Miami Dolphins Trade Deadline Options at WR
The 2020 NFL Trade deadline is fast approaching as it falls on November 3rd this year. In most years, the trade deadline comes and goes with little to no action and excitement. This year though, in this year of COVID where nothing has been normal, I expect to see a flurry of action come the trade deadline.
One of the few teams in the NFL who is positioned well both salary cap wise and with extra draft picks to be active are the Miami Dolphins.
It is a foregone conclusion that the salary cap will drop in 2021 due to decreased revenue the league is making this year and a lot of teams are going to be entering 2021 in salary cap hell so to speak. Knowing this, and if some teams are struggling thus far through 6 or 7 games in 2020, they will be looking to unload players (and contracts) to get them off the books heading into next year.
And it’s not even about getting super great value in return, it’s about an organization knowing we are probably going to have to release this player come February/March so why not trade him now and get literally anything for him. Even if it’s just a 5th, 6th, or 7th round draft pick.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 24, 2020
So, before we dive into some names who may be available, we have to come up with a list of which teams will be “buyers” and which team will be “sellers.”
To be a buyer a team has to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs and/or making a run towards a Super Bowl. You have to be able to add a contract and fit them in under the salary cap for 2020 and if their contract is longer be able to fit them on your roster for 2021 and maybe beyond.
A list of teams I expect to be “buyers” this year are as follows (in no special order): Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now the list of “sellers” is always fluid and changing because it is tough for an organization to admit that their season is over and they should be focusing on the future.
As of the time, I am writing this article here is a list of teams that would be considered “sellers” at the deadline (in no special order): Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, NY Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The one list of teams I left out is all 4 teams in the NFC East and I did so because all 4 teams are so bad, but they are all literally one game out of first place and hosting a playoff game as well. So, it’s tough to say or predict what those NFC East teams will do.
I think the Dolphins are in the market to upgrade three positions at the deadline, they are Wide Receiver, Running Back, and Defensive Tackle.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 24, 2020
For this article, I will just focus on the wide receiver position because I do think that is the top of the list as with the move to Tua at quarterback the Dolphins are not blessed with depth at the wide receiver position. Yes, DeVante Parker is outstanding and Preston Williams has turned it on the last two weeks, but after that Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford….nothing special. And with the huge investment, the Dolphins have made in Tua and now that he is playing, you want to give him all of the tools necessary to succeed. Which means upgrading a weak wide receiver group.
So, without any further ado, here is my list of potential targets at WR at the trade deadline.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and the odds of Pittsburgh keeping him are slim, especially with the way Chase Claypool has come on in recent weeks. JuJu has been relegated to the #3 WR role for all intents and purposes in Pittsburgh and his targets have gone way down week over week this season. Couple of roadblocks here in trading for him. 1) Pittsburgh has a legit chance to win the Super Bowl so why would they upset the apple cart and move anyone. 2) If you trade for him you have to be ready ASAP to give him a long-term contract and keep him which would be a huge financial investment. % Chance of Happening: 5%
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta would love to move him, but for a team to add him and that contract it would have to be the right situation. Jones is 31 and you are tied into him till 2023 in reality due to his contract. So you are locked in until he hits 34 and that may scare a lot of teams, well like every team. If you add him you have to keep him through the 2022 season at minimum, and if you want to move on after 2022 you will eat almost $8 mill. It is impossible to move on from before the end of the 2022 season. Or you keep him through 2023 and he will cost $19 mill on your salary cap that final year, so either way, this is big money we are talking about and Julio has all the leverage and no incentive to restructure his deal at all. That is the downside, the upside is he is still Julio friggin Jones, and pairing him with Parker and Williams would give Miami 3 big, fast, big-time wide receivers. And because his contract is so big any team that would trade for him could probably get him for a middle round draft pick and not part with much as Atlanta is just dying to get that contract off their books as they enter a rebuilding phase. The money though is scary. % Chance of Happening: 20%
Jamison Crowder, NY Jets
The Jets are a dumpster fire, and I am sure you could get anyone from their roster right now as they are in total fire sale mode. Crowder has a very very VERY team-friendly contract which makes him an attractive target for any team looking to add him. Plus he is only 27 years old and still young. He is signed through 2021 and is signed for a very modest $11.5 mill next year but if a team wanted to move on and cut him it’s only $1 mill of dead money. So you can trade for him, see how it works and if he is a fit, and if not let him go and no harm no foul. Because his contract is so team-friendly the Jets won’t part with him easy, so the compensation may be a mid-round pick here. And as we saw this past summer, the Jets and Dolphins have talked trade before (Kalen Ballage) so the fact they are in the same division shouldn’t be a turn-off. % Chance of Happening: 30%
AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals WR group moving forward with Joe Burrow is Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. That is the duo they are going to build around. AJ Green at 32 years old probably doesn’t have a future in Cincy beyond this year. Green is in the final year of his deal so I think the Bengals would look to move him and get something for him before they just let him walk at seasons end. The question for the Dolphins is do you want to trade for a guy you may only have for 7 or 8 games and who then will walk? Or do you see him as a veteran you may want to re-sign and keep? But does AJ want to be on a rebuilding team or does he want to chase a ring? The age and his injury history are scary but Cincy would probably move him for the right price (mid-round pick). Lots of questions though. % Chance of Happening: 35%
Golden Tate III, NY Giants
Are the Giants buyers or sellers, that is the question. But with Tate, it may not matter because he has rubbed everyone the wrong way in New York since signing there and he just got in a huge brawl at the end of a game recently. Plus, there are reports the Giants are looking to move him coming from the New York newspapers and Giants beat writers. Age-wise he is 32 which is on the wrong side of 30 but contract wise it isn’t awful and he is still productive. He would be a great veteran wide receiver to fit in the Dolphins WR group and could help Tua tremendously. Tate is signed through 2022 but the dead money if you want to move on drops significantly after this season and in those final two years. Productive player, manageable contract, experienced. This might be a match made in heaven. % Chance of Happening: 75%
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 23, 2020
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
A few months or weeks ago it would be crazy to have him on this list. Well, things happen fast in the NFL. Thomas is on the outs in New Orleans and even has punched a teammate and the Saints locker-room as turned on him. He has played in one game this year and has only 3 receptions on the season and the Saints look to be in no rush to get him back on the field. The upside, he is only 27, he is the best WR in the NFL at this time, and to pair him with Parker Miami would have the best WR group in the NFL for the next few seasons. The downside is he seems like a nut-case and he is owed over $20 mill on the cap each season through the 2023 season and the earliest any team could move on from him if they did trade for him is after 2022 when the dead money isn’t outrageous. Plus, oh yeah, he and Parker had a war of words on social media a few months back and it appears they don’t get along. Plus the Saints won’t give him away they would want a 1st or 2nd round pick for him in return. Which if he is healthy and his head is on straight he is worth that as he is better than anyone you draft in Round 1 or Round 2 in 2021. % Chance of Happening: < 10%
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
The 9th overall pick of the 2017 draft never fit in with the Bengals and they are looking to move him at the deadline. He is in the final year of his contract so if you trade for him you must be open to keeping him and re-signing him or be OK with letting him walk and you just gave up a draft pick for an 8 game rental. He has never caught more than 28 passes in a season. In 2018 he somehow had 7 touchdowns on only 21 receptions. He has speed which is what Miami needs, a guy who can take the top off of the defense (sorry Grant you don’t offer that as a true WR.) Total low risk/high reward type of move that Chris Grier loves and Miami could probably get him for a bag of potato chips. % Chance of Happening: 80%
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have Cooper and Lamb, are they really going to pay Gallup in a year when he is on the open market after the 2021 season? The issue here is the Cowboys are in no rush to make a move on Gallup now, and even without Dak they are still in the playoff hunt because of the God Awful NFC East. But for the right price (and because Gallup is 24 and under a cheap team-friendly contract, the compensation would have to be high, probably no less than a 3rd round pick) they may be open to trading him. % Chance of Happening: 15%
?NEW?@DolphinsTalk.com Podcast for Thursday: Mike and @ian693 talk Tua-Fitz and the Dolphins quarterback situation as well as what ESPN said on the Dolphins offensive line. #FinsUP https://t.co/XCqHqkVl18
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 22, 2020
Kenny Stills, Houston Texans
Ugh, if Kenny wouldn’t run his mouth on Dolphins owner Stephen Ross so much he would be the perfect fit and a reunion with the Dolphins would be a match made in heaven. Stills is in the final year of his deal, 28 years old, had his most success in the NFL with the Dolphins, and has the skill set the Dolphins need at WR right now. And we know Houston needs draft picks as they don’t have a 1st or 2nd rounder, so stockpiling late-round picks helps make up for that in some way. But you can’t constantly bash the owner in the media time after time and year after year and expect the team to bring you back. % Chance of Happening: < .000001%
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
He has only played in one game this year (funny enough the game vs Miami) and has been a healthy scratch in all of the rest. He has fallen out of favor in Jacksonville for some reason that is unknown and hasn’t been leaked out. He is only 26 years old and in the final year of his contract and the Jags are looking to stockpile draft picks. In the past two seasons, he has had over 100 targets and caught 66 receptions in each, so he has been productive. Could be a perfect match for the Dolphins. % Chance of Happening: 90%
Ted Ginn Jr, Chicago Bears
Things come full circle in life and wouldn’t it be something if Ginn ended his career as a Miami Dolphin. He is 35 years old, he is not being used at all by the Bears, he isn’t under contract beyond this year so there is no long term commitment. It would be a total half-season rental for a late-round pick. Ginn did little in Miami when he was drafted here many years ago, it would be poetic to see him (and his family) end his career as a Dolphin % Chance of Happening: 50%
So those are some of the Miami Dolphins trade deadline options at WR. I think this is the top priority for the team to make an upgrade at if they do want to make a run at the playoffs in 2020.