Another NFL Trade Deadline has come and gone.
Historically, the pro-football deadline has been one of sports’ biggest duds. But executives recently started treating the deadline as other league execs do, adding a level of intrigue to the previously mundane day.
There were some clear winners and losers in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. Here’s a look at those.
2023 NFL Trade Deadline Winners
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners could have focused on secondary help, but by acquiring Chase Young from Washington, they made their pass defense even better. Young is another game-wrecking D-lineman, joining the likes of Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, and previously acquired Randy Gregory, whose job will be to sack quarterbacks before they get passes off.
The 49ers have fallen on hard times of late, though not entirely due to their defense. But with an even better D, San Francisco can navigate its recent offensive struggles without wide receiver Deebo Samuel (shoulder).
Plus, the Niners kept pace with the Eagles (see below) and got arguably more impactful players than anyone else in the NFC.
The loss of Tre’Davious White created a massive hole in the Buffalo secondary, so the Bills went out and brought in a non-rental option in Rasul Douglas from the Green Bay Packers while also acquiring a fifth-round pick for a third-rounder.
That gives Buffalo’s secondary a potential replacement moving forward if White can’t return from his second season-ending injury in the past three years. Douglas has one interception this season, and his six passes defensed will lead the Bills upon arrival.
The Eagles kicked off trade-deadline week by aiding their secondary with the acquisition of safety Kevin Byard from the Tennessee Titans. Byard already has made an impact with his new team, recording seven tackles in Philadelphia’s win over Washington on Sunday.
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But the Eagles also made a sellers-type move by trading away surplus defensive tackle Kentavius Street to the Falcons on Monday. They also parted with a 2025 seventh-round pick to acquire 2024 Atlanta’s sixth-round selection, but the Eagles have turned less into more throughout Howie Roseman’s tenure as general manager.
The Vikings are somehow 4-4 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race despite their 1-4 start and the absence of All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson.
The season-ending Achilles tear to quarterback Kirk Cousins could have doomed their prospects, but the Vikes somehow acquired a starting-caliber quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, who was solid with the Cardinals, and a conditional seventh-round pick for just a sixth-round selection.
Dobbs will get a significant upgrade in weaponry, with Jefferson returning and rookie Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson at his disposal. This move could launch Minnesota to wild-card status.
Consider the white flag raised. Parting with Young and Montez Sweat will be controversial decisions based on the Commanders’ competitive efforts in two losses to the Eagles.
But as Bill Parcells famously said: “You are what your record says,” and the Commanders are 3-5 with an 0-3 divisional record. Washington is better served reloading, especially given the second-round pick it acquired from Chicago in the Sweat trade should be in the top 35 in next April’s draft.
The decision to part with Young was more curious since he’s still only 24, and the third-round pick Washington acquired will be more like a fourth as the Niners are expected to go deep in the NFC playoffs. But it never hurts to have draft capital, and the Commanders have many areas of need to address.
2023 NFL Trade Deadline Losers
It’s a little hard to figure out what the Bears are doing. Despite a 2-6 record, Chicago parted with valuable draft capital — what is likely to be a high second-round pick — to acquire Sweat from Washington.
The Sweat acquisition is a go-for-it-type move that would make sense for a contender. Although Chicago can now use its franchise tag on the down lineman, it will likely end up parting with the highest draft selection of any trade-deadline dealer and could have selected a Sweat-type player, only younger, with one of three picks in the top 35.
The Seahawks woke up on trade deadline day surprisingly atop the NFC West. They have a solid offense and defense and sit in the top five in sacks (26).
Those factors make their acquisition of Leonard Williams all the more curious. Williams is in the final year of the four-year contract the Giants signed him to after they acquired him from the Jets, but he only has 1.5 sacks this season and is on pace to have his tackle total dip for the third straight year.
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Williams is a rental, and offloading two picks, a 2024 second- and 2025 fifth-rounder, looks like an overpay, too. For context, the Commanders only got a second and a third for two defensive linemen, each of whom is arguably better than Williams.
The Lions are just a game back of the Eagles for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They average the second-most yards per game in football (390.6) yet have only scored 52 points over their past three games.
So acquiring a wide receiver makes sense, especially since Marvin Jones Jr. stepped away from the team last week. The sixth-round pick that was dealt isn’t too significant; it’s just whether Donovan Peoples-Jones will make enough of an impact.
DPJ has just 97 yards in seven games with the Browns and looks like another unspectacular wideout complementing All-Pro receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The Lions, and quarterback Jared Goff, specifically, already have the perception they can’t win away from Ford Field, their win at Arrowhead notwithstanding. The addition of Peoples-Jones does little to change that perception.
The Cowboys have a roster that screams “go for it,” yet they did not make any additions at the trade deadline. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones tends to make his dealings in the offseason, but with the Niners and Eagles acquiring impactful players at the deadline, Dallas needed to do something to keep pace.
There aren’t any substantial holes on Dallas’ roster, but it could have sought an upgrade at defensive back with Trevon Diggs (torn ACL) out for the season. Watching Brock Purdy pick apart the Cowboys’ defense in San Francisco’s 42-10 Week 5 win could’ve been a wake-up call.
To be fair, DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore have been two of the best corners in the game, and only two CBs were dealt in October, so the pickings may have been slim.
But we’ll see if Dallas’ decision to stand pat comes back to bite it.