Even though the NFL trade deadline has come and gone for the 2016 season, there are still plenty of players who can’t wait to be traded once the off season comes back around. Almost every season there are a handful of players who get benched or lose their starting jobs due to situations outside of their control such as injuries or suspensions. The nature of the NFL is that new players emerge every season, and older players get replaced.
Lots of these players are already good players, but they need a fresh start on a team where they can be more prominently featured and try to either get their spotlight back or take it for the first time. Sometimes a very good player can be a backup for his entire career if he never leaves his original team, and these guys certainly don’t want that to happen to them.
15 Jimmy Garoppolo
There has been a lot of talk about New England how the system makes the quarterbacks. Most people didn’t think the Patriots could win more than two of their first four games of the 2016 with Tom Brady being suspended. They won three of four and may have won them all if Garoppolo didn’t get hurt and they didn’t have to go to the third string QB. Jimmy G. may be able to capitalize on the success that Matt Cassel had before him, playing well with the Patriots while Brady was injured and then becoming a start for the Chiefs for a short time. The only thing is, if Brady ever does retire or is forced to due to injury, Garoppolo has a shot at becoming the new starter in New England, so he may be better off being patient and waiting it out.
14 Michael Floyd
Michael Floyd is a talented young wide receiver on the Arizona Cardinals, but he isn’t getting any younger and he doesn’t catch enough balls in the wide open offense in Arizona. Overall his numbers haven’t been great, catching 6 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015 and only going over 1,000 yards once in 2013. Floyd has a lot of talent but with Larry Fitzgerald and now David Johnson, there are too many weapons for him to find enough catches. On top of that, quarterback Carson Palmer won’t be around forever so he may be better off finding a team with a younger quarterback where he can before the first or second option like the Houston Texans. He was a standout receiver in college who caught 37 career touchdowns at Notre Dame.
13 Spencer Ware
The Kansas City Chiefs have had some great running backs for several years, with Jamaal Charles being the guy for most of that time. Charles has been injured and was thought to bounce back this year, before barely playing at all. Luckily the Chiefs have had both Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West be able to fill in for Charles and keep the team’s running attack going. Ware seems to be the slightly better option. In 2015 he scored 6 rushing touchdowns and in 2016 he has been the team’s started, averaging nearly 5 yards a carry and more than 15 yards per reception. Ware won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in the 2013 season, even though he only had 3 carries behind Marshawn Lynch. Who knows what will happen if Charles ever comes back, so Ware should get out of there and sign a big contract with a team like the New York Giants.
12 Julius Thomas
Tight end Julius Thomas seemed unstoppable catching passes from Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos. He caught 12 touchdowns both in 2013 and 2014. Thomas then decided his best move was to sign a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he only scored 5 touchdowns in 2015. Perhaps he thought that young quarterback Blake Bortles would be a better option than the aging Hall of Famer Manning, but he ended up costing himself a Super Bowl ring to go to a below average team. He needs to play for a team that actually uses their tight ends as receivers and might be a good fit with the Baltimore Ravens. Thomas made the NFL Pro Bowl in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons and played basketball and football for Portland State.
11 Sheldon Richardson
The New York Jets had a decent season in 2015 but failed to make the playoffs in the last week of the regular season. Things were finally looking better after the Geno Smith era, but then something happened in 2016 and the Jets looked horrible again. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson is a bright spot on the team, but he would be much better off playing somewhere else. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson are already making a lot of money as defensive linemen for the Jets, so there isn’t much left for Richardson who deserved a good contract. He would be a welcome addition to an already good defensive team like Seattle or to an offensive team needing some help on D like the Atlanta Falcons.
10 Nick Foles
So far quarterback Nick Foles has had an interesting career. In 2013 he put up huge numbers for the Philadelphia Eagles throwing for 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions in 10 starts. He started the first 8 games of the 2014 season before breaking his collarbone which really hurt his career. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams for the 2015 season but lost his starting job to Case Keenum. Foles looked like he might be the starter in 2016 until the Rams drafted Jared Goff #1 overall. Foles was granted his released and joined the Kansas City Chiefs as the backup to Alex Smith. He still has a strong arm and the ability to be a starter on another team, but has been hampered by injuries and interceptions. Maybe he would be a good fit in Chicago if the Jay Cutler era is really over.
9 Darren McFadden
It might surprise some people to learn that Darren McFadden actually was 4th in the league in rushing in 2015 for the Dallas Cowboys. He played for the Oakland Raiders from 2008 to 2014 and was a decent back but never really accompolished much. In 2010 he put up 7 rushing touchdowns along with 3 receiving TDs which were both career highs. In 2015 he had over 1,000 rushing yards but the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott who is now a rookie of the year candidate in 2016. McFadden is also buried behind former Washington Redskins receiver Alfred Morris. He could benefit from becoming a starter somewhere else for his last few seasons in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland would be a nice fit since they have a few average backs now but nobody spectacular.
8 Joe Staley
Even with Chip Kelly brining his high powered offense to the San Francisco 49ers, the team seems to be a sinking ship. Left tackle Joe Staley is one of the team’s bright spots, but he needs to find another team to play for as he is 32 and not getting any younger. It seems like a waste of talent having Staley protect the blindside of Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. The five time Pro Bowler and three time Second-team All-Pro selection would be a lot better off with the Seattle Seahawks where he could block for Russell Wilson and help the team’s offense catch up to their top level defense. This would also give Staley the chance to make the playoffs and maybe even win a Super Bowl.
7 Alshon Jeffery
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is one of the bright spots on the lowly Chicago Bears team. He was part of a great WR combination with Brandon Marshall before he left for the Jets. Jeffery has been paired with quarterback Jay Cutler for quite some time, but the team cannot manage to win games every often. Cutler may be on his way out thanks to too many injuries and losses, and Jeffery would be a lot better off moving on to a better team. After an average 2016 season, he was suspended for four games in November for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy after Chicago gave him their franchise tag before the season started. His career would benefit from going to a team like Atlanta opposite Julio Jones.
6 DeAngelo Williams
It seems like almost every season Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell misses at least a few games due to suspension or injury. In those games, veteran RB DeAngelo Williams steps up and fills in for Bell in a big way. The problem is that Bell is just too talented and young and the Steelers aren’t going to let him go anytime soon. That means Williams have a few monster games every season and then you don’t hear from him again. He was a solid player teaming with Jonathan Stewart in Carolina and once again he is part of a pair of backs and not getting enough carries. Williams could be the main guy on a team that needs a running back for a couple more years while bringing up a young guy to take over eventually.
5 Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is one of the best wide receivers in the game, but he has also been hampered by some injuries that made him miss time at the beginning of the 2016 NFL season. In the first three games of the season he only had 11 total catches for 1 touchdown and then he missed a month of games due to injury. Quarterback Dak Prescott has found several other targets in Dallas and it seems that Bryant had better chemistry with Tony Romo. Staying in Dallas would mean a chance to win a championship, but he doesn’t seem to be catching as many balls as he used to. Perhaps Dez should go to New England where several other older WRs have gone at the end of their careers. Playing with Tom Brady for a year or two could be a great way to end his career and probably win a Super Bowl ring.
4 Joe Haden
The Browns are horrible and may have the dubious distinction of going 0 – 16 in the 2016 NFL season. Their offense has some bright spots but hasn’t been able to get much done and their defense gives up too many points to keep them in the game. Cornerback Joe Haden has been the rumor of trade talks for several years but nothing ever seems to happen. The Browns always say they won’t trade Haden, but it’s not things are going well in Cleveland and shaking things up can’t hurt anything at this point. Haden is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL and would be a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu already on their defensive side.
3 DeAndre Hopkins
Things have changed quickly for Houston Texans young wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. In 2015 he hauled in 11 touchdowns and more than 1,500 yards, despite being thrown to by several different quarterbacks. It didn’t seem to matter who was throwing the ball; Hopkins was becoming a standout wide receiver in the National Football. He was also a Pro Bowl selection and Second-team All-Pro in 2015. Once his quarterback became Brock Osweiler in 2016, Hopkins’ numbers went way down. For whatever reason these two are not on the same page and Hopkins needs to get out of Houston before his career goes into a tailspin. He would really fit in with the Oakland Raiders who have a very talented offense team of young players already.
2 Brandon Marshall
Even though wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been in the NFL for 11 seasons, he is still a top level player who can catch a lot of passes and would be a valuable addition to many teams in the league. He has already played for the Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, and Jets which means he is open to moving around and doesn’t care about staying with one team for a long time. Marshall is a six time Pro Bowler and in 2015 he tied for the NFL’s receiving touchdowns leader. That year the Jets did well and he hooked up with Ryan Fitzpatrick for more than 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns. For the 2016 season things aren’t going so well for the New York Jets and Marshall could benefit from a change of scenery. He would be a good fit for a team looking to add a solid veteran wide receiver.
1 Tony Romo
The obvious choice for a very talented quarterback who wants to be traded out of his current situation is Tony Romo. This guy could have been an all-time great QB if he hadn’t been injured so often. This season things were looking good in Dallas with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Romo once again got hurt in the offseason. The Cowboys luckily had rookie Dak Prescott, who nobody expected to be so good that he would take the starting job away from Romo. Tony needs a fresh start somewhere else where he can hopefully stay healthy and have a few good years left. Being a backup in Dallas probably isn’t what he wants, although he has said all the right things publicly in support of Prescott.