The NFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football. While the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are fighting for first, the Detroit Lions are quietly pushing their way to the top. The competition is tough, and no division matchup will be easy. However, that doesn’t mean the division will stay stagnant. We may see some trades go down before the Week 8 trade deadline.
While the power players in the division likely won’t deal any star players, some role players may be on the move. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings may be looking to deal some of their big name players in order to add draft capital. There’s a lot of variables that come to mind when looking at how these teams will handle the trade deadline.
While plenty of players could still be very valuable to other teams, it looks as though their time is coming up with each respective team. The Vikings may be looking to start the rebuild process. The Lions are looking to make the jump from rebuilding to contending. The Bears and the Packers are still trying to contend for a championship.
There could be a lot of movement going on before the trade deadline. One of the busiest divisions may be the NFC North. It is worth keeping an eye on this division as the trade deadline approaches.
Here are five players who could be traded at the deadline in the NFC North.
Kerryon Johnson, Running Back, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are making a playoff push. After a come from behind victory against the Falcons, Detroit is in the thick of the NFC Wild Card hunt. The new playoff format means one extra playoff team this postseason.
Detroit may want to ship one of their valuable veteran assets that are currently losing out on touches. The Lions have a very full backfield, and Johnson is likely the odd man out.
Kerryon Johnson is a running back with talent. He has shown the capability to serve as a workhorse back. The Lions’ running back still has a solid amount of value. He has power, speed, and quality vision. Johnson could still be a solid back in the NFL and could help a team in need of a running back.
There are plenty of teams that are in need of a running back. After a few early season injuries to star backs, many offenses are in need of a workhorse to help establish their identity. Teams like New England, San Fransisco, and Philadelphia are all teams in the playoff hunt who may need to add a running back.
Rashan Gary, Pass-Rusher, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are in a strong position to make a Super Bowl run. However, they may want to make a run at another playmaker at wide receiver. It might be wise for them to ship a promising young prospect while he still has value. Rashan Gary is a perfect candidate to place on the trading block for Green Bay.
When the Packers drafted Gary, there were still questions about how Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith would perform. Since joining Green Bay, the Smith Bros. have been one of the best pass rushing tandems in the NFL.
Gary doesn’t truly fit the typical mold of a 3-4 outside linebacker. The young pass rusher has talent, but he is stuck in a crowded rotation of pass rushers. Moving him may be a smart decision, but they would need to land a solid receiver for Gary.
Some trades that come to mind are a trade with the Giants for Golden Tate, the Texans for Will Fuller, or possibly even Dallas for Michael Gallup if they include a draft pick. Gary is a very promising young prospect and given reps he could turn into a very productive pass rusher.
In Green Bay, all of that potential will be wasted while he sits on the bench. He is a player to keep an eye on when the trade deadline rolls around.
Adam Thielen, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
While many teams in the NFC North are buying, the Vikings could be selling. This season is not going the way that they had hoped. Each week, the Vikings are getting outplayed. They don’t have much cap space to work with, so trading valuable players may be their best bet for a rebuild.
Thielen is putting up very solid numbers so far this season. He could be a key contributor for any contender looking to make a title run or playoff push.
The Vikings were some peoples favorite to win the division this season. Last year, they were a very good football team. However, it may have been the final gasp of life for this particular set of core players.
If Minnesota wants to compete in this division, they are going to have to start adding depth and begin a bit of a rebuild. There could be a lot of Vikings players on the move by the end of the trade deadline.
Good landing spots for the Vikings veteran wide receiver would be New England, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Another unlikely landing spot would be Green Bay, but Minnesota likely would not trade a star player within their own division.
Thielen is an excellent wide receiver who runs very crisp routes and could line up on the outside or in the slot. He is a versatile wideout that virtually any team could use.
Marvin Jones Jr., Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
While they’re still in the playoff hunt, Detroit may be willing to take some risks. Marvin Jones Jr is a productive veteran wide receiver who could be very valuable to many teams. The vertical style of offense the Lions have been known to run seems to be coming to a close.
The offense runs through the ground game, Kenny Golladay, and TJ Hockenson. The Lions have guys who can stretch the field. If they can get a decent draft pick, Jones Jr. could get traded.
Many thought coming into the season the Lions would be the bottom feeder of the NFC North. After a few very tight games, the Lions are right in the playoff race. It is too early to call them a true contender.
Detroit still should focus on building for the future. Jones isn’t a franchise cornerstone type player. He has talent, but he is expendable. Detroit may be looking to move on from him.
There are many teams that could use a player of Marvin Jones’ talents. The Ravens, Colts, and 49ers are all teams that could use a solid veteran wide receiver. All those teams could be playoff teams as well. If Detroit is able to get a solid return, shipping Jones to any of these teams would be a wise investment.
Harrison Smith, Safety, Minnesota Vikings
There is no doubt about Harrison Smith’s ability. Despite a down year for his standards, Smith is still playing quality football. The veteran safety is 31 years old. He is also making over $10 million a year.
If the Vikings are truly thinking of rebuilding, they may want to ship the former All-Pro and see what they can get for him. Keeping him around with that high of a salary at his age, while rebuilding, doesn’t make much sense for Minnesota.
Minnesota made a statement when trading defensive end Yannick Ngakoue last week. The Vikings clearly aren’t looking to make a late season push. Smith and and Thielen aren’t the only Vikings players who may be on the chopping block.
Safety Anthony Harris could be traded, but teams may wait for him to hit free agency. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is another player to watch, but it would be a high asking price and as of right now most teams are either looking to draft a quarterback next year or stick with the ones they have for now.
Smith is a quality strong safety. He is still among the leagues best, despite Minnesota’s defensive struggles. Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, and Indianapolis are in positions to make a playoff run. Each of those teams needs safety help.
These are all excellent landing spots for Smith, who could be a key difference maker on any of those teams. The Vikings need to re-tool to get back into contention in the NFC North.