In NFL history, not many impactful trades used to be typically made during the season. Football teams are big on chemistry and having played together. However, much like making NFL picks against the spread, the league has evolved its position on the practice to help add interest during the season.
The NFL was lagging behind its North American counterparts. MLB, NBA, and NHL had all seen teams make many in-season trades that would impact how the rest of the season went over time. In 2012, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to move the deadline from Week 6 of the NFL schedule back to Week 8. While football teams are less likely to engage in trades than MLB, an increase of important changes have happened since the deadline has been moved.
Here’s a look at a few of the moves from 2022 and how they impact the future of the teams involved.
49ers Make Backfield Moves
San Francisco made one of the major moves of the 2022 season by bringing in running back Christian McCaffrey. By prying away McCaffrey from a Panthers’ team not headed anywhere, San Francisco instantly updated its running attack. McCaffrey has two 1,000-yard seasons in his career, but he hasn’t done it since 2019.
Injuries and other factors have slowed down McCaffrey. When the 49ers brought in McCaffrey, they dedicated themselves to delaying their starting running back, Jeff Wilson Jr., to Miami. Wilson had been a successful runner for San Francisco this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry while racking up 468 yards rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Dolphins Look to Add More Pieces
Miami is serious about contending this season. Adding Wilson was a nice complimentary piece for the offense. Bringing linebacker Bradley Chubb into the fold was another key addition for the contending Dolphins.
Miami dealt a 2023 first-round pick to bring in Chubb. Denver’s playoff hopes, even with veteran quarterback Russell Wilson under center, were slowly diminishing. During his tenure in Denver, Chubb recorded 26 sacks. He also had 5.5 sacks so far this season. Miami has already shown its willingness to contend when it brought in wide receiver Tyreek Hill from Kansas City. What they’ve been doing since the season started is only adding to that.
Steelers Accepting Inevitable
Pittsburgh hasn’t been picked in the top five of the NFL draft since the Steelers picked Terry Bradshaw with the top pick in 1970. After starting a slow decline over the past few years, Pittsburgh is finally starting to look toward the future. The Steelers have put rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett into the lineup to get an extended look at his potential.
While it won’t help Pittsburgh’s rookie quarterback, the Steelers traded wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. Depending on how the season finishes, the Steelers could have three picks in the top 45 to help kick off a rebuild.
Bears Make Moves Of Their Own
Chicago dumped linebacker Roquan Smith, who had previously requested to be traded in training camp, in a trade to Baltimore. Smith brought back a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and linebacker A.J. Klein is returning. The Ravens have shot out to the lead in the AFC North and would like to think about playoff positioning so they can think about a return to the Super Bowl.
Smith is a playmaker who will likely find a happy home in Baltimore, which has built its reputation surrounding strong defense. Smith has made 83 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season. Smith has also intercepted two passes and returned them for 22 yards.
Vikings Raid Their Rivals
Interdivision trades are usually bizarre. But when it comes to the Detroit Lions, it’s hard to expect anything different. The Lions dealt tight end T.J. Hockenson to the first-place Minnesota Vikings. Hockenson has had a solid season, hauling in 26 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns so far this season.
The Lions received a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick in return.