Ben Kuchipudi ‘25
1. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners may have given up a haul for Christian McCaffrey, but he has shown to be worth every draft pick. In just his second game with the team, he became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to record the “triple crown,” that being recording at least one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and one receiving touchdown in the same game. San Francisco’s offense was already electric, but adding CMC makes it so much more potent. The Seahawks are currently first in the NFC West, but it’s only a matter of time before the Niners take over.
2. Carolina Panthers
The CMC trade wasn’t just beneficial to the Niners, but also to the Panthers. It was clear McCaffrey wasn’t going to win with the Panthers, so they granted his wishes and moved him to a contender for a haul that included a second, third and fourth round pick in this year’s draft and a fifth in next year’s. Carolina has been surprisingly competitive since moving McCaffrey, and they’re still losing games, which is great for the tank, but if they win a few games down the stretch, they now have the ammo to move up in the draft for a quarterback. Overall, this was a great move by Scott Fitterer to jump start the rebuild.
3. Justin Fields
The value given up for Chase Claypool may have been high (they essentially traded Roquan Smith for Claypool), but the Bears are finally giving Justin Fields the help he needs. Claypool has been quiet on the field since his breakout rookie season, but he is still young and gives Fields a red zone threat at 6 ‘4”. Unlike Ryan Pace, Ryan Poles has done his best to give Justin Fields the help he needs to succeed, and now Fields has a solid wide receiver duo with Claypool and Darnell Mooney. There’s still a long way to go before the Bears are ready to contend, but this is a good start. Now let’s just hope his off the field antics don’t continue.
1. Rodgers and Lamar
The theme with these two quarterbacks the last few seasons is that they needed their teams to make a play for a wide receiver whether it was in free agency, the draft, or at the trade deadline. Another deadline passed and no moves were made. Lamar Jackson is already frustrated with the Ravens and not trading for a receiver isn’t helping. Rashod Bateman is also out for the season so there’s no reliable receiving option outside of Mark Andrews. As for Aaron Rodgers, this has been a common theme the last few seasons, and now he has no Davante Adams to lean on, so he needed a receiver more than ever. The Packers are sitting at 3-5, and standing pat at the deadline may have cost them this season.
2. Brandin Cooks
I feel bad for Brandin Cooks. He’s one of the most underrated receivers in football and he’s rotting away on the rebuilding Houston Texans. Both sides were working on finding a new home for him, but the Texans’ asking price was a second and fourth round pick, which was too high for most teams. They actually almost got a deal done with their interstate rival Dallas Cowboys, but Jerry Jones decided not to pull the trigger because it would mean that he was wrong for dumping Amari Cooper. Even though he’s still on the roster, I wouldn’t expect Cooks to play another down for the team, and some teams (looking at you Packers and Ravens) should have saved this guy.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are currently in a freefall, sitting at 3-5 after a loss to the Buccaneers, and they look like a shell of their former selves. They could have solved some issues at the trade deadline, but they stood still and kept the team the same. One player who should have been moved is running back Cam Akers, who the Rams annoyed, but ended up keeping him after finding no suitors. They also had the opportunity to trade for superstar pass rusher Brian Burns, but they couldn’t give the Panthers what they wanted. This Rams team was built on acquiring stars in big trades, but they couldn’t do that at the deadline. GM Les Snead is known for trading draft picks, but they couldn’t manage to give up any for players who could save their season. The team isn’t getting any younger, and this season could be their last to truly compete.
Image courtesy of SportsUnfold