The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow, November 3, at 4:00 pm. Unlike baseball, where there is often a frenzy of activity, in general the NFL trade deadline is a dud that passes quietly with fans barely even noticing. It will likely be the same this year.
Nonetheless, the Jets current quarterback circumstances, with both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith injured to some extent, as well as the looming cap squeeze in 2016, make for at least a whisper of a chance the Jets make a move by tomorrow.
One problem with trying to find a trade partner for a quarterback is that most NFL teams only carry two quarterbacks these days, and trading one would leave them without a backup. Names like Mike Glennon are brought up, but the Buccaneers have no other backup quarterbacks on the roster or the practice squad, making a Glennon trade very unlikely. One possible trade partner that doesn't present this problem is Cleveland, a rare team with three quarterbacks under contract. Josh McCown is the entrenched starter, with Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis backing him up. If the Jets like either of those backups it is possible one could be pried loose for relatively little in trade compensation. Kansas City presents another option, with Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray both backing up Alex Smith. The Cardinals have Drew Stanton and Matt Barkley. Stanton might be worth looking into. Jacksonville has Chad Henne and Jeff Tuel. The Steelers have Landry Jones and Michael Vick. Washington has RG III and Colt McCoy. Whether any of these options are worth trading for is an open question.
Of course another problem with trading for a quarterback is that the options available via trade may not excite you any more than the options available via free agency, in which case why would you trade anything at all for a player no better than the free agent options? Given the limited trade options available, would you try to work out a trade or look to the free agent options like Matt Flynn or Christian Ponder?
Outside of the quarterback situation the most likely trade scenario (though still pretty unlikely) involves trading 2016 free-agents-to-be for draft choices. The options include a blockbuster deal for Muhammad Wilkerson, along with lesser deals involving Damon Harrison or Quinton Coples. Although none of these deals are particularly likely to be made, it might behoove the Jets to at least explore the options. With the 2016 salary cap extremely tight, a plethora of defensive line talent on the roster, and each of the aforementioned players possibly becoming a free agent in 2016, something's gotta give.
Coples is technically signed for the 2016 season, but with no guaranteed money and an $8 million price tag for a player who is being phased out, the chances of him being a Jet in 2016 are fairly remote. As John B has pointed out, his contract becomes guaranteed for 2016 in the event of season ending injury, so the Jets would be prudent to explore the trade market, if there is any such market, to get some kind of return for a talented player who will likely not return in any event.
Harrison is still a valuable contributor on the defensive line, but he will cost a substantial amount to re-sign, and if the Jets like a much cheaper player like T.J. Barnes, Harrison might not be back. Losing him in free agency would likely bring back a compensatory draft pick, so the trade market would be set at or above whatever pick the Jets think they would get if Harrison walks in 2016. It remains to be seen whether any other NFL team would offer such a pick for a half year rental on Harrison with first crack at re-signing him.
Wilkerson is of course the elephant in the room, with contract talks at a stalemate. He is a great player, but the price tag may prove too much for the Jets to swallow in 2016. If the Jets cannot work out a deal, they could use the franchise tag on him for 2016, but the $15+ million price tag might prove more than the Jets are willing to swallow. If he walks in free agency, the Jets would likely receive a compensatory 3rd round pick for him. That would the set the floor for any potential trade offers for Wilkerson, although it seems doubtful the Jets would entertain any offers that low with the 2015 season and a possible playoff berth still very much a priority.
Those are the main Jets players who might have enough trade value to make a deal viable this trade deadline. As always, actual deals this time of year are problematic, and rarely come to fruition. But assuming deals could be worked out, what would you do? Trade a draft pick for a quarterback? Trade one or more of the defensive linemen for draft picks? Stand pat? What say you?