The NFL’s trade deadline came and went with minimal buzz.
The Los Angeles Rams provided the only fireworks, landing one of the game’s most talented pass rushers in Von Miller on Monday, and the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday added some help for their beleaguered defense by trading with the Pittsburgh Steelers for outside linebacker Melvin Ingram.
Now comes the second half of the season, and aside from a handful of street free agent signings – or the scooping up of the few veterans released after unsuccessful trade efforts – the NFL’s teams will make their pushes for supremacy with what they have.
Here’s a look at what’s next for some of the teams and figures who either were or could have been the most affected by the deadline.
NFL TRADE DEADLINE WINNERS, LOSERS:Double-edged sword for Von Miller, Rams
NFL’S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS:Chiefs, Browns among 2021’s biggest letdowns
Deshaun Watson and the Texans
Although both sides wanted a divorce, general manager Nick Caserio never got the rich offer that he believed the Texans deserve for Watson. Though Watson remains highly coveted, potential suitors struggled with the idea of parting with so much for a player with still-unresolved legal matters hanging over him, as the quarterback still faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women alleging sexual assault and misconduct.
And so, now the Texans will keep Watson stashed on the shelf until the offseason, when interest likely will be renewed leading up to the draft, at which time Houston should manage to finally secure the return they covet and need to rebuild the franchise. Perhaps by then, the lawsuits and investigations – by the NFL, Houston Police Department and FBI – will have been resolved.
Side note: Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who ranks 10th in the league with 585 receiving yards, was viewed as another possible trade candidate but also didn’t get moved.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins
Whenever questioned about the ongoing rumors about a potential trade for Watson, Brian Flores maintained that Tagovailoa was his quarterback. Now that Miami officially opted against pulling the trigger (for now), the questions will cease.
Tagovailoa said recently that the trade rumors hadn’t affected him and that he didn’t “not feel wanted.” But now, at least, he can truly focus on playing and proving himself without wondering if a midseason Watson trade would coincide with Miami sending him elsewhere.
The 1-7 Dolphins should do everything they can to support Tagovailoa and position him for growth and success. They invested the fifth overall pick of the 2020 draft in him and still haven’t given him a full season’s worth of starting action to determine what they really have. Meanwhile, Tagovailoa should approach these last nine games as a chance to either solidify his standing in the minds of the conflicted Dolphins officials, or to showcase his skills for a future team willing to give him a shot at leading their franchise.
Odell Beckham Jr. and the Browns
His father may have attempted to nudge the Browns towards trading him when he posted a highlight video Tuesday that showed all the times Beckham has gotten open only to be missed by Baker Mayfield. But the deadline came and went, and the wide receiver remains a member of 4-4 Cleveland’s roster.
Beckham certainly has had his frustrations over his quiet season (17 catches, 232 yards, zero touchdowns), but the Browns are frustrated with his near non-existent impact as well. Not all of it is Beckham’s fault, but he also isn’t blameless.
Many wonder if he is fully healthy, or whether he has severely declined from his three-time Pro Bowl form. And those questions made for minimal interest in such a highly paid player, at least to the point that Cleveland couldn’t get real value in return.
The Browns and Beckham can only hope to make the most of the final nine games – although that could be challenging with Mayfield banged up and if Beckham also isn’t healthy – and then revisit this matter in the offseason.
Von Miller and the Rams
Sean McVay and Les Snead know top-flight passers like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and maybe Russell Wilson could threaten their team’s chances of reaching the Super Bowl. So they went out and got the best available guy to help derail any of those quarterbacks.
Now the Rams just have to hope for durability from Miller, who missed all of 2020 with an ankle injury that required surgery. The eight-time Pro Bowler is now 32 and has four sacks to start the year, though he hasn’t notched one in his last three games.
Side note: The Rams tried unsuccessfully to trade wide receiver DeSean Jackson but found no takers and thus released him. Jackson’s time in his hometown started off with a bang with five catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first three games. But his production and opportunities steadily declined. The 34-year-old still believes he can help a team. It’ll be interesting to see if he can catch on with a contender (Kansas City? Green Bay?) and offer a few deep-threat plays per game.
Melvin Ingram and the Chiefs
Kansas City has struggled mightily on defense. The unit has managed just 11 sacks (tied for second-fewest in the league) while surrendering 391 yards and 27.5 points per contest. So Chiefs officials hope Ingram can help nudge them toward improvement.
But does the 32-year-old have anything left in the tank? He started one of six games for the Steelers, recording one sack, a forced fumble and 10 tackles. Ingram didn’t record a sack in seven appearances for the Los Angeles Chargers last season, and his last double-digit campaign came in 2017 (10.5).
The Chiefs also could have used another offensive weapon as they have yet to find a true replacement for Sammy Watkins and are struggling to move the ball consistently as defenses key on Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. But all they got was former New York Jets tight end Dan Brown, who hasn’t had a catch in seven games this season. The same struggles that have plagued the Super Bowl runners-up all season could persist.
There was a possibility that the Packers could look to add more weapons to an offense that just lost tight end Robert Tonyan to season-ending knee surgery. Cooks and Beckham both had their names mentioned in trade rumors involving the Packers, but Green Bay officials didn’t make any additions. So Aaron Rodgers will continue to roll with what he has, and he should have all three of his top receivers healthy again after injuries and COVID-19 thinned out the pass-catching corps.
There was a time this summer when Rodgers found himself a part of trade speculation. But all appears well in Green Bay for the time being. Rodgers says he’s having the time of his life, while the Packers are 7-1 and rank among the best in the NFC.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.