It’s easy to say that one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL is the NFC West. There’s an argument to be had for each team in the NFC West to win the division. The Arizona Cardinals could be prepared for a step forward in their quest for contention with Kyler Murray having another season under his belt.
The Los Angeles Rams acquired Matthew Stafford via trade in the offseason, giving them the best quarterback that Sean McVay has worked with. Once the San Francisco 49ers elect to start rookie Trey Lance, their offense will reach new heights with Kyle Shanahan. For the Seattle Seahawks, as long as Russell Wilson is under center, they’ll be able to fight for the division title. Given the tight-knit race we could have in the division, trades could be abundant at the trade deadline.
With that in mind, here is one target that each team in the NFC West team should pursue ahead of the trade deadline.
Arizona Cardinals: Bradley Roby, CB, Texans
The offense of the Cardinals is expected to be a productive unit with Murray having DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, and Chase Edmonds out of the backfield. But on the defensive side of the ball, despite the signing of J.J. Watt, Arizona could use some aid on defense. More specifically, they need some aid in the secondary following the departure of Patrick Peterson.
Byron Murphy showed improvements in his game last season, and they signed Malcolm Butler this offseason, but the Cardinals are still shorthanded in reliability on the backend of their defense. The Houston Texans are going to be a team that doesn’t win many games, making Bradley Roby a potential trade candidate. Roby is still a solid cornerback in the NFL and he would instantly give a boost to the secondary of the Cardinals.
Los Angeles Rams: Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos
In all likeliness, the Rams are going to address the running back position before Week 1 by signing a veteran. But if they choose to move forward with their current backfield of Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones, and Jake Funk, then Los Angeles could be active on the trade market for a running back during the regular season. Of course, the outlook of their running back position was changed when Cam Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during training camp.
There are veteran free agents like Adrian Peterson, Duke Johnson, and Chris Thompson that could potentially join the Rams before Week 1. However, Royce Freeman — who could be released before Week 1 — would be a cheap trade option for Los Angeles. Freeman wouldn’t need to start, but he could operate as a short-yardage or goal-line back alongside Henderson.
If the Rams want to compete in the NFC West this season, they are going to need a good and consistent running game to take pressure off of Stafford.
San Francisco 49ers: Jamison Crowder, WR, Jets
In recent drafts, the 49ers have addressed the wide receiver position by taking Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. That being said, San Francisco does lack a third option at the wide receiver position, especially following the departure of Kendrick Bourne. As of this moment, Mohamed Sanu or Trent Sherfield would be slated to be the No. 3 wide receiver on the 49ers.
Given that, San Francisco should be interested in making a move for a wide receiver, to surround Lance with more talent. The 49ers could use a slot receiver that can create separation and Jamison Crowder is someone that would fit Shanahan’s offense perfectly. The New York Jets now have Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Keelan Cole added to the wide receiver corps, making Crowder an expendable piece for them.
Seattle Seahawks: Derek Barnett, DE, Eagles
It’s no secret that the Seahawks have lacked a consistent pass rush in recent years. Just last season, Jamal Adams led the team in sacks with 9.5. Adams is a safety, so having a member of your secondary leading your team in sacks is less than ideal. To be fair, Seattle did acquire Carlos Dunlap via trade last season in an attempt to bolster their pass rush.
There are multiple edge rushers that the Seahawks could pursue, whether it be a free agent or a trade candidate. One name that could become more popular in trade rumors as the season progresses is Derek Barnett of the Philadelphia Eagles. Barnett has been a formidable edge rusher for the Philadelphia Eagles in recent years, but it remains to be seen if Philadelphia wants to ink him to an extension as he becomes a free agent next offseason.
With Seattle in win-now mode, taking a one-year flier on Barnett would be fitting. He could be the missing piece to help push the Seahawks back into the drivers seat in the NFC West.