 49ers For 2018 2nd Round Draft Pick
This trade stunned me because I did not believe the New England Patriots would ever let go of Garoppolo, the former soon-to-be heir to Tom Brady. But upon further examination and thought, this trade to the 49ers only makes sense for both sides.
For the Patriots, they are facing facts and realizing that Jimmy Garoppolo really wants to play instead of sitting behind Brady for god know how many more years. Garoppolo is in the final year of his rookie contract with New England. Barring Brady’s retirement, Garoppolo knows returning to New England would only result in him sitting on a bench. And given how well Tom Brady has been playing, retirement probably wasn’t very likely. By getting traded to the 49ers, he now has a chance to become a starter in the NFL, and the 2nd round pick received in recompense will help the Patriots find his replacement, the replacement heir to Brady.
On the 49ers side, they now have a potential QB of the future, a face of the franchise. Garoppolo impressed in his limited playtime last year, when Brady was out from his Deflategate suspensions. Starting two games last year and winning them both, the East Illinois alumni managed a 68.3% completion average while passing for 690 yards and 5 touchdowns. Impressive, to say the least. Detractors will say he benefited from the Patriots “system,” but that remains to be seen until Garoppolo sees meaningful playing time next year, or even later this year.
The AFC East is looking very different after this slew of trades. The Bills look poised to take their division, while the Patriots and Dolphins are looking a touch weaker than before. On the NFC side, the 49ers now have a real quarterback in the mix to build around, and the Eagles are continuing to build around their franchise quarterback. It’ll be exciting to see how this changes up the whole landscape of the NFL.