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The 2020 NFL Trade Deadline came and went and teams contending for the playoffs bolstered their rosters while struggling teams built up some draft capital. However, no real blockbuster trades went down as the Packers/Texans trade for Will Fuller fell through as the teams couldn’t agree on value. Here is a breakdown of every notable trade which occurred within 48 hours of the trade deadline.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, the only undefeated team in the NFL this season, lost linebacker Devin Bush for the season two weeks ago. Needing a temporary replacement, they acquire linebacker Avery Williamson and a 2022 seventh-round pick from the New York Jets, the only winless team in the NFL, for a 2022 fifth-round pick.
Williamson is in the final season of his contract after signing with the Jets in 2018. He missed the entire 2019 season with a knee injury. However, when healthy he has been a consistent starter for the Jets and Tennessee Titans at the linebacker position. He recorded at least 92 tackles each season between 2015 and 2018 and has 59 tackles this season. Considering his contract expired this season, getting a fifth-round pick isn’t too shabby as any pick is good for a rebuilding team like the Jets.
This move is a temporary placeholder for the Steelers as Bush recovers from his injury. However, the Steelers will need to make adjustments to Williamson’s game as he has struggled so far in 2020. Williamson allowed 13 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 13 targets in Sunday’s 35-9 loss at Kansas City. This includes allowing 37 receptions on 39 targets for 404 yards, the most among linebackers in the NFL. While this is a good temporary replacement, the Steelers will need to work on his struggles to make him an effective piece on their elite defense.
The Steelers will face the battered Dallas Cowboys on Sunday while the Jets will host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.
The Titans are coming off a brutal loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in a game where they looked sluggish and were outplayed by a team who came into the game 1-5-1. Their defense has been particularly ineffective as they ranked in the bottom 10 in total and passing defense and their third-down defense is still the worst in the NFL, allowing 61.9% of third-downs from their opponents.
The Titans got a boost as they acquired cornerback Desmond King from the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2021 sixth-round pick. King was an All-Pro cornerback in 2018 when the Chargers went 12-4 and made it to the divisional playoff round. However, this season, he played in only 54.6% of the snaps this season and was a healthy scratch in the Chargers’ 31-30 loss to the Denver Broncos this Sunday. He needed a change of scenery and the Titans is a good play for him to rejuvenate his career.
The Titans have been banged up at the cornerback position this season with Adoree’ Jackson missing every game this season so far and Kristian Fulton sitting on injured reserve. King is a cornerback who is skilled at blitzing and can be disruptive in coverage. He is also a good returner as he has two career punt returns for touchdowns in his career. They will need him to alleviate some of their defensive woes, including third-down defense.
The Titans look to bounce back from two-straight losses as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday while the Chargers host their division rivals in the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
The Saints have one of the best run defenses in the NFL as they ranked third in rushing yards allowed per game. As they push for another playoff run in what is likely the final season with Drew Brees as the starter, they bolstered their linebacker corp by acquiring Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional fifth-round pick and linebacker Kiko Alonso.
The Saints have gotten consistent production from Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone in their linebacker corp. Adding Alexander allows for more veteran leadership and all-around consistent production. Rookie Zack Baun has stepped in in the strong-side linebacker role but with the addition of Alexander, he can rotate in and develop behind experienced veterans. Alexander has missed the previous three games with an ankle injury but returned to practice last week.
The 49ers let Alexander, one of their big free agent acquisitions of 2019, go with the emergence of Dre Greenlaw, the one who has replaced Alexander when he has been injured. Their roster has been decimated by injuries and they needed to build up cap room and draft picks to help build up the depth for the future. Also, they added Alonso for depth but he is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered back in January. He could return later this season and give the 49ers much needed depth on the defense as they deal with injuries.
The Saints face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a huge showdown while the 49ers face the Green Bay Packers on Thursday in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game.