NFL Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz Heading into 2018 Free Agency

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 10: Safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks on the sideline with a Gatorade Towel wrapped around his head during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 10, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Seahawks 30 to 24. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The NFL heads into the legal-tampering period before swinging the gates of free agency fully open Wednesday, yet it's hard to shake free of the idea trades run the show.

We mostly have the Cleveland Browns to thank for the chaotic run-up to free agency, as the team acquired guys like Jarvis Landry, Damarious Randall, Tyrod Taylor and others, not to mention shipped away guys like Danny Shelton and DeShone Kizer. Given the wealth of trades, it's almost easy to forget Michael Bennett went from the Seattle Seahawks to Philadelphia Eagles too.

Clearly, the onset of free agency doesn't mean trades are off the table. This is especially the case when one sees some of the biggest names left making the rounds on the rumor mill.

                     

Cordy Glenn

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

It's not often a starting-caliber tackle makes it to the trade block or free agency, which is a nice way of saying Buffalo Bills tackle Cordy Glenn has at least one issue delaying a potential trade.

Glenn, 28, is a quality starter when healthy, but there is the problem—the 2012 second-round pick suffered a foot injury last season and only appeared in six games. Known for his footwork on the edge, an injury like this for a guy who checks in around the 345-pound mark is a scary problem. So too is a $14.5 million cap hit in 2018, before a potential out.

Those factors combined make it obvious the front office in Buffalo would listen to offers, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora: "The Bills remain open to a Cordy Glenn trade, though they have not been operating as if they have to make that trade."

If it sounds like the Bills sit in a position of luxury on this one, they do thanks to Dion Dawkins' emergence last year. The idea of unloading Glenn's contract while getting back assets isn't terrible for a team figuring to start over under center after moving Taylor.

But again, Glenn's contract and the unknown extent of his injury (he should be ready by OTAs, per Chris Brown of the team's website) make the upside a serious gamble. The upshot is an immediate starter at left tackle during a serious downtime for the position around the league, so this situation could be one that drags out until draft day.

               

Ja'Wuan James

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Ja'Wuan James #70 of the Miami Dolphins defends against Manny Lawson #91 of the Buffalo Bills on November 13, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 22-9. (Photo by Joel Auerbac
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

For those teams looking for a little less risk when searching out help in the offensive trenches, the Miami Dolphins might have what they seek in the form of Ja'Wuan James.

James is only 25 and entering the fifth year of his rookie deal, so while it carries a cap hit of $9.3 million, the upside is he should be motivated to post a strong year.

According to Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, the Dolphins have James firmly on the trade block: "Ja'Wuan James, the team's 2014 first-round pick, is being shopped to teams seeking offensive line help and could be moved before the start of free agency on Wednesday, according to a league source."

While he had injury problems as well last year, missing eight games, James is a 47-game starter at right tackle who held up well when on the field. Miami is simply willing to let him walk because of a shoddy cap situation, hence the Landry trade.

For teams looking to do a deal, James is a rarity—quality offensive tackles on either side of the line are hard to find because of the college game's evolution and the reduction of practice time at the pro level, to name a few factors.

James has shown he can hold down the right side of the line, and for some, it's easier to eat the cap hit after a trade than risk splurging on a mediocre free-agent class or taking a risk on waiting for a rookie to develop.

                

Earl Thomas

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

We are at a funny point in the NFL timeline because like offensive tackle, safety is a premium position teams don't often address well because options are limited.

Yet here we are, with the Seahawks at least listening to offers on Earl Thomas.

Besides the Bennett deal, the Seahawks have gone into full-on purge mode in their defensive secondary, losing Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane before the market opens. Yet it's still strange to hear they will listen to offers on Thomas, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo:

This followed a similar report from NFL.com's Michael Silver (h/t his colleague Chris Wesseling), though the report includes the word "overwhelm."

In other words, the Seahawks want the best offers a team can produce—and why not? Thomas is 28 and in the final year of his deal, representing a $10.4 million chunk of cap space to boot. He's still solid, so the trade value is there, and dealing him would remove the headache of a potential holdout, which he's hinted at.

The obvious dynamic at play here, though, is the idea teams understand the situation brewing between Thomas and the Seahawks. At worst, he will hit free agency in a year and still demand a gigantic deal on the open market, so there are bound to be a few patient teams willing to let this play out while avoiding giving up major assets via a trade.

Then again, most would have agreed it would be weird to see Sherman wearing a different jersey—now he's suiting up for the rival San Francisco 49ers. Like the Browns, the Seahawks have a way of stunning the world, with Thomas on deck next as a possible surprise.

                

Cap information according to Spotrac.

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