Names are being thrown around. Some are more likely than not.
The reality is the Seahawks are in a difficult spot to make a trade. They don’t have a first or third round pick next year and they only have $3.7m in available cap space.
That’s not to say they can’t be creative and they’re carrying players on the roster who are arguably dispensable.
The Rams have extended an army of players. The Ravens are now over the cap after trading for Yannick Ngakoue. You can make things happen if you have the want and desire.
So let’s look at some of the names linked and gauge the likelihood of a deal being struck.
Carlos Dunlap (DE, Cincinnati)
Like many veteran players in Cincinnati, Dunlap is unhappy with his role. He’s seen a major reduction in snaps recently. Charley Casserly suggested this week he’d be a good target for the Seahawks. He’s used to playing in a four-man front and last year he had nine sacks on a bad team. His contract isn’t overly expensive and the Seahawks could retain him next season (the final year of his contract) if he performed well. He has the size and length Seattle likes.
How likely is it?
Owner Mike Brown is the problem. He treats the Bengals like a family business and is the decision maker in Cincinnati. A year ago it made perfect sense to trade some of their ageing veterans to launch a rebuild. Brown resisted — making ridiculous demands (eg wanting a second rounder for often-injured Tyler Eifert weeks before he departed in free agency). According to a NFC Executive — once again the asking price for certain players is ‘unreasonable’. If he’s asking for high picks, there’s simply nothing you can do. This is how Mike Brown operates.
It’d make perfect sense for the Bengals to move Dunlap and for the Seahawks to acquire him. Yet all the projections of a day three pick don’t account for the owner. Unfortunately, in his world, Dunlap probably has a first or second round value. I’m not convinced anyone will change his mind either.
Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Washington)
Quietly, Kerrigan has been one of the most prolific sack-artists in the NFL over the last decade. He has 93 career sacks — only six fewer than J.J. Watt. While he’s never achieved a level of dominance comparable to Watt, Kerrigan has been a picture of consistency. He has three sacks this year playing in a reduced role as a complimentary piece to Chase Young and Montez Sweat (although Young has missed some time). Kerrigan has the size and length Seattle likes, even if he’s lost some of the dynamic quickness he used to show during the 13-sack season years.
How likely is it?
Washington, like the rest of the NFC East, are in an odd spot. They are 1-5 and yet they’re in the thick of the divisional race. So are they trying to win the division or rebuild? They have two young first round picks at defensive end and two more first round defensive tackles. It seems unlikely that Kerrigan will be re-signed in the off-season as a free agent, so they should probably see what they can get now and rely on Young and Sweat the rest of the way. He wanted to break the franchise record for sacks and he achieved that in week one. It’d make sense for the team and player to orchestrate a deal — although in fairness he’s never sought a move despite Washington’s troubles so he might be settled. His contract would cost about $6-7m to acquire, so Seattle would have to create cap space.
In many ways, it’d be good for all parties. There are three key questions though. How realistic are Washington prepared to be in a trade for a 32-year-old on an expiring contract? How much do the Seahawks see a 32-year-old pass rusher being able to provide the quickness off the edge they currently badly lack? And how willing are they to create $3-4m in cap space to make it happen? After all — this is likely a 2020 rental. I’m just not sure the cost will fit for Seattle.
Whitney Mercilus (DE, Houston)
Reports last week suggested the Texans were considering a fire-sale. They don’t have a first or second round pick in 2021. They need to provide an attractive proposition to potential GM and Head Coach candidates beyond just Deshaun Watson. Some have touted J.J. Watt as a trade candidate but let’s get real. He is the Texans. He’s an institution in Houston. The more likely trade candidates are Brandin Cooks, Bradley Roby, Kenny Stills, Zach Cunningham, Will Fuller and Whitney Mercilus.
How likely is it?
This is a complicated one. Mercilus only signed a new $53.5m contract last December. His dead cap-hit is enormous and would need to be spread out, causing headaches for some time. It’s the sign of a badly run franchise that you let one individual make so many significant personnel moves, then fire him. However, they are also $16m over the cap for 2021 as things stand. They need to shift some bodies. Imagine trying to coax your GM and Head Coach combo to Houston with the offer of no high picks and no money to spend. Difficult decisions are needed and players will need to be sacrificed after a 1-5 start and with the team almost certainly out of playoff contention. Mercilus is 30 and has the speed and length Seattle likes. His production, however, has dropped off in recent years. He’s not had more than 7.5 sacks in a season since 2015 (he has three sacks this year). It’s questionable how appealing he is if the price isn’t low.
He’s at a reasonable age. He only recently turned 30 so he might have a couple of decent years in the tank. He would be expensive in terms of base salary until 2023 but you could cut him at any point with no penalty. The stumbling block, again, could be price. How reasonable are the Texans willing to be? For Seattle, they will want the flexibility to move on at the end of the season if it doesn’t work. So that would mean giving up a later round pick in order to set the ball rolling for Houston to sort out their cap. Is that appealing to the Texans? Is it worth moving him for? For Seattle, a late round pick works. I’m not sure that’ll cut it for Houston.
Kyler Fackrell (DE, New York Giants)
The Giants, like Washington, are in a strange spot. They are 1-6 yet very much contenders for the NFC East. They should’ve beaten the Eagles on Thursday to take control of the division at 2-4. Dave Gettleman — and to a lesser extent Joe Judge — need to have this franchise heading in the right direction by the end of the year. For that reason, they seem less likely to throw in the towel and siphon off assets. Even so, Fackrell has the length and size to play LEO and was a former blog favourite. He had a fantastic game against Seattle in 2018 during a 10.5 sack season. He has three sacks this year and isn’t expensive.
How likely is it?
Not very. New York’s defense, at times, has been a positive for them (see: the game against the LA Rams). If you’re trying to establish culture and a new mentality, getting rid of players who are actually producing for you isn’t wise. Unlike the Jets, Jaguars and others — the Giants don’t feel like a team that are suddenly having their heads turned by the prospect of being in position to draft Trevor Lawrence. That said, their offensive line is a shambles and if they were able to flip one player to make an O-line improvement, they might consider it. I’m just not sure how much they truly value someone like B.J. Finney.
This could be a low-key brilliant move. Fackrell isn’t going to come in and start wrecking games for you but he has a knack of rushing the edge, getting into the backfield and making things happen. He’s only 28 and there’s no commimtent beyond 2020. However — it just doesn’t make all that much sense for the Giants to trade him unless they get a great offer.
Takk McKinley (DE, Atlanta)
Albert Breer reported recently that prior to the firing of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons were considering dealing McKinley. He also said the situation is now unclear — with ownership seemingly willing to let caretaker Raheem Morris have a proper shot to win the job. Even so, McKinley is a free agent in the off-season and it would make some sense to get something now for a player who hasn’t delivered on his first round potential.
How likely is it?
With the report on a willingness to trade him and based on his physical profile — it feels like the most likely option listed here. It’s hard to imagine the Falcons asking for much in return. He turns 25 in November, so he’s at a great age. He has the 35-inch arms Seattle likes, LEO size and he ran a solid 1.60 10-yard split. A trade would be ideal for McKinley. He gets a fresh start and an opportunity to make an impression before becoming a free agent. For Seattle he could provide something they badly need — genuine speed off the edge.
Provided the Falcons were willing to deal him and not hold on — it’s probably the most likely scenario. It all depends on Atlanta’s motivation. Trading McKinley doesn’t save any money for next year. If they’re only getting a late round pick — is it worth hampering Morris if they want to see if he’s up to the job? If they’re happy to just move on, then it’s worth a roll of the dice.
Quinnen Williams (DT, New York Jets)
In recent days there’s been a lot of speculation to suggest Williams is available. It very much looks like the Jets are trying to drum up a market. They’re in full-blown tank mode at this stage, with major changes imminent. Acquiring stock for next year is the key. The current GM, Joe Douglas, didn’t draft Williams. If he can get a second rounder to go with the haul he got from Seattle for Jamal Adams, he’ll probably take it.
How likely is it?
It really depends how the Seahawks viewed Williams going into the draft. During the 2018 season, he was arguably the best player in college football. He suddenly exploded onto the scene as a one-year wonder — blowing up interior lines and making plays galore. He had eight sacks and 19.5 TFL’s. He then ran a 4.83 forty at 303lbs at the combine. Williams appeared destined to be the next big thing but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened. The Seahawks said one of the main reasons they traded for Jamal Adams was their inability to pick high enough to select players of that quality. If they think Williams is a stud suffering due to New York’s ineptitude, they might think at 22-years-old he’s better than anyone they’ll be able to draft in round two next year. Plus — the Jets will take on the bulk of his salary meaning he’ll be a bargain for two more years after this season.
I’m not convinced the Seahawks will want to go into the 2021 draft with no picks in the first three rounds — especially now that the college football season is underway (the 2021 draft no longer looks like a busted flush). However — you’d be getting a #3 overall pick at a great age, on a phenomenally cheap salary and at a position of serious need (D-line). So how did they grade him? Did they think, as some did, that he was the best player in the 2019 draft? I don’t think it’s likely the Jets will get an offer to make a trade worth their while.
Anyone on the Philadelphia Eagles
Philly’s problems with the cap in 2021 are well known. They face a $71m black hole for next year. The only clear solution is to try and use some of their remaining $21.5m for 2020 to absorb dead money this year and get certain big contracts off the books for next season. Fletcher Cox, Brandan Graham and Derek Barnett could be potential targets.
How likely is it?
Bizarrely, they just restructured Cox’s contract and by placing Zach Ertz on short-term IR, they eliminated any shot of him being dealt per the rules. They seem, if anything, to be trying to add before the deadline. Even so — they surely have an eye on their enormous cap problem that is only a few weeks away from being a biting reality. I’m not sure a 2-4-1 team should be ‘all-in’ on an improbable playoff run simply because they have the good fortune to be in the NFC East.
One trade did happen today
The Arizona Cardinals traded a sixth round pick to the Giants for Markus Golden. Having played last night — and with him needing to go through Covid-testing — he won’t play on Sunday. However, it’s a smart move by the Cardinals. He knows the team well having spent four seasons there. They needed a replacement for Chandler Jones. He’s also the third pass rusher, after Yannick Ngakoue and Jordan Willis, to be traded this week. Players are being moved and a market is being established. So far the Seahawks, who desperately need help off the edge, are yet to make a move.
I can’t imagine how the Eagles plan to get out of cap-hell for 2021 without doing some deals before the deadline. They could, theoretically, start cutting players at the end of the season. However — why not try and get something back in return now? It comes down to whether they want to delude themselves into thinking they’re a serious contender, rather than a franchise that needs to embrace how badly they need a refresh.
The issue with many of these options are age and cost. It’d be ideal to have a younger player, still on a rookie deal, with something to prove.
For example, look at the Rams’ trade for Dante Fowler a few years ago. A former top-five pick at a good age with some talent who can come in and try to earn big money in free agency.
The only comparable situation listed here is Takk McKinley in Atlanta. However — unlike Fowler he isn’t a former top-five pick.
More than anything the Seahawks need speed off the edge. A younger player is more likely to provide that but beggars can’t be choosers. If an opportunity for a 30-something pass rusher emerges, it still needs to be considered. The Seahawks are stacked with potential five-techniques but only have Alton Robinson and Benson Mayowa who can play anything akin to a LEO. That’s a big problem.
Yannick Ngakoue on a discount deal for the remainder of the season would’ve been perfect. He’d come to Seattle with an enormous chip on his shoulder, knowing he had a few weeks to set himself up for free agency. He has the quickness they need to attack the edge. He has the production (five sacks in six games) they currently miss. Unfortunately not having a third rounder in 2021 would’ve made it extremely difficult to compete with Baltimore.
Unfortunately the decision to try Stephen Sullivan at pass rusher and bring back Mychal Kendricks (who rushed well from the SAM last year) is perhaps indicative of the difficulty Seattle faces ahead of the deadline.
Nevertheless — the uncertain economic situation in the NFL could still make this a trade deadline like we’ve never seen before. There have been surprises in the past. Nobody predicted Quandre Diggs would be traded, for example.
Could it happen again?
Meanwhile Antonio Brown is set to visit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. Reportedly both they and the Seahawks are ‘highly motivated’ to get a deal done.
Given the controversial nature of Seattle’s interest — surely the only thing worse than actively pursuing him would be going through all of this just to miss out?
If you missed our podcast on the Antonio Brown news and the Arizona game, don’t forget to check it out…
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