1 Trade Each NFL Team Should Offer Before 2022 Training Camp Starts
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The NFL has entered a trading frenzy over the last two offseasons. We’ve never seen so many stars swapping teams as we have recently. The booming salary cap and player empowerment era have forever changed the way the NFL operates.
The constant wave of trades has made the NFL a year-round news producer. With training camp quickly approaching this summer, more deals will happen. It’s just a matter of time until we see the next deal struck.
We’ve scoured each roster and salary cap sheet to find key roster needs that could realistically be addressed via trade this offseason. Every team has a different amount of assets they can utilize, and future cap space and quality of backups play a part in roster building. It’s not easy to find a deal that makes sense for every team.
Nevertheless, we found one trade that each franchise should offer before training camp arrives. Let’s dive in as we explore the market for the best possible outcome for all 32 teams.
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Cardinals get: Edge Robert Quinn
Bears get: 2023 third-round pick, WR Andy Isabella
This time last year, it had seemed as though Chicago Bears edge-rusher Robert Quinn had the worst contract in the NFL. He had turned 31 during the offseason and was coming off a season with two sacks. With an $11.3 million cap hit in 2021 and a $17.1 million cap hit in 2022, it was feasible that Chicago would be stuck with the albatross deal until next season.
Much has changed in one calendar year. Quinn was a rare bright spot on the Bears as he racked up 18.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 16 games. He played as well as he ever has, which is impressive since he has 101 career sacks.
Now, Quinn is a valued commodity despite his $12.8 million base salary. He’d be an incredible addition at this point of the offseason since the free-agent market is filled with pass-rushers clearly out of their prime. Quinn did not attend the team’s mandatory minicamp this week, so it’s clear a rift is present.
The best landing spot for the veteran is in Arizona. The Cardinals did not replace Chandler Jones with a high-impact talent.
Their current rotation features veterans Markus Golden and Devon Kennard, plus rookies Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders. Golden has hit double-digit sacks three times since 2016 but also finished the other three years with seven sacks combined. Consistency and star power are an issue.
J.J. Watt and Budda Baker need more help for this defense to become playoff-worthy. Adding Quinn would achieve that.
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Falcons get: WR Jalen Reagor
Eagles get: 2023 sixth-round pick
Wide receiver Jalen Reagor wasn’t considered a massive reach at 21st in the 2020 NFL draft class, but it’s clear he had no business being in the first-round mix with hindsight.
He’s failed at major aspects of the receiver position since entering the league from TCU. His route-running isn’t sharp, he struggles to finish through contact, and quarterback Jalen Hurts has been unable to find Reagor deep when he does shake free of coverage.
With only 695 yards and three touchdowns through 28 games and 24 starts, the Eagles have all but moved on already. Their trade and extension of A.J. Brown just one year after drafting DeVonta Smith have pushed Reagor down the depth chart where special teamers reside.
Barring a stunning leap of development, the Eagles would be better off saving the $1.8 million of his $3.6 million cap hit in 2022 than giving him another chance.
That said, maybe a new staff and breath of fresh air could rekindle his career. Atlanta has one of the most barren receiving corps in the league, and Reagor could easily break into a rotation that is unimpressive outside of 2022 first-rounder Drake London. The unit needs speed, and Reagor has plenty of it.
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Ravens get: WR Scotty Miller
Buccaneers get: 2023 fifth-round pick
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the one team seemingly equipped to handle losing two star receivers in 2021 and still push for a Super Bowl run. On top of Chris Godwin’s torn ACL in Week 15, the Buccaneers also watched Antonio Brown walk off the field mid-game in Week 17.
The Bucs plugged in the combination of Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson, and Breshad Perriman and almost got past the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
Godwin is back but still recovering from his injury, so the Buccaneers wisely added Russell Gage from Atlanta. The forgotten man amongst the group is fourth-year receiver Scotty Miller. Miller spent seven weeks on injured reserve due to a turf toe injury but only played sparingly in nine games and was a healthy scratch in Week 14.
Miller’s lack of impact was shocking, considering the success he found with Tom Brady in their first year together. The speedy 5’9″, 174-pounder averaged 15.2 yards per catch and totaled 501 yards and three scores in 2020. He’s stuck behind the deepest receiving corps in the league but would catch on in Baltimore with his ability to get open quickly.
Baltimore opted against adding another quality receiver despite moving Marquise Brown during the NFL draft, creating a massive hole that Miller could fill for a much cheaper price.
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Bills get: OL Walker Little
Jaguars get: 2023 fourth-round pick
As with most Super Bowl contenders, the Buffalo Bills have leveraged their cap sheet as much as they can in order to maximize their roster quality. With just $5 million of cap space, we went bargain hunting. The Bills also don’t have many needs, so we had to find a young player with upside who could benefit from a positional change or new scenery.
The Bills’ biggest weakness is along the interior of their offensive line. Signing veteran Rodger Saffold was a good short-term addition, but there’s uncertainty at left guard beyond 2022, and the right guard spot will be decided between Ryan Bates and Cody Ford. Bates played just 294 snaps last year, and Ford has never established himself despite being a second-round pick in 2019.
With the Jaguars re-signing Cam Robinson to a massive new deal and investing into Jawaan Taylor as a first-round pick, there’s no room for Little to start in Jacksonville. He could benefit from a move to guard in Buffalo since he’s a solid athlete but struggles with dealing with power rushers off the edge.
The best case is Buffalo adds a starting-caliber guard for a Day 3 pick. The worst case is they bolster a position of need for two years until Little is a free-agent.
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Panthers get: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, $10 million in salary relief
49ers get: 2023 third-round pick
Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are the only two veteran quarterbacks known to be on the trade market and also only two obvious landing spots for them. With Carolina and Seattle each lacking a solid presence at the position, it would make sense if both teams attempt to land an upgrade. We know Carolina has been interested in Mayfield, but Garoppolo should be considered even as he returns from his shoulder surgery.
Garoppolo has shown more consistency and professionalism on and off the field than Mayfield. Mayfield has called out teammates several times, including Duke Johnson in 2019 and on the “Ya Neva Know” podcast when he lamented that some teammates are motivated by money. He may not be wrong, but locker-room relationships matter, and Mayfield has shown immaturity when given the chance to earn his teammate’s unending support.
Concerns about Mayfield’s on-field inconsistency and off-field immaturity are enhanced when compared to Garoppolo’s winning resume and locker room leadership.
San Francisco can further help Carolina by covering some of Garoppolo’s cost. His $26.95 million deal is an albatross, so the more San Francisco eats, the likelier it gets back a better draft pick.
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Bears get: WR Kenny Golladay
Giants get: 2023 sixth-round pick
No team has more cap room over the 2023 and 2024 seasons than the Chicago Bears. This team is ripe for an upside swing on a talented but expensive player who didn’t work out elsewhere. The best marriage between fit, team need and an expendable player is wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
The New York Giants’ star free-agent signing from the 2021 offseason struggled mightily in his first season with the franchise. The offense was ravaged by injuries, and Golladay’s effort level was questionable. A new regime might buy Golladay another year in the Big Apple, but the Giants should pounce if given the chance to shed his massive $21.15 million cap hit.
Because of the way Golladay’s contract is structured, New York will save $17.75 million in cap space if they deal him. Chicago would assume just $13 million in salary in 2022. They could cut him after the season and incur a modest $3.4 million dead-cap hit from 2023 through 2025 if he simply doesn’t work out.
The best case for Chicago is Golladay flourishes with Justin Fields. Fields is a tremendous downfield passer, but the Bears lack an explosive big body who can get downfield. A receiving room with Golladay, Darnell Mooney, Velus Jones and Byron Pringle would stand a chance of helping Fields make a leap this season.
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Bengals get: QB Taylor Heinicke
Commanders get: 2023 fifth-round pick
The absolute worst-case outcome for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022 only occurs if star quarterback Joe Burrow misses games. Burrow, who established himself as one of the next great playmakers at the position, missed six games in his rookie season with a torn ACL. If backup Brandon Allen has to start for any amount of time, the Bengals could fall in the deeply talented AFC North and miss the playoffs.
Allen has completed just 56.2 percent of his 260 career attempts over three seasons. While he’s on an affordable rookie contract, the Bengals can’t trust him to win games and would likely feel more comfortable with a better option behind Burrow.
The Bengals might be able to pluck Taylor Heinicke away from Washington. Heinicke wasn’t able to keep the starting job for 2022 after playing in 16 games last year, but he proved he can be a high-end backup. Washington invested heavily in quarterbacks this offseason, trading for Carson Wentz, who will take over the starting role, and drafting Sam Howell.
Washington could save $3.125 million by sending Heinicke to Cincinnati while netting a late-round draft pick in return.
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Browns get: WR Robbie Anderson, 2023 fifth-round pick
Panthers get: QB Baker Mayfield
We’ll look into a Baker Mayfield trade to the Seattle Seahawks later on, but the Browns should look for the deal that saves them the most money moving forward. Because Carolina has shown more desperation to address the position and has been engaged with Cleveland regarding Mayfield, the Panthers may be willing to absorb more money from Mayfield’s contract.
Cleveland desperately wants to shed Mayfield’s $18.9 million guaranteed contract. The Browns will be right up against the cap limit over the next few seasons, so every dollar they can save matters. Getting a draft pick in return to shed any part of that salary is just a bonus.
Instead of just going to save money, Cleveland can toe the line of improving their roster and shedding Mayfield’s deal if they take receiver Robbie Anderson back. Anderson oddly tweeted he could retire prior to minicamp, and also previously posted his dismay about potentially playing with Mayfield. Anderson has a nearly $11 million cap hit in 2022 that rises to $21.7 million in 2023.
However, Cleveland would have to pay only Anderson’s base salary in each of those two seasons. That means a $1 million cap hit in 2022 and an $8.8 million hit in 2023. The Browns needs speed, and Anderson would certainly address that concern.
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Cowboys get: S Chuck Clark
Ravens get: 2023 fourth-round pick
One of the cleanest potential trades exists between two conference contenders. The Baltimore Ravens invested heavily into the safety position this offseason, signing free-agent Marcus Williams to a $70 million deal and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald even acknowledged there’s not a clear role for Chuck Clark after those moves.
Clark is set to receive a new contract after this season and would surely rather be in a situation where he can build value and cash in. Dallas has the perfect opening next to free safety Malik Hooker and versatile defender Jayron Kearse. The Cowboys saw both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee depart in free agency, and Clark could help fill the box safety role they split in 2021.
Clark and Kearse offer well-rounded skill sets that give defensive coordinator Dan Quinn more flexibility when moving each around. Both can cover tight ends in the slot, attack the line of scrimmage and functionally play two-high shells. Hooker would be relied upon more to play the ball and produce turnovers.
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Broncos get: LB Eric Kendricks
Vikings get: 2023 second-round pick
The Denver Broncos struck gold with their trade for Russell Wilson. Continuing to go all-in during this window makes sense if the asset cost isn’t too prohibitive. One such veteran who might fit the bill is Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.
The 30-year-old has been as productive as any of his peers and is coming off maybe his best all-around season yet in which he accumulated 143 tackles, two interceptions, four pass deflections, and five sacks. Kendricks is still a star despite his age, but he makes more sense for a true Super Bowl contender than a fringe playoff hopeful.
With a base salary of $9.15 million in both 2022 and 2023, Kendricks is affordable compared to the rest of the linebacker market. The Vikings would save $9.4 million in a trade on top of receiving a solid draft pick. Losing his leadership and stability are part of the tough long-term decisions the new Vikings regime would need to weigh.
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Lions get: DT Daron Payne
Commanders get: DT Michael Brockers, 2023 second-round pick
The Detroit Lions should be looking to pluck talent from anywhere they can. They’re not in a rush to overpay, but being opportunistic is something different. One 2023 free agent who would fit well into the Lions’ culture and timeline is Daron Payne.
The Commanders have put more assets into their defensive line than almost any team in the NFL. In the 2022 draft, they opted to add tackle Phidarian Mathis in the second round, meaning it’s possible they don’t plan on re-signing 2018 first-round pick Daron Payne.
Payne has been quite good since joining Washington, logging 14.5 sacks and 227 tackles in four seasons. He has a quick first step that challenges centers and guards alike. But he hasn’t been so good that Washington would choose to pay him over Chase Young or Jonathan Allen.
Payne, who just turned 25 years old, would spend his prime years in Detroit after this trade and an extension. A defensive core featuring Aidan Hutchinson and Payne could be dominant for years to come.
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Packers get: TE Foster Moreau
Raiders get: 2023 third-round pick
The Green Bay Packers offense is set to look quite different in 2022. Losing Davante Adams will cause change, even if the Packers added Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, and Romeo Doubs after Adams landed in Las Vegas. For Green Bay to produce a Super Bowl-caliber offense, they’ll need to surround Aaron Rodgers with as many weapons as possible.
The tight end position has a question mark around it until incumbent Robert Tonyan proves he’s healthy after suffering a torn ACL last year. Backup Marcedes Lewis is primarily a blocker, and 2020 third-round pick Josiah Deguara averaged just 9.8 yards per catch on 25 receptions last year. Acquiring a more athletic pass-catcher would boost the offense.
Going back to the Raiders could be fruitful for Green Bay. Backup tight end Foster Moreau will be a free-agent after 2022, and he’s stuck behind All-Pro candidate Darren Waller. Moreau had a career-high 30 receptions for 373 yards last year and has 10 touchdowns in his three seasons.
The Raiders would likely prefer to keep Moreau in Josh McDaniels’ offense, so a third-round pick would be the sweetener to land him. Moreau is athletic enough to continue playing after Tonyan is back, and head coach Matt LaFleur would surely maximize his opportunities in the red zone since he’s a proven threat near the goal line.
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Texans receive: WR Nelson Agholor
Patriots receive: 2023 sixth-round pick
The New England Patriots spent recklessly during the 2021 offseason as they rushed to plug roster holes after Tom Brady’s departure. Some of the signings have worked out decently, while others, like the addition of wide receiver Nelson Agholor, haven’t.
Agholor was excellent in 2020 with the Raiders, producing a career-high 896 yards and an absurd 18.7 yards-per-catch average. He also tied his career-high in touchdowns with eight. His speed and ability to create big plays after the catch was supposed to help a Patriots offense that sorely lacked separation ability at the position.
However, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones was one of the worst deep passers in the league and failed to build rapport with Agholor. Now in the second year of a two-year, $21.8 million deal, his $14.88 million cap hit is an albatross. New England can save $9.88 million if it trades him now.
Trading Agholor would also open playing time for speedy 2022 second-round receiver Tyquan Thornton.
Houston would be wise to gamble on the inconsistent Agholor. The Texans offense needs speed to go with Brandin Cooks, and the 29-year-old Agholor would buy time for Nico Collins and John Metchie to develop. Second-year quarterback Davis Mills is a better downfield passer than Jones, so the two stand a better chance of creating magic.
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Colts get: CB Marcus Peters
Ravens get: 2023 third-round pick
It’s unlikely we’d see two AFC playoff contenders make a swap involving an impact starter, but the Colts should try regardless. Ravens star cornerback Marcus Peters is coming off a torn ACL and is in the final year of his contract. Baltimore, which has only $6 million in cap space, could open $10 million to roll over to 2023 if it dealt Peters.
The 29-year-old Peters was one of the most dangerous turnover threats in the NFL until his injury. He has 31 interceptions and 86 pass breakups in seven seasons and has become a much more trustworthy option in coverage compared to his first two years in the league.
Baltimore recently signed veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller as depth to go with 2022 fourth-round pick Jayln Armour-Davis and Iman Marshall. It wouldn’t be shocking if Peters was made available.
Indianapolis would be a natural landing spot as it goes all-in around Matt Ryan. The current array of options across from Stephon Gilmore is a gamble, as Brandon Facyson hasn’t even put together a full season of consistent play yet. Peters would raise the ceiling of that unit considerably in 2022.
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Jaguars receive: 2023 fifth-round pick
49ers receive: WR Laviska Shenault
After a disastrous 2021 season filled with drama and disappointing play, the Jacksonville Jaguars had themselves another aggressive offseason. The new Jaguars coaching staff has a handful of new talent to utilize, but now some existing talent, including receiver Laviska Shenault is buried.
Shenault was supposed to be the closest thing to Deebo Samuel, but his usage has not mirrored that skill set. With Samuel’s future in San Francisco in question, the 49ers should grab Shenault to bolster their depth and protect against a Samuel departure. There’s not a better fit for the unique weapon.
Despite catching 121 passes for 1,219 yards and five scores in his first two seasons, Shenault now appears to be the fourth or fifth option in Jacksonville’s offense. He’s not considered a special-teams ace, so his roster spot is in danger. But if traded to the 49ers, he could be the third option right away.
His powerful frame and gifts while carrying the ball simply have not been featured in Jacksonville. This deal would benefit all three parties.
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Chiefs get: RB Saquon Barkley
Giants get: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 2023 fourth-round pick
The Kansas City Chiefs added three new bodies to their backfield this offseason, including free agent Ronald Jones and rookies Isiah Pacheco and Jerrion Ealy. They also just brought veteran Jerick McKinnon back after an impressive 2021 stint. It’s clear they view the position as a concern despite taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round two years ago.
Their best outcome is to trade Edwards-Helaire into a fresh situation and gamble on a higher-upside talent.
The New York Giants have a bad but expensive roster. New head coach Brian Daboll would surely love to deploy a fully healthy Saquon Barkley in 2022, but the franchise has seen limited production and availability from the 2018 No. 2 pick. Trading his $7.2 million cap hit and getting a fresh look at Edwards-Helaire is the more prudent decision.
Barkley, despite lacking the explosiveness he had before tearing his ACL in 2020, still has plenty of fans around the league thanks to his potential as a dual-threat back. His fifth-year option would allow Kansas City to take a one-year flier on him regaining his form. Barkley, unlike Edwards-Helaire, would clearly be the most talented back in a crowded room.
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Raiders get: WR Marvin Jones
Jaguars get: 2023 fifth-round pick
The Las Vegas Raiders have had an impressive offseason filled with key veteran acquisitions and extensions. Why not continue to invest for the right cost? Considering Jacksonville’s crowded receiving room, plucking away veteran Marvin Jones would help erase question marks for both teams.
Jones just turned 32 years old and is coming off a solid season, but he’s also seeing his numbers slowly decline. Some of that is the result of playing with a rookie quarterback on a terrible team. However, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Jacksonville to pay Jones’ $8.7 million cap hit in the final year of his contract since its roster is far from contention.
The Raiders would assume just $4.95 million to pair Jones with Derek Carr. Adding Jones to a receiving corps with Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow would give the Raiders a strong fourth option. Carr’s aggressiveness and accuracy on back-shoulder throws also makes this a perfect fit for the offense.
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Chargers get: OT Mekhi Becton
Jets get: 2023 second- and fourth-round picks
Despite a dominant 2020 rookie season, the controversy around offensive tackle Mekhi Becton has been looming since he missed 16 games of the 2021 season because of a knee injury. Becton’s playing shape is also in question considering his weight rose to “at least 400 pounds” while he rehabbed, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
Cimini also reported Becton’s nutritionist, Ann Claiborne, said Becton’s weight was back down into the 300s.
Maybe the Jets are confident in Becton’s ability to regain his rookie form, which included flashes of All-Pro potential. If they’re not sold, though, the Los Angeles Chargers could tempt them to part with Becton. Persuading Jets general manager Joe Douglas to trade Becton could be risky, but it could also pay off wonderfully for L.A. if Becton finds his ideal playing shape.
The Chargers have a gaping hole at right tackle and would benefit from adding a cost-controlled player on a rookie deal. Meanwhile, the Jets could give either 2019 third-round pick Chuma Edoga or 2022 second-round pick Max Mitchell the opportunity to start this season.
This could be the last time the Jets can get solid value for Becton if he can’t prove he’s healthy or reliable in 2022.
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Rams get: Edge Montez Sweat
Commanders get: 2023 second-round pick
No team has made bolder trades for veteran talent over the past five years than the Los Angeles Rams. General manager Les Snead has shown cap wizardry as he’s built a star-laden roster. The one weakness that could be addressed is the hole Von Miller left when he departed for Buffalo in free agency.
It’s hard to find a quality pass-rusher available, but Washington will be facing a crunch soon as 2018 first-round pick Daron Payne and 2019 first-rounder Montez Sweat are nearing the end of their rookie deals. Sweat would be especially intriguing for the Rams.
With 21 sacks in 42 career games, Sweat has proven to be a high-end complementary pass-rusher. Starting him next to Aaron Donald for the next two years would maximize the Rams’ ability to win in the immediate future.
The alternative options aren’t nearly as promising. Incumbent edge-rusher Leonard Floyd will need help across from him, and the projected rotation of Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins has very limited production.
Inserting Sweat instead would significantly bolster the Rams’ pass-rush and run defense, while the Commanders would get a second-round pick and a decluttered defensive front.
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Dolphins get: 2023 fifth-round pick
Titans get: S Eric Rowe
The Miami Dolphins defense remains especially intriguing since defensive coordinator Josh Boyer stayed in his role after head coach Brian Flores was fired. Theoretically, much of Miami’s defensive personnel will be in similar roles in 2022, which would bode well for veteran safety Eric Rowe, who remade his career in Miami.
Rowe’s three years in Miami have led to a total of 243 tackles and three interceptions. He’s also specialized in defending tight ends in a unique third safety role.
However, his effectiveness dipped in 2021, as he allowed 48 receptions on 61 targets.
Scheduled to earn $5.075 million in 2022 with just $525,000 in dead money if he’s traded, Rowe must prove he’s still valuable enough to keep over younger options. Undrafted free-agent addition Verone McKinley III is a highly talented addition who could push Rowe for a roster spot because he’s more versatile.
For the Titans, this is about bolstering depth and having a chess piece to deploy against tight ends. Starting strong safety Amani Hooker has limited length at 5’11”, whereas Rowe can match up better with his 6’1″ frame.
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Vikings get: 2023 sixth-round pick
Cardinals get: CB Patrick Peterson
Instead of acquiring new talent, the Minnesota Vikings would be best served by opening an opportunity for one of their young players to emerge.
The Vikings had limited cap room to tweak their roster, making the draft their primary source of new talent. Because they obviously couldn’t know who would be available at any given pick, new Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson graded almost league-average in 2021, finishing 63rd of 129 qualified corners, according to Pro Football Focus.
By addiung Andrew Booth Jr. in the second round, the Vikings rendered Peterson expendable. Meanwhile, Cameron Dantzler is an up-and-coming young talent coming off his best season yet, and Peterson turns 32 in July. Playing Peterson in his declining years brings almost little value.
Instead, Minnesota should reunite Peterson with his former franchise in Arizona. The Cardinals need help at cornerback but have limited cap space to make a deal. This trade would clear $2.38 million for the Vikings.
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The New England Patriots currently have the least amount of available cap space in the NFL. After stocking up at running back, cornerback, and wide receiver this offseason, it’s clear there will be veterans on the move. We already have the Patriots trading receiver Nelson Agholor to the Texans, but slot corner Jonathan Jones also looks like a possible cap casualty.
Jones has been a solid starting slot defender since his second season in 2017, showing off great short-area quickness and toughness in the run game. He’s produced seven interceptions and 33 pass deflections in six seasons. Until 2021, he had missed just one game in his career.
Unfortunately, Jones had a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 6 last year. About to turn 29 this September and with a $7.7 million cap hit in the final year of his deal, he’s a prime target to be moved.
The Patriots seemed line up his replacements in the draft. They selected two similarly-built corners Marcus Jones and Jack Jones in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
A great landing place for Jonathan Jones would be with the New York Giants. The Giants are thin at cornerback, and Jones would immediately challenge to start at nickel over Darnay Holmes. If nothing else, his experience and leadership could help New York’s young cornerback group develop for the future.
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Saints get: RB Kenyan Drake
Raiders get: 2023 fifth-round pick
The Raiders’ Mike Mayock-Jon Gruden era featured numerous poor investments and personnel decisions, but the Kenyan Drake signing was still an especially dumbfounding move. Just two years after drafting Josh Jacobs in the first round, the Raiders signed Drake to a two-year, $11 million deal ahead of the 2021 season.
The signing fell flat, as he produced just 93 touches for 545 total yards and three touchdowns. The Raiders didn’t have the offensive line for Drake to be an effective runner from the start. New general manager Dave Ziegler could’ve been comfortable with the Jacobs-Drake duo, but he doubled down with acquisitions of Brandon Bolden, Zamir White, and Brittain Brown.
Ziegler already restructured Drake’s contract to make 2023 a void year, so the full value of the deal won’t be realized. Trading Drake would save $2.75 million against a $1.1 million dead-cap hit, which is a much better option than cutting the veteran.
New Orleans stands out as an excellent landing spot. With Alvin Kamara’s future uncertain after he was arrested and charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm in February, the Saints could use a versatile pass-catching back with explosiveness. They’ve worked out David Johnson recently, but Drake is a much better option in comparison.
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Giants receive: TE Nick Boyle, 2023 sixth-round pick
Ravens receive: WR Kenny Golladay
The New York Giants are the only team not considered a playoff contender among the five teams with the least cap space available. Stuck with several large contracts until next offseason, the Giants should be as concerned with dumping long-term money as acquiring new talent. Since the Giants can’t afford a major acquisition that fits their timeline, the best they can do is trade Kenny Golladay.
Golladay failed to click with quarterback Daniel Jones in 2021 after signing as a free agent from Detroit. Maybe his hip injury from 2020 lingered into 2021, but a lack of chemistry and consistency were concerning. He produced just 521 yards on 37 receptions.
Finding a new home for Golladay is complicated by the fact that his new team would need to pay his $13 million base salary in 2022. Baltimore would need to reshuffle some money to make this work, but it has a need for a playmaking receiver after dealing Marquise Brown during the NFL draft. Golladay would give Lamar Jackson a trustworthy, big-bodied threat who can win on deep jump balls better than anyone currently on the roster.
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Jets receive: LB Baron Browning
Broncos receive: 2023 third-round pick
The New York Jets have quickly stockpiled an impressive haul of young talent under general manager Joe Douglas. The Jets will still be bad in 2022 because they’re relying on developing talent at key positions, but they should be much more competitive than in 2021. There aren’t many obvious holes right now because New York must evaluate recent additions.
One position the Jets could stand to improve is outside linebacker. Neither Quincy Williams nor Hamsah Nasirildeen, both projected starters in a base 4-3 front, were major investments. Adding a more dynamic athlete could unlock the front seven.
Denver Broncos linebacker Baron Browning could be of interest to the Jets. A third-round pick in the 2021 class, Browning is clearly behind starters Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton. Denver could utilize him as a pass-rusher but he’s unproven in that role.
The Jets can offer a natural starting role for the athletic project as well as time to develop. The Broncos should be happy to collect a solid Day 2 pick in return for someone who is no longer a schematic fit at a position without need.
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Eagles get: RB Kareem Hunt
Browns get: OT Andre Dillard, 2023 sixth-round pick
Sometimes even contenders need to make financial decisions that can sting in the short term. For the Cleveland Browns, they possess a valuable trade commodity in running back Kareem Hunt.
Cleveland would save his entire $6.25 million salary in a trade—an out that was clearly in mind when the team signed Hunt to an extension in 2020. Hunt turns 27 this August and had more than 78 rushes just once in the past three years. He’s stuck behind Nick Chubb, though, and the emergence of D’Ernest Johnson makes Hunt expendable despite his talent.
Hunt is an excellent rusher and receiver who is capable of attaining an elite stat line. He’s so comfortable as a receiver that it’s surprising the Browns didn’t use him in the slot more often when their receiving room was decimated. We’d love to see Hunt in a bigger role.
The Eagles are the premier landing spot for Hunt. Though he’d split time with starter Miles Sanders, Hunt would enter an offense that is run-heavy and creative enough to utilize him in various roles. Hunt’s power would complement Sanders’ slashing style well, and he could be another receiving threat for Jalen Hurts.
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Steelers get: CB Bradley Roby
Saints get: 2023 sixth-round pick
The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely have a significant amount of cap room to use, but it won’t do them much good at this point in the offseason. There’s a league-wide shortage of potentially available quality veteran cornerbacks, but the Steelers’ current projected starters are the weakest in the NFL.
The New Orleans Saints have a cornerback to spare in Bradley Roby. The 30-year-old veteran was traded to New Orleans last year and re-worked his contract this offseason to stay with the Saints. His cap hit in 2022 is just $1.765 million.
Roby is sticky in man coverage and can play outside or in the slot. Current Steelers cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are more suited for heavy zone play calls, whereas Roby would give defensive coordinator Teryl Austin more flexibility in case the zone isn’t working. He’d be at least a rotational starter for Pittsburgh compared to fifth or sixth on a loaded Saints depth chart.
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49ers get: TE Jonnu Smith
Patriots get: 2023 third-round pick
One bizarre aspect of the New England Patriots’ 2021 free agency splurge was the considerable commitments made to two tight ends. Instead of signing one of Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith, New England overpaid both. Smith was a massive bust, producing just 294 yards and one score.
With Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, the Patriots should abandon their two tight-end dreams in order to save costs. A great landing spot for Smith would be in San Francisco. The 49ers could use insurance in case George Kittle misses time with an injury, especially since Kittle has missed 11 games over the past two years.
Pairing Smith with the two-time Pro Bowler would work smoothly in Kyle Shanahan’s excellent, deception-based scheme. Smith is a great athlete who excels when he’s in space, and there’s not a better coach in the league at creating an open field for his receivers.
New England would save $32 million over the next three years by dealing Smith. San Francisco would be responsible for his $9 million base salary in 2022, then a $10 million base in 2023 and an $11 million base in 2024. Cutting Smith after 2022 would create a small dead-cap hit of $3.75 million in the two subsequent years of his deal.
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Seahawks get: QB Baker Mayfield
Browns get: 2023 fourth-round pick, $12 million in salary relief
The prospect of the Seattle Seahawks entering the 2022 season with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock under center seems preposterous considering they had Russell Wilson manning the position for 10 years. One would expect 70-year-old head coach Pete Carroll to want to win now, and neither of those quarterbacks can get Seattle to a respectable record this year.
Seattle should roll the dice on Baker Mayfield.
Cleveland likely prefers Mayfield didn’t go to Seattle. The Seahawks have a quality coaching staff, two terrific receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and an effective run game. Mayfield has a better chance of succeeding there than Carolina thanks to the franchise’s stability.
Seattle therefore may need to take on more of the money owed to Mayfield to incentivize a deal. With San Francisco less likely to deal Jimmy Garoppolo to a divisional foe, Mayfield is the next-best option. Mayfield at least has the upside to be a solid starter for the foreseeable future if he can stay healthy and iron out his recent accuracy issues.
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Set Number: X163913 TK1
Buccaneers get: Edge Ben Banogu
Colts get: WR Tyler Johnson
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have assembled a depth chart with eight roster-worthy receivers. They simply can’t use that many, so a quality player or three will be on the outs come cut time. Swapping one to take a flier at another position only makes sense.
The best candidate for an available edge-rusher is Ben Banogu.
A second-round pick in 2019, Banogu has been a complete nonfactor for the Indianapolis Colts. The 6’3″, 250-pounder checked every athletic box to be worthy of development. His Relative Athletic Score was elite outside of his weight and bench press, per Pro Football Network’s Kent Lee Platte.
Unfortunately, the athleticism hasn’t translated to any on-field success. In fact, Banogu has spent more time inactive than he has on the field despite the Colts needing help at the edge position for years. He’s played only 439 defensive snaps and logged 2.5 sacks in three seasons.
Putting Banogu in a pure 3-4 edge-rush role might save his career after being miscast in Indianapolis. He could be the fourth edge-defender on Tampa Bay’s roster with little competition for that spot.
Meanwhile, Tyler Johnson could fill the slot-receiver role for the Colts. He’s a nice possession receiver who has played well when given the chance. The Colts have dealt with a slew of injuries at the position, so adding a young but promising talent in exchange for Banogu makes sense.
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Titans receive: 2023 fifth-round pick
Bears receive: Edge Bud Dupree, 2023 second-round pick
Remember when the Cleveland Browns absorbed quarterback Brock Osweiler’s contract in exchange for a second-round pick from Houston? The Tennessee Titans should explore the same type of deal with Bud Dupree. The Titans desperately signed Dupree to a massive $82.5 million deal in 2021 despite the fact he tore his ACL before free agency.
Dupree was a complete nonfactor in his first season with the Titans. He totaled 17 tackles and three sacks in 11 games. Even at his best in Pittsburgh, he was a complementary rusher to T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. Tennessee was reckless and misevaluated Dupree’s talent.
With Chicago in a full rebuild and needing extra draft picks, it should take on Dupree’s contract to effectively buy a mid-round pick. Chicago could then offload Dupree’s deal after the season for a modest $3.2 million dead-cap hit in 2023, 2024, and 2025.
Tennessee would save about $18 million between 2022 and 2023 by trading Dupree compared to cutting him now. The Titans need cap flexibility, justifying the use of a second-round pick to open space for another free-agent swing next year when the cap space rolls over.
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Commanders get: CB Sidney Jones
Seahawks get: WR Dyami Brown
The fine line of free agency reveals itself after the draft occurs. A team may opt to re-sign a veteran short-term prior to the draft in case it can’t land the right prospects in the draft. But if the draft falls the right way, that same veteran could get buried on the depth chart by opening weekend.
That might be the story of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones this fall. Jones has played well since arriving in Seattle, earning a starting job within a month after being acquired for a sixth-round pick. He allowed a 58.3 completion rate, zero touchdowns, and a 71.2 passer rating when targeted, per PFF.
Still, the Seahawks didn’t hesitate to add several corners to the roster this offseason. They signed veterans Justin Coleman and Artie Burns and then drafted Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. Tre Brown, a starter in 2021, is also returning from a torn ACL.
Jones’ ability to play inside and out should be very attractive to Washington, because it already has a similarly versatile corner in Kendall Fuller. With Jones added next to Fuller and William Jackson, the Commanders would boast a physical and fast corner trio. That last corner spot is a major question mark right now, though.
To get him, the Commanders could entice Seattle with 2021 third-rounder Dyami Brown. Brown is a speedster but is behind several veterans on the depth chart after a quiet rookie year. He could challenge to earn the third receiver role in Seattle right away.
All cap information is courtesy of overthecap.com.
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