The NFL trade deadline may not bring quite the excitement of the NBA or MLB deadlines, but it can still be crucial in shaping contenders. It also shares a date, Nov. 3, with 2020 Election Day, so it’ll be quite the high-powered news day no matter who is on the move in the NFL.
An expanded postseason could lead to more buyers at this year’s deadline, although 2020 is no ordinary year. The protocols and life realities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a different type of deadline than we’ve had in recent memory, although there’s really no way to know exactly how until it happens.
The weeks leading up to the 2019 trade deadline saw a number of big-name players moved, including: Marcus Peters, Jalen Ramsey, Emmanuel Sanders, Quandre Diggs, Kenyan Drake and Leonard Williams. The year before, Amari Cooper’s trade to the Cowboys highlighted the deadline.
There haven’t been a ton of rock-solid reports out yet, although there’s been speculation that Atlanta could move on from the massive contracts of Matt Ryan or Julio Jones if there are any takers. Young QBs Sam Darnold and Dwayne Haskins are also both in situations that could see them expendable in the right deal.
Below is everything you need to know about the details of the 2020 NFL trade deadline, including a list of potential targets for teams looking to make deals.
When is the NFL trade deadline 2020?
- Date: Tuesday, Nov. 3
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 3, which is also Election Day. For those following for news of last-minute trades, it’s worth sticking around a little while after the 4 p.m. deadline. Trades that are sent to the league office just before the buzzer may not be reported until after 4 p.m. ET.
Deadline day was busy in both 2017 and 2018, with a handful of deals going down each day. There was only one trade on the actual deadline day in 2019, though, with a number of trades occurring in the weeks leading up to the deadline.
Can NFL teams trade after the deadline?
No. After 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 3, NFL teams will not be able to trade until the 2021 league year begins. The NFL has yet to announce when the 2021 league year officially begins, although it opened on March 18 in 2020.
Teams can agree in principle to trades ahead of the commencing of the new league year, although the deals cannot officially go through until the league year begins anew. When Alex Smith was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Washington Football Team, it was agreed upon in January and became official in March.
NFL trade news
— Oct. 22: The Minnesota Vikings trade defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick.
— Oct. 21: The Jets trade linebacker Jordan Willis and a 2021 seventh-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2022 sixth-round pick.
— Oct. 18: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquire defensive tackle Steve McLendon from the New York Jets, along with a 2023 seventh-round pick, in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round selection.
NFL trade deadline rumors: Potential trade targets
The NFL expanded the postseason ahead of the 2020 season, going from 12 teams to 14 teams. That’s now 43.75 percent of the NFL’s 32 teams that will make the playoffs in 2020. For that reason, there’s some expectation that the trade deadline will feature more buyers and less sellers than in the past.
Teams that entered the season as contenders but could now be looking to sell after struggling out of the gate are the Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons, while the league’s bottom-dwellers (New York Jets and Giants, for example) could move on from veterans to stockpile picks.
- Matt Ryan and Julio Jones
A 1-5 start for Atlanta has NFL insiders wondering if the Falcons will move on from veterans Ryan and Jones at the deadline, according to ESPN. But due to to the contracts of both Ryan and Jones, they’re unlikely to be moved. A Ryan trade would come with an immediate cap acceleration of $44.4 million, while the Falcons would absorb more than $23 million by trading Jones now, according to Yahoo Sports.
The long-time Bengals receiver has dealt with injuries the past couple seasons while Cincinnati has struggled to win games. A rebuilding year with Joe Burrow at QB doesn’t really need Green if someone can afford to take on his contract and hope for good health.
The Broncos’ star safety is already on the franchise tag, and Denver is on the verge of falling out of playoff contention in a year that’s been hampered by injuries. A number of teams could use help in their secondaries as quarterbacks around the league put up huge numbers. Simmons would likely command at least one high-round pick in return, which could work well for Denver’s contention window that seems at least a year away.
There’s no telling whether the Jets have any interest in dealing Darnold, and he’ll have to look healthy in returning from a shoulder injury for it to make sense for another team to acquire him. But the Jets are currently the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick (and Trevor Lawrence) in the 2021 NFL Draft. If New York has decided it’d like to move on at QB, there are likely a few suitors for the still-talented Darnold.
The Washington quarterback looks to be on the outs. He wasn’t just benched for Kyle Allen, but also fell behind Alex Smith on the depth chart. Ron Rivera has no personal investment in Haskins, so his best shot of playing more QB in the NFL will likely come elsewhere. More so than Darnold, Haskins is likely a developmental project for whoever acquires him.
Mack has been a great center throughout his career, but he’s 34 and the Falcons have no shot of making the playoffs. He’d be a good pickup for a team (like the Cowboys) that needs offensive line help to make a playoff push.
The speedy Cincinnati wide receiver has been on the outside looking in for the Bengals of lately, but he’s got a first-round pedigree and could appeal to a team without a true deep threat.
Stills may be more proven as a deep threat than Ross, but he also seems to have less untapped potential. He’s certainly surplus in Houston given their top-three WRs of Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb to go with a terrible record.
Westbrook, a WR, is in the final year of his rookie deal in Jacksonville and has been a healthy scratch for most of the season. He was a solid possession receiver a year ago for Gardner Minshew, and it’s not immediately clear why he fell out of favor. He could be a stabilizer in an inconsistent passing game.
In the final year of his deal with the Jets, McDougald is too talented a player to toil on the worst team in football the rest of the season. Like with Simmons, McDougald could help a contender with a shaky secondary.
Another veteran in the final year of his deal on a bad team, Kerrigan could be traded by Washington to a contender in need of a situational pass-rusher.
The Rams could choose to keep their two-TE attack of Tyler Higbee and Everett intact. However, teams looking for a tight end could sniff around here in the hopes that the athletic Everett is available.
Could the Giants trade the oft-injured Engram? If they were going to do it, this lost year would be the time. He’s almost a wide receiver, so a team could view him strictly as a pass-catcher in their acquisition of him. He’s still got one of the highest TE ceilings in football.
Njoku is about to hit free agency and has been a disappointment for the Browns, who invested in Austin Hooper in free agency and Harrison Bryant in the draft to replace him. At this point, Njoku is worth a second-half flier for a team that wants insurance at the tight end spot.
It seems likely that the Texans will trade someone with their season down the toilet, so maybe it’ll be Cooks. In his first year in Houston, he hasn’t been totally healthy or gelled completely with Deshaun Watson. Another team could be intrigued by his deep-threat ability.
The Jets really should trade everyone who is more valuable in the present than the future. While that won’t happen, teams likely will call about Crowder, since he’s one of the more under-the-radar solid possession receivers in the NFL.
Why are NFL trades so rare?
The NBA Trade Deadline is a massively exciting day. Baseball’s trade deadline often brings huge blockbuster moves, too. The NFL’s deadline pales in comparison.
There are reasons for that, most having to do with how the NFL’s salary cap operates. Sporting News contributor Jason Fitzgerald wrote more about this topic here in 2019.