With the beginning of the NFL season right around the corner, 32 teams have the opportunity to start off the season with a clean slate. However, despite that opportunity, most teams will fall to the level of their roster play come midseason, and the true contenders will emerge. Those contenders are often one or two pieces away from rising to the top as Super Bowl favorites, needing to swing a deal for that final missing piece.
Ideal Trades for NFL Contenders
What might those missing pieces look like for each contender? Well, look no further, as I’ve compiled part one of a list of ideal trades for NFL contenders which they should make between now and the November 2nd trade deadline. Let’s take a look at who these NFC squads should pursue.
Green Bay Packers
- Target: Stephon Gilmore, CB New England Patriots
Gilmore has long been the subject of trade rumors, emerging as a top candidate league-wide. His current contract dispute and recent injuries make the soon-to-be 31-year-old corner less desirable than before, however, he’s still an All-Pro talent who can play with the best of them. With the Packers needing a reliable number two next to Jaire Alexander, Gilmore makes perfect sense.
While there would be challenges with getting him to fit under the salary cap, the Packers would be foolish to not at least explore this possibility–especially with Kevin King’s NFC championship meltdown still fresh on their minds.
Los Angeles Rams
- Target: Dont’a Hightower, LB New England Patriots
The Rams have a revolving door at linebacker as of recent, with starters such as Corey Littleton, Mark Barron, and Clay Matthews walking out the door in the past few seasons (via free agency or release). While the Rams have solid depth with Leonard Floyd, Kenny Young, and Terrell Lewis, they are still missing that true leader in the middle.
Enter Dont’a Hightower, a three-time Super Bowl champion middle linebacker for the New England Patriots, who’s entering the tail end of his prime. While a trade for Hightower would likely cost the Rams a significant asset, it would pay off in the long run as Hightower would solidify a group that would be primed for a deep run come January.
- Target: William Gholston, DE/DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While contending interconference rivals typically don’t trade with one another, we’ll make an exception for this one. The Seahawks sorely need a capable pass rusher on the line, and Gholston is a gettable piece. While he isn’t going to push them over the top himself, the 30-year-old was top five in pressures generated last season and would shore up the front seven for Seattle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Target: Clelin Ferrell, DE Las Vegas Raiders
Let’s be honest–the Bucs have very few weaknesses and are more likely to swing a trade for a young piece that they can develop for the future. While they’re primed for a second straight Super Bowl run, their front seven has some aging stars (Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Lavonte David) nearing the tail end of their primes. Meanwhile, Clelin Ferrell–a former top-five pick in 2019–has nearly fallen out of the rotation in Vegas and may be looking for a new home.
The Buccaneers could swoop in and offer the Raiders a late-round pick for the former Clemson star, bringing him in as a developmental piece who can learn from All-Pro sack artists Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.
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