7 most intriguing potential trade candidates for the Lions to consider

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The NFL’s trade deadline on Tuesday, Nov. 2nd is rapidly approaching. And while most trade rumors and ideas wind up on the cutting room floor for a variety of reasons, it’s always fun to project who might be heading where.

The Detroit Lions are not anticipated to be big-time buyers or sellers. At 0-7, they’re not a team looking to add a quick-fix veteran on an expiring contract or willing to give up significant draft capital to acquire a player another team no longer wants. There is a small chance Detroit could trade away a veteran or two (DL Nick Williams makes the most sense), but it’s unlikely to bring much in return.

Each of the 32 Wire editors was tasked with listing the player most likely to be traded before the deadline. After poring over the listed players, here are the seven that make the most sense for the Lions and GM Brad Holmes to try and pursue if the price is right. The focus is on younger players who can help the team beyond 2021 and not veterans in the final year of a contract who wouldn’t be part of the long-term future in Detroit.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Why is he available?

Even though Ridley is one of Atlanta’s best players, the team’s lack of salary cap space combined with the receiver’s lack of production in Arthur Smith’s offense could be enough to consider a trade. The Falcons picked up Ridley’s fifth-year option, which will pay him over $11 million in 2022. He may be worth the money, but Atlanta doesn’t have it and Kyle Pitts has emerged as the No. 1 option. — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Why the Lions make sense

Atlanta’s first-round pick in 2018 caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine TDs in 2020. Guys with that level of production don’t come available for relative pennies on the dollar very often. Ridley is under contract through 2022 on his $11 million fifth-year option. He’s instantly the best receiver on the roster both this year and next year, eliminating one major need from the offseason shopping list. He would require the biggest compensation package of any player listed here, however — if Ridley is even available, and he might not be.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Titans

Why is he available?

If anything, the Titans will be buyers at the NFL trade deadline with the team sitting tied atop the AFC and in win-now mode, but if we had to choose one player who could get dealt away, it would be Reynolds. The wideout has been a healthy scratch multiple times this season and is buried on the depth chart when Tennessee’s receiving corps has been at full strength, something he can’t be happy with. — Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

Why the Lions make sense

The Lions had conversations this offseason with Reynolds, who was drafted to the Los Angeles Rams on the recommendation of Holmes, then L.A.’s director of collegiate scouting. He’s familiar with QB Jared Goff and coming off a 2020 season where he caught 52 passes for the Rams. Reynolds would instantly be a top-2 wideout in Detroit

Greedy Williams, CB, Browns

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Why is he available?

As a team looking to compete, the Browns are more likely to be buyers than sellers but could use a player like Williams to add to other parts of their team. With Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and Troy Hill atop the depth chart, Williams could be available. He played well in Newsome’s place when the rookie was injured, increasing his trade value. The former second-round pick missed all of last year with an injury but was thought to have CB1 potential coming out in the 2019 NFL draft. — Jared Mueller, Browns Wire

Why the Lions make sense

Williams is the kind of corner the Lions don’t really have but need — a longer CB who is better with the ball in the air than before the pass. The durability concerns are legit for a team already down several CBs, but Williams is under contract through 2022 and has played like a capable starter when given a chance. Cleveland’s presumed asking price won’t be too high, either.

Terrell Burgess, S, Rams

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Why is he available?

It’s been a puzzling start to the year for Burgess after an encouraging rookie season in 2020 before getting injured. He’s played just 17 total snaps on defense, a shockingly low number for the 2020 third-round pick. He’s the fourth safety on the depth chart behind Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott, failing to carve out much of a role in the secondary. The Rams shouldn’t cut ties with him just yet as he’s still young and boasts good potential, but he’s not doing much to help the team and the Rams clearly like what they have in Fuller, Rapp and Scott much better. – Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

Why the Lions make sense

Another player with whom Holmes played a prominent role in drafting for the Rams, Burgess plays the same role currently occupied by Will Harris in Detroit. That’s a prime position for an upgrade for the Lions, and Burgess played well enough in his rookie season to believe he can become a long-term starter in Detroit. Burgess is under contract for two more seasons and is almost certainly a better player than anyone the Lions can draft with the top compensatory draft pick (No. 97 overall) they’re projected to earn in 2022.

Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys

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Why is he available?

The Cowboys aren’t going to trade anyone of importance, as the season has shown the need for necessary depth. Dallas is just getting Gallup back from a calf strain in Week 1, but the offense has fared well with Cedrick Wilson taking Gallup’s role as WR3 and a deep threat. The talent level isn’t comparable, but the need in the offense is filled and Noah Brown makes a quality WR4. Gallup is likely looking at a $12 million – $14 million per year payday on the open market, which prices him out of Dallas. If they could get a quality DT or a third-round pick from an AFC squad, which isn’t guaranteed in the compensatory pick formula (it’s a formula, not a guarantee), then maybe they consider it. Again, not likely, not even close, but if there was a guy Gallup would be it. — K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Why the Lions make sense

Gallup was a frequent subject of trade speculation all offseason and the Lions were often connected in those rumors. He’s a legit vertical threat with a 1,000-yard season (2019) already under his belt. Just 25, Gallup is the type of player Detroit could acquire and then quickly extend with an affordable new contract. His injury status could lower the compensation price tag a little for the cap-needy Cowboys, too.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers

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Why is he available?

There are players more likely to be traded on the 49ers’ roster, but Aiyuk is perhaps the most tantalizing name who could be available for a team willing to buy high on him. The 2020 first-round pick burst onto the scene as a rookie with 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns. He also notched 77 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on six carries. His sophomore campaign has seen him relegated to the bottom of the 49ers’ list of pass-catching options. Aiyuk’s 16 targets through six games tied him for fourth on the team with fullback Kyle Juszczyk. He’s turned those targets into nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He’s an extremely talented player, but head coach Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel don’t seem to have much use for him. A team willing to part with a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick might be getting a star for a great price, while the 49ers get a pick back for a player they’ve buried in their offense. – Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Why the Lions make sense

The obvious theme here persists: Detroit needs playmaking talent at wide receiver. Aiyuk has struggled to follow up a promising rookie campaign, but it sure seems like more of a chemistry and schematic issue with the Kyle Shanahan offense than a talent issue from Aiyuk. This is a player many Lions fans — myself included — strongly coveted in the 2020 NFL draft. Being under contractual control for three more seasons at an affordable rate makes Aiyuk the one target who should be the strongest consideration of the players listed.

Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Panthers

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Why is he available?

Carolina’s renewed interest in Houston’s Deshaun Watson makes this topic particularly interesting for the struggling franchise. So if they do press the gas for the troubled quarterback, Gross-Matos could be one of those promising defenders the Texans had been looking for in any potential trade. The 2020 second-rounder has already proven to be a reliable run-stopper off the edge in his first two seasons. He still has plenty of room to grow into his raw athleticism and long 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame, but needs more than just the 21-percent share of defensive snaps the Panthers have given him here in 2021. Perhaps they can help him find that elsewhere. — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire

Why the Lions make sense

Another young, talented and scheme-versatile defensive lineman who is locked up for two more years on an affordable rookie contract, Gross-Matos would make a nice replacement for a Lions veteran like Michael Brockers or Trey Flowers. Getting him during the season would provide a jump on where exactly he fits with his “tweener” size and skillset; like Flowers, he’s built like a strongside DE but plays better in a stand-up or wider alignment role.

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