Assessing the Dead NFL Trade Deadline

Despite being just 2-5, the Washington Football Team is still in the playoff hunt. If there’s an opportunity to get into the playoffs, coach Ron Rivera will take it. While in previous years, a 2-5 record would make Washington sellers at the trade deadline, but that was not the case this year.

On one hand, after so many years of losing, it would make sense for Rivera to want to establish a winning culture, even if it is taking advantage of the 2020 NFC East, arguably the worst division in NFL history. Giving this roster even one game of playoff experience would be helpful for the young players on the team.

On the other hand, there is still a long way to go until this team can legitimately contend, so perhaps they would have been wise to part way with some players in order to add some assets that would help in the long term.

On Tuesday, the NFL Trade Deadline came and went, and the Washington Football Team, along with the rest of league, didn’t really do anything. There were three total trades, but none had any major impact, and it seemed like every team was content with moving forward as they were.

The Washington Football Team, however, could have really benefitted from moving a few of their players and setting themselves up with extra draft assets going forward.

Entering the deadline, it seemed like at least three players could have been on the move. Ryan Kerrigan, who has been with the franchise longer than everyone on the roster besides long snapper Nick Sundberg, had reportedly requested a trade after seeing his playing time diminished. Kerrigan is 32 and still a productive pass-rusher, and likely would have returned a mid-round pick.

Instead, the team made clear to other teams that the franchise sack leader will not be moved, and Rivera has pledged to use Kerrigan more, saying he values his leadership and experience on a relatively young roster.

That’s all fine, but with Kerrigan on an expiring contract, it’s much more likely that he leaves for nothing this offseason rather than him re-signing. Any sentimental fan does not want Kerrigan to leave at all, myself included, but if he is going to leave this offseason anyway, it would have made sense to try to get something in return for him.

Now, if he re-signs this offseason, then it makes more sense not letting him go at the deadline. Given the lack of action across the league, it’s also possible that there weren’t any compelling offers. Kerrigan can still produce, so hopefully Rivera sticks to his word and makes keeping Kerrigan worthwhile.

The other big name with trade rumors was Dwayne Haskins Jr. The second-year quarterback was benched after Week 4 this season and was dropped down to third on the depth chart behind Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. There have been conflicting reports about his future with the team, with his camp reportedly expecting an “inevitable” trade at some point, and Rivera saying he still has a future in Washington.

At this point, Washington will likely either finish with a top 10 first-round pick or somehow win the division and not pick until the 16-20 range. There are three quarterback prospects expected to go in the first round should Washington decide to start over at quarterback.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the presumptive first overall pick and it would take a lot for Washington to get the top pick. Ohio State’s Justin Fields will likely go in the top 3-5; he’s a more realistic option if Washington can sink that low. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance could realistically wind up anywhere at this point, but he has the most question marks of the three.

If Washington wins the division, there’s a good chance they miss on all three barring a trade, and at this point it seems like Lance would be the only one still around by the time the team would pick in the top 10. If they choose not to select a quarterback in the first round, it is possible Haskins would have a chance to win the starting job back, unless the bridges are truly burnt.

If Haskins’ camp is correct and there truly is no going back, and Washington does not draft an adequate replacement at quarterback, then who do they turn to in 2021? Allen is not a starting-caliber quarterback in this league; that much is clear. Smith just won’t be a factor, and the team will probably get out of his contract anyway. Just like every year, it seems like the Washington quarterback situation will be a major question mark entering 2021.

Ryan Anderson has been the subject of trade rumors since the offseason, but the defensive end/linebacker remains on the team. Like Kerrigan, Anderson is on the final year of his contract. Now both players will be free agents this offseason, and there’s a decent chance both players walk.

Given the lack of action league-wide, it’s harder to criticize the team for standing pat during the deadline, but if none of these players return next season, it would be tough not to look back and wonder why nothing was done.

To be fair, the team reportedly did not receive any good offers for Haskins, and they likely received no calls for Anderson. You can’t make any trades if you can’t find a partner, but it’s disappointing they could not have set themselves up better for the future, especially leading into an offseason where they are expected to have over $50 million in cap space, and that’s before you factor in Smith’s likely release.

The team still has half the season left to play, so they have plenty of opportunities to move around in the draft order. Now we’re left to see if the inaction was the best action.

Cover Photo Credit: The Athletic

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