MLB and the NBA own the Trade Deadline, a period that turns the sports rumor mill up to 11 and creates an intoxicating combination of excitement and anxiety for fans. But this year, the NFL finally joined the fray, producing the wildest Deadline frenzy in league history, in part because of all the parity among teams (many want to have the assets to make a playoff push or accelerate a rebuilding process, but see glaring weaknesses on their rosters). Several premier players surprising changed teams during the final days of the trading period, and the NFL hot stove became a reality for the first time.
So which deals will have the most impact? We ranked all of them, including the biggest trade that didn't happen.
6. Rashard Robinson to the Jets
Cost: 2018 fifth-round pick
Easily the least notable player traded before the Deadline, Robinson had fallen out of favor in San Francisco less than two years into his NFL career. The 49ers benched Robinson last Sunday, foreshadowing his eventual departure. In New York, he likely assumes the nickelback role in what remains an underwhelming pass defense.
5. Jay Ajayi to the Eagles
Cost: 2018 fourth-round pick
Ajayi became one of the unexpected stars of 2016, rushing for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns while helping the Dolphins reach the playoffs. He entered this season with even greater expectations, but failed to live up to any of them. Behind a porous offensive line and without a capable passing game to take pressure off him, Ajayi has averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt and has yet to reach the end zone. That regression, combined with knee issues, landed Ajayi on the trading block where the Eagles scooped him up. Philly general manager Howie Roseman says LeGarrette Blount remains the team's starter. However, Ajayi gives them options should Blount slow down as the season wears on.
4. Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars
Cost: 2018 sixth-round pick (conditional)
The Jaguars kicked off the trade frenzy with a blockbuster, acquiring All-Pro defensive tackle Dareus for just a conditional sixth-round pick. Dareus has given inconsistent effort since signing his $100 million extension two years ago, and that prompted the new regime in Buffalo to accept a nominal asset just to get his salary off the books. However, with Dareus now playing along a defensive line featuring Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Yannick Ngakoue, he should receive the necessary motivation to return to form. He better, since Jacksonville now has over $50 million committed to its D-line alone in 2018.
3. Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills
Cost: 2018 third- and seventh-round picks
Benjamin's fall from grace in Carolina concluded literally minutes before the Trade Deadline hit. The Panthers, who publicly and privately groused about the wideout's conditioning during the offseason, opted to take a nice package of picks for a player they clearly no longer valued. For the Bills, Benjamin serves as a do-over for an apparent whiff on rookie wideout Zay Jones. Benjamin has the chance to re-establish himself with Tyrod Taylor, a more accurate quarterback who might better fit his skill set.
2. Duane Brown to the Seahawks
Cost: 2018 third-round pick, 2019 second-round pick/i>
Since Russell Okung's departure in 2016, the Seahawks have struggled mightily to protect Russell Wilson's blindside. Those issues hit a boiling point this season after a season-ending injury to George Fant and continued poor play from replacement Rees Odhiambo. Brown solves those issues, giving the team its best left tackle since Walter Jones. The Seahawks also sent a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft to finalize the deal after Jeremy Lane (who was originally included) failed his physical.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers
Cost: 2018 second-round pick
After a prolonged "will they or won't they" situation, the Patriots finally dealt their prized backup quarterback to the Niners in exchange for what amounts to a late first-round draft selection. San Francisco believes it finally has the quarterback to return the franchise to prominence, someone who should pair well with head coach Kyle Shanahan as the nucleus of the rebuilding efforts. Still, while trading for Garoppolo could work out for the 49ers, the move comes with tremendous risk.
Bonus: Browns mess up trade for AJ McCarron
The Browns, a team regularly raked over the coals for their decisions to pass over Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and other apparent franchise quarterbacks, decided to go after one before the Deadline. They identified the Bengals' AJ McCarron as that player and reportedly agreed to send a second- and third-round pick in 2018 to acquire him, but bungled the paperwork.
Miss on Wentz check. Miss on Watson check. Can't fill out paperwork check. That's the Browns- Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) October 31, 2017