2022 NFL Trade Deadline Analysis & Grades

The NFL trade deadline continues to get more active every year and we’ll be breaking down the biggest trades that come in before 4pm on November 1.

All statistics are provided by TruMedia and contract details from Over The Cap unless noted otherwise.

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T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings

The trade: Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick, and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick to the Vikings for a 2023 second-round pick and 2024 third-round pick

Minnesota made a surprising intradivisional trade by acquiring Hockenson from the Lions. The immediate need for a tight end was revealed more when it was reported Irv Smith Jr. will miss multiple weeks and will be put on IR with a high ankle sprain.

Hockenson is still 25 years old and has a year and a half remaining on his rookie deal, including the fifth-year option in 2023. That fifth-year option is worth $9.3 million, which isn’t bad considering some of the tight end deals that were thrown around this past offseason. Evan Engram signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for a one-year/$9 million deal.

For some it will be tough to balance Hockenson’s current level of play with the high expectations brought on by being a top-10 pick, but Hockenson is still one of the league’s best all-around tight ends. That should be an immediate upgrade for the Vikings.

This year, Hockenson’s 395 receiving yards would be second on the Vikings behind Justin Jefferson. He’s averaged 8.04 yards after the catch per reception, though that figure has been aided by a few big plays. That’s also part of the fit in the current construction of the Minnesota offense that has relied on creating space on short passes. 65.1% of Hockenson’s targets this season have come within 1-10 yards past the line of scrimmage. So far, 56.4% of Kirk Cousins’s targets have come in that area while he has the third-lowest aDOT in the league.

Hockenson’s 1.88 yards per route run this season ranks fifth among 37 tight ends with at least 100 routes on the season. With a strong supporting cast around him and a better quarterback, Hockenson’s role and production could improve with more opening up for him underneath. He’s also a good intermediate target (25.6% of his targets this season), which could help open up the Vikings’ passing offense more, too.

For Detroit, getting the second-round pick will help shape whatever the next era of the rebuild looks like. If the Lions were not going to extend Hockenson, this allows them to move on a year early and get more than what they would have netted from a compensatory pick by letting him leave. The Lions currently have Brock Wright, a 2021 undrafted free agent, and 2022 fifth-round pick James Micthell, who will now get more playing time.

Grades: B+ for Vikings, B+ for Lions

Bears Trade For Chase Claypool

The trade: Chase Claypool to the Bears for a 2023 second-round pick

The Chicago Bears have lacked playmakers for Justin Fields. With the trade for Claypool they appear to have paid a bit of a premium for a swing at finding one. The second-round pick sent to Pittsburgh will be Chicago’s own and not the Ravens’ pick acquired in the Roquan Smith trade. As it currently stands, that pick is 43rd overall, while Baltimore’s is 57th — though it’s difficult to not see that become a bigger gap throughout the season with Chicago’s own pick potentially falling in the top 40.

Claypool is having a down year compared to his rookie season and even a relatively disappointing sophomore season in 2021. Claypool’s yards per route run has dropped in each of three seasons from 2.00 in 2020 to 1.71 last season to 1.04 this year.

If there’s something slightly positive, he’s been better at getting open this season than in 2021, according to ESPN’s new receiver metrics, even if the results are worse.

That Open score ranks 41st of 75 qualified receivers this season.

Recently Claypool had complained about the lack of Go balls in the offense and that’s something he’s likely to see more of in Chicago. Claypool’s aDOT has dropped from 13.19 in 2020 to 11.45 in 2021 to 9.46 in 2022. Fields has the fourth-highest aDOT in the league with 18.2% of his passes traveling at least 20 air yards (third).

It’s also likely the Bears will shift Claypool back outside, where he spent most of his time in his first two seasons. The Steelers have used Claypool in the slot on 75.5% of his snaps after he was on the outside for 77.7% of his snaps combined in 2020 and 2021.

Claypool still has 2023 remaining on his rookie contract with a $1.5 million base salary, so it’s a relatively cheap contract. Still, a high second-round pick is a lot to give up on the hope his play improves in new surroundings after he had fallen out of favor with the Steelers. 

Grades: A for Steelers, C for Bears

Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins

The trade: Bradley Chubb and a 2025 fifth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for a 2023 first-round pick (from SF), a 2024 fourth-round pick, and Chase Edmonds

The Dolphins made the splashiest move of the deadline (at least so far) by getting a young player who can immediately help with the pass rush. The Dolphins have a number of players they’ve been able to throw on the defensive line to create some havoc, but the consistent pressure hasn’t been there. Miami ranks 21st in pressure rate despite blitzing at the seventh-highest rate in the league. Miami also rushes four at the second-lowest rate in the league.

Bradley Chubb brings a pass rusher who can win on his own and doesn’t necessarily need to be schemed up to get to the quarterback. He can pair with 2021 first-round pick Jaelan Phillips as a devastating edge duo. Phillips ranks fifth in pressure rate among 49 defenders with at least 200 push rush snaps on the season. Chubb is 14th. He’s also third in ESPN’s pass rush win rate among edge rushers. Phillips is 10th.

Not a ton of those pressure have turned into hits for Chubb — he only has eight QB hits — but when he’s gotten to the quarterback, those plays have converted with 5.5 sacks. Typically a conversion rate that high (68.8%) is due for some regression (around 40% is the league average) but given the way the Dolphins structure the defense, it’s more likely Chubb finds the path to get home more often. 

Chubb is 26 years old and playing on his fifth-year option. The expectation is there will be a contract extension done with this trade.

As the secondary has been up and down, creating more chaos along the defensive line could give the Dolphins a defensive boost to catch up with what the offense has been doing this season. This is also a long-term bet that this offense will sustain.

The Dolphins entered the season with two first-round picks and a potential long-term question at quarterback. Given what Tua Tagovailoa has shown, those questions appear to be answered at least for the moment. Miami lost its first-round pick in the Stephen Ross tampering punishment and now the 49ers’ first-round pick goes to the Broncos. This is a push to gain talent now while everything is working.

For the Broncos, Chubb became an easy place to gain a high pick with the emergence of Baron Browning, the return of Randy Gregory, and the development of Nik Bonitto that will shape the pass rush for 2022 and beyond. 

The Broncos also traded a fourth-round pick to the Jets for Jacob Martin to add some depth at the position.

We also got musical chairs of some running backs with Chase Edmonds to the Broncos as part of the Chubb trade and Jeff Wilson to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick. Edmonds had fallen behind Raheem Mostert in the Miami backfield and now gives Denver another option as they search for a Javonte Williams replacement. Edmonds has a non-guaranteed $5.6 million base salary for 2023 on his contract.

Wilson gives the Dolphins a familiar back with Mike McDaniel’s scheme and the ability to split time with Mostert.

Grades: A- for Miami, B+ for Denver, the Martin and Wilson deals are fine

Jaguars Aquire Calvin Ridley

The trade: Calvin Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars for conditional picks in 2023 and 2024 — at maximum a 2023 fifth-round pick and 2024 second-round pick

The Jaguars need a top receiver and they took a shot at acquiring one at the trade deadline, though it won’t matter until 2023. Ridley is currently suspended for the 2022 season after gambling on the Falcons last season. Ridley also sat out most of the 2021 season after playing just five games.

When we last saw Ridley at full strength in 2020, he was breaking out as a top wide receiver in the league. His route running and ability to get open sparked a breakout season as he ranked eighth among wide receivers in yards per route run with eight touchdowns. 28% of his targets in 2020 were 20 or more air yards — a deep threat this Jacksonville team desperately needs. This season, just 10.1% of Trevor Lawrence’s passes have gone deep, which ranks 22nd in the league. He has only completed 28.6% of those throws, which ranks 26th.

By ESPN’s new receiver tracking metrics, Ridley’s 90 Open score was the fourth-best among receivers in 2020. 

The conditions of this trade are somewhat complicated given Ridley’s current status:

 

If Ridley is anywhere near where he was in 2020, the Jaguars could have a steal with a potential top receiver. Even if he doesn’t quite get there, maxing out at a second and fifth is worth the gamble for the Jaguars, especially compared to the cost of other receiver trades. Ridley has a non-guaranteed $11 million base salary for 2023.

For the Falcons, Drake London and Kyle Pitts can lay the foundation for the hypothetical future passing game, whenever Atlanta decides to throw the ball. Getting draft assets back for a player who was likely not in their future plans and out of mind for the current season could help a defense that needs more players or add some supplemental pieces around London and Pitts.

Grades: A for Jaguars, B+ for Falcons

Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills

The trade: Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills for Zack Moss and a 2023 sixth-round pick

The Bills have been searching for a pass-catching back — their version of a Nyheim Hines — and they finally ended that search by trading for Hines himself. 

The cost isn’t all that much, giving up Zach Moss, a back who fell out of the Buffalo rotation, and a sixth-round pick. Hines has two years left on his deal with salaries of $4.45 and $5.1 million.

Hines has been a great pass-catching back throughout his career though something just wasn’t clicking with the 2022 Indianapolis offense that has struggled just about everywhere. While there was so much talk about getting Hines more involved in the offense this season, it didn’t really happen — especially in the two-back sets with Jonathan Taylor. However, Hines’s rate stats look quite good:

Josh Allen has thrown to running backs on 21.7% of his passes this season, the 13th-highest rate in the league. He’s surprisingly sixth in EPA per dropback on those targets. However, some of that rate is tied to early in the season when the Bills were super conservative on early downs. Over his past three games, that rate has been just 13.8%.

The Bills have not used a lot of empty sets, just 11.7% of Allen’s dropbacks after a 12% rate last season, but with Hines’s ability to run out of the slot, Buffalo could have another way to mess around with different formations. 23.7% of Hines’s snaps this season have come from the slot, which leads all running backs. Bills fullback Reggie Gilliam is third at 23.2%. 

This is a relatively low-cost move to bring in a different dynamic for the offense and one the team has been searching for. Devin Singletary will still take the lead back role and James Cook can be worked in as he has started to develop — 2.79 yards per route run on a small sample of routes. But adding Hines gives the Bills three options to rotate in with varied looks and skill sets. 

Grades: B+ for Buffalo, B for Indianapolis

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