It’s October 31st, and the most thrilling holiday on the calendar — the NFL trade deadline. Today is the last day for teams to swap players or draft picks, and potentially alter their roster significantly for many seasons to come. Anything can happen at the trade deadline. The question is will your team get a treat, or will they get… whatever you might call the opposite of a treat?
Best case scenario, your team trades for a difference maker who helps them go undefeated all the way to a Super Bowl victory. Also, you win a million dollars, why not. Worst case scenario, you just found out your team traded the next five years of draft picks for an old Herschel Walker jersey. Also, you’re being sued for a million dollars.
Halloween is about indulging our taste for the horrifying, so with that in mind, let’s explore some potential trades that would be the ultimate worst case scenarios for some fans.
Tom Brady to the Jets
The Patriots trading Brady would have been pretty far-fetched before they traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, but now that Brady is literally the only quarterback on the roster, that idea is even more absurd. But then again, who in Green Bay could’ve imagined Brett Favre would one day suit up for the Vikings?
Nightmare Trade Scenario
Jets get: Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, but at age 40
Patriots get: A draft pick for each candle on Brady’s birthday cake
Tom Brady is still playing at a high level and he’s stated multiple times that he wants to play out his career as a Patriot, but these decisions aren’t usually for the players to make.
Bill Belichick hasn’t been afraid to deal away star players when he thinks it’s for the betterment of the team. Trading away Garoppolo would seem to indicate that the Patriots are set with Brady for the next few years… but who knows? Anytime we think we know what Belichick is plotting, we’re usually wrong. If Belichick thinks he could get equal or better production at quarterback from Julian Edelman, or he has a secret Brady clone hiding somewhere at Gillette Stadium… well, it only sounds insane until one day you wake up and Belichick and Bradybot-3000 are giving yet another Lombardi Trophy some Sunday smooches.
As unlikely as it might seem for the Patriots to trade their franchise quarterback to a division rival, it’s not without precedent — Belichick didn’t hesitate to send Drew Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills in 2002, and back then, it wasn’t a guarantee Brady would go on to become the GOAT. True, after Drew Bledsoe was injured, Tom Brady played extremely well and led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl championship, but it was the team’s defense that slowed down Kurt Warner’s Rams and the “Greatest Show on Turf.” At the time, it looked like Brady could go either way — either he’d become the next Joe Montana, or he was a one-year wonder. You’re replacing one of the top pbaders in the league with a sixth-round pick, which sounds foolish if it doesn’t work out and, at first, it looked like the trade to Buffalo may have been a mistake. In 2002, his first year with the Bills, Bledsoe had one of the best seasons of his career, throwing for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns, while Brady had what turned out to be his worst season, throwing a career-high 14 interceptions. The Patriots ended with a disappointing 9-7 record (11-5 and Super Bowl champs the year before) and the Bills went 8-8 (an improvement from 3-13), and though both teams missed the playoffs, the AFC East had not yet ceded the division to New England dominance.
Looking back, it’s clear the Patriots head coach knew what he was doing. Bledsoe’s Bills never reached the postseason, while Brady’s Patriots went on to establish the greatest Super Bowl dynasty of the 21st century. But now Brady is 10 years older than Bledsoe was when he was traded and at some point his play will decline… I think?
From the perspective of the Jets, even Old Man Brady would be a huge upgrade for them at quarterback, and Jets fans are used to seeing QBs with gray hair. Vinny Testaverde played for the Jets well into his 40s and Brett Favre’s one season as a Jets was when he was 39-years-old (after the Packers but before the Vikings). Why not add Tom Brady to the list of gunslingers going green for a last hurrah?
Antonio Brown to the Ravens
Antonio Brown is arguably the best receiver playing in the NFL today. He’s one of the league’s biggest stars playing for one of the most popular and successful franchises. After signing a new four-year contract this past offseason, Brown is now the highest paid receiver in the game — deservedly so, as he continues to excel. But who will be throwing to the best receiver in the game next year, or two years from now? That part is not quite so clear.
Nightmare Trade Scenario
Ravens get: Antonio Brown, a rejuvenated offense
Steelers get: Draft picks, cap space, a genuinely sincere thank you card from Joe Flacco
If Roethlisberger retires after this season, does it make sense to keep the most expensive receiver in the NFL on a team with a rookie quarterback? Especially with the emergence of rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster? Maybe, maybe not. If tomorrow Mike Tomlin and Martavis Bryant suddenly become best friends, trading Brown becomes certainly less unviable — but even in that unlikely scenario, it’s still pretty remote. Again, none of this will ever happen in a million years — unless it does, in which case this ridiculous Halloween article will be genius, baby!!
The 6-2 Steelers and the 4-4 Ravens are pretty evenly-matched besides Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. In the parallel dimension where Antonio Brown is catching pbades from Joe Flacco, the AFC North standings would look pretty different… and those Steelers-Ravens games would be even more intense than they already are.
Richard Sherman to the Rams
Imagine Richard Sherman squaring off against his old team in Seattle during an NFC wildcard playoff game as the new face of the Los Angeles Rams defense. Those personalities and that storyline sounds as much like professional wrestling as it does professional football — and like the other scenarios in this list, it’s just as real as professional wrestling. By that I mean it’s totally real. This happened earlier today. You didn’t see it?!
Nightmare Trade Scenario
Rams get: Richard Sherman, a clear defensive identity, one of the biggest stars in one of the biggest markets
Seahawks get: Draft picks, cap space, a dramatic rival perfect for primetime games
Sherman is a big personality, and his starpower is fueled by that as much as it is his playmaking — and he’s the best corner in football. I can understand why not everyone likes a player as aggressively outspoken as Sherman, and he’s been in his share of controversies for his comments. Personally, I love it. From the moment I saw that clip of him shutting down Skip Bayless on First Take back in 2013, I was a fan. Even when I don’t agree with him, I still appreciate the drama he brings, and I appreciate his willingness to stand by his words. I don’t think Richard Sherman is a heel in life, but I like that he’s not afraid to play the heel when necessary. I think that fans in Los Angeles would eat that showmanship up.
From Magic Johnson to Marcus Allen, Kobe Bryant to Bo Jackson, L.A. sports fans love star players who know how to embrace the spotlight. Acquiring Richard Sherman from the Seahawks might not be exactly the same thing as the L.A. Kings trading for Wayne Gretzky in 1988, but it would have a similar effect bringing in new fans.
Von Miller to the Raiders
Trading Von Miller to anyone, much less your most hated rival, doesn’t make much sense. Why would anyone want to trade a player of this caliber? Well, they wouldn’t — this will never happen, unless the Raiders came up with a proposal that made the Ricky Williams trade look modest.
Nightmare Trade Scenario
Raiders get: Von Miller, the ability to win without needing a Derek Carr comeback every week
Broncos get: Cap space, draft picks, a chance to drastically improve QB in both free agency and draft
Miller has a special relationship with the Raiders. On his first career play from scrimmage as a rookie, the second overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft forced a fumble against Oakland on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately for Denver, his play led to only 3 points from the Broncos offense, which at the time was helmed by quarterback Kyle Orton, in a game that Denver would ultimately lose to the Raiders.
Being an outstanding defensive player on a team with a struggling offense is the story for basically Von Miller’s entire career in Denver. Yes, he did win the Super Bowl with the late-career version of Peyton Manning, but it was Von Miller who earned MVP honors for Super Bowl 50 due to his two forced fumbles, each of which led directly to touchdowns. It was the rare football game where a linebacker outscored his QB, but Von Miller is a rare player. If you recall, the Carolina Panthers were only able to score 10 points in that game, so it’s only slightly overstating it to say Von Miller won that Super Bowl almost single-handedly.
Two years later and the Broncos are still woefully inadequate at the quarterback position; meanwhile, Miller signed a six-year deal last offseason to become the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. Although the Broncos have a healthy cap heading into 2018, there could be an alternate universe in which the team would want to free up money to pursue a free agent QB — both Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees are set to be unrestricted free agents.
In this scenario, the Broncos trade away their best player in an effort to secure a franchise QB for the present (more cap space = guaranteed to sign Brees or Cousins) and the future (more picks = trade up for one of the best QBs in the Draft), with the badumption that a QB is more valuable than even the world’s best outside linebacker. In other words, they would be selling high on Von Miller if the Broncos decided the roster needed more significant rebuilding than first badumed.
Unlike Denver, the Raiders are set at quarterback as long as Derek Carr is healthy, but what they lack is the ability to win when Derek Carr isn’t able to produce a miracle every game. That would change with the addition of Von Miller, who has the ability to elevate Oakland’s defense to the top tier. Imagine trying to stop the pbad rush of both Khalil Mack and Von Miller (yikes). Even with a suspect secondary, those two guys on the same team could slow down even the best quarterbacks… which would only make it worse for Denver fans in this hypothetical timeline, who’d have to watch their shiny new QB face the NFL’s most fearsome duo twice a year.
Matthew Stafford to the Vikings
Vikings steal things, traditionally. It’s not as overt in the name compared to the Raiders, but pillaging is historically a pastime for seafaring Scandinavian pirates. It only makes sense that the franchise that acquired late-career Brett Favre for some of his best football would do it again, but this time to the Lions’ beloved quarterback.
Nightmare Trade Scenario
Vikings get: Matthew Stafford, a viable shot at the Super Bowl
Lions get: Cap space, draft picks, a chance to rebuild the roster, a lifetime of regret
Stafford isn’t just the highest paid QB, he’s the highest paid player in the NFL, and although he isn’t playing poorly, it’s also hard to say that he’s playing well. Last week, he threw over 400 yards against the Steelers — but no touchdowns.
In the eight games Stafford has thrown for over 400 yards, the team is 3-5. In his top five best performances, the team is 1-4. It’s not clear that what’s best for Stafford is what’s best for the Detroit Lions… which both sounds like a cliche breakup line and is also true.
Meanwhile, the Vikings seem to have everything except a quarterback. Somehow they’re getting it done with a who’s who of “who’s that?” at QB. Even though the Vikings currently hold the lead in the NFC North, they’ll be hard pressed to make it far in the playoffs without some dramatic improvement at the game’s most important position.
How likely are any of these trades? Not very. You really need to bend believability and put logic through more gymnastics than Gabby Douglas to make any of these sound even vaguely possible. I’m pretty sure you can sleep well knowing these nightmares will never actually happen.
But, you know what they say about the NFL… anything can happen on any given Tuesday (no one says this).