The 2015 NFL trade deadline has passed, and only a handful of notable names were dealt prior to Tuesday afternoon. A few trades occurred in the weeks and days leading up to the deadline, and the league’s top teams were the most aggressive.
Even though Peyton Manning is no longer one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, the Denver Broncos are one of the frontrunners to win Super Bowl 50. After winning their first seven games, the organization was the most active team at the trade deadline, looking to improve for another playoff run.
Denver acquired Vernon Davis, who was the biggest name to be traded in the days leading up to the deadline. The veteran tight end was sent with a 2016 seventh-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers to the Broncos in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2016 and 2017. Davis has 18 catches for 194 yards in his 10th NFL season, and he’s one of the top pass-catchers in 49ers' history. Julius Thomas had caught 108 passes for 24 touchdowns in the previous two seasons, but Owen Daniels has just 129 receiving yards and two scores as Denver’s top tight end in 2015.
The Broncos reportedly tried to upgrade their offensive line, as well, but they were unsuccessful. The team engaged in discussions with the Cleveland Browns regarding left tackle Joe Thomas up until the deadline. ESPN Cleveland reported early on Tuesday that Denver was willing to trade their 2016 first-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for the All-Pro offensive lineman. The Browns are essentially out of playoff contention with a 2-6 record, but they wanted more than just one pick from Denver, and the two sides ran out of time to negotiate a deal. Thomas is set to make $10 million a year through the 2018 season.
Cleveland had been looking to be a seller, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger was available, but the Browns stood pat ahead of their Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The New England Patriots are Denver’s biggest competition, and they haven’t been shy about making trades. Having acquired linebacker Jon Bostic and defensive end Akiem Hicks earlier this season, the team reportedly looked into upgrading at cornerback. According to Rapoport, the team had interest in Tennessee Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, but they were unable to add him and pair him with his twin brother, who is in his sixth season with New England.
Because the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers aren’t headed to the postseason this year, there has been speculation that Calvin Johnson or Colin Kaepernick might be on the block. But it appears neither player was close to being dealt.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t make a trade, but they released Joseph Randle. The running back has been involved in multiple off-the-field incidents in his time with the team, most recently facing a suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Randle is the Cowboys’ No.2 rusher with 215 yards on 76 carries.