There weren’t massive waves made at the NFL trade deadline this season, although that’s not unusual. Nevertheless, plenty of teams made noteworthy moves they believe can end up making a big difference in December and January. Frankly, there were more losers than winners this year given the trades that were made and the deals that weren’t made. However, here are five teams that are at least a little better following the trade deadline.
Pittsburgh traded for linebacker Avery Williamson, who might be the biggest winner of the trade deadline, as he went from the winless Jets to the undefeated Steelers. With Devin Bush done for the season and Ulysees Gilbert battling an injury, the Steelers needed to do something at linebacker. Williamson was one of the best available without breaking the bank.
He’s not a star, but he brings a lot of experience to the table and should be familiar with Pittsburgh’s schemes, allowing him to play a key role for an already strong defense.
Carlos Dunlap was clearly ready to leave Cincinnati, and the Seahawks were smart enough to pounce on the opportunity to trade for him. This is a player who’s had at least 7.5 sacks in seven consecutive seasons.
He’ll provide an immediate boost to a Seattle pass rush that has been nothing short of disappointing this year. When all is said and done, this might be the most important acquisition of the trade deadline.
The Ravens weren’t hurting for defensive help, but there’s nothing wrong with going out and getting Yannick Ngakoue anyway. Despite being the only pass-rushing threat on Minnesota’s defense, Ngakoue had five sacks in five games for the Vikings.
Baltimore paid a high price to get him, but the Ravens are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. If they’re going to get past the Steelers and Chiefs in the AFC, the pass rush needs to be better, and trading for Ngakoue accomplishes that.
The Titans needed to do something to improve a struggling secondary and they managed to add Desmond King, who was a Pro Bowler in 2018. Tennessee only gave up a sixth-round pick to add King for the rest of the season. The problem for the Titans isn’t so much the talent in their secondary but rather a lackluster pass rush that has left the secondary exposed.
Nevertheless, adding another defensive back should help, especially since Tennessee likes to play a lot of nickel packages, making King a key addition as a slot corner.
New Orleans Saints
It’s now or never for the Saints, so they were wise to add Kwon Alexander, even at the expense of what Kiko Alonso could give them in the future. While Alexander has been held back by an ankle injury, if healthy, he’ll make an impact for the New Orleans defense.
The Saints have been particularly vulnerable on third down this year, so adding depth and experience with Alexander is an important addition.