It’s been a wild NFL trade deadline day, with general managers seemingly taking a page from their NBA counterparts when it comes to making moves. Here’s a look at how the teams who made some of the biggest transactions of the day fared.
Lions trade T.J. Hockenson to Vikings
Lions Grade: C
The Lions got some decent draft compensation in return for Hockenson but this is a big miss in terms of replicating talent. Hockenson had clearly emerged as an asset at the position in both the blocking and receiving game. He was also on a bargain contract and an extension made sense. To deal him to a division rival of all places doesn’t make much sense, even for a rebuilding Lions squad.
Vikings Grade: A
The Vikings saw Irv Smith Jr. suffer a high-ankle sprain. He’s expected to miss 8-10 weeks, which leaves a big hole in this offense. Hockenson immediately provides Kirk Cousins with a big target over the middle of the field and takes pressure off Justin Jefferson. Minnesota is trying to keep up with the Eagles atop the NFC and getting a player of Hockenson’s caliber helps them do that. The picks won’t matter much if Hockenson keeps playing like this.
Steelers trade Chase Claypool to Bears
Steelers Grade: B
If the Steelers weren’t going to pay Claypool anyway, getting a second-round pick for him is good value. Pittsburgh has an emerging talent in George Pickens who needs more playing time, so dealing Claypool seemed to be on the cards for a while. This offense has been frustrating to watch, and Claypool’s inconsistency was part of that.
Bears Grade: B
If Chicago ends up signing Claypool to an extension, this grade could improve. A second-round pick is a lot to use on a wide receiver who will hit free agency after next season but the Bears appeared desperate. Claypool does provide Justin Fields with another weapon and offers Darnell Mooney some relief in terms of matchups.
Broncos trade Bradley Chubb to Dolphins
Broncos Grade: B
This seems like a contract issue for the Broncos, who didn’t want to pay for Chubb after giving the farm to Russell Wilson. Getting a first-round pick back as part of the return is worth it but only if Denver can find a pass rusher capable of matching Chubb’s production. Good luck with that. The Broncos did get some backfield help in this deal as well, adding Chase Edmonds. Edmonds never caught on in Miami and could be used more as a receiver here.
Dolphins Grade: A
Miami is going for it all this year. Chubb further bolsters one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL, and the Dolphins can afford to give him an extension with both Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle on rookie deals. This was a nice move for a team looking to make a run under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel.
49ers trade Jeff Wilson Jr. to Dolphins
49ers Grade: A
The 49ers are loaded at the running back position after trading for Christian McCaffrey, so getting anything for Wilson was going to be solid. They can pick up a running back in the fifth round or use the selection to add depth elsewhere. It’s a useful additional asset for a player who was likely going to be phased out of the rotation.
Dolphins Grade: B
After giving up Edmonds, McDaniel brings his old friend from San Francisco into the locker room for a relatively low cost. Wilson Jr. provides depth behind Raheem Mostert, which is important given Mostert’s injury history.
Falcons trade Calvin Ridley to Jaguars
Falcons Grade: C
The Falcons have taken the lead in the NFC South this season and appear to be in good hands under Arthur Smith. This was a stunner though, as Ridley was expected to return to the team in 2023 after serving his suspension for gambling on games. There’s also the mental health side of this for Ridley and Atlanta, and the team trading him now makes the optics a bit sketchy. The returns for the Falcons are heavily dependent on Ridley’s production upon coming back and if the full compensation is met, that means Atlanta essentially gave up a rising No. 1 receiver for a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick.
Jaguars Grade: A
Because the draft package is so heavily dependent on Ridley’s production, the Jaguars get a bit of a pass here. Jacksonville gets no immediate help but this was clearly more of a setup year as the franchise reverses some of the damage caused by Urban Meyer’s failed stint. Trevor Lawrence looks like a real quarterback, and he’s going to need some weapons. Ridley fits the bill and should be motivated after a full year off. If the Jaguars send the highest picks possible to Atlanta, this will be a deal well worth the price.
Colts trade Nyheim Hines to Bills
Colts Grade: B
Indianapolis got Zack Moss and a conditional draft pick back in this deal, which ultimately doesn’t do much for them in terms of the on-field product. However, they do save a significant amount of money on the cap sheet going forward and already have a star running back in Jonathan Taylor. Hines was a relatively expensive backup, even if he did do some good things in the receiving game. He’s a good player but not one the Colts absolutely couldn’t give up.
Bills Grade: C
I’m not really sure what this deal does for the Bills, who were a juggernaut offensively without Hines. Devin Singletary is still going to be the lead running back, while Hines likely gets more work on passing downs and the two-minute drill. Buffalo drafted James Cook this year and he has made some strides as a receiver. There’s a minimal cost for Buffalo here and they can get out of this contract ahead of next season but it feels like this was making a deal just for the sake of making one.