Biggest Surprises Of The NFL Trade Deadline
The NFL trade deadline has officially passed and what it day it was Tuesday around the league.
From starting off the morning with an inter-division trade to ending it with a bombshell in Jacksonville (we’ll get to both shortly), 2022 was the biggest trade deadline the NFL has had in history. A record 12 players were involved in ten deals before the 4 p.m. deadline slammed shut.
With so much action in the last 48 hours, let’s break down some of the biggest surprises from this season’s deadline day.
The trade deadline was fun. Who made the best move? pic.twitter.com/uhx0vcS2wE
— NFL (@NFL) November 2, 2022
The rare inter-division trade kicked off the day with the Minnesota Vikings acquiring tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions for draft capital. The Lions received a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick from Minnesota, also sending back a 2023 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick as well.
Hockenson, 25, is a budding star at the position, on pace for his best statistical season of his young career. Through eight weeks, he has gathered 26 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns. His lone Pro Bowl appearance came in 2020, registering 67 catches for 723 yards and six TDs.
The former Iowa Hawkeye is in his fourth year of his career, still on his rookie deal that costs Minnesota practically nothing this season. However, his fifth-year option has been exercised by his previous team, scheduled to make almost $9.4 million in 2023.
Minnesota had a need at the position after Irv Smith Jr. was placed on injured reserve Tuesday due to a high-ankle sprain. The injury occurred in Week 8 and will likely keep the Smith off the field until the end of the year.
Hockenson, one of three players to record 175 or more yards in a game this season, will now team up with quarterback Kirk Cousins and the dangerous Vikings offense.
Possibly the biggest shocker of the day, wide receiver Calvin Ridley was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars from the Atlanta Falcons.
The trade itself is a complex one, given that Ridley is currently serving a year-long suspension from the NFL for gambling on his former team last season.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: “There are conditions attached to this trade for Calvin Ridley. If he gets reinstated bye a date, it’s worth a 2023 5th, otherwise it’s for a 6th [round pick]. If he makes the team in 2024, it’s at least a 4th. If he hits play-time milestone, it’s a 3rd. If Jax get a long-term done, it’s a 2.”
Got it, makes sense? Good. Basically the Jaguars were in need of a clear-cut No.1 option for Trevor Lawrence and they pre-ordered one for the 2023 season.
The crazy part, Ridley was suspended for betting on his former team, the Falcons, to beat his new team, the Jaguars, Week 11 of the 2021 season. Atlanta went on to win that contest, 21-14.
Now he's on the #Jaguars. Un-freakin-real.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 1, 2022
A former Alabama standout, Ridley had his best season in 2020, breaking out for 90 catches and 1,374 yards in 15 games played. The former Falcon only played five games last season, dealing with mental health issues that caused him to step away from the team.
Ridley will now spearhead a pass-catcher core of Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones Jr., Zay Jones and Evan Engram, looking to give Lawrence all the treats he needs to operate.
Disgruntled Players Staying Put After The NFL Trade Deadline Passed
Despite all the movement that happened Tuesday, players that seemed most likely to be traded, weren’t.
That list includes:
- WR Brandin Cooks
- WR Elijah Moore
- RB Cam Akers
- RB Kareem Hunt
Each player on this list has either asked for a release or trade from their respective teams.
First Brandin Cooks because this one is the ugliest.
Cooks has been traded three times in his nine-year career, starting out in New Orlean before going to New England, Los Angeles (Rams) and now the Houston Texans. The veteran pass-catcher was in trade rumors around the deadline in 2021, and was supplanted in them once again this season with the Texans at the bottom of the standings.
Wanting to play for a contender, Houston seemed ready to deal Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys for a draft picks. Unfortunately the two sides could not come to an agreement regarding draft compensation and the player’s $18 million guaranteed salary next season.
Not traded, Cooks made his opinion known Tuesday when the deadline passed.
Don’t take a man’s kindness for granted. Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career 🏹
— Brandin Cooks (@brandincooks) November 1, 2022
Now questionable to play Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, an impending release could be on the horizon for the two sides.
New York Jets wideout Elijah Moore is in a similar situation as Cooks, unhappy because of his lack of targets.
In the last two weeks, Moore has registered zero catches for zero yards. For the season he has 203 yards on 16 catches, a stark contrast from his rookie year of 43 catches for 538 yards and five TDs.
“I don’t get the ball. I don’t know,” Moore said Sunday regarding his chemistry with QB Zach Wilson.
Floated around in rumors the past few weeks, the Jets never really considered trading the young wideout this season.
“We love Elijah,” general manager Joe Douglas said Tuesday. “We all stood on the table to take him high in the second round last year, and we think the world of him. Obviously, we’re a football family and anytime there’s an issue, we like to handle that in-house. But I was able to have a really good one-on-one conversation with Elijah. We think the world of him; we think he has a bright future as a New York Jet.”
On to the running backs.
Both Akers and Hunt do not want to play for their current teams, the only difference is that the latter is actually seeing game time.
Hunt rushed for 42 yards on eleven carries Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals, splitting a timeshare with fellow superstar Nick Chubb. Frustrated with contract negotiations, Hunt asked for a trade over the offseason and has been denied one up to this point. In the last year of his deal, Hunt will look to get paid in free agency next spring.
Akers’ situation is more complex. The Florida State alum came back from a torn achilles in the 2021 postseason, helping the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. He hasn’t looked right since then.
Unable to take hold of the depth chart, Akers hasn’t featured in a game since Week 5, running for 33 yards on 13 carries. The running back has a mere 151 rushing yards in 2022.
Telling NFL Insider Josina Anderson Tuesday that playing for the Rams again “isn’t in the best interest for his NFL path”, both sides would benefit from a mutual parting.