Wild NFL Trade Deadline Gives Fans Rare Excitement, Drama

The NFL trade deadline is unlike any of the other three major American sports. The NBA, NHL and MLB trade deadlines are some of the most exciting times in their sports. Teams typically make major moves to push their chips all in or take steps backwards into rebuilding mode. That usually isn’t the case when it comes to the NFL.

That is, until the 2017 NFL trade deadline.

We saw some major moves happen today, some by contenders looking to add a piece, and another move by a dormant franchise seeking its franchise quarterback.

The first of these moves came Monday evening, when trade master general manager Bill Belichick shipped his mostly unproven backup quarterback to the San Francisco 49ers for what will almost certainly amount to a high 2018 second round draft pick. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the face of the 49ers now, and Kyle Shanahan has a young QB to build around.

After the 2017 NFL Draft came and went and Jimmy G didn’t move, most thought the New England Patriots either couldn’t get what they wanted, or they had come to the conclusion Garoppolo will be their guy when Brady is done. It seemed to be a little bit of both, and Bill Belichick said today he felt the team needed to move on.

“It’s definitely not something we wanted to walk away from,” he said. “I felt like we rode it out as long as we could. Over a period of time, we explored every option possible to try to sustain it. But at this point, felt like we had to make a decision.”

“It’s a very complex situation on multiple levels. [The 2017 deadline] is really the last window that we had, and we did what we felt was best for the team.”

What followed this morning and this afternoon were two teams positioning themselves for playoff runs. The Philadelphia Eagles practically stole Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for just a 2018 fourth round pick.

The NFC’s best team just got a little scarier. LaGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood have been serviceable, but Ajayi adds a dimension neither of whom seemed capable. Ajayi has 465 yards on 138 carries in 2017 and exploded onto the NFL scene with 1,272 yards on 4.9 yards per carry in 2016. He moves behind one of the best offensive lines in football now.

The final last-minute move that had the NFL world shook was the Carolina Panthers shipping Kelvin Benjamin off to the Buffalo Bills for a third and seventh round pick in 2018. The 5-2 Bills needed to keep pace with the Patriots, and Benjamin offers a proven No. 1 wide receiver and red zone target for Tyrod Taylor. Benjamin has 32 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

It was unclear if the Panthers were planning to keep Benjamin beyond this season anyways. The Bills will have a decision to make before next season.

The Eagles and Bills are playoff contenders and they most certainly got better today. The 49ers have struggled since letting Jim Harbaugh go, but the small sample size Garoppolo has put on the field surely has that franchise and their fans excited for the future. What a wild deadline it has been.

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