But the 4 p.m. deadline passed without major fireworks, and all five of the above players remained with their teams. Williams, though, made news by finally reporting back to the Redskins after a lengthy holdout.
While there was one notable deal Tuesday, the most significant moves came earlier in the week, or even before that. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams traded cornerback Aqib Talib and a fifth-round pick to the Dolphins for a future late-round pick, according to ESPN and NFL Network. The Dolphins announced the trade a short time later. Talib has been on injured reserve with a rib injury and isn’t eligible to come off until late Week 16. The move saves money off the salary cap for the Rams.
As the deadline approached, speculation centered on a pair of Jets stars, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reporting that the Jets were “amenable to dealing” Bell, even though he just signed with the team as a free agent in March and has played only seven games in New York. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer also reported the Jets were “certainly receptive” to trading Bell.
Bell, who’s averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per carry this season and received only nine carries in the team’s loss in Jacksonville on Sunday, signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal, with $27 million of it paid to him immediately.
Per Mehta, Jets Coach Adam Gase had qualms about signing Bell to such a big contract but was overruled by team executives, including a general manager (Mike Maccagnan) who was fired soon after Bell was signed.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested earlier Tuesday on Chicago sports-talk radio that the Bears might have been looking to give struggling quarterback Mitchell Trubisky some competition, perhaps by trading wide receiver Taylor Gabriel for 49ers backup C.J. Beathard.
Beathard started five games in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo last season, throwing eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Gabriel had his most productive NFL seasons while playing in Atlanta under Shanahan, then the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
As for the trades that actually happened, the “win next year” Dolphins got things started Monday by trading running back Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional 2020 draft pick. The Cardinals needed immediate help with both starter David Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds injured, and with a Thursday night game looming against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
Leonard Williams, the sixth pick of the 2015 draft, was a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 but has otherwise underperformed. The Jets have depth along their defensive line, making him expendable in the final year of his contract. What the 2-6 Giants are thinking with this trade is less clear, considering they almost certainly won’t be making any sort of playoff push this season. They may have made the move in anticipation of trading away Dalvin Tomlinson, who can play two positions along the line.
Also of note: It was the first time the Giants and Jets have ever completed a trade (a 1983 trade involving offensive lineman Chris Foote was nullified). Williams was the last member of the Jets’ 2015 draft class to remain with the team (the Giants also don’t have anyone left from their 2015 draft class).
Also on Monday, the Eagles acquired Browns defensive end Genard Avery for an undisclosed 2021 draft pick.
Other names mentioned as potential trade targets earlier in the week: Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, Bengals receiver A.J. Green and left tackle Cordy Glenn, Giants left tackle Nate Solder, Jets receiver Robby Anderson and Lions cornerback Darius Slay. But none changed teams.
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