It’s simple mathematics to say that the Denver Broncos’ playoff dream is on life support.
Less simple is what the best path forward is. I’ve recently looked into the Broncos’ biggest 2020 needs and one glance through the post will make it obvious that there may be more needs than draft capital. It’s also pretty clear that Denver’s currently a team in transition with six starters over 30 years old and a number of veterans on expiring contracts.
So it only makes sense that contenders are sniffing around. According to KOA’s Benjamin Allbright, there are a number of teams interested in Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris. There also remains a smaller possibility that Ronald Leary could be dealt.
It’s that time of year where the divide between contenders, pretenders, and practice dummies becomes clear. Some of the names below were picked up from what I’ve seen around NFL coverage, other is logical speculation. I’ll clarify when I go into the latter.
Quick Disclaimer: As always, the Power Rankings are based upon how I see each team’s chances at winning the 2019 Lombardi. That means some teams will be lower than their record indicates and some teams will be lower than previous opponents they beat.
Fire Sales and Empty Husks
32. Miami Dolphins
Selling: whatever isn’t nailed down.
Kalen Ballage is the most recent trade rumor, but with the way Miami has operated since last year suggests any and all pieces could go for a ham sandwich or ketchup chips.
This is the kind of thing that happens to the worst team in NFL history. https://t.co/f9WaukS3Fp— J.T. Olson (@IcewaterOlson) October 20, 2019
Selling: Andy Dalton? Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap
A.J. Green won’t return until after the trade deadline, so he’s sticking around Ohio this year. Dalton probably is as well, but the sentiment persists among Bears fans that they’d gladly take the Red Rifle over Mitch Trubustky.
Selling: Trent Williams, Josh Norman
Kyle Shanahan gave a game ball to his dad, Mike, who was fired by Washington owner Dan Snyder after 2013 season. #49ers— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) October 20, 2019
29. Atlanta Falcons
Selling: Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Desmond Trufant
I’ve seen some excitement floating around Broncos Country with the news today that Mohamed Sanu is going to the Patriots for a second round pick. The belief seems to be that a 2nd rounder for the Falcons wide receiver bodes well for Denver as they try to move Emmanuel Sanders.
Please keep in mind that:
- Mohamed Sanu is 30, Sanders is 32.
- Only one of them had a season ending Achilles injury in 2018.
- Sanu isn’t playing on an expiring contract, so if the Patriots like what they see from him they have him for another year in 2020. Sanders will be a half season rental before hitting free agency.
Also, remember when Vic Beasley was supposed to be the next Von Miller?
Playing the Falcons D is like trying on clothes in a dressing room that has great lighting and a mirror that makes you feel skinny. Every team that leaves is like...damn I look good.— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 20, 2019
Make an Offer
28. New York Jets
Selling: Leonard Williams, Trumaine Johnson
Almost like he had 25 turnovers in his last year of college https://t.co/6djdgBqTEB— Justis Mosqueda ( 8-1) (@JuMosq) October 22, 2019
Selling: Melvin Gordon
I don’t think Gordon goes anywhere because he hasn’t done anything since coming back from his holdout.
Stupid question: Has any player hurt their future contract value in 2019 more than Melvin Gordon?— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 20, 2019
26. Tennessee Titans
Selling: Jack Conklin
Before the season began, it was a bit of a surprise when the former PFF darling did not receive a fifth year option. In reality, he hasn’t been as good as the grading site or his rookie All-Pro made him out to be. That said, I suspect they hold onto him through the end of the season.
Jeffrey Simmons was 6 years old when Philip Rivers was drafted, and now got his first career sack on him— Titans Tube (@Titans_Tube_YT) October 21, 2019
25. New York Giants
Selling: Bud Dupree, Artie Burns (?)
The one thing that makes Pittsburgh an interesting team at the deadline is how the Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush trades have hollowed out their 2020 draft class while their upcoming cap situation is not great. It could make sense to move some dead weight to try to fix both issues, while Dupree and Burns have been disappointing first rounders.
Selling: Patrick Peterson
I don’t think they move Peterson unless the right offer comes along, and considering the fact that his value is probably at an all-time low right now?
22. Denver Broncos
I already mentioned how the Broncos are listening to offers on Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Harris, and potentially Ron Leary. Here’s a bit of speculation on the matter.
Emmanuel Sanders is a 32-year-old receiver who lost the last part of 2018 to a significant lower body injury. He reportedly missed the second half of the Titans game because of a knee issue. I’ve seen Broncos Country and ESPN’s Adam Schefter speculate that Elway wants a 3rd or even 2nd round pick. I suspect that’s the starting point and would be happy if he brings back something close to what DeMaryius Thomas did last year.
Chris Harris Jr. is a more complicated situation. The secondary is a complete M.A.S.H. unit this year and Strap has been the second best Bronco on the team since Peyton Manning retired. If it were up to me, he’d receive a fair contract and retire in orange and blue before his Ring of Fame enshrinement.
Since it’s not, and I have doubts Elway is looking to keep him in 2020, I believe the Broncos would listen to Day 2 offers for Harris. Ideally the team nets a 2nd or even more for his services, but at 30-years-old with an expiring contract, it’s ludicrous to expect a Jalen Ramsey type of return.
I suspect Ron Leary is basically a giveaway, since the coaching staff and front office have no plan for him once the season ends.
According to Over The Cap, trading Leary would carry a $1.75 million cap hit. Sanders would cost Denver $2.687 million in dead cap, while moving Harris would cost a little under one million dollars.
Selling: Yannick Ngakoue
I don’t think the Jags move Ngakoue because Calais Campbell isn’t getting any younger and they want to keep their star edge. The dire 2020 cap situation may make it a necessity though.
Selling: Shaq Barrett?
This seems very unlikely, but considering what the former Bronco has done the first month of the season, he could potentially be had for the right price. Tampa Bay has him until the end of the year right now, but with where things have trended, it could make sense to net a pick off the bargain deal.
Good luck trading up to #1, brother. https://t.co/ge3LXpybUK— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) October 20, 2019
Fighting to Stay Relevant
19. Cleveland Browns
Buying: Left tackle
There’s been rumors connecting Trent Williams with John Dorsey.
NFL has allowed RB Kareem Hunt to rejoin Browns for practice. Still suspended for two more games. pic.twitter.com/tWQhjStRdb— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 21, 2019
18. Chicago Bears
Buying: Quarterback (?)
USA Today floated Chicago as a potential destination for Ballage, but the more likely unlikely scenario is a desperation flier on a passer.
Yeah, the window was really 2018 and 2019. It's about to slam shut— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) October 20, 2019
17. Oakland Raiders
Buying: Linebackers and/or pass rush help
Raiders reportedly actively ‘buyers’ at trade deadline: Here are five potential trade targets - Silver And Black Pride
The Raiders are reportedly looking to acquire pass rush or linebacker help, so here’s five names to keep in mind.
A reminder: the Oakland Raiders are buyers at the trade deadline. pic.twitter.com/yByhT4Pugj— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 20, 2019
16. Detroit Lions
Buying: Pass Rushers, Running Backs, Offensive Line
The Lions are now 2-3-1 and two games back in the toughest division in football. Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn also came into the year with pretty hot seats. It shouldn’t be a huge shock if they pursue any and all avenues to improve the roster.
The Lions fired Jim Caldwell after back-to-back 9-7 seasons. Matt Patrica went 6-10 in his first season and is now 2-3-1 in his second.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) October 20, 2019
Selling: Cam Newton (??????)
This is a very unlikely rumor that’s cropped up because Kyle Allen has probably made Newton expendable after the season.
If Newton is deemed healthy enough to play after the Panthers’ bye week, a quarterback controversy is the most unlikely of all five scenarios—but it’s not impossible.
A real conversation I had Sunday night:
“Done with this season, Eagles suck. They ain’t making the playoffs”
-My brother (the Iggles fan) in the middle of a second straight debacle.
“Would you want them to trade for Chris Harris tomorrow?”
“I dont care, they wont make the playoffs regardless. One player doesn’t close this huge of a gap. They’re gonna mortgage their future and it wont $%@#ing matter.”
NFL Trade Rumors: Former Eagles linebacker guarantees Philadelphia will trade for Chris Harris Jr. - Bleeding Green Nation
Real Playoff Contenders
13. Buffalo Bills
Credit where credit is due, the Buffalo Bills are technically the second best team in the AFC with a 5-1 record and their only blemish is a loss to the Pats where Josh Allen left the game after a dirty hit. Sean McDermott is pushing all of the right buttons to squeak by a crappy schedule.
That is why I can’t take them seriously. Good teams beat bad teams by a lot (look no further than last Thursday), and the Bills needed missed kicks to beat the Titans, a comeback to beat the Jets, and faced a legitimate onside kick against the Dolphins. Buffalo is the Cinderella story that turns into a pumpkin come January.
Which is exactly the reason they’d be smart to capitalize on the market to add help now. Maybe it doesn’t matter because Josh Allen is fool’s gold under center, but Brandon Beane ought to try if a favorable bargain is out there.
Let's put it this way, if the #Broncos can't find a QB for the next decade and Bradley Chubb's ACL was career altering I still wouldn't want Elway to have taken Josh Allen last year. https://t.co/2vwijxEBYl— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 20, 2019
12. Los Angeles Rams
Buying: More defensive help
L.A. may be done after the addition of Jalen Ramsey, especially when you stop to consider how tight their cap situation looks. If they do look for help, more pieces to flesh out the scheme around Donald and Ramsey could make sense.
Remember when I said I wasn’t going to wake up to the Vikings until Kirk Cousins did something, anything, against divisional foes?
I’m awake now.
Kirk Cousins, last 3 weeks:— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 20, 2019
Buying: Defensive Help
In the immediate aftermath of the Patrick Mahomes injury, there were two dozen thought pieces speculating on Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, and other QBs. It makes sense since Matt Moore was out of football last year, but Andy Reid has to know he’s sitting in prime position in the AFC West to ride it out with his backup.
Reid also surely knows there currently remains a sizable gap between his 2019 roster and the Pats, even if Patty Melt returns to full strength. The demolishing of Denver was encouraging, but the chasm between Tom Brady and Joe Flacco looks a lot like the Grand Canyon. There were rumors about Patrick Peterson last year, and adding talent to the front seven may do wonders for the back end.
NFL twitter in a nutshell:— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) October 18, 2019
Panthers don't sneak Cam Newton (w/ banged up foot) on fourth and short, get killed for it.
Chiefs sneak Pat Mahomes (w/ banged up ankle) on fourth and short, get killed for it.
Buying: Defensive help
There’s been some rumors Seattle could be a dark horse contender for Chris Harris, but I find it more likely they stand pat. Pete Carroll is probably satisfied with where his team sits. Russell Wilson’s performance last Sunday notwithstanding, the midseason favorite for MVP hides a lot of issues.
I'd jump from the 10th story of a burning building if I was told that Tyler Lockett was waiting at the bottom to catch me— Alistair Corp (@byAlistairCorp) October 20, 2019
Buying: Receivers, Defensive Reinforcements
Left for dead after Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement, few people stayed with Indy as the AFC South Champions. Consider this my humble (okay, not that humble) brag: Frank Reich is one of the best play callers in football, Jacoby Brissett has exceeded all expectations, and Matt Eberflus is stringing together key stops on a really banged up defense.
Buying: Offensive Line, Pass Rush
Houston was interested in Chris Harris and he would have made a lot of sense there.
Texans sniffed around Chris Harris. Asking price too high/they didnt have the assets. https://t.co/DYmchexaZ3— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 21, 2019
Buying: Help on the lines
Bludgeoning Philly will probably convince Jerry Jones to stand pat, but the defense has been sub par through the first half of the season. With guys like Leonard Williams, Geno Atkins, or potentially Ndomukong Suh on the market, it’d make a lot of sense as a quick addition to improve their chances in the loaded NFC.
Nickel slot dog off the edge, a Rod Marinelli staple.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 21, 2019
This one had a lot more window dressing, that’s the Kris Richard influence. pic.twitter.com/4jU5K0Z7ud
The Ravens have close to zero cap space. It’d take some gymnastics to add any talent and it makes little sense to sell pieces off a serious contender in the weaker conference with the Chiefs vulnerable.
Lamar Jackson, cheat code pic.twitter.com/398beXcVCY— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 20, 2019
The Packers have a little over eight million in cap space right now and have been a rumored destination for Emmanuel Sanders. The Matt Lafleur offense is a second cousin twice removed from Rich Scangarello’s, so this would be a fit that makes a ton of sense. Until last night, this is the destination I was willing to bet on.
Packers had been calling around, looking at WRs. Play of Kumerow and Lazard has cooled them to the idea of moving assets for a veteran WR.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 21, 2019
Buying: Wide Receiver
The other logical fit for Emmanuel Sanders. Scangarello’s offense is a direct descendant from Kyle Shanahan’s and I’d think the terminology is close enough that E would be able to hit the ground running there. San Francisco’s top three receivers are Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, and rookie Deebo Samuel. A wily veteran to take some pressure off Kittle and the running backs may be just what the doctor ordered, and they have the picks and cap space to burn.
The 49ers are the first team since the '09 Bills to hold three consecutive teams to less than 100 yards passing.— Bryan Knowles (@BryKno) October 20, 2019
The last team to do it four times in a row? The '77 49ers.
(...And the '77 Falcons, same four weeks, but that's less poetic)
The Saints have a little over three million dollars in cap space, making additions tough.
Drew Brees told me he’s planning to practice this week and hopes he’s able to play next Sunday against Arizona but it’s still a “we’ll see” based on how the week goes.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) October 21, 2019
Playing the Market
Selling: Michael Bennett (?)
Buying: Left Tackle (?) Talent (?)
There’s been word out of Foxboro that Bennett isn’t pleased with his role. I suspect it will turn into a “deal with it” kind of scenario, but keep an eye on it. For as good as the defense has been, the injury to Isaiah Wynn and Antonio Brown’s sexual assault investigation have hurt the offense. Sanu should help with the latter, but it’s no sure thing Belichick is done.
Patriots pass defense in 2019:— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) October 22, 2019
120 of 226, 1,173 gross passing yards, 1 TD, 17 INTs, 26 sacks, 252 sack yards lost.
38.1 passer rating and a 1.02 ANY/A average.
To produce these passing numbers in 2019 is absurd.