The NFL trade deadline has come and gone. We didn’t get any earth-shattering deals that change the face of the league, but much of what transpired on Tuesday was about what didn’t happen, rather than what did. Many teams around the league stayed pat, for better or worse — meaning the majority of teams are rolling with their current rosters to close out the year.
Let’s break down the moves (and non-moves) at the deadline and who got better as a result.
Winner: San Francisco 49ers
I don’t know how this front office keeps doing it. In 2022, the 49ers swung a deal to land Christian McCaffrey from the Panthers, a move that diversified their offense and made it complete — and now they’ve done the same by trading a mid-round pick for Chase Young.
Young has been an impact player in 2023 and his presence will take pressure of Nick Bosa to be the sole source of edge rushing in San Francisco. This unit has had success rushing from the linebackers and defensive tackles, but now Young can be part of a rotation with Arik Armstead to add a new dimension to the pass rush and vary its attack.
The best part of this is how little the 49ers had to give up. Young is in the final year of his rookie contract, and while the Commanders declined his 5th year option back in April — it does give the Niners the freedom to negotiate a long-term deal if he plays well, or simply allow him to walk in free agency and treat this as a rental.
Either way it’s a win-win for San Francisco and another great deal at the deadline.
Winner: Chase Young
Young goes from the cellar of the NFC East to a legitimate Super Bowl contender in a contract year. this is a mammoth win for his career, and if he shines he’s going to get PAAAAID in free agency.
Loser: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers were supposed to be big players at the trade deadline, and it went by without a peep. Finding a No. 1 receiver was going to be a near-impossible task, but the bigger issue is that Carolina couldn’t find a single taker for any of their assets to get back draft capital.
We can wait and see on the big one here, EDGE rusher Brian Burns. If the Panthers aren’t able to get Burns inked long-term then not trading him will have been one of the biggest blunders in franchise history.
There was buzz around Adam Thielen, but that was never, ever going to happen. He’s the only reliable receiver the team has right now, and shipping him off would be a death sentence to Bryce Young’s development.
The biggest surprises were that the Panthers didn’t offload either Miles Sanders or Hayden Hurst. Neither of the free agents the team signed this offseason have really panned out, and both were in positions where they could help a playoff team add to their offense before the postseason. Even if they didn’t get a great return on either, some draft capital is better than none.
Winner: Joshua Dobbs
Did anyone have a greater turn of fortune on Tuesday that Joshua Dobbs? Here was a guy who went from being buried deep on the Cardinals’ bench behind Kyler Murray and Clayton Tune, and now he’s in a position to throw passes to Jordan Addison and (in a few weeks) Justin Jefferson.
This puts Dobbs in a prime position to audition for the rest of the league that he never would have had a chance to if not for the trade. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Dobbs is the answer to whatever the Vikings are looking for, but there’s no doubt he’s a winner from the deadline.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
The trade for Kevin Byard was such a master stroke that I’m still in shock it went through.
Philadelphia got one of the best safeties in the NFL and all they gave up was a late pick and the rest of the year on a one-year free agent.
Byard isn’t so old that he can’t contribute through the rest of his deal, and he gives the Eagles’ secondary exactly what they need for a playoff push.
It clears cap space for the Titans, which was their motivating factor — but there’s little doubt this was a mammoth win for them.
Loser: Ryan Poles
Here’s the thing about the whole Montez Sweat to Bears trade: It’s an admission of draft failure.
There’s no doubt that Sweat is good, or that he’s worth a second round pick if he re-signs with Chicago, but GM Ryan Poles seemingly has no value for these high 2nd round picks he keeps getting.
This deal really isn’t dissimilar to the 2022 deadline trade that brought Chase Claypool to Chicago. I can’t help but feel like once again this team would have been better just sitting and drafting, rather than trading for talent when they’re not in a position to compete or build anything cogent.
If Sweat walks after 2023 this was disastrous. If he signs, great, they might have been able to get it done in free agency anyway. I’m fine with making a deal like this if it’s a lower pick, but a Top 5 selection in the second round is incredibly valuable to everyone except the Bears’ GM.