NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The NFL’s lone undefeated team has just made an already dominant defensive front even deeper.
The Los Angeles Rams swapped a pair of draft picks for Jaguars pass rusher Dante Fowler on Tuesday, adding the third overall pick in 2015 to a defense already stocked with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers and Mark Barron for the most surprising move at the NFL trade deadline.
Denver sent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to Houston in a deal giving the Broncos some salary cap relief, and Philadelphia gave Carson Wentz another target picking up receiver Golden Tate from Detroit. Washington added safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix , while Green Bay shipped Ty Montgomery to Baltimore two days after fumbling a kickoff late against the Rams.
The Rams gave up a third-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-rounder in 2020 for Fowler, who is a free agent at the end of this season. Fowler became expendable with Yannick Ngakoue’s success, and the Jaguars already opted in 2017 not to pick up the fifth-year option on Fowler’s rookie deal.
Fowler has two sacks in seven games while playing behind Ngakoue.
With the Broncos at 3-5, Denver general manager John Elway made a move to clear both some salary cap space and more playing time for some of his younger receivers. Thomas has a salary cap figure of $15.53 million for 2019, the last year of his deal, while rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and second-year Tim Patrick are much cheaper.
The Texans (5-3) have won five straight to take the lead in the AFC South and had to replace Will Fuller who tore a knee ligament i n a win over Miami last week. Houston sent a 2019 fourth-round pick to Denver with the teams swapping seventh-rounders in next year’s draft.
Thomas is a nine-year veteran with 36 catches for 402 yards this season. Elway said the Texans beat out three or four other teams for the veteran.
“It’s never easy when you trade a guy that’s been a household name around here for a long time and done a lot of great things, not only on the football field but also in the community, and is a good man,” Elway said.
“Plus, it’s a good spot for Demaryius. He’s going to a good football team that’s in a pennant race. So, it’ll be good for him, too.”
The defending Super Bowl champions Eagles (4-4) have their bye this week and could lose Tate after this season if he leaves in free agency.
“We’re not going to sit on our hands,” Eagles personnel boss Howie Roseman said. “It’s hard to find really good players and this is a really good player. The message to our players, our coaches and our fans is that our foot is always going to be on the gas.”
Tate, 30, has 44 catches for 517 yards and three touchdowns this season and joins an offense that already has Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews and tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Tate can help the Eagles be less predictable with his ability to play in the slot.
He averaged 93 catches, 1,056 yards receiving and five TDs the past four seasons in Detroit after spending his first four with Seattle. If Tate leaves after the season, Philadelphia likely would receive a compensation pick.
Tate wrote on Twitter : “It’s been real DETROIT! I’ll love ya forever. Philly Philly let’s get it!!” He then posted a GIF of fictional Philly icon Rocky Balboa jumping up and down on the steps of the Art Museum with the caption: “Mood.”
The Packers made a couple of moves, trading away Ty Montgomery two days after his late fumble on a kickoff kept Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers from a late chance to hand the Rams their first loss this season. They sent the running back and kick returner to Baltimore.
They also sent safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington for a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 as the Redskins (5-2) boosted a stingy defense.
Now Washington can pair Clinton-Dix, who will be a free agent after this season, with D.J. Swearinger. Clinton-Dix, a first-round pick in 2014 out of Alabama, has started 65 of his 71 games, and he has 14 interceptions, including three this season. Swearinger leads the NFL with four interceptions this season.
Clinton-Dix is just the latest former Alabama player on the Washington roster, joining recent first-round picks Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne along the defensive line, and second-round pick Ryan Anderson at linebacker.
The Ravens sent a seventh-round pick to Green Bay (3-3-1) for Montgomery , who had been told to take a touchback if the kickoff with about two minutes left in a 29-27 loss to the Rams went into the end zone. A third-round pick in 2015, Montgomery has 1,676 yards from scrimmage for his career.