Which

Figuring out which NFL teams are prepared to buy or sell at the trade deadline can be a difficult enterprise – even for the front-office executives taking stock of their own franchises. 

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With the league's annual cutoff next Tuesday arriving before the halfway point of the regular season, it can be difficult for organizations to rule out a late surge and instead embrace a full sell-off to accumulate assets. And even for contenders, taking on a hefty contract or parting with vital draft capital can prove to be a prohibitive cost when weighing a splashy addition.

Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans carries the ball following his reception as Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts the tackle during the second quarter at NRG Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Houston, Texas. © Bob Levey, Getty Images Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans carries the ball following his reception as Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts the tackle during the second quarter at NRG Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

But the once-dormant deadline has spurred a handful of notable moves in recent years, and several more could follow in the coming days. 

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Here's a look at which teams could be buyers or sellers – and a few that could be on the fence – this year:

Buyers

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers has praised the Packers for their recent veteran additions and said he's having "the time of my life" in Green Bay amid a six-game winning streak. What better way to further promote harmony with the previously disgruntled quarterback than to be aggressive in pursuit of a title? A looming cap crunch in 2022 might prevent Green Bay from taking on any contracts with significant future payouts, but the in-season signings of defensive end Whitney Mercilus and linebacker Jaylon Smith show that general manager Brian Gutekunst is open to additions when the price is right. Bringing on help at wide receiver or cornerback could bolster the Packers' chances among the NFC's elite.

Carolina Panthers

Teams on a four-game losing skid typically aren't buyers at the trade deadline save for the most drastic of circumstances. GM Scott Fitterer, however, has made it known he wants to be "in on every deal." That mentality shone through with his aggressive acquisition of former New England Patriots cornerback and 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore earlier this month. Operating under a seemingly like-minded owner in David Tepper, Fitterer has the latitude and motivation to pursue bold deals, even if multiple reports indicate that Carolina will not be a player for three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson

Baltimore Ravens

In a conference that looks like a toss-up but a division that is sizing up to be the NFL's most cutthroat foursome, the Ravens have every reason to take stock of a possible infusion of talent. GM Eric DeCosta has made notable moves in the last two years by landing cornerback Marcus Peters and pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who departed in free agency this offseason. Offensive tackle is a glaring issue after Ronnie Stanley announced he would need season-ending surgery, and reinforcements would come in handy at running back after a rash of injuries. With nine picks in the first four rounds of next year's draft, the Ravens have the ammo to make something happen soon.

Kansas City Chiefs

Amid a 3-4 start, there's plenty of consternation for the two-time defending AFC champions, who have a series of problems on both offense and defense. With less than $1.7 million available in cap space, however, the Chiefs likely can't afford a drastic shake-up. But if a low-cost pass-rush or safety option emerges, Kansas City could – and should – be in the mix.

Sellers

Houston Texans

The fire sale might have already begun, as Houston agreed Wednesday to reunite veteran running back Mark Ingram Jr. with the New Orleans Saints in a deal that involves no more than late-round picks, per multiple reports. That move didn't sit well with leading wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who tweeted, "This is (expletive)." Cooks could be next out the door, as there should be plenty of interest in the 28-year-old speedster who has made his mark this season despite the Texans' woeful passing attack. Of course, the biggest question centers on whether the team will part with Watson, who has not played this year while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and misconduct. But even if the quarterback remains, the Texans have a horde of cheap players on one-year deals who could return some vital draft picks.

New York Jets

Hard to make heads or tails of the Jets' decision to part with a sixth-round pick for veteran quarterback Joe Flacco, who won't start this week for injured Zach Wilson. Still, Joe Douglas hasn't been shy about casting off inherited players to reshape this roster in his own image. Sending franchise-tagged safety Marcus Maye to the highest bidder seems like Gang Green's best opportunity at fetching some valuable draft capital. But the more reasonable option might be moving slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who isn't signed beyond this year and whose departure would open up more opportunities for rookie Elijah Moore in the slot and second-year target Denzel Mims on the outside.

Philadelphia Eagles 

After trading three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals, Howie Roseman insisted that the decision didn't portend more veteran departures ahead of the deadline. Will he maintain that stance if other offers come in for veterans ill-suited for what is shaping up to be a long rebuild? Left tackle Andre Dillard and right guard Brandon Brooks (still on injured reserve) might be attractive to several teams in need of help up front, and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and cornerback Steven Nelson will both be free agents in 2022.

On the fence

Los Angeles Chargers

In his nine years as general manager, Tom Telesco has never acquired a player before the trade deadline. If ever there were a year to break habits and part with one of his prized draft picks, however, this would be it. The Chargers look like a true AFC contender at 4-2, but their defense has been gashed for a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry. Fortifying the front seven could go a long way toward preparing Los Angeles for the likes of the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens, the latter of whom rolled up 187 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground in a Week 6 rout. Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox might be prohibitively expensive even if they are made available, but either one could change the complexion of the unit.

Miami Dolphins

Whether the Dolphins land Watson could be the defining story of the trade deadline – and the rest of Miami's season. But while Miami brass might be pulled toward the idea of a rapid turnaround, facing the reality of this 1-6 team could result in several exits. Cornerback Xavien Howard, an All-Pro last year who clashed with the team this offseason over his contract, could yield a significant return if the team is willing to part with him. It might also be time to cut bait on 2020 first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Urban Meyer teased the potential for action ahead, saying Wednesday the team's "phone is buzzing." But while a 1-5 outfit floundering under a new regime would usually indicate a sell-off, Meyer made note that he would like more speed at receiver after DJ Chark was lost for the rest of the season with a fractured ankle. Protecting Trevor Lawrence is a priority, so it's unclear whether Jacksonville would part with left tackle Cam Robinson or left guard Andrew Norwell, even though neither is signed beyond this year. Still, the Jaguars are worth keeping an eye on, as their September decision to send 2020 first-round pick CJ Henderson to the Carolina Panthers reinforced that they won't hesitate to move on from players who don't fit into their rebuild.

Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.

>Full screen 1/32 SLIDES © Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports
32. Texans (previously: 31): Welp, maybe they're at least about to emerge from Deshaun Watson's very long shadow.
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31. Jets (27): NOW they trade for 2020 QB2 Joe Flacco when they could've just re-signed him to be their Plan B QB, not to mention a steady resource for now-injured rookie Zach Wilson? The faces change here, but the results never seem to.
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30. Lions (32): Another missed opportunity in Week 7, but Sunday brings a feasible opportunity – a home date against the Eagles -- to finally shatter prospect of an 0-17 campaign.
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29. Dolphins (29): Despite what Ja'Marr Chase is doing in Cincy, credit Miami WR Jaylen Waddle, whose 44 receptions are nine more than any other rookie.
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28. Jaguars (28): Trevor Lawrence seems to be quietly figuring out pro game, completing 66.3% of his passes and posting 93.8 QB rating over his past three outings. A date with Seattle's secondary should keep the arrow trending up.
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27. Panthers (15): They've devolved from losing to being non-competitive Sunday against Giants. Crucial five weeks ahead with Arizona the only squad Carolina will face that's currently above .500.
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26. Giants (30): OLB Azeez Ojulari might be the steal of 2021 draft. The 50th overall selection leads all rookies with 5.5 sacks.
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25. Falcons (26): Appears they've figured out how to leverage Kyle Pitts' estimable talents. After exploding for 282 receiving yards over the past two games, he's on pace for 1,335 over the full season -- which would obliterate Hall of Famer Mike Ditka's rookie record for tight ends, 1,076 in 1961.
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24. Washington (25): Since start of 2020 season, they have five wins against NFC East teams and four against everybody else. Bummer WFT won't play another divisional game until Week 14.
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23. Eagles (24): No defense is getting targeted more through air than this one ... and that's because Philadelphia allows league-worst 74.4% completion rate.
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22. Seahawks (19): They're 2-5 for first time in Russell Wilson era, and injured QB will miss at least one more game. Already five games out of NFC West lead, midnight might've already struck in Seattle.
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21. Patriots (23): Before you get overly excited about their 41-point shellacking of the Jets, understand New England is the first team in the Super Bowl era to notch its first three wins against rookie QBs. If the pattern holds, the Pats' next victory will come in Week 17 against Trevor Lawrence's Jags.
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20. Broncos (21): Inexplicable that this team ran 14 times in Week 7 at Cleveland. If any offense should be 4.5 yards and a cloud of dust, it might be this one.
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19. Bears (16): QB Justin Fields coughed the ball up five times Sunday, the first five-turnover game in the league in two years and first time a Chicago QB has been guilty of such shenanigans since the immortal Matt Barkley in 2016. It's getting ugly in the Windy City.
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18. 49ers (20): Their bevy of pass interference penalties Sunday night is indicative of carelessness, San Francisco pacing NFL with 81 penalty yards per game.
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17. Colts (22): QB Carson Wentz has one INT after hoisting league-high 15 in 2020, and he's also sporting career-best 102.8 passer rating. This whole Frank Reich reunion apparently is just what the doctor ordered.
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16. Steelers (18): Save OLB T.J. Watt, who has seven sacks, no one else on Pittsburgh's previously vaunted defense has more than two. That's gotta improve for Steelers to avoid missing postseason for third time in four seasons.
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15. Vikings (14): Hope your bye week was restful, gents. A horror show begins Halloween night with a visit from Dallas ... followed by matchups against Baltimore, the Bolts and Green Bay.
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14. Browns (12): Don't forget Kevin Stefanski was Case Keenum's QB coach in Minnesota in 2017 when the Vikings won the division and reached the NFC title round. This just might work ...
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13. Chiefs (10): Going back to Super Bowl 55, they've been torched for 29.3 points per game while averaging 24.6 and are -12 in turnover differential during that eight-game stretch. Time to get back to fundamentals, fellas.
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12. Saints (11): Wasn't pretty, but RB Alvin Kamara and Co. might just be a playoff team without retired QB Drew Brees. Kamara is the fastest player (66 games) to record 3,000 yards both rushing and receiving.
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11. Raiders (17): They're humming post-Gruden, all the way to the top of the AFC West, averaging 33.5 points and 434 yards past two weeks. And with six players already exceeding 300 yards from scrimmage, this crew's on track to be best Las Vegas team in NFL history.
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10. Chargers (9): Last time they hosted Patriots in Los Angeles, New England won 45-0. We'll assume a better outcome this Sunday at SoFi.
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9. Ravens (5): Bye would be good time to reset a defense that's permitted at least 33 points and at least 490 yards three times. No such tinkering required for QB Lamar Jackson, who's besting his career average through the air by more than 100 yards per game.
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8. Bengals (13): All the chatter about Cincinnati's (current) No. 1 seed and rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase's record-setting start is warranted. But props to TE C.J. Uzomah, who's rebounded from last year's torn Achilles and has already hauled in a career-best five TD grabs.
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7. Bills (8): A bitter loss and the bye in the rear view, Buffalo returns to a three-week murdered row against Miami, Jacksonville and the Jets, who are a combined 3-16 (.158). Great opportunity for Buffalo to create breathing room on AFC pack.
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6. Titans (7): All-Pro RB Derrick Henry is leading the NFL in rushing yards (869) and TDs (10). Yawn. He's a legit MVP candidate because he's also tops in touches (209) and yards from scrimmage (1,023) and already has 18 receptions -- one off his career high. And now he's throwing TDs? This could get epic.
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5. Packers (6): The first team to win six straight after losing the opener by at least 35 points, they head to desert for enticing matchup with Arizona -- which will mark the highest combined winning percentage (.929) of opponents in a post-September Thursday night game during Super Bowl era (since 1966). But pandemic is already putting a damper on showdown, All-Pro WR Davante Adams going to the COVID/reserve list Monday.
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4. Cowboys (4): After resting his calf strain during bye week, is QB Dak Prescott ready to help set a Dallas record by leading "Dem Boyz" to a fifth consecutive game with at least 35 points?
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3. Buccaneers (3): Seems Tom Brady, uh, overcame his fourth-down issues from 2020 against Chicago. Next up, he tries to solve New Orleans in regular season after getting decisively swept last year ... before the playoffs.
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2. Rams (2): Update, they're now 40-0 under Sean McVay when leading at halftime. That will tick up to 41-0 given the Rams' next stop is Houston.
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1. Cardinals (1): Don't believe in the league's only unbeaten team? Arizona also boasts the NFL's largest point differential (+111), is the toughest team to score on (16.3 points allowed per game), is getting defensive reinforcements off the COVID-19 list -- including OLB Chandler Jones -- and is already effectively integrating new TE Zach Ertz, the first player to catch a TD pass in successive weeks ... for different teams. Oh yeah ... and Kyler Murray.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL trade deadline buyers, sellers: Which teams might pull off moves in 2021?

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/nfl-trade-deadline-buyers-sellers-which-teams-might-pull-off-moves-in-2021/ar-AAQ33h8

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