The 2021 NFL trade deadline is roughly a week away, and at 4 p.m. ET on November 2, the market will officially close.
Over the next week, we're likely to see multiple players on the move, with perhaps a few notable names among the group. For some teams, however, the challenge won't be figuring out whom to target and what sort of deals to strike. It will be deciding if they should be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
The picture is more clouded than one might think for some franchises. Naturally, we're going to try to clear things up a bit before Week 8 arrives.
Here, we'll examine each franchise and determine its trade-deadline role based on factors like record, divisional competition, roster health and outlook—and for parity's sake, we'll place 16 teams in each category. We'll also dig into some potential trade chips and potential targets for each team.
Cap space isn't a factor here—two-thirds of the league has less than $10 million available, according to Spotrac—as franchises regularly find creative solutions when making win-now moves.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Arizona Cardinals: Buy
On the surface, this is a pretty easy one. The Arizona Cardinals rank fourth in scoring, first in points allowed and remain the NFL's last undefeated team. They should be all-in on winning the Super Bowl and interested in improving the roster at the deadline.
The bigger unknown is where Arizona might be able to get better. The Cardinals have arguably the most complete roster in the NFL, and just about any addition would be a luxury.
Arizona's only tangible weakness is its run defense, as the Cardinals rank 31st in yards per carry allowed. Adding another run-stuffing linebacker to the defense wouldn't hurt, and the Cardinals might be able to snag one from a nonconference opponent they have already played.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, teams are "monitoring" the status of Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson, who was "considered available" in the preseason. Cleveland may be less inclined to move Wilson after placing Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) on injured reserve, but it's worth noting that Wilson played only 34 percent of the defensive snaps Thursday against Denver.
Atlanta Falcons: Sell
Things are a little trickier with the Atlanta Falcons, who moved to 3-3 in Week 7 and remain in the playoff conversation entering November.
The reality, however, is that Atlanta simply doesn't look like a contender in the top-heavy NFC—or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-led NFC South, for that matter. Atlanta's wins have come against the New York Giants, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
The Jets and Dolphins are both one-win clubs, while the Giants notched just their second victory in Week 7.
While Atlanta shouldn't be inclined to throw in the towel on the season, moving an pending free agent or two could make sense. Two names that stand out are pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., who has disappointed in Atlanta, and tight end Hayden Hurst.
With fourth overall pick Kyle Pitts at tight end, Hurst's future in Atlanta is uncertain at best. Fowler has just five sacks since joining the Falcons as a free agent last offseason. However, he had 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. The Falcons haven't gotten the most out of him, but another team could be interested in trying.