NFL's deadline features some big trades for a change
By ARNIE STAPLETON
Oct. 31, 2017
The NFL trade deadline finally featured some big-name buzz.
The winless San Francisco 49ers acquired New England backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo , and the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles bolstered their running attack Tuesday by adding Jay Ajayi from Miami.
The Buffalo Bills, who at 5-2 are off to their best start since 1993, upgraded their receiving group by acquiring Kelvin Benjamin from the Panthers for their third- and seventh-round picks in next year's draft.
The trades came a day after the Seattle Seahawks agreed to send cornerback Jeremy Lane and two draft picks to Houston for left tackle Duane Brown .
Midseason trades rarely bring much excitement or shake up the playoff races. Most years the NFL trade deadline comes and goes without much happening.
In each of the past two years, the biggest name bandied about was 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, but he never left Cleveland for a contender. It wasn't even a possibility this season after the star left tackle tore his left triceps Oct. 16, an injury that required season-ending surgery and ended his consecutive plays streak at 10,363.
The Niners agreed to send a 2018 second-round pick to the Patriots in the deal that will be official once Garoppolo passes a physical.
San Francisco (0-8) had been expected to either draft a quarterback high in the first round next year or try to acquire a proven starter such as Kirk Cousins in free agency.
Instead, coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch decided to strike early and put the fate of their franchise in the hands in a quarterback who has started just two games in four NFL seasons.
Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, is in the final year of his contract. By acquiring him now, San Francisco gets a head start on negotiating a long-term deal to keep him or can use the franchise tag on him in free agency.
Garoppolo won two starts in place of a suspended Tom Brady at the start of the 2016 season. He completed 42 of 59 passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He got hurt in the second quarter of his second start and has thrown just four passes since then.
The Eagles sent a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Dolphins for Ajayi, who has 465 yards rushing and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry with no touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season after running for 1,272 yards, including three 200-yard games.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase signaled his displeasure with Ajayi last week after Miami was routed 40-0 at Baltimore, noting missed blocking assignments in pass protection.
LeGarrette Blount leads Philadelphia with 467 yards rushing and is averaging 4.7 yards a carry with two touchdowns.
The Eagles (7-1) have the fifth-ranked run offense and have won six straight games heading into Sunday's game against Denver (3-4), which has lost four of five.
Benjamin immediately becomes the Bills leading receiver with 32 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns this season. Overall, he's scored 18 touchdowns in 40 games, and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin provides quarterback Tyrod Taylor a big target, particularly in the red zone.
It's the fourth significant trade by Buffalo since August, when the Bills dealt starting receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and starting cornerback Ronald Darby to Philadelphia. On Friday, Buffalo traded its highest-paid player, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, to Jacksonville.
Also, the 49ers sent cornerback Rashard Robinson to the New York Jets for a 2018 late-round draft pick.
It was unclear if Robinson would be available for the Jets' game Thursday night against Buffalo. He provides depth — and a potential starter — for New York. Morris Claiborne is dealing with a sore foot and Buster Skrine is in the league's concussion protocol.
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