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NFL trade deadline: 13 key players who could be on the block


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This year's NFL trade deadline might not spark a heavy level of last-minute action – though it's possible a few surprises could be ahead.

By 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, teams must make a final decision on whether to send off or acquire any players from other teams' active rosters. Yet several franchises did not wait to make a splash, as some of the most notable names tied to trades before the season – including cornerback Stephon Gilmore (dealt from the Patriots to the Panthers) and tight end Zach Ertz (sent from the Eagles to the Patriots) – have already found their landing spots. And on Monday, the Rams surprised many by finalizing a deal to land eight-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Von Miller from the Broncos.

But several other figures could be on the move before Tuesday. Here's a look at 13 notable players who could be on the block:

Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Whether he is moved or not, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will be the defining figure of this trade deadline. Watson, who faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints alleging sexual harassment and misconduct, might not get his long-awaited split from Houston until the offseason. For now, the Dolphins appear to be the lone suitor, and hammering out a reasonable deal for both sides is an exceedingly challenging task given the myriad unknowns surrounding Watson. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has also been the focus of trade speculation, but the Texans intend to hang onto their top target, according to multiple reports.

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Colts RB Marlon Mack

For more than a month, Indianapolis has been seeking a new trade partner for Mack on the running back's request, per multiple reports, though the lack of a deal seemingly indicates a tepid market. So long as the Colts are willing to settle for a small boost in draft capital, there could still be buyers at the deadline for the former 1,000-yard rusher. The 25-year-old isn't poised to be a bell-cow back, but he could be a valuable contributor for a team looking for additional depth or sorting through options after injuries.

Bears WR Allen Robinson

In his franchise-tag year, Robinson has been unable to establish a consistent connection with Justin Fields, recording no more than four catches or 63 yards in a single game since the rookie took over the starting quarterback. Prying him from the Bears could be a tall order, however, especially given the hot-seat status of general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy. But given his downward trajectory and the Bears' refusal to meet Robinson's wishes on a long-term contract, recouping some ammo for the draft would aid a Chicago team without its first- and fourth-round selections in 2022 due to the trade up to select Fields. Robinson, meanwhile, might welcome the opportunity to showcase his talents for a franchise that can offer the consistent quarterback play he has lacked throughout his career.

Jets WR Jamison Crowder

When Joe Douglas used a second-round pick on Ole Miss slot receiver Elijah Moore this past spring, many expected Crowder to be pushed out shortly after. The Jets hung onto the seventh-year veteran after he took a pay cut, but the time for a split might be coming. Crowder has 23 catches this season after missing the first three games with a groin injury, but he could still be a trusted underneath target for a playoff hopeful. Douglas, however, might not be keen on depriving Zach Wilson of a receiver as he looks to boost the rookie quarterback's development in a tough debut season. 

Rams WR DeSean Jackson

Sean McVay last week acknowledged the Rams' intent to amicably split with Jackson via a trade. The three-time Pro Bowler, who turns 35 in December, is not the consistent game-breaker he once was, but his 75-yard touchdown against the Buccaneers demonstrated he can still challenge defenses as a deep threat. Though he was superfluous in the Rams' receiving corps, Jackson could make an intriguing addition for a team looking to add a vertical element to stretch defenses.

Giants TE Evan Engram

Despite earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2020, the former first-round pick hasn't developed into a consistent threat for Daniel Jones. In a remade receiving corps, he now looks expendable with just 20 catches for 171 yards in five games this year. Still, his athleticism might prompt other general managers to take a bet on his upside. The Packers seem like a particularly sensible fit after losing starter Robert Tonyan to a torn ACL last Thursday, but the Bills and Saints also seem like possible destinations.

Falcons TE Hayden Hurst

Atlanta might be reticent to detract from its passing attack further after wide receiver Calvin Ridley announced he was stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. Even so, there are only so many opportunities for Hurst behind emerging star tight end Kyle Pitts. Playing in the final year of his contract after Atlanta declined his fifth-year option this May, Hurst doesn't figure to be a staple for the Falcons' new regime.

Eagles OT Andre Dillard

Selected with the No. 22 overall pick in 2019, Dillard arrived in Philadelphia as an expected fixture on the blind side. Instead, the Eagles committed to Jordan Mailata as their long-term answer at left tackle with a four-year, $64 million contract extension this fall. Yet in a league in which demand for capable offensive linemen always outweighs the supply, Dillard might be able to find a different opportunity in short order. Several teams in the playoff mix could use more help at offensive tackle, and the Eagles would be wise to load up on draft picks given the imposing breadth and depth of their rebuild.

Jaguars OT Cam Robinson

Urban Meyer has stated that his primary focus is supporting Trevor Lawrence, so sending off the No. 1 pick's blind-side protector might seem like a puzzling move. But taking the long-term view could help Jacksonville set things right after what has been a turbulent start for Meyer in the NFL. Robinson's play on the franchise tag this season has not warranted a long-term contract, and the Jaguars look poised to move on with second-round pick Walker Little in tow. Both Robinson and left guard Andrew Norwell could fetch the Jaguars some draft capital in a sellers' market for offensive linemen.

Seahawks DE L.J. Collier

A healthy scratch this week for the sixth time in eight games, Collier seems to have worn out his welcome in Seattle, even on a defense that ranks among the league's worst. Despite starting all 16 games last season, the 2019 first-round pick has never come close to living up to his draft-position billing. Maybe another team seeking a relatively low-cost option along the defensive line would take a flier on his physical tools.  

Steelers OLB Melvin Ingram

Signed in July to fill the void left by Pro Bowl pass rusher Bud Dupree's departure, the 10-year veteran has seen his role dwindle in recent weeks. He played just 17 defensive snaps in a Week 6 win over Seattle before being inactive Sunday with a groin injury. With Alex Highsmith on the rise in his second year, the Steelers can afford to move on. Ingram requested a trade ahead of the deadline, per multiple reports, and is still disruptive enough to be attractive to a contender. 

Broncos CB Kyle Fuller

Ronald Darby's return from a hamstring injury has rendered Fuller, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, extraneous in Denver. When slot cornerback Bryce Harrison injured his knee Saturday, it was Nate Hairston rather than Fuller who was worked into the lineup. Denver doesn't look fully committed to being a buyer or seller at the trade deadline, but dispatching Fuller to a team in need of reinforcements in the secondary seems like a logical move.

Jets S Marcus Maye

Robert Saleh said last week that the Jets weren't in line to have a "fire sale" at the deadline. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that the Jets are closed for business. Maye is on the franchise tag and might not fit into the team's long-term plans given the contract impasse between the two sides, though he said in October he "100%" wanted to remain with New York. The Jets are open to moving him, ESPN reported, though it's unclear whether a team would fork over a sufficient return for a defender who could end up as a half-year rental. 

Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.