The 2022 NFL trade deadline comes as teams make 10 moves Tuesday involving future first-round draft picks.
Bradley Chubb, TJ Hockenson, Chase Claypool, William Jackson III, Jeff Wilson and Neheim Hines were among the players on the move, days after teams sent others to new homes, including Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. The Green Bay Packers, on the other hand, stood aside despite obvious demands and Aaron Rodgers’ championship window shrinking.
While the details of each move can be interesting, the view from 5,000 feet reveals more meaningful information. By asking questions about what certain groups think in general, the businesses show what the groups think about themselves, right or wrong.
The Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts tell us why some of their moves make more sense than others. We’ll also look at what the Packers have to offer by standing up.
Miami Dolphins send San Francisco traded a 2023 first-round pick (currently 20th), a 2024 fourth-rounder and running back Chase Edmonds to the Denver Broncos for forward Chy Bradley Chubb and a 2025 fifth-rounder.
What Miami is telling us: The Dolphins are feeling good about getting another one of their biggest remaining chips next year. Miami plans to move on with Tua Tagovailoa beyond this offseason, although it seems possible for an organization that has tried to land Tom Brady in secret and has been penalized the worst in the league.
After trading first-round picks for Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill and now Chubb, what happened to the offensive line?
What Denver is telling us: Adding Russell Wilson didn’t immediately make the Broncos a Super Bowl contender, or they wouldn’t have unseated a top pass-rusher on the deadline. Wilson’s new contract obliges Denver to not only do that, but to be on him for several seasons. After entering this season thinking big, the Broncos now have one eye on it.
Early returns point to the Broncos’ Wilson, coach Nathaniel Hackett, their team or some combination of the three. They weren’t the only ones. Before the season, a $100 bet on Denver winning the Super Bowl would return about $1700 if the team won it all. Now, that same bet will return up to $15,000 if Denver somehow takes the Lombardi Trophy.
As for Chubb, Denver should see him as a good player rather than a great one. By trading him, the Broncos avoid paying a big player on a new contract. The Broncos picked up a valuable 2023 first-round pick, which could encourage them to use Wilson on the offensive line.
The Minnesota Vikings will trade 2023 second- and 2024 third-round picks to the Detroit Lions for tight end TJ Hokenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick for the Vikings, which would be their fifth pick in the playoffs.
What Minnesota is telling us: Given the state of the NFC this year, you might think the Vikings could make a deep playoff run. They also think receiving tight end could be an important part of the equation after losing Irv Smith to injury. This trade limits the Vikings’ flexibility going forward for a potentially expensive player out of the 2023 second round, providing further evidence that having a GM with an analytical history doesn’t force the team to do so.
At worst, this move reflected the Vikings’ inexperience in leadership roles. It’s not hard to imagine a first-year offensive play-calling head coach worrying about how tough it will be to replace an injured tight end at a first-year GM. It’s not hard to imagine a team like this short-sighted for a player at a non-premium position. Hockenson is under contract for $9.3 million next season. In the year The tight ends’ franchise tag value in 2024 could be $12-15 million.
At best, Hockenson gives the Vikings’ offensive-playcalling coach a chess piece that will elevate him for years to come, with Green Bay in the NFC North unlikely to buy a future.
What Detroit is telling us: The Lions, 1-6 and currently No. 1 in the 2023 draft order, are winless this season, so they’re looking to the future. They were unwilling to pay whatever it would take to re-sign Hockenson. They fashion themselves as a physical running team. Hockenson is more of a receiver than a blocker — he played the position at 265 pounds, not the tight end in coach Dan Campbell’s image. The passing game runs through receiver Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown, the 12th pick in the 2022 draft. Minnesota’s picks could be better used to improve the defense.
Chicago Bears send 2023 second-round pick to Pittsburgh Steelers for receiver Chase Claypool
What Chicago is telling us: Evaluating quarterback Justin Fields in the second half of the season would be easier with another weapon, especially one as young (24), big (6-foot-4, 238 pounds) and affordable (1.5 million salary next season) as Claypool. If the Bears feel like they’re going to give up the season after acquiring Smith and Quinn, this move will add to the excitement surrounding the Bears offense in recent weeks.
What Pittsburgh is telling us: The Steelers have enough depth at receiver like starter George Pickens that they could move Claypool for draft capital instead of extending his contract for another year. It also looks like the Steelers will be more active in these markets as they continue in rebuilding mode under a new GM in Omar Khan.
Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick that will move up to third if Ridley reaches incentives, and if Ridley signs an extension the second
What Atlanta is telling us: The Falcons are done with Ridley, who has been suspended for gambling and has previously called his sanity. The Falcons used top-10 picks for the Flappers while implementing a run-oriented offense.
What Jacksonville is telling us: It looks like GM Trent Balk bought low, thinking this investment would pay off big. He made it as the 49ers’ GM and was criticized when draft picks like Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore failed. In Jacksonville, 2021 injured safety Andre Ciccio could pay off as he has started all eight games this season and has two interceptions, including a pick-six. Ridley joins a young receiver corps that features free agent additions Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.
The Buffalo Bills send a running back Zach Moss and
What Buffalo is telling us: The bills almost beat them all and they didn’t have to do much, but why not treat couples with stressful needs? Hines is a clear upgrade from Moss. Buffalo dealt with safety depth by acquiring Dean Marlowe from Atlanta seventh for 2023.
What Indianapolis is telling us: Paying the rest of Moss’s $978,750 salary for this season is preferable to paying Hines’ $3.3 million salary, especially without a quarterback who can increase Hines’ value in the passing game (even with a big throw and catch from Sam Ehlinger to Hines in Week 8). There is no other obvious reason for the Governors to do this.
The Green Bay Packers are not sending anything to anyone, despite clear interest in the receiver.
Look around the NFC North. The Bears got a receiver from Pittsburgh. The Vikings got a close win over Detroit. Williams, the Lions’ 12th-ranked receiver this year, is in his first game.
The Packers, like any team interested in a receiver, were unwilling or unable to close a deal to upgrade the position.
It’s hard to understand why, especially considering the reasons behind the huge gap in offensive performance between Kansas City and Green Bay after both teams acquired top receivers in the offseason. Two executives from other teams questioned the Packers’ reluctance to take risks with trade acquisitions or whether they were unsure how to spend on such deals.
Whatever the case may be, what Green Bay is telling us about the roster as it stands right now is basically the Packers’ plan to play along for the rest of the season, for better or worse.
(Photo by TJ Hockenson: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)