Hello and welcome to one of the best weeks in sports: the one leading up to the trade deadline. Like every offseason, these next few days offer hope for fans and opportunity to general managers.
But be wary -- NFL trades are rare relative to other leagues due to contract constraints. Plus, Jacksonville figures to continue selling rather than buying, considering they’ve clearly yet to jump from the rebuilding phase to the contending stage.
But it’s not fun to think about James Robinson, Josh Allen, Walker Little, -- heck, even Dan Arnold -- or any other Jaguars being traded away. Instead, we’re going to focus on players on the other 31 teams across the league that should interest Jacksonville.
While wide receiver isn’t the team’s most pressing need (that’d be CB2), getting “a dude outside that Trevor Lawrence can trust” might make the biggest difference for this franchise in both the short- and long-term.
A clone of Ja’Marr Chase would solve Jacksonville’s offensive issues, which is mostly lackluster production in high-leverage situations (third down, fourth down, redzone, deep passing, two minute drill, etc.).
But as far as I know, cloning technology doesn’t exist, so here’s the best options on the trading market.
Jerry Jeudy appears to be the most gettable A-list wideout available. The Broncos losing to the Jaguars in London this week could sent the team’s new ownership into sell-mode, per Shefty. The current owners and front office in Denver did not draft Jeudy; the team still has receivers Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler under contract for several more seasons; and the Broncos may be looking to recoup draft compensation after sending two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and a fifth-rounder for Russell Wilson.
The argument for why Jacksonville would make a deal is simple: Jeudy is a great wide receiver, maybe great enough to lift the Jaguars offense to completely new heights. He drew high praise entering the 2020 NFL Draft but has been a victim of poor quarterback play in the league.
Hamler himself has also been receiving recent interest from other teams. While he wouldn’t be an alpha receiver like Jeudy might, the former second-rounder is certifiably fast and would serve as a dangerous WR4 at minimum.
Chase Claypool‘s situation is kinda similar to Josh Allen’s: they’re both valuable starters who aren’t set to hit free agency until 2024, so their respective teams aren’t going to trade them unless an offer comes in that’s too good to turn refuse.
That said, the Steelers are almost certainly going to trade Claypool -- it’s a matter of when (they get the best offer), not if. The third-year pro has reportedly been on the trade block since the preseason, and Pittsburgh boasts plenty of other young talent at the position.
It sounds like the current asking price is a second-rounder or third-rounder and additional pick. As Sports Illustrated’s John Shipley wrote, “The chances of a second-round receiver providing more instantly than what Claypool could provide are pretty slim.”
Elijah Moore is arguably the best player ‘available’ after he requested a trade from the Jets, but New York is highly unlikely to hear any offers for the talented sophomore wideout.
Spin zone time: the Jets refuse to move Moore, but to ensure him playing time, they put a different receiver on the block (No, not the Baylor bust): Corey Davis.
Tennessee’s former first round pick isn’t an explosive downfield threat, but he’s a big body who could be a valuable intermediate possession receiver and strong blocker. In other words, Davis would be a Marvin Jones Jr. upgrade.
I feel like I have to put D.J. Moore’s name down, as the 2-5 Panthers are sellers, but Carolina is going to want way more than Jacksonville would offer for the still just 25-year-old star. How about another spin zone?
Sophomore receiver Terrance Marshall Jr. was in Matt Rhule’s dog house this summer and seemed to be unwanted in the building after his college coach Joe Brady was fired as Panthers OC. But then Rhule got fired and receiver Robbie Anderson got traded, which has given Marshall Jr. more opportunities in Carolina. All I'm saying is, if the Panthers are indeed selling, Jacksonville has had success with second-round receivers out of LSU.
Add Brandin Cooks to the list of trade candidates who have torched Jacksonville in the past. Unfortunately, he’s also on the list of guys who won’t be traded unless a crazy-good offer is presented. And it seems doubtful that the Texans would trade a very good wideout to a division rival with a franchise quarterback.
Kendrick Bourne is my bet for the most realistic Jaguars trade target. He’s been in the dog house in New England this season but is also low-key one of the most efficient receivers in the league. Since 2021, Bourne ranks first in ESPN’s Catch Score and 20th among 221 qualifying players in yards per route run. Before that, he was getting schemed up by Kyle Shanahan.
Bourne isn’t the deep threat that Jacksonville needs, but would be a valuable target in other high-leverage situations like late downs and in the redzone.
Here’s some players at other positions that might grab Jacksonville’s attention in the trade market.
Commanders cornerback William Jackson III requested a trade earlier this season, per NFL Network. He was signed by Washington in the same free agency class as Shaquill Griffin, and is now seeking a job in a man-coverage defense.
The last time the Jaguars got a former Chargers corner to compliment their CB1, it worked out pretty well. Michael Davis has held up well in Los Angeles in place of injured free agent signee J.C. Jackson.
Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne skipped team drills in May (per The Athletic’s Ben Standig) because he didn’t receive a contract extension. Then the team was stubborn about trading him in June:
Teams have recently inquired about a possible Payne trade, but Washington has rebuffed such discussions, even organizations that might be willing to pay a significant cost in trade compensation and salary on a new deal ($17-18 million annually).
Now playing on the final year of his rookie contract, Payne is back in trade talks as the Commanders sit at 3-4.
There is outside trade interest in the fifth-year linemen and the potential of landing a 2023 Day 2 selection, according to people with knowledge of the market for Payne who spoke on the condition of anonymity for competitive reasons.
Interior pass rush has been severely lacking in Jacksonville for a while now. The Jaguars have a few players who can move create mismatches against guards, but a real big boy pocket mover would help turn more pressures into sacks. It’d also make the linebackers’ jobs much easier in the run game.
Acquiring and extending Payne, who ranks 10th among interior defensive lineman in total pressures this season (per PFF), would fill one of Jacksonville’s three or four biggest long-term roster holes.
Another huge hole is located at tight end. Evan Engram has played commendably this year, but he, Dan Arnold, and Chris Manhertz will all be free agents in five months. Enter Albert Okwuegbunam, who has been in Nate Hackett’s dog house but is a very athletic receiving threat.
Edge rusher is the final major positional need in Jacksonville. Travon Walker is still raw on the outside, and beyond him and Josh Allen, the unit is scary thin. The Raiders are expected to be moving on from first-round bust Clelin Ferrell at the deadline, and Eric Edholm of NFL.com had good reasoning for the Jaguars to make a move. He wrote, “Jacksonville DL coach Brentson Buckner was on the Raiders’ staff in Ferrell’s rookie season and frequently defended him publicly when the D-lineman was called out in the media.”
If the Jaguars are looking to upgrade its offensive line -- especially after starting left guard Ben Bartch was placed on IR -- Chris Reed may be a viable option. The Minnesota State product was originally signed by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Last year, he filled in for Colts star left guard Quenton Nelson very admirably. Now he’s warming up the bench for the Vikings.
Happy trade season!