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The window for NFL teams to make a significant roster change at midseason is closing.
Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET marks the league’s trade deadline, but several teams have already agreed to deals in advance of the cutoff. The market for pass-rushers has been particularly active with defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (dealt from the Minnesota Vikings to the Baltimore Ravens), Everson Griffen (Dallas Cowboys to Detroit Lions) and Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals to Seattle Seahawks) all on the move.
But with several teams reaching the halfway point after Sunday, a reality check could be in order for the franchises looking to strengthen their playoff push as well as those needing to shed salary.
With that in mind, we asked USA TODAY Sports’ NFL reporters and columnists: Which team most needs to pull off a trade?
Their answers below:
Seattle. John Schneider, you’re up. For several years, the Seahawks have been one of the most progressive teams in the league when it comes to creatively working the market, be it with free agent moves or the trade market. Remember, last year they obtained Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans. Before the regular season began this year, they swung a deal to land All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. Unfortunately, Adams has been out of action for weeks with a groin injury. But before he was injured, Adams provided quite the foundation the secondary.
That said, the Seahawks still need plenty of help on the back end. If there’s a veteran corner or safety who can be had, Schneider, the crafty GM, needs to make a move because the defense has been so suspect all season. The Russell Wilson-ignited offense will put up the points. That’s how Seattle has stayed in games, and won most of them. You’ve got to love their chances if they have the ball at the end. But championship teams need balance and need to come up with clutch stops, too. See Brandon Graham’s sack-forced fumble against Tom Brady to seal Philly’s win in Super Bowl LII. The Seahawks need help on the front end, too. Everson Griffen, the defensive end dealt this week from Dallas to Detroit, would have helped. But pass-rushers, like corners, are at a premium in the league.
In any event, the Seahawks, the last NFC team with a perfect record until it was spoiled by Arizona last Sunday night, need to explore any and all moves to help their defense. Now isn’t that weird? Those back-to-back Super Bowl appearances were built on the back of The Legion of Boom. That unit — and that impact — is long gone. But Seattle is a legitimate Super Bowl contender again. It would be a shame if Pete Carroll’s team squanders the potential because the defense can’t stop anybody when needed the most. In other words, blitz the trade market.
Quite a few teams could really benefit from making a move and have the means to pull one off — Tennessee, Cleveland and Indianapolis come to mind. But if the Seattle Seahawks really want to get back to the Super Bowl, they probably need to do a little more than add DE Carlos Dunlap. Part of the greatness of the Legion of Boom era was the depth of the defensive line in front of that star-studded Seattle secondary. But these Seahawks really struggle to create pressure in front of Bobby Wagner and Co. Dunlap should help, but why stop there? Go make a play for Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan, or the Chargers’ Melvin Ingram. Heck, give the Texans a call just to see what J.J. Watt would cost — he’d certainly level up this defense and wouldn’t destroy the club’s payroll over the next two years. Think about it, John and Pete?
The 5-2 Cardinals have pulled off playoff-caliber performances with wins against tough division rivals in Seattle and San Francisco. But the NFC West is stacked, and Seattle shows no signs of letting up in the playoff hunt. Arizona should ensure it has proper depth ahead of November matchups with the Bills and Seahawks, and two contests vs. the Rams in December. Perhaps that’s running back help if Kenyan Drake’s ankle ligament tear is expected to sideline him for an extended period of time. Perhaps another pass rusher to heal the wound that is Chandler Jones’ season-ending biceps injury. Arizona has won two since losing Jones, but the Cowboys had little fight to return and Seattle still piled on 34 points. Ensure Vance Joseph has sufficient depth to dial up his creative blitz packages.
The Seattle Seahawks. Their offense has been extremely impressive thanks to this MVP campaign Russell Wilson is on. But their defense can’t stop anybody. They’re not quite Dallas Cowboys bad, but it’s pretty close, and this area of weakness is putting too much pressure on Wilson to be perfect. As we saw on Sunday, unless Wilson is absolutely on point, this team doesn’t have a chance. It’ll help when they get Jamal Adams back from injury. But no matter how disruptive he is, the Seahawks need more, particularly when it comes to pass rushing. On Sunday, Kyler Murray threw the ball 48 times and Seattle didn’t record a single sack. That can’t happen. Without a pass rush, this team will not make a very deep playoff run, and so, general manager John Schneider has to do whatever possible to land an edge rusher by the trade deadline.
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