The trade deadline brought more drama to it than the games that preceded it, with many big-time moves coming and keeping the NFL news cycle churning. I personally thought it was great, and want to dive deep into some analysis. Welcome to Aaron It Out for Week 9.
I think the best way to do this is to go trade-by-trade; we’ll list the biggest ones and go from there. Afterward, a few more stories, followed as always by the Top Five and this week’s picks, where my record is shoddy at best.
JIMMY GAROPPOLO TO THE NINERS – Arguably the most analyzed story of the trade deadline is the Patriots trading backup quarterback Garoppolo to the 49ers. He is a largely unproven backup QB who has been sitting behind Tom Brady for almost four years, and for some reason Belichick backup QBs have a premium on them. Let’s take a look at who they once had: Brian Hoyer, who is probably headed back to New England, and never had much success anywhere; Matt Cassel, who parlayed his stint into big money that caused nothing but bit disappointment; and I guess you can include Jacoby Brissett, who was traded to the Colts earlier this season and has been serviceable in Luck’s absence. Look, the main reason for this is someone coming out of mysterious New England, where the system works for some reason (whether it’s rigged or not is another matter), and the dude had a chance to learn from one of the great quarterbacks. People have short memories, because both Hoyer and Cassel went from projected starters back to career backups pretty darn quick. This will be no different. The only reason Belichick was hoarding ol’ Jimmy was so he could get a better draft pick, whether the trade partner came from the AFC or NFC. Garoppolo will go out, start in the next couple of weeks, and struggle because the team around him is bad and rebuilding, and he hasn’t learned the system so it won’t be his fault. Then he’ll either get franchise tagged or signed to a big contract (San Francisco has the salary cap room to waste), and keep struggling. He is a new version of Rob Johnson – flashed for a bit because of the team around him, but can’t pull it together. I personally don’t see him doing anything notable. Time will tell, but that is a long rebuild they are in for out in San Fran. New England is the clear winner here, getting what is sure to be a high-second-round pick for him.
DUANE BROWN TO THE SEAHAWKS – I don’t really think this is going to have a huge impact. The Texans’ offense is only hanging around in games because of Deshaun Watson’s ability to be mobile and make accurate throws on the run. Their offensive line is garbage and it didn’t matter if Duane Brown was there because he was holding out all season so far. Now, he goes to Seattle, where he can be the left tackle on yet another horrible offensive line. I honestly did a double take when I saw Seattle only had two losses – it felt like they had more. Their line is bad and their defense is getting old, and they do NOT have much room under the cap. It won’t be much longer until Seattle enters rebuilding mode. This is a move designed to help the ‘Hawks “win now,” but I don’t think it will help them be any better. The winner is, once again, the team receiving the pick – Houston.
JAY AJAYI TO THE EAGLES – This was almost the craziest trade of the season; Ajayi put together well over a thousand yards rushing last season, and has been one of the bright spots of Miami’s offense this season. He wasn’t doing quite as good; apparently, too, he drank some of his own Kool-Aid and had been acting as a bit of a diva around the Dolphins’ locker room, which head coach Adam Gase did not like. Gase, as tenuous as his grip on the Fins has been during his head coaching tenure, does like cohesion in the locker room, which caused me to be honestly surprised when Miami signed Cutler before the season started. Anyway, Ajayi was turning into a problem for Miami, and off he goes to a loaded Eagles team, and he may very well get a Super Bowl appearance for all the trouble he caused. How will he act with second-year quickly-ascending quarterback Carson Wentz leading the team? Who knows, but I think that this is a clear case of the Eagles winning in this transaction… it gives them yet another weapon to shore up their offense. I think the Eagles are the best team in the league and since they lost Darren Sproles to his injury earlier this season, it gives them a new elusive, multi-talented back to work with.
KELVIN BENJAMIN TO THE BILLS – Now this here surprised the crap out of me. One of the key pieces of the Panthers’ offense and a former first-round pick, Benjamin has been in the playoffs multiple times and has a Super Bowl appearance with Carolina. He is a great receiver who excelled at Florida State and has the body to go up and truly grab those 50-50 jump balls. This is an awesome move because the Bills need some wide receiver assistance; it’s not that they don’t have talent on offense, it’s that the talent is raw and needs some time to develop. Benjamin brings the talent that is already developed, and without the injury and attitude concerns that Sammy Watkins had during his time in Buffalo. This is an outstanding statistic from Adam Schefter:
While I don’t think you will see a huge difference on that tonight, as Benjamin has only been with the team for a few days, it will help down the stretch. It also seems as if Buffalo is, smartly, going all-in with Tyrod Taylor. This is a good move; he is a solid quarterback who has athleticism to spare and makes smart moves behind the line of scrimmage. Buffalo also has LeSean McCoy, who is an amazing running back. Benjamin comes in with athleticism and leadership. The clear winner in this transaction is Buffalo, who should certainly continue their newfound success. For more on Taylor, check out this excellent ESPN article.
MARCELL DAREUS TO THE JAGUARS – The story of this year in Jacksonville has been its overwhelming defense. The team does so well stopping the pass (especially when its opponents are behind, and have to resort to the pass to attempt to catch up), that the lack of run defense is overlooked. However, big-time runs from players on the Titans, Jets, and Rams have cost the Jaguars those three games. Dareus is certainly an attempt to fix that, as well as add depth to the defensive line. Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash excels in his defensive rotation as well as putting his “aces in their places” and creating favorable matchups, as well as disguising looks, such as against the Steelers when a few zone looks were actually man blitz packages. Dareus hasn’t been a true standout in Buffalo but he is a big dude who has been to the Pro Bowl and has been great at stopping the run. The personal issues he brings along (he is close to getting a lengthy suspension for the league’s substance abuse policy) are mediated by the relatively low-cost draft pick the Jags had to trade to get him; they basically swapped the pick they gained from the Bowanko trade to Baltimore for Dareus. He should be a complement to Malik Jackson in stopping the run game, occasionally replacing Abry Jones, who does quite well in passing situations but has more of a “bend don’t break” game in regards to the run. The winner of this trade is definitely the Jaguars.
THE BROWNS BROWN’D A TRADE, THE BENGALS BUNGLE THEIR RESPONSE – And just when you thought things couldn’t get more interesting, a report came out after the deadline that the Browns were preparing to send picks to the Bengals for quarterback AJ McCarron. Due to what they call paperwork issues, the forms weren’t sent in in time. However, we are quickly learning that this is not the case – apparently, as long as both teams send in the terms to the league office (via email!) and they match, then the trade is good. I mean, a GM can make a trade from the iPhone or Android device in his pocket. It is not that hard, unless you’re the Browns. Pro Football Talk stated that they had a source, who told them about the simple email requirement, and then a 15-day window to send in actual paperwork. It’s ridiculous. The Browns clearly have space cadets running their organization. I won’t lay one iota of blame on the Bengals here because it is pretty evident to me that they were waiting on the Browns to agree to whatever draft pick Cincy was asking for. This should be the final nail in the coffin for Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, in my opinion – not just the fact that they are winless this year, but the moves they have made such as eating Brock Osweiler’s cap hits but being completely unable to flip him for anything, passing on both Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, and failing to put anything resembling a competent football team together. The Browns’ front office needs to be blown up again, and that’s a pretty Browns thing to have happen.
A FEW MORE QUICK THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE… Zeke Elliott’s re-re-suspension is no surprise, he should have just laid down and taken it, he would’ve been back by now… the Raiders are imploding for some reason, and it’s not for lack of talent. It may be due to a lack of leadership in their coaching ranks… Josh Gordon is back, and nobody cares… the Broncos aren’t in much better shape than the Raiders, and Osweiler isn’t going to help them. Why can’t Elway pick a franchise QB? He could have the team in the running for Kirk Cousins… speaking of Cousins, he is the real winner in the Garoppolo trade, as both his former OCs now have their franchise QBs and he will truly hit the open market… The Patriots have Buffalo chomping at their heels for first place in the AFC East. The teams have yet to play. Will Buffalo take advantage of their schedule as they have three winnable games coming up, as New England’s gets more difficult?… The Saints are taking advantage of a weak NFC South to make one last shot at the playoffs before blowing up their roster. They don’t stand a chance against a potential Eagles matchup, though.
THE AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
PREVIEWS & PICKS
BILLS @ JETS – The Jets won three in a row and then lost three in a row to cause them to dip down to 3-5. It’s possible New York wins another 2 or 3 games this season, but I doubt they win tonight. The Bills are moving and shaking and have already beaten the Jets once this season. Tonight, the wagons will be circled in the Meadowlands. Bills win.
BUCS @ SAINTS – The Bucs are playing like hot garbage in August heat, and the Saints are surprising everyone with a 5-2 record. I have a feeling the Saints will win here, although they did have a habit earlier this year of playing down to their opponents. However, they stand a better chance of winning, so I’ll call this a Saints win.
FALCONS @ PANTHERS – Two NFC South matchups on the same weekend. The Panthers rebounded from consecutive losses at the Eagles and Bears to beat the Bucs last weekend. The Falcons are… struggling, to put it nicely, and their offense needs to get it together. Carolina traded away one of their best players this past week, but I don’t think that will stop them from continuing on their race behind New Orleans for the division. Panthers win.
RAMS @ GIANTS – The Rams have technically been away from home for four weeks straight, with an away game, a game in London, and a bye week before heading to New York. The Giants probably wish they could be away from home that long, disappointing fans this season. Los Angeles will beat New York, and quite possibly crush them, which is kind of sad but not really. Rams win.
RAVENS @ TITANS – I’m gonna go ahead and let my pettiness show through a bit, although it doesn’t need to a lot because the Titans only one by a field goal against the freakin’ Browns. What is up with that? The Ravens are on a bit of a roller coaster but they put up 40 on the Dolphins last week. Ravens are getting healthier, Titans have a QB that is worried about getting hurt again. Who do you pick? You pick the Ravens to win.
BENGALS @ JAGUARS – Ugh… every time I pick the Jags to win, they lose. I pick them to lose so that they win. I don’t know what to do. The Bengals’ offensive line sucks and their defense is not that great, they have to rely on playing dirty to do anything. They let the Colts put up 23 points on them last week. The x-factor is Andy Dalton – he is a better QB than Bortles, but only somewhat. The Jaguars will rely on their defense to shut down Cincy’s offense, and the run game now that Fournette is back from being injured. I don’t know which team to pick! I may be eating crow next week, because all the stars are aligned: the Jags are rested, they’re at home, they expect to win – but I’m not sure they can beat the Bengals, who they saw this preseason and got thrashed by on national television. Reluctantly, the Bengals win.
BRONCOS @ EAGLES – Oh my. You switch to Brock for THIS game? Way to go, Denver coach Vance Joseph. Okay, let’s get past the idea that the coaching staff pretty much completely passed over Paxton Lynch when pulling Siemian – Elway’s going to need Brock to get over himself and play the way he did in 2015, or he will be drafting a guy in April. All that said, dude, how do the Eagles not win this? They should have their way with Denver. Eagles win.
COLTS @ TEXANS – This is an intriguing matchup. The Texans’ defense is awful, and their offensive line is not much better. The Colts’ defense is not great, and their offensive line is ok. This will be another shootout much like both teams’ games last week. To be honest, though, although I like Watson more as a QB, I think the Colts have what they need to exploit the weaknesses of Houston’s defense. Indy very much needs a win and I think they get it here – Colts win.
REDSKINS @ SEAHAWKS – Seahawks Shootout, Part Two. If the ‘Skins defense can’t shut down Wilson (that is a strong possibility), we will see a game the likes of last week’s Houston-Seattle game. Some called that the “game of the week” last week, and it reflects the new mentality of the league: lots of points, lots of shooting the ball downfield, back-and-forth lead changes, etc. It was okay but it’s not a historical game or anything if you ask me. Anyway, I think that Washington will capitalize on some of Seattle’s deficiencies here. Redskins win.
CARDINALS @ NINERS – Oof. Carson Palmer’s hurt and Drew Stanton is the new starting QB in Arizona. San Fran just plain sucks. Who wins? The Cardinals win, I guess.
CHIEFS @ COWBOYS – I don’t think it will just be the loss of Zeke Elliott that will hurt Dallas in this matchup, it’s also just the dominance of Kansas City. Sure, they’ve been beaten twice but they have been in all the games they’ve played and have the power to overcome almost anything their opponents throw at them. I also think Dallas’ defense can’t hold a candle to KC’s offense. The Chiefs win.
RAIDERS @ DOLPHINS – Two teams on a downhill slope, destined for a national audience. I don’t know if I’ll be watching this one, to be honest with you. If I had to make a pick here, though, I’m thinking Miami. They’re at home, they’re ready to bounce back from a thrashing last week, and Oakland just looks like it doesn’t have any direction right now. I picked Miami to win last week and they got the crap beat out of them, so that’s probably what will happen here too. Oh well – I’ll stick with my prediction! Dolphins win.
LIONS @ PACKERS – This is gonna be a good Monday night game… remembers Aaron Rodgers is injured … never mind. Lions win.