The 2022 trade deadline is rapidly approaching. Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 1 to make trades.
Three leading preseason NFC Super Bowl contenders who are having challenging seasons (Rams, Buccaneers and Packers) could be in trade market before the Nov. 1 deadline. Areas that these teams might address to try to get their seasons back on track have been identified. Typically, teams only make one trade before the deadline.
The 2022 salary cap charges for potential acquisitions are in parenthesis if deals are made after Week 8's games. The acquiring team would be responsible for 10/18ths of a player's 2022 base salary and any other applicable salary components in his contract. Team salary cap room is based on NFLPA data.
Los Angeles Rams ($4.551 million of salary cap space)
It would be surprising for the defending Super Bowl champions to stand pat given general manager Les Snead's "F**k Them Picks" philosophy. The Ramsbut were outbid by the 49ers.
Kareem Hunt ($3.1 million cap charge) is probably the next best running back option. He requested a trade in the preseason because the Browns refused to extend his contract. From a playing time standpoint, it never made sense that the 2017 rushing champion signed a three-year deal in 2020 as a restricted free agent with Nick Chubb ahead of him.
It shouldn't take more than a fourth round pick to obtain Hunt. The Rams don't have a 2023 fourth-round pick because of acquiring Sony Michel from the Patriots in a 2021 preseason trade. The 2023 fifth-round pick went to the Browns for cornerback Troy Hill during this year's NFL Draft. The Rams are projected to get two 2023 compensatory fifth-round pick, though.
A divorce between the Rams and a disgruntled Cam Akers ($650,659) seems inevitable. Another option could be a running back swap where Akers goes to the Vikings for Alexander Mattison ($536,111), who is in a contract year backing up Dalvin Cook. Akers is under contract in 2023 for $1,451,779.
Neither player would be learning a new offense on the fly since first year Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell was the Rams' offensive coordinator in 2020 and 2021. The Vikings, who only have slightly more the $500,000 of cap space, would get about $115,000 in cap relief with the swap.
Offensive line might be a bigger concern. Left tackle Joe Noteboom is out for year with an Achilles tear. 36-year old Ty Nsekhe was signed off the Colts' practice squad last week because of Noteboom's injury.
2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard's long-term prospects ended in Philadelphia when Jordan Mailata won the left tackle job in 2021 and subsequently received a lucrative four-year contract extension. His fifth year option for 2023 wasn't picked up. Isaiah Wynn ($5.875 million) has struggled in his transition from left tackle to right tackle with the Patriots. He is playing on a $10.413 million fifth-year option and doesn't appear to have a future in New England. The Patriots would need to eat some money by converting a portion of Wynn's remaining $5.875 million base salary into signing bonus for a trade to work.
The Rams pass rush hasn't been able to replace Von Miller, who left for the Bills in free agency. Miller was a great pickup at last year's trade deadline for 2022 second- and third-round picks. The compensation was so much because the Broncos ate $9 million of Miller's remaining $9,722,222 salary pre-trade. The Broncos are reportedly drawing interest on Bradley Chubb ($7,736,667), who is tied for 11th in the NFL with 5.5 sacks. It may take similar compensation as the Miller trade to get Chubb, who is playing under his $13.926 million fifth-year option, if the Broncos ate $7.2 million of his remaining money in the deal and left the Rams responsible for just $536,667. That's only $556 more than Chubb's league minimum salary for 10 weeks.
The same concept would have applied to Robert Quinn, who the Rams selected in 2011's first round, but the Bears for a fourth-round pick on Wednesday.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3.883 million of salary cap space)
The Buccaneers are tied for first place in the NFC South with a 3-4 record despite losing Luke Goedeke at left guard. Graham Glasgow could take over at left guard if the Broncos dealt Dalton Risner ($1,494,444), who is in a contract year. Bengals 2021 second-round pick Jackson Carman ($554,797) has fallen out favor in Cincinnati. He has been a healthy scratch the past five games.. The interior of the offensive line has been an issue, particularly 2022 second-round pick
He was expected to be the left guard but was beaten out by 2022 fourth-round pick Cordell Volson. Ravens 2021 third-round pick Ben Cleveland ($488,397) hasn't played an offensive snap this season. He started four games in 2021. A Day 3 draft pick (fifth to seventh round) should be sufficient to obtain one of the three.
Tampa Bay hasn't been able to fill the void at tight end left by Rob Gronkowski's retirement. Mike Gesicki ($6,072,777), who was given a $10.931 million franchise tag by the Dolphins, would be ideal as a pass catching weapon. He isn't a great fit in new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel's offense because blocking isn't his strong suit. Gesicki is too cost prohibitive from a cap standpoint anyway and probably with trade compensation as well.
Austin Hooper ($575,000) is being underutilized in the Titans' run centric offense. He was third in tight end snaps for the Titans in Week 7's win over the Colts despite leading the team with 56 receiving yards. He is Tennessee's best pass catching tight end. $4.965 million of the one-year, $6 million deal Hooper signed in March was a signing bonus.
Albert Okwuegbunam was supposed to be the biggest beneficiary of tight end Noah Fant being included in Denver's trade with the Seahawks for quarterback Russell Wilson. He has been inactive the past two games with 2022 third-round pick Greg Dulcich coming off injured reserve. Okwuegbunam ($497,222), a 2020 fourth-round pick, is under contract in 2023 for $1.01 million. A sixth-round pick might make sense for Hooper or Okwuegbunam.
Green Bay Packers ($6.4277 million of salary cap space)
It isn't Green Bay's nature to be buyers at the trade deadline. Aaron Rodgers will be an unhappy camper if the Packers don't improve a receiver corps that hasn't overcome trading Davante Adams to the Raiders and Marquez Valdes-Scantling leaving for the Chiefs in free agency.
The Packers were expected to keep their stranglehold on the NFC North after winning the division in each of the last three seasons with 13 victories. With a 3-4 record, Green Bay has already matched 2021's loss total. The Packers are under .500 after seven games for the first time in any of Rodgers' 15 seasons as starting quarterback.
There are several directions the Packers could go at wide receiver to placate the four-time NFL MVP. Brandin Cooks ($622,222) would be an intriguing option despite the Texans signing him to a two-year extension, which runs through the 2024 season, averaging nearly $20 million per year in April. Cooks is used to being dealt. He's been traded three times in his NFL career. The last trade was in 2020 when the Texans obtained him and a 2022 fourth-round pick from the Rams for a 2020 second round pick.
The trade compensation shouldn't approach the Rams deal. Cooks is scheduled to make $35 million over the next two years. His $18 million 2023 base salary was fully guaranteed in the extension.
Broncos 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy ($1,106,210) is on teams' radar screen. His acquisition cost shouldn't quite be as much as Claypool's. He could make a seamless transition since Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett was Green Bay's offensive coordinator the last three seasons. The Packers would have a small sample size before deciding whether to pick up Jeudy's fifth-year option for 2024 during the offseason before a May 2 deadline.
Marquez Callaway ($497,222) was the Saints' leading wide receiver by default in 2021 with Michael Thomas missing the season because of an ankle injury. When everyone is healthy Callaway is New Orleans' fourth wide receiver. A mid-to-late Day 3 pick (fifth or sixth round) should suffice. Callaway, who was a 2020 undrafted free agent, will be a restricted free agent in 2023. The Packers could retain him next season with a $2.629 million tender (assumes a $225 million 2023 salary cap), which would allow for an offer sheet to be matched.
Nelson Agholor ($5 million) could be a short-term solution since he's in the final year of his two-year contract with the Patriots. Paying $5 million for a 10-game rental might be more of a sticking point for Green Bay than trade compensation, which should be similar to Callaway's.