Change to NFL trade deadline could be a game-changer

NFL owners have agreed to move the trade deadline back one week, which could allow for more midseason trades.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

NFL owners approved a proposal to move the trade deadline to the Tuesday after Week 9 games. Previously, the trade deadline occurred one week earlier, on the Tuesday following Week 8.

The rule, which was submitted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, is meant to adjust for the additional regular-season game that was added in 2021, as agreed upon in the collective bargaining agreement. When the league shifted to the 17-game schedule, the trade deadline wasn't recalibrated with the longer season.

New trade deadline could lead to more midseason trades

The trade deadline amendment is buried among more seismic rule changes approved during the annual league meetings in Orlando, such as the prohibition of hip-drop tackles and a redesigned kickoff. Still, the trade deadline could prove to make the most significant impact on the 2024 NFL season.

"This probably leads to more trades," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said.

The extended trade window will allow teams another week to assess their outlook and postseason chances. Injuries during a Week 9 game may derail a team's season, or a Week 9 loss may finally convince a general manager that the team has no hope of turning their season around. In those cases, aging veterans on short-term deals could be moved. Those players can make a significant difference for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Consider the Los Angeles Rams, who won Super Bowl LVI after bringing in aging stars like edge rusher Von Miller and wideout Odell Beckham Jr.

Several teams proposed pushing the deadline even further, but that proposal failed. Instead, the owners opted for the conservative post-Week 9 deadline. The concern with moving the deadline was that too many teams would pull the plug on their season after a dismal start. If teams began to tank, it could affect the product on the field just as competition for postseason seeding heats up.

"The biggest fear here was that teams would just dump, teams would just sell," Rapoport said. "That seems to be not reality. First of all, theoretically, if you're really bad, you could sell the week before. But teams — and owners, especially — want to be as competitive as possible while keeping their flexibility for the next year and making sure they're in position to try and succeed the following year. If you just sell, your locker room hates you, your fans hate you, and it doesn't work. ... They know teams are not just gonna sell all of their best players and move on to the next year. Teams are going to stay as competitive as possible while dealing the type of players you generally deal, which is big-money veterans who can help a playoff contender."

Teams will be permitted to make midseason trades until November 5 during the 2024 NFL season. Under the old bylaws, the deadline would have prevented any trades after October 29.

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