The Schein Nine  

 

NFL's most impactful trade acquisitions: Rams, Browns power up

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The Major League Baseball trade deadline was Tuesday. To be honest, the Dodgers' deal for Manny Machado two weeks ago already won the month. (Though don't sleep on what the Yankees, A's and Brewers have done.) The bottom line is, everyone loves trades. And that got me thinking about the sport I'm actually paid to cover here at NFL.com ...

This NFL offseason has been fascinating, with a flurry of trades involving big-name players. This is something we don't normally see in this league -- though my colleague Gregg Rosenthal definitely saw it coming. And what a mighty "trade tsunami" it was.

So, which particular moves will have the biggest effect on the 2018 NFL season? Allow me to rank the most impactful trade acquisitions, Schein Nine style!

1) Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams

I understand the skepticism some have with Cooks, seeing as how he was traded in back-to-back offseasons by Sean Payton and Bill Belichick. But ... well ... I don't care. He's a speedster and a great downfield receiver. The Rams clearly agree: Shortly after giving up a first-rounder for Cooks, L.A. locked up the wideout on a mega-bucks long-term deal.

Over his final two seasons with the Saints, Cooks posted a pair of juicy stat lines: 84 catches/1,138 yards/9 TDs in 2015 and 78/1,173/8 in '16. In his lone season with the Pats? Pretty similar: 65/1,082/7, with a whopping 16.6 yards per catch. The dude produces. And he's still just 24 years old, so there's plenty of room for development.

With the great Sean McVay calling plays, the expedited development of Jared Goff into a big-time quarterback and the domination of Todd Gurley, Cooks can streak and hit home runs. I think he is the kind of big-play receiver who'll be dreamy in McVay's offense. Cooks' presence takes this attack, which led the NFL in scoring last season, to another level.

2) Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins

My love of Mr. Smith is well-documented. He's the most underrated NFL quarterback of this millennium. The guy just wins, as evidenced by his 69-31-1 record since 2011. He owns a 94.9 passer rating in that span, thanks to a sparkling 132:43 TD-to-INT ratio. And he's fresh off a season where he averaged a robust 8.0 yards per attempt, so don't give me any of that "ultra-safe game manager" nonsense.

While I think Kirk Cousins is a more prolific individual player, Smith is not only a great fit in Jay Gruden's offense, but he's a natural leader. And the often-chaotic Redskins needed a true guiding presence in that locker room in the worst possible way.

3) Tyrod Taylor, QB, Cleveland Browns

The Browns, fresh off the 0-16 debacle of 2017, desperately needed an adult at quarterback. While I've called Tyrod Taylor a poor man's Alex Smith, I mean that as the ultimate compliment. Taylor is smart, accurate, protects the football and is a big-time leader. And he can teach Baker Mayfield how to be a true professional, which is priceless for the Browns' future signal-caller. Yes, future signal-caller. Taylor remains the present. Just ask Hue Jackson, who reiterated this point on Monday.

"Tyrod Taylor is our quarterback," Jackson told the assembled press. "Baker Mayfield is competing and getting better each and every day, still learning the National Football League."

4) Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

Like Taylor, Landry's a gigantic upgrade over what the Browns had before. You can lock him in for 90-plus catches. Actually, probably well over 100, if Josh Gordon is available for 16 games and plays like the star he's capable of being, thus commanding significant attention from opposing defenses.

Landry gives this receiving corps great depth and talent. And he gives defenses headaches, piling up production from the slot. At 25 years old, Landry already has 400 NFL catches -- the most ever for a player in his first four pro seasons.

5) Marcus Peters, CB, Los Angeles Rams

Yes, he was a knucklehead at times in K.C. But don't underestimate how great a player Peters can be when he's engaged and focused on football.

And with the great Wade Phillips coaching him up in L.A., this is the kind of move that takes the Rams' defense to another level. Peters is a bona-fide ballhawk, as evidenced by his 19 interceptions since entering the league in 2015 -- easily the highest total in the NFL during that span (safety Reggie Nelson ranks second with 14). Something tells me he's going to get a fair amount of INT opportunities in L.A., with the Rams' ferocious front routinely terrifying opposing passers.

6) Aqib Talib, CB, Los Angeles Rams

Yes, he was a knucklehead at times in Denver. But don't underestimate how great a player Talib can be when he's engaged and focused on football.

And we already saw how Talib performed under Phillips during their two years together on the Broncos, with the corner earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods and a first-team All-Pro designation in 2016. Talib should be on his best behavior and ready to rock.

The Rams still need to figure out Aaron Donald's contract, but if/when they do, this defense has scary potential. With Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers up front, and Talib, Peters and underrated safety Lamarcus Joyner in the back end ... watch out! Combine Phillips' defense with McVay's offense, and yes, you have a leading title contender.

7) Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I'm not a big JPP fan overall, but I can't deny that he has a knack for getting to the quarterback. And that is something the Buccaneers sorely need, having finished dead last in 2017 with just 22 sacks.

While Pierre-Paul's 16.5-sack days are long gone, I don't think it's a stretch to believe he can record 10 -- especially with Tampa Bay's extreme makeover on the defensive line. Not only is JPP joining Gerald McCoy, but Vinny Curry, Vita Vea, Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen have joined the party, as well. For the first time in a long time, the Bucs have a surplus of capable bodies on the defensive front.

8) Martavis Bryant, WR, Oakland Raiders

Talent has never been Bryant's issue. It's been about prioritizing football and not getting suspended. If the 26-year-old can stay on the straight and narrow -- and despite a concerning report earlier this offseason, nothing has materialized -- I love this fit in Jon Gruden's offense. Bryant will be the third receiver, streaking down the field for Derek Carr, serving as the perfect complement to Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson.

With a career average of 15.2 yards per reception and 18 total touchdowns in 36 NFL games (just 16 starts), Bryant is the kind of home-run hitter who can change a game in the blink of an eye.

9) Michael Bennett, DL, Philadelphia Eagles

How much does the 32-year-old have left in the tank? Bennett's not the same player that he was in Seattle's "Legion of Boom" heyday, but he still has a knack for destruction. I mean, he did log a respectable 8.5 sacks last season.

Not to mention, this trade added another versatile piece to an already-loaded Philadelphia defensive line. Think about what Jim Schwartz can dial up on third down, when he has Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Bennett on the field at the same time. Scary.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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