With August game action swirling on a nightly basis (or so it seems), coaching staffs are getting a better idea of bubbling team needs and players who simply don't fit the system. Trades are rare in the NFL -- annoyingly rare -- but we've pinpointed a handful of deals that make sense for all parties involved.
Let's dig in:
Bills ILB Reggie Ragland to the Chiefs
Hand-picked by Rex Ryan, Ragland was identified as an ideal fit for the ex-Buffalo coach's 3-4 scheme. In Sean McDermott's 4-3 operation, though, the hard-hitting Alabama star has failed to click, riding with the third-team defense in recent days. Ragland's rookie season was washed away by a knee injury, but the 2016 second-rounder is filled with promise as an old-school, aggressive defender who fearlessly seeks out ball carriers. I'd love to see him grow in Kansas City, where the team could use an understudy to Derrick Johnson, who turns 35 this November. Few teams do a better job of developing young defenders -- the kind of attention Ragland desperately needs.
Bengals RB Jeremy Hill to the Giants
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis loves to slow-cook his rookies, but who are we kidding? By all accounts, Joe Mixon has the goods to start immediately as a workhorse in Cincy's backfield. In the final year of his contract, Hill won't cost much for suitors in search of running-game help. Coming off a playoff season, the Giants could address one of last year's enduring issues -- their stuck-in-the-mud ground game -- by shipping a low-level draft pick to the Bengals in exchange for Hill. He would have the chance to contribute right away ahead of Paul Perkins, who has failed to shine this summer for the G-Men. With the Cowboys holding their breath on the fate of Ezekiel Elliott's six-game ban, the time to strike in the NFC East is now.
Browns CB Joe Haden to the Cowboys
Speaking of Dallas, the 'Boys have issues beyond Elliott's suspension. Rod Marinelli is one of the game's craftiest defensive coordinators, but he's been handed a secondary bereft of reliable talent beyond promising young safety Byron Jones. In a division stocked with dangerous pass catchers -- Odell Beckham Jr., Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall -- Dallas could use a hand at cornerback. Haden has been one of Cleveland's most loyal assets, but the club's front office has made a cottage industry of moving expensive veterans in exchange for draft picks. Joe Thomas isn't going anywhere, but Haden -- no longer a top-five player at his position -- would have a chance at a Super Bowl ring in Dallas. As for Cleveland, another valuable draft-day selection would help the team build for a brighter tomorrow.
Jets RB Matt Forte to the Ravens
Like the Browns -- and to a much deeper degree this offseason -- the Jets have scrubbed the roster of expensive, aging veterans. Forte has been spared -- perhaps the wrong word -- but it's not too late to make a move. New York can ride the Bilal Powell train this autumn while getting a late-round pick in return for Forte, who remains under contract through 2018. The injury-ravaged Ravens can't rely on Terrance West alone for early-down work following Kenneth Dixon's season-ending injury. Forte would give Baltimore's veteran-heavy offense a reliable, productive back who can work all three downs. You can't have enough of those in the AFC North.
Browns OL Cam Erving to the Chargers
Back to Cleveland, where the team's current decision makers must figure out what to do with a player they inherited who refuses to live up to the billing. A first-rounder in 2015, Erving has struggled at center and looked like a comprehensive liability filling in for Joe Thomas at left tackle in Thursday's preseason opener. Unlikely to beat out Shon Coleman on the right side, Erving needs a fresh start. The Browns won't get much in return, but the Bolts -- constantly wading through injuries up front -- are one team that could take a low-level flier on a player with a fair amount of potential. If Erving's not their cup of tea, the Chargers would be wise to inquire about Eagles center Jason Kelce.
Colts WR Phillip Dorsett to the 49ers
In Atlanta, Kyle Shanahan flipped the switch on offense by surrounding All-Pro wideout Julio Jones with imported talent in the form of Mohamed Sanu and deep threat Taylor Gabriel. Landing Dorsett would give the new 49ers coach a viable downfield option to pair with Pierre Garcon. Dorsett has struggled to break out, but Shanahan thrives at putting young players in position to succeed. The move would leave the Colts a little light at receiver, but new general manager Chris Ballard could net a nice pick in return while moving on with Kamar Aiken alongside T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief.
Titans FB Joe Bacci to the Patriots
Bill Belichick loves to wheel-and-deal, especially when it comes to churning the bottom third of New England's roster. Why not take a flier on Bacci, the unheralded, completely untested fullback out of Central Michigan? It's easy to imagine Belichick forcing some cowed underling to watch 284 hours of Bacci's on-field tape from his days at Romeo High School in Michigan, where he thrived as an all-county and all-conference first-team linebacker. A bruising, 245-pound college star who shifted from defense to fullback, Bacci would give the Patriots an innocent young drone to be morphed into a wily special teams player who exists on New England's roster until 2028 while occasionally dropping 180-yard, four-touchdown bangers on the Jets.
What about Brock?
I'm sure my editors would love to see a quarterback trade in this space, but I just don't see it happening with Brock Osweiler for two reasons: (1) his outrageous $16 million salary and (2) his extreme limitations as a football player. Not a good combination. Besides, with Cody Kessler struggling in camp and DeShone Kizer just beginning his career, Cleveland appears compelled to hold on to Brock. This could change if a team or two were to lose a starting passer, but I can't help but think that Blake Bortles might be the first to draw trade interest in that scenario. I'd imagine Jacksonville would at least pick up the phone.