Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year. Who doesn’t love candy, the opportunity to get creative and throw on a fun costume while having a great time with friends? An added bonus of Halloween in 2023 is the NFL trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET! Given that the deadline is just under two weeks away, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of players who need to be moved in order to revive their careers and/or remove themselves from a bad situation.
Here is a look at 10 NFL players who would be better off trading in their current jersey for new one, not as a Halloween costume, but as a full-time swap.
Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in football. His 17 receiving touchdowns are the most in the NFL since the start of the 2022 season. He has also been named a First-Team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons. However, his goal isn’t to just be one of the great receivers of today. Adams wants to be known as one of the best wide receivers of all-time and conclude his football journey in Canton, Ohio as a Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee.
Through his first nine NFL seasons, Adams recorded 769 receptions for 9,637 receiving yards and 87 receiving touchdowns. Only one other player in league history has topped 750 catches, 9,500 receiving yards and 85 receiving touchdowns in their first nine seasons: Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison.
However, Adams’ Hall of Fame trajectory may be in peril if he sticks around in Las Vegas for much longer. He has gone three straight games without a touchdown or 100 yards receiving from Weeks 4-6. This also occurred in Weeks 13-15 last season, his first with the Raiders. The last time that happened to him as a Green Bay Packer, his NFL home for his first eight seasons from 2014-2021, was Weeks 14-17 of the 2015 season, his second year as a pro.
Adams also hasn’t been incredibly satisfied with the Raiders’ team performance during their 3-3 start this season, saying, via KSNV News 3 Las Vegas, “You can win a game and look shitty, and we’ve done that too many times.”
He initially came to the Raiders to win and keep putting up numbers in an effort to prove he can do both without Aaron Rodgers. Adams made one of his points with the First-Team All-Pro season in 2022. If he truly wants to win and keep his Hall of Fame dreams alive, he would be better off somewhere else.
The Carolina Panthers are the NFL’s last winless team at 0-6, and they need plenty of help along the offensive line, at wide receiver and in the secondary to name just a few areas. Problem is, they traded their 2024 first-round pick and 2025 second-round pick to the Chicago Bears as part of a package to move up eight spots to select quarterback Bryce Young first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Burns, age 25, deserves better. Since the turn of the decade in 2020, he has been one of the NFL’s top disruptors, but Burns has yet to reach the postseason.
Brian Burns stats since 2020
Tackles For Loss
A year ago, the Los Angeles Rams reportedly offered multiple first-round picks to pair Burns alongside three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald on their defensive line, but the Panthers opted not to take the deal. Now is the time to shop Burns, who is in a contract year. It would be win-win considering Carolina could acquire much-needed draft capital, and Burns could play for a team that has a win in 2023.
Everything can change in two years in the NFL. In 2021, Hunter Renfrow totaled 103 catches for 1,038 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns to earn the first Pro Bowl selection of his career. Then, the Raiders rewarded him with a two-year, $32 million contract extension in the 2022 offseason. However, he just hasn’t been fit in head coach Josh McDaniels’ offense since 2022. His best attribute is his ability ad-lib his routes and drift into open space to make himself available for his quarterback.
McDaniels’ offense is predicated on structure, and that has simply been a bad fit. This season, Renfrow has just six catches for 59 yards on nine targets despite playing in all six games. He has only been targeted twice in the last two weeks, including not at all in the Raiders’ 21-17 win against the New England Patriots in Week 7, a game in which he had only seven offensive snaps. It doesn’t help that Las Vegas signed former New England Patriot Jakobi Meyers to a three-year, $33 million contract this past offseason to play a similar role as Renfrow out of the slot.
Renfrow is only 27, and he could still provide plenty of value to another team’s offense should he be given a chance to succeed, something not currently present with McDaniels.
Chase Young earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020 after leading his rookie class in sacks with 7.5, but his career has been rocky since then. He tore his ACL nine games into the 2021 season, and he didn’t return to action until the final three games of the 2022 season. That uncertainty since 2020 caused the Commanders to decline the fifth-year option on their former second overall draft pick, positioning him to become a free agent after the 2023 season.
Another year removed from the injury, and the 24-year-old Young has returned to form. His 31 quarterback pressures this season are the fifth-most in the NFL and his 6.2 pressures per game rank as the second-most in the league trailing only Raiders Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby (6.3 pressures per game). However, a trade would do him wonders as it would get him out of a bad situation. Prior to the Commanders’ 24-16 win at the Atlanta Falcons, Washington had allowed 33 or more points in each of their previous four games.
In the victory against the Falcons on Sunday, they were out-gained by 209 total yards (402 to 193), the most by any team in a win this season. Much of that has to do with Washington’s leaky secondary as their 248.2 passing yards allowed per game ranks as the sixth-most in the league this season. The Commanders 2023 first-round pick, cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, has struggled to adjust to the NFL with his six-foot, 180-pound frame. He didn’t have any snaps in Week 6, and his 401 passing yards allowed in coverage was the second-most yards allowed in coverage in the NFL from Weeks 1-5, ahead of only Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson’s 423 in that span.
Offensively, quarterback Sam Howell may struggle to stay healthy given he has absorbed 34 sacks in six games, the third-most sacks taken through a team’s first games in the Super Bowl era, since 1966. That inability to stay upright comes despite the Commanders facing the sixth-lowest blitz rate (24.2%) in the NFL this season. Young is in a bad spot, but he could lift a contender’s defense to new heights if given the opportunity.
Defensive end Carl Lawson was once seen as a key piece of the New York Jets rebuild as they signed him to a three-year, $45 million contract in the 2021 offseason. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2021, and after starting all 17 games in 2022 and recording seven sacks, the second-most in a season of his career, he now finds himself on the outside looking in when it comes to playtime in 2023.
New York is the only team in the NFL to have three players with 25 or more quarterback pressures this season, but none of them are Lawson: linebacker Bryce Huff (33 pressures, fourth in NFL), defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers (26, tied for 13th in NFL) and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (25, tied for 16th in NFL).
Lawson received a season-low 14 snaps (20% of the defensive snaps) in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he was a healthy scratch in Week 5. Lawson did get 21 defensive snaps in Week 6 in the 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, accounting for 30% of New York’s defensive snaps, his highest rate of the season. New York has run out of room for the 28-year-old, but he could still provide some juice to another team’s pass-rush.
Antonio Gibson, Washington’s 25-year-old running back, appeared to be on pace to become a Pro Bowler after his first two NFL seasons. He totaled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and double-digit scrimmage touchdowns in each of his first two seasons in 2020 and 2021, including the only 1,000-yard rushing season of his career in 2021 when he totaled 1,037 yards on the ground.
However, Gibson’s rushing opportunity has dwindled significantly since the Commanders drafted running back Brian Robinson Jr. in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Robinson totaled 56 more carries than Gibson in 2022 despite Gibson playing in three more games, and that gap has only widened in 2023. Robinson has 61 more carries (77-16) than Gibson through six games this season.
Given his age plus his versatility as a pass-catcher — 124 catches (11th-most in the NFL among running backs from 2020-2022) and 894 receiving yards (12th-most in the NFL among running backs from 2020-2022) in his first three seasons — Gibson could be a valuable contributor to a team whose backfield is need of a little more burst. He simply isn’t going to have the chance to be a meaningful part of an offense as long as he is in Washington.
Zack Ertz was once one of the NFL’s best receiving tight ends, earning three consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2017-2019. He even holds the record for the most catches in a single season by a tight end with 116 back in 2018. While the 32-year-old has slowed down a little since joining the Arizona Cardinals in 2021, Ertz could provide a strong target in the red zone for a team with eyes on playoff contention.
That is not his current situation as a member of the 1-5 Arizona Cardinals. A reunion with the Eagles could make sense as well as joining a number of other teams in need of another strong pair of hands.
Derek Barnett will forever have special place in the hearts of Philadelphia Eagles fans everywhere after his strip sack of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady helped secure the franchise’s only Super Bowl win back in the 2017 season.
Fast forward to 2023, and the defensive end has mostly fallen out of the Eagles’ loaded defensive line rotation. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2022 season, and he has been unable to crack 20 snaps in all six of Philadelphia’s games this season. The Eagles defensive front is a strength as they employ Pro Bowler Haason Reddick, franchise stalwart Brandon Graham, Pro Bowler Josh Sweat and 2023 first-round pick Nolan Smith at their defensive end/edge rusher positions.
The Super Bowl champion is still only 27 after being selected 14th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he could be a nice rotation piece for a team who has a little more playtime available along their defensive line.
The Denver Broncos are a mess in Year 1 under new head coach Sean Payton. They are off to a 1-5 start, tied for their worst six-game start in team history. The defense has allowed 33.3 points per games this season, the most in the NFL. Even when their defense does well, they still lose. Denver lost 19-8 at the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. They have allowed fewer than 20 points in 12 games since the start of the 2022 season, but they have a record of 4-8 in those games.
While Payton said the Broncos “aren’t looking to do business” with their players before the trade deadline, they have already done so, flipping defensive lineman Randy Gregory to the San Francisco 49ers and releasing outside linebacker Frank Clark.
Courtland Sutton (37 targets) and Jerry Jeudy (29 targets) have been the most utilized pass-catchers in Denver’s offense this season, but Denver would be wise to attempt to flip them for more draft compensation. Sutton has four receiving touchdowns already this season, the same amount he had in each of the prior two seasons combined. Jeudy was the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so there may be some teams out there willing to bite on the 24-year-old given his draft pedigree. Both would be better suited elsewhere in a less dysfunctional environment.