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Sunday, January 20, 2019

10 key NFL trade deadline takeaways

Jimmy Garoppolo

This year’s NFL trade deadline featured one of the most active periods we’ve seen. Some top players like Adrian Peterson and Marcell Dareus were traded recently, and that was before everything that happened on Monday and Tuesday. The Patriots finally traded Jimmy Garoppolo, the Browns missed another opportunity, and some other key players were dealt.

Here are 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL trade deadline.

1) 49ers identity their quarterback of the future

The San Francisco 49ers were in major need of a quarterback, and they have decided on one: Jimmy Garoppolo. After trading down in the draft, San Francisco’s new regime made it clear they did not want one of the 2017 quarterbacks (Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes, Kizer) in the first round. One option they had was to make a play for Kirk Cousins. Another was what they ultimately did: trade for Garoppolo.

The Niners gave up a 2018 second-round pick, which based on their record projects to be high. Not only did they give up a lot in draft currency to the Patriots for Garoppolo, but the other side of the coin is how much they will pay him. Garoppolo is set to be a free agent after the year. You don’t trade a high second-round pick for a QB only to rent him for seven games during a poor season. You do that with the intention of making him your guy.

The Niners have a ton of salary cap space. Just how much they’re willing to allot to Garoppolo for the future will be a big question.

2) Cleveland Browns miss out on QBs

While the 49ers were able to address their quarterback situation, the Browns continue to stumble along without any clearer idea about whom their franchise QB will be. Cleveland reportedly made multiple attempts to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo over the offseason and before the draft, but they were unsuccessful in swinging a deal. Then they saw the Niners get him before the trade deadline. Perhaps missing out on Jimmy G. led the Browns to a Plan B, which was to target Cincinnati’s backup, A.J. McCarron in a deal that didn’t get finalized.

There were some issues with that deal, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter says it didn’t get to the league quickly enough before the 4:00 p.m. deadline.

Not only does Cleveland take another P.R. hit for reportedly failing to close a McCarron deal, but they’re still without a QB. After they’ve passed on guys like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson the past two years, the pressure will be on them to resolve their issues in 2018. Fans better hope that doesn’t lead to them reaching for the wrong QB just because they’re desperate.

3) Patriots commit to Tom Brady long-term

While the 49ers acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo is the headline news in the Patriots’ deal, there is another implication to the move. Dealing Jacoby Brissett before the season and then Garoppolo now leaves the Patriots in a “Brady or Bust” situation.

Yes, New England has very clearly committed to their 40-year-old quarterback for the next several years based on their maneuvering this year.

Seeing a team commit to an MVP candidate who just won a championship last season seems like a total no-brainer — and it is. It’s just worth noting how odd it is to see a team commit long-term to an athlete who is 40 years old. You don’t often see that, though it is absolutely the right move for New England.

4) Bills want to open up offense

When the Buffalo Bills traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby earlier this season, some misinterpreted the moves as the Bills throwing in the towel on the season. Instead, it’s become clear through eight weeks of the season that new GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott knew what they were doing.

The Bills sit at 5-2 and acquired Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers. They now are giving quarterback Tyrod Taylor a massive target — Benjamin is 6-foot-5 — who can really help open up the passing game. Taylor has only passed for over 200 yards in a game three times this season, and multiple touchdowns in a game twice. That could change now that he has Benjamin.

5) Seahawks address their left tackle issues with Duane Brown addition

Seattle finally addressed its offensive line issue — which has really been nagging for a while — by acquiring left tackle Duane Brown. Brown had held out most of the season and was unhappy in Houston, but he seems thrilled about playing for the Seahawks. The 32-year-old is still a top left tackle, which should help Russell Wilson and the offense tremendously.

There are only two issues. One, Brown is signed just through 2018 and was frustrated with his contract situation in Houston, so who knows if that will spill over to Seattle. Two, the Seahawks had to surrender a lot in draft value to get him, as they gave up a 2018 third-round pick and 2019 second-round pick because Jeremy Lane failed his physical.

Read Nos. 6-10 on Page 2

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