The last couple NFL trade deadlines have been very active after years of virtually nothing happening. As of this post we have already seen Carlos Hyde sent to the Jags, Eli Apple to the Saints, Damon “Snacks” Harrison to the Lions, and Amari Cooper to the Cowboys.
Most of the players moving in these deals are going to be coming from teams that recognize their season is likely headed nowhere fast. I think that list includes the Cardinals, Giants, Raiders, Bills, and 49ers. Other fringe teams like the Dolphins and Broncos could get involved as well, but I don’t see a possible playoff contender like the 3-3 Lions dealing one of their better players — say Golden Tate — at this point in the season.
So let’s focus on the teams that have already started dealing or are rumored to be dealing and see what these teams have that could interest the Titans. Obviously, the Titans needs mostly fall on the offensive side of the ball where they’ve struggled heavily over the first 7 games. Receiver, tight end, and interior offensive line are the three spots that probably warrant the most attention from GM Jon Robinson. If a move is going to be made, it makes sense for it to happen soon with the Titans in their bye week and the trade deadline next week. Here are some of the options they might be looking at.
The Fightin’ Grudens have already dealt Amari Cooper, their biggest trade chip, to the Cowboys for a first round pick, but they could be looking to do more. At 1-5 in a division that features the Chiefs and Chargers, Oakland knows their 2018 season is ending outside the playoffs and they may be ready to transition to full on tank mode.
There have been rumblings about safety Karl Joseph specifically being shopped, but the Raiders would likely listen to offers on virtually every player on the roster at this point.
So who fits the Titans?
Well, nothing gets the fan base revved up like a deal for an interior lineman! The Raiders guard-center-guard combo of Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson is one of the NFL’s best and the Titans could use some help here. Osemele and Hudson are both 29 years old and have contracts that will expire before the Raiders are good again. I would imagine they would listen for the right offer. What that offer might be is hard to say, but I would guess something in the neighborhood of a 3rd-5th round pick. Jackson is a bit younger at just 27 and has more years left on his deal so I’m guessing he’d be more difficult to pry away.
One guy that could make some sense would be former Titan tight end Jared Cook. I know, I know, Cook wasn’t very good here the first time, but he’s a very different player now. At age 31 and on an expiring deal I would expect the Raiders to be very open to making a move with him. Cook is a big, physical target in the passing game at 6’-5” and 254 pounds and his 400 yards receiving on the season is more than any current Titan. He’s not a very good run blocker, but neither are the Titans current tight ends and he’d give Marcus Mariota a big target up the seams, something he’s been missing since Walker went down.
One off-the-wall target could be Jordy Nelson. He’s nowhere near the player he once was, but he’s a sure-handed veteran that knows how to get open. The Titans young receiver room could use an experienced guy and few have more experience than Nelson.
New York Giants
The Giants have already made two moves and could make more as they begin to wave the white flag on their season. Eli Apple and Snacks Harrison are already gone and there could still be more moves coming.
It is harder to find potential fits for the Titans here though. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is reportedly on the block, but despite Malcolm Butler’s struggles, there is no way the Titans are parting with assets to add another expensive corner to the roster and nobody who is going in to rebuild mode is going to take Butler’s contract back in a deal. It’s not going to happen.
The Giants aren’t parting with tight end Evan Engram, one of the few bright spots on their team, and it’s hard to see them moving Odell Beckham Jr. after giving him a big contract extension earlier this offseason. If the Titans were going to find a deal with the Giants I believe the best fit would be wide receiver Sterling Shepard. He’s a young guy with one more season left on his rookie deal and would be a great fit in the slot for Tennessee — a spot they’ve struggled to fill all year. Shepard currently ranks 19th in the NFL with 508 receiving yards at just 25 years old and will probably be pretty expensive. I’d expect a 2nd or 3rd round value for him.
The big news yesterday was All-Pro Cardinals Corner Patrick Peterson requesting a trade. He’s still the best corner in the NFL in my eyes so of course anyone would be interested in adding a guy like that. However, as I mentioned above, the Titans are among the least likely teams to trade for a corner. I don’t see any way this happens.
Other Cardinals players could be interesting though. Young tight end Ricky Seals-Jones could be interesting, but he’s not exactly the consistent, reliable veteran type that I think the Titans will be targeting.
The big question is whether the Cardinals would be willing to move the best player in their franchise’s history: Larry Fitzgerald. My guess is no, but Fitz would be a great add for the Titans if he was available. At 35 years old he’s no longer the dominant force he once was, but he’s still capable of using his veteran savvy to get open and he has some of the best hands to ever play the game.
One other longshot here would be Chandler Jones. He’s one of the best pass rushers in the game and would be extremely expensive to trade for, but he’d make a huge difference to the Tennessee pass rush. He’d be worth at least a 1st round pick and maybe more on the market.
The Broncos aren’t really in fire sale mode, but there have been talks of them moving one of their high priced veteran receivers before the deadline. I would clearly prefer Emmanuel Sanders over Demaryius Thomas if the Titans were going to make a trade for one of them. Sanders is far more productive and sure-handed than his bigger counterpart and also fits perfectly in the slot. Sanders would be one of my favorite fits for this Titans team if they could get him for a 3rd round pick or less.
However, Broncos beat reporter Mike Kline said this morning that he does not expect Thomas to be traded and if Thomas isn’t available then Sanders almost certainly isn’t.
Update to yesterday's story, the Broncos will not trade Demaryius Thomas this week and are not actively shopping him, per source. Will they listen if teams are interested as Tuesday trade deadline approaches next week? Probably. But good bet DT finishes season in Denver. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 24, 2018
If the Titans felt the need to add some pass rush help they could look at Broncos edge rushers Shaquil Barrett or Shane Ray. Both guys are stuck behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the depth chart and currently on expiring contracts.
The Bills are a team that is headed nowhere fast despite beating the Titans a few weeks ago. Charles Clay is a reliable veteran tight end who has an oversized contract that Buffalo may be interested in shipping out. He could be a good fit for the Titans to target.
Kelvin Benjamin is another guy that I’m sure the Bills would love to move, but I would hate for him to end up here. He’s a big receiver with a massive frame, but he’s simply not a very good player and it’s a major red flag when not one but two wide receiver needy teams have tried to move on from a guy.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are an interesting fit due to the Kyle Shanahan-Matt LaFleur connection. Any player coming from San Fran would likely be able to quickly pick up the Titans offense thanks to a common language and many common plays. Additionally, Matt LaFleur’s brother, Mike LaFleur is the 49ers current wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator so there is a real strong chance that a receiver from the Niners would already be doing things the way the Titans OC wants it done.
The guy that makes the most sense is Pierre Garçon. He’s nowhere near the dynamic talent he was during his younger years, but he’s still a reliable veteran who will make the tough catches when called upon. The 49ers are building around Marquise Goodwin as their WR1 and could use the opportunity to get promising rookie Dante Pettis more snaps with Garçon out of the way.
Miami isn’t really in fire sale mode, but they would like to offload a receiver which makes them an interesting partner for the Titans. DeVante Parker is a former 1st round pick who has fallen out of favor with the Dolphins. He’s extremely talented, but he doesn’t seem interested in putting in much effort on or off the field. This just doesn’t feel like the kind of guy the Titans would want on the roster and he certainly doesn’t fit the “dependable, reliable” type mold that I think they really need at the receiver position. I think this is a hard pass for the Titans.
Who should the Titans add?
It’s hard to say really without knowing who is actually available. Obviously guys like Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, and Demaryius Thomas would be the headline type moves — short of something crazy like a king’s ransom for OBJ — but I tend to doubt any of those guys gets traded before the deadline.
The more likely moves would be those in the realm of Garçon or Cook or Clay. Solid-but-unspectacular veterans at positions of need. The Raiders seem like a particularly good trade partner for Tennessee. They have attractive pieces at interior offensive line and tight end along with a veteran receiver. Those are all spots where the Titans could use a boost and the Raiders are clearly willing to move almost anyone.
There are also some more off the wall options the Titans could pursue. Could they talk the Ravens in to parting with one of their four good tight ends? I think Maxx Williams would be the best option for Baltimore to deal, but again, would a contender make that move midseason and rely that heavily on rookies? I’m not so sure.
What about Travis Benjamin of the Chargers? LA is set at receiver with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Tyrell Williams, could they look to move the speedy Benjamin? Would Jermaine Kearse of the Jets? I’m not sure either of those options move the needle a ton, but they both have had productive NFL seasons and bring some sort of veteran presence to the table.
I don’t think the Falcons have given up on 2018 just yet, but might they be willing to part with a guy like Mohamed Sanu? He could be a nice fit as an oversized slot receiver in Tennessee.
The one move that I would most like to see would probably be Shepard. He’s young, productive, and a perfect fit for what the Titans need in the slot. He would also be under team control through next season at a very reasonable cost and could become a long term piece in this passing game if things work out here.
Who would you want the Titans to target in the trade market?