The NFC South has been dominated by the New Orleans Saints in recent years but there might be a new team on the rise. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently leading the division at 5-2 with Tom Brady under center.
The Saints got the better of Tampa Bay in Week 1 of the season. Since then, the Bucs have won five of six and seem to have their offense clicking. They recently signed Antonio Brown who will join the team once his suspension is over. For the Saints, their situation involving Michael Thomas is messy because of his injury and the disciplinary issue at practice.
The Carolina Panthers are currently third in the division at 3-4. Teddy Bridgewater has been solid with new head coach Matt Rhule. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson have turned into a solid duo at wide receiver. Christian McCaffrey is set to return soon from a high-ankle sprain and that will only help the offense. As for the Atlanta Falcons, they are just hoping for the end of the season.
The NFC South has teams that could be buyers and sellers at the deadline. Either way, here are five players who could be dealt in the upcoming weeks.
5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons should be very close to completely blowing up the roster and rebuilding. This means that longtime members like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones might not have a future in Atlanta. If they trade Jones, the return could be huge.
Despite being in his 10th season, Jones is still one of the best receivers in football. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler with two All-Pro selections. Jones has finished with 1,000 yards in each of the last six seasons and is on his way there again if he remains healthy. Jones is 31-years old and cannot be apart of the Falcons’ plan moving forward. This is not to say that he cannot be productive, because he still is and then some. This is saying that if the Falcons blow it up, Jones will be on the market.
There should be 31 teams on the phone if Jones is made available via trade. This would be a huge splash deal if one could get done in the next couple weeks.
4. Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints
Davenport is a 6’6, 265 pound defensive end with a high-ceiling. The issue is that he cannot stay on the field. The former first-round pick has played 27 games for the Saints since being drafted in 2018. He should not be a difficult player to move because of his potential.
Davenport has started opposite Cam Jordan when healthy, but that has been his issue. When he is forced to miss time, Trey Hendrickson has taken over the starting role and performed well. Hendrickson has always served as a backup but has started this season and has run away with the job. This is a situation where the Saints should try to get what they can for Davenport and move on from their first-round bust.
The Saints could use some assets and they could use them to improve the defensive side of the ball. New Orleans is coming off three straight division titles and will need to shore up the defense to log another.
3. Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons
There are few veteran offensive lineman who are better than Mack. At 34-years old, Mack is another veteran on the Falcons who could be on the move come the trade deadline.
Mack is in his fifth season in Atlanta after seven years with the Cleveland Browns. There have been countless injuries along the offensive line for many teams in the league. It will be difficult to find a better center than Mack so any team in need should be calling the Falcons. Mack is a six time Pro-Bowler who would serve as a short term solution for a contending team over the next two years.
The Falcons have gone completely downhill. They fired Dan Quinn after a poor start and that has gotten them to 1-6. It will not be long before the front office runs out of patience and decides to make some serious changes to the roster.
2. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnson is an athletic freak who impressed during his time at Minnesota. Unfortunately for him, there is no room on the depth chart in Tampa Bay. This could force the team to trade him before the Nov. 3 deadline.
The Bucs have a plethora of weapons for Brady this season. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin continue to be one of the top duos in the league. They recently signed Brown and Scottie Miller has emerged as one of Brady’s favorite targets. Johnson could be a low-risk, high-reward player for a team in need of help at the wide receiver position. The return will not be huge for Tampa Bay but this is a move to clear up space on the roster.
There is a chance that Johnson could turn into something in Tampa Bay but the chances are slim given the options already in place on the team.
1. Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
The situation between Samuel and the Panthers is going to continue to get worse moving forward. Samuel is the clear-cut No. 3 option for the Panthers. After his contract expires next spring, there is little chance that Samuel sticks around so the Panthers should try to get what they can for him.
Samuel has 25 catches this season with 11 coming over the last two weeks. He is starting to become more of a factor but not enough where we could see him re-signing in free agency. Samuel is a talented receiver. He has great potential but it cannot be achieved in Carolina. There are plenty of teams that could use a wide receiver, such as the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. Samuel would bring a great dynamic to an offense of a contending team.
This happens sometimes for teams and it is a good problem to have if you’re Carolina. You can never have too many weapons but when one of those weapons is becoming a free agent, it is time to make a move.