The NFL trade deadline is 11 days away, which makes it far too early -- yet never too soon -- to talk about the buzz around potential deals.
Personnel executives across the league are making exploratory calls to people they trust, searching for intel or honest conversations. Not everyone reveals true intentions. Some ask general questions such as, "Who do you like on my roster?" Others simply aren't getting any real trade inquiries.
Teams are still very much in the process of gathering info, and as of midweek, the trade streets were relatively quiet apart from some early action at wide receiver. Chase Claypool moving from the Bears to the Dolphins, Van Jefferson going from the Rams to the Falcons, and the Jets moving seldom-used Mecole Hardman Jr. to the Chiefs are all deals that have been consummated in the past two weeks. The Chargers moving on from cornerback J.C. Jackson, who returned to the Patriots, is another trade that garnered some attention.
The expectation is the deadline will be bustling because these deals are relatively easy to execute, particularly for back-end roster players. Teams have mastered the art of the late-round pick swap, and they are also more willing than ever to cover a large chunk of salary to make a player go away. As one league exec pointed out, the baseball model of business is very much alive in the NFL, with teams looking for value at every position -- especially with contract-year players who aren't happy with playing time.
While the bottom-feeders might be more willing to trade, hope abounds even for those looking to unload. Just look at Detroit, which was 1-6 last year when it traded T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota on deadline day. The Lions went on to win eight in a row and push for the playoffs. Which 2023 moves might similarly alter the league's complexion?
Here's an early look at the trade deadline after we worked the phones this week.