18 players to keep an eye on heading into Tuesday

The NFL trade winds have already been rather blustery as Tuesday’s 4 pm ET deadline to make deals closes in.

The biggest name is almost certainly off the board after the blockbuster revelation on Oct. 20, when Christian McCaffrey switched coasts and returned to the Bay Area after the San Francisco 49ers shipped four draft picks to the Carolina Panthers for the multi-dimensional All-Pro back. More swaps occurred last week, when the Jets obtained RB James Robinson from the Jaguars in an attempt to backfill the loss of budding rookie Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury. Pass rusher Robert Quinn was shipped from the Chicago Bears to the Philadelphia Eagles, and WR Kadarius Toney switched his New York Giants jersey for Kansas City’s threads.

And then there are those whispers in the breeze, some players (disgruntled Jets WR Elijah Moore, for example) trying to manifest a move while rumors continue to circulate around teams like the Panthers, who also dealt unhappy WR Robbie Anderson. (For the record, the Jets have said they’re not moving Moore, and Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer claimed it would take an “astronomical” offer to pry any more of the Panthers’ promising youngsters – such as DE Brian Burns – loose. )

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Although the NFL trade deadline rarely features the action that occurs in the NBA or MLB versions, it stands to reason that more players will be on the move. Yet with ever more pronounced parity throughout the league, it’s worth wondering who’s ready to shift into sell mode given the Detroit Lions, Texans, Jaguars and Steelers are the only teams more than two games removed from playoff contention.

But here are 18 names to keep an eye on in the coming hours:

Los Angeles Rams RB Cam Akers

A fairly miraculous turn of events for a player who fought back from a torn Achilles in the summer of 2021 to play in the postseason and Super Bowl 56, Akers now finds himself at philosophical loggerheads with coach Sean McVay. The Rams are open to keeping Akers, who hasn’t played since Week 5, but are openly shopping him – difficult as that may be for a player averaging 3.2 yards per touch. However, Akers’ low-cost rookie deal does not expire until the 2024 offseason.

Denver Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb

On one hand, why would GM George Paton deal one of the league’s better young pass rushers? On the other hand, the only way to ensure Chubb, 26, is a Bronco in 2023 would be a franchise tag. Paton picked up a second- and third-rounder by giving up OLB Von Miller on a half-season rental in 2021 and might get even better compensation for Chubb – whom Denver could still try to get back in free agency if a prospective suitor didn’t t manage to extend him. Chubb has 5½ sacks through eight games. (Update: Chubb was traded to Miami on Tuesday)

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Chase Claypool

A tremendous talent who, like Akers, has another full season to go on his rookie deal. However … Claypool plays much smaller than his 6-4, 238-pound frame, is too often undisciplined on the field and has been largely bypassed by rookie George Pickens. Still, Claypool could be a nice weapon for a team more committed to throwing the ball than Pittsburgh is at this point. (Update: Claypool was traded to Chicago on Tuesday)

Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks

His speed, shiftiness and experience pretty much make him an ideal No. 2 receivers in most offensive systems. However, his two-year, $39.8 million extension doesn’t kick in until next season, when his $18 million base salary is fully guaranteed. It’s a significant financial consideration for a team pondering a Cooks deal as well as the Texans, who would eat more than $16 million on next year’s cap by executing a trade.

Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki

Mystifying that the Fins franchised a player who doesn’t fit their offense – Gesicki’s never been a good blocker – all that well. And he’s not even being used much as a receiver, starting only once and averaging fewer than 30 yards per game – the lowest output since his 2018 rookie year. He does, however, have three TD grabs in the past three games.

Indianapolis Colts CB Stephon Gilmore

The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year served as a reminder in the Week 5 win at Denver that, even at 32, he can still be a difference maker. He’s under contract through next season, but the Colts should consider moving on as they’re not going to contend for much with Sam Ehlinger (or whichever rookie likely arrives in 2023) at quarterback.

Broncos RB Melvin Gordon

Even with Javonte Williams’ season over, Gordon is only playing 40% of the snaps for a team that continues to amass bodies for its running back room. Fumbles have been an issue this season, but the two-time Pro Bowler, who’s on an expiring contract, can play on any down and has shouldered at least 200 touches in all seven of his NFL seasons entering 2022.

Arizona Cardinals WR AJ Green

At 34, he might be cooked. Yet he was getting a fairly heavy load of snaps prior to DeAndre Hopkins’ return from suspension in Week 7. Another club might have more use for an experienced, 6-4 target than it seems the Cards do at this juncture.

Broncos WR KJ Hamler

The diminutive speedster isn’t seeing much action for Denver’s generally disastrous offense – just 14 targets in seven games – and isn’t being used at all as a returner. But a speed threat under contract through the 2023 season should be an intriguing option to other organizations and would probably come at a more reasonable price than counterpart Jerry Jeudy, who seems to be emerging as QB Russell Wilson’s preferred target.

Texans DE Jerry Hughes

Doesn’t make sense for a team like Houston to hang onto a 34-year-old – albeit one who can still get after quarterbacks. Hughes, who is in the first season of a two-year deal worth $10 million, could be far more valuable to a team that wouldn’t have to play him quite as much as the rebuilding Texans have.

Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt

Browns RB Kareem Hunt (27) is now in his sixth NFL season.

He’s not quite the prize McCaffrey was… but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like CMC, Hunt is a dual-purpose back, but one with an expiring contract and relatively fresh legs given he’s been second fiddle to Nick Chubb during his four seasons with the Browns. Hunt tried to force his way out of Cleveland during training camp, and there’s little reason for a struggling team not to get something for him now – especially since reserve D’Ernest Johnson might be nearly as capable.

Commanders CB William Jackson

He’s been a bad fit in Washington, failing to play up to his abilities while eating up a chunk of the salary cap. A fresh start would benefit a talented player who hasn’t played since Week 5. (Update: Jackson was traded to Pittsburgh on Tuesday)

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marvin Jones

He’s a pro on an expiring contract who could surely help another team – Green Bay Packers? – far more than he’ll benefit the 2-6 Jags the rest of the way. Jones had 149 catches combined in the previous two seasons and would only be owed the remainder of his $5 million payout for 2022 … yet probably wouldn’t cost too much to acquire.

Kansas City Chiefs RB Ronald Jones II

He has not played a down this season, falling to fourth string for his new team. Only 25, “RoJo” has breakaway speed and had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2019 and 2020 in Tampa. Now, he’s languishing in street clothes and wants out of KC

Seattle Seahawks CB Sidney Jones

A solid player who started a career-high 11 games in 2021, Jones has fallen down the depth chart behind Seattle’s fleet of young corners. At this point, he’d be more helpful to another team … and more helpful to Seattle if he could return a draft pick to assist a nicely progressing rebuild.

New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara

Saints RB Alvin Kamara exploded for three TDs in Sunday's win.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara exploded for three TDs in Sunday’s win.

He could be the big fish in the trade pond if some team is willing to sufficiently bait the hook. Kamara, whose 71 touchdowns since 2017 are the most in the league, had one of his better games Sunday, scoring three times and piling up 158 yards from scrimmage in a win against the Las Vegas Raiders. It was a timely reminder that he could have a McCaffrey-level impact for any organization, perhaps especially in the AFC – Buffalo Bills, who didn’t land CMC? – mulling one more move with major ramifications. Of course, Kamara’s performance also pulled the Saints within a game of first place of the eminently winnable NFC South, sooo … Any negotiation regarding him is complicated by 1) the fact that he’s facing felony battery charges and a lawsuit stemming from an incident in Nevada at this year’s Pro Bowl and 2) the Saints are sure to want a king’s ransom in order to trade their best player, absorb a $14 million cap charge next year and officially signal a rebuild.

New York Jets WR Denzel Mims

If the NYJ are going to move a receiver, he should be the one. A second-round pick in 2020, Mims has a total of 11 catches over the past two seasons – although one was a 63-yard catch-and-run Sunday that served as a reminder of his capabilities. A team that’s largely stopped throwing the ball since QB Zach Wilson’s return ought to try and get something for a big (6-3, 207) athletic target who might pan out elsewhere.

Steelers QBs Mason Rudolph and/or Mitch Trubisky

The hand injuries quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz (and Russell Wilson last year) have suffered are a reminder to contenders that you better have a viable backup who can navigate you through a month or so without your starter. Rudolph will be a free agent in 2023, and Trubisky’s contract is tradeable – and little reason for Pittsburgh to keep two veteran backups after giving the baton to rookie first-rounder Kenny Pickett. A team like the 49ers – rookie Brock Purdy is currently Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup – should strongly consider a QB2 upgrade.

Bears LB Roquan Smith

He’s a productive, durable player if not necessarily elite. Now in his walk year, it was evident Smith’s self worth did not resonate with new Chicago GM Ryan Poles’ assessment after a nasty training camp impasse that did not result in a new deal for the veteran. Also worth noting Poles worked more than a dozen seasons for the Chiefs, an organization that didn’t plow a ton of money into off-ball linebackers. It would make a lot more sense to draw up divorce papers with Smith, who became emotional after learning of Quinn’s departure, now rather than let him go for nothing. (Update: Smith was traded to Baltimore on Monday)

Dolphins WR Cedrick Wilson

He busted loose for 45 catches, 602 yards and six TDs in 2021 for the Dallas Cowboys, a performance that spurred Miami to sign him to a three-year, $22.1 million package in March. That’s led to all of seven targets (and four catches) for Wilson, who’s been bypassed as the team’s No. 3 wideouts by Trent Sherfield. However, NBC Sports reported Sunday a reunion with Dallas, which could use another downfield target for Prescott, might be in the cards – feasible given Miami would only take a $2 million cap hit in 2023 while any team choosing to take Wilson on would be on the hook for at least $5 million next year.

New England Patriots OT Isaiah Wynn

He’s been a serviceable left tackle for most of his five years in New England. But his deal is up after the season, he’s struggled this year, committed too many penalties, was benched in Week 7’s loss to Chicago and didn’t start (or play much) Sunday against the Jets. Another team would certainly have more use for Wynn than it seems the Pats do at this point.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL trade deadline: 18 players who could get dealt by Tuesday

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