What NFC teams need at NFL trade deadline
The NFL trade deadline never quite stirs up the interest seen at that time of year in other professional sports. “I never even know when the trade deadline is. You’re never going to see those blockbuster trades like you would see in the NBA or baseball. That’s just not the nature of football,” Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. Why’s that? “In the NFL, it’s almost like a coach gets his guy, and that’s who he wants to grow and mature . ... ‘I drafted this guy; I know what I drafted him for.’ Guys get brought in based on pure style, as opposed to pure talent, in some cases,” Williams said. “That has a lot to do with why there are fewer trades in this sport.”
Even if moves are few and far between, every NFL team — some more than others — could use some help ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for making deals. So AP reporters took on the role of general manager to offer thoughts on what each club’s most pressing need is.
Here’s a look at the NFC:
NFC EAST DALLAS COWBOYS
DE — The Cowboys will need pass rushers until second-round picks DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory show the ability to be cornerstones. In Gregory’s case, it may not happen.
WR — The Eagles need to get Carson Wentz some help on the outside: They don’t have anyone that ranks in the NFL’s top 40 in receiving yards.
RB — The Redskins didn’t do much in the offseason to boost their running game after letting Alfred Morris head to Dallas as a free agent, figuring they could count on 2015 draft pick Matt Jones. But Jones’ fumbling issues from his rookie year have resurfaced.
NEW YORK GIANTS
OL — The right side of the line is weak, so a RT or RG would be a boost to a run game that’s been a real weakness, averaging an NFL-worst 70.3 yards per game.
RT Marshall Newhouse, never dominant to begin with, has missed time with a calf injury, and replacement Bobby Hart is average.
NFC SOUTH ATLANTA FALCONS
RB — Tevin Coleman’s recent hamstring injury revealed a lack of depth at RB. Starter Devonta Freeman was the only other true RB on active roster, though FB Patrick DiMarco could take emergency carries. Out of desperation, the Falcons brought up Terron Ward from the practice squad and signed free agent Stevan Ridley. If Freeman were to miss time, they’d be in real trouble.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
TE — The Bucs could use another playmaker for young QB Jameis Winston, and the team hasn’t had a tight end it could count on as a receiver since Kellen Winslow from 2009-11. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round draft pick in 2014, arrived with big expectations but struggled to remain healthy in two-plus seasons and was released after a DUI arrest in September.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
CB — While the Saints hope to get top CB Delvin Breaux back soon from a broken fibula, they could use another good cover cornerback. P.J. Williams is out for the year (concussion), while undrafted rookie Ken Crawley has shown promise, but his inexperience has been exposed. The Saints, who tried to bolster the position by signing street free agents Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb, rank 30th in passing yards allowed per game.
DE — The defending NFC champions have struggled getting pressure on the QB from their front four all season. Starting DEs Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy have combined for just half a sack this season. Carolina could use a pass-rushing specialist to take some of the pressure off their young secondary, which features two rookie CBs.
NFC NORTH MINNESOTA VIKINGS
OL — The Vikings have been in patchwork mode up front since LT Matt Kalil went on IR after the second game. RT Andre Smith joined him soon after. And RG Mike Harris is out indefinitely with an unspecified illness.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
RB — Yes, GM Ted Thompson already pulled off a trade with Kansas City for Knile Davis, who was buried on the Chiefs’ depth chart. But with Eddie Lacy out at least another seven weeks with an ankle injury, and backup James Starks nursing a knee injury, it might be nice for the offense to have another experienced RB.
RB — The Lions have had their backfield depleted by injuries, losing Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington for extended stretches. Matthew Stafford’s chances of consistently moving the ball through the air will get a boost if defenses need to worry about a solid running game.
A bit of everything — As their 1-6 record makes clear, the Bears could use a lot of help in a lot of areas with an eye to next season, from either a backup quarterback or a young quarterback, to a topflight receiver, to a proven running back, to help in the secondary.
NFC WEST SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
OL — The offensive line continues to be a glaring weakness. It took another hit when LT Bradley Sowell was lost for at least a few weeks with a sprained ligament in his right knee. While Seattle has been adequate in pass blocking, the run game has really struggled: The team is 27th in the NFL, averaging 82.7 yards per game rushing.
OL — They’re thin along the offensive line after Evan Mathis went on IR, and QB Carson Palmer could use better protection. Otherwise, Arizona seems pretty set — unless it decides to go get a PK to replace Chandler Catanzaro.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
DB — The biggest need is probably in the secondary, where top CB Trumaine Johnson has been out for several weeks. A solid DB would boost an area lacking depth in a pass-first sport.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Draft picks — Mired in a six-game losing streak that’s the team’s longest in eight years, it’s time for the Niners to start looking to the future. They should look to trade veterans with value, such as WR Torrey Smith or LT Joe Staley, in hopes of bringing back extra draft picks or an unproven young player who could develop into a starter.