“I feel like everyone is out on a first date and feeling each other out right now.”
That’s how one NFL general manager described this time on the NFL calendar, less than two weeks from the NFL trade deadline.
The trade streets are rather calm, but that could change for many organizations over the next 72 hours.
Most teams are having internal meetings, passing along trade ideas to other teams, and talking hypotheticals to see if they can work it out.
I had one team executive tell me his team won’t participate in any serious trade conversations until this Monday: “Depending on Sunday’s outcome, depends on if we will be buyers or sellers.”
It’s already been a bustling month of deals. The Jets traded Mecole Hardman Jr. back to the Chiefs, Chase Claypool went from the Bears to the Dolphins, Van Jefferson went from the Rams to the Falcons, and J.C. Jackson went from the Chargers to the Patriots.
Based on my conversations around the league, what can we expect between now and the October 31 deadline?
• The Las Vegas Raiders have been shopping wide receiver Hunter Renfrow while inquiring about a pass rusher since moving on from Chandler Jones. I recently spoke to Raiders owner Mark Davis at the annual fall league meeting in New York and asked him, “You sellers?” He responded, “We’re trying to win.” This aligns with the conversations I have had around the league about the Raiders’ philosophy: They are looking to successfully compete, not tear down.
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• The Carolina Panthers have been actively calling as buyers and sellers over the last few weeks. Carolina permitted wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. to seek a trade and will listen on safety Jeremy Chinn. The young safety is dealing with a quad injury that could get him back on the field by December, a team source shared with The Athletic. This injury could make a trade undesirable for another team, but the player is still considered available. As for the best Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns, I do not get the sense Carolina is expecting to trade him, but they have been getting calls on him. My colleague Joe Person has also reported that cornerback Donte Jackson is getting some interest around the league. More on the Panthers from their owner below.
• Washington Commanders defensive linemen Chase Young and Montez Sweat both have contracts expiring after the season and could be on the trade block. I was told Washington has made calls to take the temperature of the market but is staying patient now, and that the next two weeks of play will shape the decision on their futures. The sense I get out of Washington is one of them will be on the move … if Washington can get the proper compensation.
• The Denver Broncos are not having a fire sale despite a troubling start to their season. Multiple people with the team told me that they will listen to offers on every player but aren’t selling the roster. I was told to look for them to move pieces on the defensive side of the ball. I expect Sean Payton to have a strong hand in all of these decisions as the team continues to back his vision and beliefs. That’s not my opinion; that’s what Broncos owner Greg Penner told me at the league meeting. He was emphatic that this organization still has strong support for and hope that Payton can make them winners.
• The Cleveland Browns have been calling around as both buyers and sellers. They’ve been scanning the market looking for some affordable options.
I’m told they are looking to possibly add a receiver and an offensive lineman.
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• Eagles general manager Howie Roseman always has some magic up his sleeve, and he’s been working the phone. The Eagles are apparently staying put on running back Rashaad Penny, knowing depth will be necessary for a team that should be making a long postseason run. Philly is looking to make some additions on defense after they suffered a handful of injuries in the defensive backfield, specifically targeting a safety.
• The Arizona Cardinals have received calls on wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, but the team isn’t looking to move him. Brown is both healthy and productive right now and looks to be part of this team’s future. Remember, the Cardinals have six picks in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. They have plenty of draft capital.
• The Vikings have received calls about Danielle Hunter but have yet to receive a substantial offer. We addressed Kirk Cousins last week, and he is expected to stay in Minnesota. Nothing has changed there.
• The Texans haven’t made many calls to teams, and it was described to me as an organization with a roster that feels good. They are expected to remain “quiet.”
• The New York Jets have made it known that pass rusher Carl Lawson is available. It’s been a slow start for him in New York, and his contract makes him an attractive trade option. Running back Dalvin Cook is also available, as his usage on this team has been decreasing.
• The Tennessee Titans need draft capital and have been getting calls from general managers over the last few days. Though I haven’t found a team showing significant interest in Derrick Henry, sources around the league tell me Tennessee has received calls about safety Kevin Byard, and one team reached out about wide receiver Treylon Burks. I don’t get a sense Tennessee will move any young player.
• New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley told reporters at his locker Friday, “Sitting here, everyone knows how I feel. Everyone knows I don’t want to get traded. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to get traded anywhere. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have to move. I have a family. I would love to be here. But like I said, it’s not in my control. My focus is to be the leader I can be for this team and get this thing on the right track.”
He’ll probably get what he wants. I was told the Giants aren’t planning on moving him.
Dak’s next deal
The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in Week 6 with a road win against the Los Angeles Chargers, yet quarterback Dak Prescott still faced intense scrutiny. His coach Mike McCarthy even took notice, mentioning to Adam Schein on Mad Dog Radio, “The intensity of the microscope on Dak, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Through the ups and downs, Prescott has consistently had the organization’s support. With that in mind, when will the Cowboys extend Prescott’s contract?
Cowboys executive Stephen Jones told me while walking out of the Omni Hotel this week, “He’s under contract now, but we’d like to do this after the season. Once the season is over, we will focus on that. Dak will be our quarterback.”
It would make sense for the team to do this early. The quarterback will count almost $60 million against the cap next season. That would be an NFL record. Keep in mind, Prescott has a no-tag clause on his deal for 2025 as well as a no-trade clause.
Change in Carolina
The Panthers are on a bye, but when they return, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown will be handling play-calling duties. I recently asked Panthers owner David Tepper about the decision to take the play calling away from coach Frank Reich and he said it’s a simple idea: “Whatever can put us in a good position to win.”
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson couldn’t stop emphasizing this week the incredible impact Aaron Rodgers has had on the entire Jets organization, even while injured. Rodgers has been shuttling back and forth from California to New Jersey to be around the team. “He knows every person’s name in the building,” Johnson said. “He’s around and will just sit in the back of defensive back meetings … to just ask questions or explain what the QB is doing on film.”
Rodgers’ attention to small details has been one of the traits that has made him loved by the team and its fan base. He recently said during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he was “obviously ahead of schedule” and “felt great” while throwing and had “just a little bit of a limp.” Rodgers is attempting to make an incredible in-season comeback from a torn Achilles tendon.
Is there a realistic chance he can be back this season? Johnson said, “I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Players to watch
• Chicago Bears starting quarterback Justin Fields’ dislocated right thumb is keeping him out against the Raiders, but a league source told me that Fields is truly week to week. The organization feels optimistic he’ll be back sooner rather than later, and the hope is he can go against the Chargers in Week 8 on Sunday Night Football.
• I’ve heard dozens of stories about Matthew Stafford’s toughness from his coaches and teammates, even returning to his days in Detroit. While his health has been great overall this season compared to years past, the quarterback has been dealing with an aggravated hip, according to team sources. It’s not considered “serious,” but the training staff is closely monitoring and helping with pain management.
• “Fast as lightning” is how Ravens running back Keaton Mitchell, the undrafted rookie out of East Carolina University, was described to me a few weeks ago. Last week in London he made his NFL regular-season debut exclusively on special teams covering kicks and punts. Mitchell’s father, Anthony Mitchell, played safety for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. What does Baltimore have in store this week? A team source said to expect him to be involved in the ground game more against the Lions. We’ll see if Mitchell can be a new Ravens gem.
(Photo of Montez Sweat and Chase Young: John McDonnell / The Washington Post via Getty Images)