A number of teams already stand out as potential playoff contenders six weeks into the NFL season with some notable surprises. General managers around the league will no doubt look to upgrade their rosters with possible deals in the coming weeks to fill holes.
The NFL trade deadline, which can at times yield very little activity, is looming. The league officially stops all trade for 2016 on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. EDT.
Outside of the build up to and during the draft, trades don’t happen very often in the NFL, but this year at least one has made an immediate impact. The Minnesota Vikings acquired quarterback Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles after a third-year passer Teddy Bridgewater suffered a horrific and season-ending knee injury during the preseason. Bradford has exceeded expectations, leading the Vikings to a perfect 5-0 mark even with star running back Adrian Peterson lost for the season also due to a knee injury.
It’s highly unlikely a trade before this season’s deadline involves a player of Bradford's caliber, but there are veterans who might on the move.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is on player who could be on the block. The 34-year-old, who ranks second all-time in sacks in Miami’s history, told the Palm Beach Post Wednesday that he’s not trying to force his way out of Miami.
“It’s not about which one’s more important,” Wake said. “I just want to win. I’m here in Miami and I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me. I’m doing everything I can to make sure Miami’s a winner. I’m not concerned with going anywhere else or doing anything else. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll be here. As long as I’m able, I’ll do whatever I can to make this a winning team.”
While Wake hasn’t played much this season as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last year, there's a market for pass rushers for teams like the New York Giants (4.0 total sacks, last in the NFL), the Kansas City Chiefs or the New Orleans Saints could consider Wake.
Wake’s current contract is friendly, too. He represents an $8.25 million salary cap hit this season, and while he’s under contract for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, his bonuses will be paid by the end of this year and the rest of the deal isn’t guaranteed, according to Spotrac. Any team that acquires Wake, thus, wouldn’t be on the hook after this season.
While some teams are looking to upgrade, struggling clubs like the Cleveland Browns may have to seriously consider making deals to cut their losses.
A week ago, Browns cornerback Joe Haden and left tackle Joe Thomas were involved in trade speculation, according to NFL reporter Jason Cole.
From a financial standpoint, moving both Haden and Thomas makes sense for the Browns. They are the two highest-paid players on the roster this season (Haden a $13.4 million cap hit and Thomas at $9.5 million), and neither is scheduled to make an especially exorbitant, cap-eating amount throughout the life of their current deals. Haden is signed through the 2019 season, and Thomas 2018.
Cole also referenced the San Francisco 49ers as a team that may be active at the deadline.
Safety Antoine Bethea might be the most obvious candidate to be dealt. The 32-year-old has one year left on his contract.