What AFC teams need at NFL trade dead­line

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS -

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 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 AFC:


DL — The Pa­tri­ots are get­ting es­pe­cially thin on the de­fen­sive line, with backup tack­les Woodrow Hamilton (shoul­der) and Vin­cent Valen­tine (back) both sit­ting out re­cently. That forced the Pa­tri­ots to el­e­vate An­thony Johnson from the prac­tice squad in or­der to have an ex­tra body to ro­tate with Mal­colm Brown and Alan Branch.


WR — The Bills are des­per­ate for re­ceiv­ing help, which was re­flected in their re­cent de­ci­sion to pro­mote un­drafted rookie Ed Ea­gan off the prac­tice squad. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mar­quise Good­win and Greg Salas have all dealt with in­juries (and two are on IR).


DB — The sec­ondary has been in flux all sea­son. Mi­ami’s best DB, S Re­shad Jones, is out for the sea­son with a shoul­der in­jury, and rookie start­ing CB Xavien Howard is re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury.


QB — The Jets were the only team with four QBs on their ac­tive ros­ter un­til Geno Smith went on IR with a torn knee lig­a­ment. And yet their QB sit­u­a­tion has been un­set­tled as can be: They benched turnover-prone Ryan Fitz­patrick in fa­vor of Smith. Now they’re forced to turn back to Fitz­patrick, be­cause nei­ther Bryce Petty nor Chris­tian Hack­en­berg is ready to start.


OL — They need help along the line thanks to in­juries. The Texans thought they found a starter in Nick Martin when they drafted him in the sec­ond round, but his year ended with a pre­sea­son an­kle in­jury. Then vet­eran RG Derek New­ton went on IR after hurting both knees.


WR — Some speed on the out­side could help QB Mar­cus Mar­i­ota, es­pe­cially when you con­sider the Ti­tans’ re­ceiv­ing corps con­sists of a rookie who was a fifth-round draft pick from Mas­sachusetts (Ta­jae Sharpe), a guy on his third team in three sea­sons (An­dre Johnson) and a pair of non­de­script vet­er­ans (Harry Dou­glas — a healthy scratch lately — and Rishard Matthews).


A bit of ev­ery­thing, other than QB — Indy has al­lowed a league-high 25 sacks, two of their top three WRs and their No. 1 tight end are all out with in­juries, the pass rush is lack­ing, and the lineback­ers and sec­ondary keep miss­ing tack­les.


OL — The Jaguars have been down­right aw­ful up front, with the of­fen­sive line fail­ing to do much of any­thing to cre­ate holes for the run game. The team is on pace to set a fran­chise record for fewest rush­ing yards in a sea­son and has to play the rest of the year without start­ing left guard Luke Joeckel (knee).


WR — Sure, the Steel­ers have An­to­nio Brown, but oth­er­wise re­ceiver is a real po­si­tion of need. Mar­tavis Bryant is sus­pended; Sam­mie Coates and Markus Wheaton have in­jury is­sues.


DB — Ev­ery team could use a cover guy, but few more so than the Ravens, who don’t have a de­cent DB to go with S Eric Wed­dell. Jimmy Smith is a solid CB, but he’s been slowed by a con­cus­sion. The other start­ing CB, Sha­reece Wright, has al­ready missed two games with in­juries, while FS Lar­dar­ius Webb is still learn­ing the po­si­tion after mov­ing from CB.


S — The Ben­gals had to choose be­tween their two start­ing safeties in free agency, and they kept Ge­orge Iloka and let Reg­gie Nel­son leave. They’ve missed Nel­son’s phys­i­cal play. A de­fense that al­lowed the sec­ond-fewest points in the league last sea­son has been mid­dle-ofthe-pack.


QB — Still in search of an elu­sive fran­chise QB, the Browns could be en­ticed to make a deal, even if their plan seems to be to try to find an elite QB in next year’s draft (will there be one?). Robert Grif­fin III’s in­jury com­pli­cated mat­ters; this sea­son was sup­posed to be de­voted to his come­back.


Pass rusher — The Raiders have strug­gled to get con­sis­tent pres­sure on op­pos­ing QBs, a big rea­son why the de­fense has al­lowed so many big plays. With of­fenses us­ing ex­tra pro­tec­tion to slow down Khalil Mack, Oak­land could use a more con­sis­tent out­side rusher on the other side to com­ple­ment Bruce Irvin.


OL — If there’s a weak link on the reign­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons, it’s the of­fen­sive line, where tack­les Russell Okung and Don­ald Stephen­son are com­mit­ting too many costly penal­ties, and guards Max Gar­cia and Michael Schofield take turns mak­ing their share of mis­takes.


OLB — The Chiefs have just eight sacks, tied with Pitts­burgh for fewest in the NFL. They should be buoyed by the even­tual re­turn of Justin Hous­ton from ACL surgery, but just how ef­fec­tive will he be?

And when? The Chiefs need some­one to pro­vide a con­sis­tent pass rush, be­cause OLB Tamba Hali is ag­ing be­fore their eyes and for­mer first-round pick Dee Ford has been a dis­ap­point­ment.


RB — Melvin Gor­don is having a dy­na­mite sec­ond NFL sea­son, but the Charg­ers could use some RB depth with Danny Wood­head and Branden Oliver out for the sea­son with in­juries.

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