Week 9 – Familiar Faces in New Places: Deadline Moves Shake Up the NFL
We are often reminded that the sport we love watching every Sunday is, in fact, a business. It becomes incredibly apparent during the week of the trade deadline and 2018 was no different.
Playmakers, run-stuffers, defensive studs and draft picks were sent flying around the league up until Tuesday at 4 PM EST, the official end to the NFL trade deadline.
There a number of teams who are looking to win now and capitalized on many other teams looking to unload contracts or stash draft picks.
Here are the top three moves at the deadline that fortified the defending champs and a few other division leaders looking to knock them off the NFL throne.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-4, 2nd in NFC East)
Trade: Received Golden Tate for a third-round draft choice in 2019
In an effort to make their offense the dynamic driving force that it was last season, the Eagles sent a draft choice to the Detroit Lions for wide receiver Golden Tate.
Tate brings a unique skill set to the Eagles that they haven’t had in quite some time.
Most of Philadelphia’s offense runs through Carson Wentz hitting intermediate routes to his tight end Zach Ertz and deep balls to the likes of Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor.
Now when the Eagles need a short yardage play, Golden Tate can become a safety valve for Wentz. He is capable of taking that short catch to the house as well. His veteran savvy, explosiveness and toughness will be welcomed by fans and players in Philadelphia alike.
Tate led the Lions in catches and receiving yards this season through 8 weeks, and his injection in to Philadelphia’s offense should allow them to approve upon their 22.3 points per game this season (21st in the NFL).
This was a smart move at a fair price for the Eagles who are looking to close the gap on the division leading Washington Redskins down the stretch.
The Eagles are on a bye in Week 9, giving Tate ample time to adjust to his new surroundings, teammates and playbook
Projected Stats for Tate in Philadelphia: 41 catches, 420 yards, 4 touchdowns
Houston Texans (5-3, 1st in AFC South)
Trade: Received Demaryius Thomas for a fourth-round draft choice in 2019
Maybe the most shocking trade at the deadline was a staple in the Denver receiving core heading south to Houston to bolster their offensive attack.
Critics will say Demaryius Thomas may have lost a step this year in Denver, but the Texans believe his experience and partnership with DeAndre Hopkins will be fruitful.
In Denver, the Case Keenum experiment has not panned out, and the Broncos are a sub-.500 team chasing the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.
As for Houston, their season outlook has changed drastically since starting out 0-3. Since 1970, there have been 173 teams that started the year 0-3. Only five of those squads have gone on to make the playoffs, but if the Texans impressive play continues they will be number six.
Houston started 0-3 and were looking up at the Jaguars and Titans. Since then, the Texans have rallied off five straight wins, including two in OT.
At 5-3, they are the only team in the division with a winning record. Their playoff hopes took a big hit last week with explosive wide receiver Will Fuller tearing his ACL, so the Texans got on the phone and looked to make a deal.
As one of the best Broncos receivers of all-time, Thomas is a welcomed addition. Since 2012, Thomas hasn’t finished with less than 83 receptions and reeled in over 1,000 yards 5 out of those 6 seasons.
In Houston, Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the league. Adding Thomas will only allow Hopkins more room to operate. Thomas’ route running and catch radius are assets that will allow him to make the most of his opportunities as well.
The most interesting dynamic of this trade is that Thomas will head right back to Denver in Week 9. This time it will be in the visiting locker room as the Texans and Broncos square off this week.
There is not a hotter team in the league than the Texans at the moment, and they’ll be ready to prove a point that Denver traded away a receiver that can still be an asset in this league.
Projected Stats for Thomas in Houston: 35 receptions, 375 yards, 4 touchdowns
Washington Redskins (5-2, 1st in the NFC East)
Trade: Received Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for a fourth-round draft choice in 2019
When it comes to division leaders, the Redskins are making the least convincing argument. Washington has the lowest points for and against amongst teams in first place in their respective divisions. They also have a measly plus-12-point differential with the next lowest being a plus-32-point differential (Pittsburgh Steelers).
In other words, a move needed to be made if they wanted to secure their position atop of the NFC East.
In the offseason, the Redskins opted for improving their offense. They acquired quarterback Alex Smith and running back Adrian Peterson. As a result, the Redskins look to control the ball, dominate time of possession and protect a lead. At 5-2, the strategy seems to be working. The Redskins have impressive victories over the Packers, Panthers and Cowboys this season, but are looking to improve.
A stout defense is a requirement to compete in the NFC East and to make a deep playoff run. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the top safety available on the trade market, and the Redskins wasted no time improving their already talented secondary.
D.J. Swearinger and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are now one of the top safety tandems in the league. Both play the run and pass equally well, and the Redskins know they can trust the back line of their defense.
Since his time at Alabama, Clinton-Dix’s talent was eye-opening. A big bodied safety with tremendous ball skills is not something that comes around often. His play in Green Bay was highlighted by playoff interceptions and a Pro Bowl in 2016.
However, it became apparent to the Packers that Clinton-Dix was looking to relocate once he became a free agent after this season. With that on their minds and a bit of inconsistent play on his part, the move was no-brainer for Green Bay.
If Ha Ha can bring his A-game to the Redskins, they’ll get the last laugh and undoubtedly be playoff bound in the NFC.
Clinton-Dix will have a chance to show out for his new team at home this weekend as the Redskins play the Falcons. Atlanta possesses a lethal trio of wide receivers, so Clinton-Dix should have plenty of opportunities to make plays. This low-scoring, close game could very well come down to the Redskins needing a stop on defense to seal the win.
Projected Stats for Clinton-Dix in Washington: 25 tackles, 1 sack, 3 interceptions
After an impressive Thursday Night Football performance all eyes are on Nick Mullens. He set a slew of records for the San Francisco 49ers during his debut so take a look at Mullens. He will be a cheap addition in auction leagues and could be a decent back-up QB down the stretch after 22 fantasy points in his first start.
Courtland Sutton is a must-add/start this week. With the departure of Demaryius Thomas in Denver, the tall, strong rookie will look to carve out his role as the number two option for the Broncos behind Emmanuel Sanders. He has shown flashes of greatness early this season so look for that to continue.
Fitzmagic is back in the air. The Bucs have made a quarterback swap again this season after lackluster play from Jameis Winston. Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start against Carolina and look to recapture his early-season success.