Columnists, Sports

4th and Inches: NFL trade deadline

The window to make trades in the 2022-23 National Football League season closed last week on Nov. 1. Historically, the NFL trade deadline hasn’t provoked the amount of activity other professional sports leagues tend to experience. However, the 2022-23 deadline sparked more player movement than in recent years. Here are three trades that impact the NFL landscape this season.

Miami makes winning moves

At 6-3, the Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a breakout season. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads the No. 2 passing attack in the league, but Miami’s defense ranks in the bottom third of the league.

The Dolphins are on track for a playoff spot, but aren’t definitive contenders. In an attempt to boost their chances, they made some major trades before the deadline.

Miami’s spotlight trade was with the Denver Broncos for Pro Bowl edge rusher Bradley Chubb in exchange for a package that included a 2023 first-round pick.

Chubb was selected fifth overall in the 2018 Draft and immediately demonstrated his pass-rush ability. In his rookie season, Chubb posted 12 sacks.

Chubb’s presence instantly improves Miami’s defense. He spreads out the talent along the defensive line, making it risky for offensive lineman to double-team a single rusher. His ability to quickly get to the quarterback reduces the time defensive backs have to cover downfield.

In the modern NFL, a strong passing attack typically breeds success. A player like Chubb with the ability to disrupt the quarterback on any given play is one of the most valuable assets for a defense.

As part of the trade, the Dolphins sent running back Chase Edmonds to Denver. Edmonds isn’t an elite talent, but he was a key contributor to Miami’s versatile backfield.

The Dolphins later acquired Jeff Wilson Jr. from the San Francisco 49ers to replace Edmonds. Wilson is an upgrade from Edmonds, but the two backs share similar dual-threat skills.

Miami made it clear that they are trying to win now. They have demonstrated their ability to beat strong teams, but still face a tough path to success. Regardless, the Dolphins are continuing to grow and should be a mainstay at the top of the AFC for years.

Bills add a shifty playmaker

At 6-2, the Buffalo Bills are an AFC powerhouse with Super Bowl expectations. Reports leading up to the deadline indicated that the Bills were looking to add a star running back. However, the 49ers outbid Buffalo for Christian McCaffrey, and the New Orleans Saints were unwilling to move star Alvin Kamara.

After missing out on superstar talent, the Bills traded Zack Moss to the Indianapolis Colts for running back Nyheim Hines.

Although he’s not the primary star back Buffalo desired, Hines improves the Bills’ offense. While Hines isn’t as talented, he brings the same skill set the Bills would have gotten from McCaffrey or Kamara.

Hines is a quality dual-threat playmaker who can line up in the backfield or out wide. In 2020-21, Hines caught 63 passes for 482 yards and four scores. The Colts also used Hines to return punts because of his elusiveness in open space.

The Bills don’t need Hines to be a workhorse. With marquee players Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Buffalo’s offense will continue to flow through its passing attack.

Pairing Hines with running back Devin Singletary creates the run-by-committee backfield that is becoming more popular in the NFL. Singletary is a stronger back capable of running through the tackles, but he also contributes through the air.

Acquiring Hines only added another weapon to Buffalo’s top-ranked offense. Once they integrate Hines into the offense, the Bills will become more dangerous than they already are.

Red-hot Vikings add a new weapon

The Minnesota Vikings lost starting tight end Irv Smith Jr to an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out for 8 to 10 weeks. At 7-1, the Vikings own the second-best record in the NFC and have a chance to make a deep playoff run.

To replace Smith, the Vikings made a blockbuster trade for former-Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The move for Hockenson was one of the most shocking transactions during the deadline frenzy. The Vikings and Lions are divisional rivals, meaning the Lions now have to face Hockenson twice a season.

Detroit is also in the midst of a rebuild which seems to be trending in the right direction. Hockenson is only 25 years old and could have been a valuable piece in a high-powered Lions offense.

Hockenson is an elite tight end and joined a talented offense. Now in his third NFL season, Vikings’ receiver Justin Jefferson has established himself as one of, if not the best receivers in the league.

Receiver Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook are also very talented players who make huge contributions in nearly every game. The Vikings now have an arsenal of skill players tough for any defense to defend.

Hockenson was quick to make his presence felt in Minnesota. In his first game as a Viking, Hockenson caught nine passes for 70 yards. The catches he made were vital in the Vikings’ 20-17 comeback win against the Washington Commanders in Week 9.

Minnesota hasn’t lost a game since its Week 2 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hockenson only elevates a talented offense looking to win the NFC.

 

 

 

 

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