Firework NFL Trade Ideas That Would Transform The League in 2022

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2022

Firework NFL Trade Ideas That Would Transform The League in 2022

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    One thing we've learned this NFL offseason is that star players are no longer off-limits. So far in 2022, we've seen the likes of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Khalil Mack traded.

    These trades all have the potential to change the Super Bowl race in the coming season. To celebrate American Independence Day, we're here to examine five "firework" trade ideas that could do the same.

    Each theoretical trade explored here would help at least one of the teams involved make a push for Super Bowl LVII. We'll examine how and why the deal could benefit all parties involved.

    While these are purely hypothetical trade ideas, we'll keep them in the realm of realism. This means that there would be a benefit to each team and that you're not going to see any truly outlandish suggestions—like the Atlanta Falcons dealing Kyle Pitts to the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers just for kicks.

    These are still some fairly explosive ideas, so toss on some eye protection, and let's have a little fun.

San Francisco 49ers Trade Deebo Samuel to the Los Angeles Chargers

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    Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

    Chargers Get: WR Deebo Samuel

    49ers Get: 2023 first-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick

    Deebo Samuel still hasn't gotten a contract extension and asked for a trade earlier in the offseason. While he did attend San Francisco's mandatory minicamp in June, he hasn't rescinded his trade request, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

    "I'm told status quo is really when he reported to minicamp; that's the last piece of news that we have here," Fowler said on SportsCenter. "Nothing else significant has happened behind the scenes between Samuel and the 49ers. In fact, he hasn't officially rescinded his trade request as far as I've heard."

    If Samuel is adamant about playing for a different team, San Francisco could deal him out of the conference and to the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Would acquiring Samuel be expensive for L.A.? Probably. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported before the draft that San Francisco had offers of a first-round pick and more on the table.

    Still, trading for Samuel would arguably make Los Angeles the favorites in the suddenly loaded AFC West. The Chargers have a budding star quarterback in Justin Herbert and added both Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson to their defense this offseason. Going into 2022 with a top receiver trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Samuel would make Los Angeles a very tough team to handle.

    With $14 million in cap space, L.A. could also offer Samuel a fair first-year value in a contract extension.

    Samuel hasn't proved quite as much as Davante Adams, but he's also three years younger. A package slightly lower than what the Green Bay Packers got for Adams (first- and second-round picks) seems fair for both sides. The Chargers would get an All-Pro talent, while San Francisco would receive valuable draft capital and shrug off any potential contract drama involving Samuel.

Browns and 49ers Swap Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo

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    Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    49ers Get: QB Baker Mayfield

    Browns Get: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

    Deebo Samuel isn't the only player San Francisco could look to move this offseason. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo—and his $27 million cap hit—is still on the team, but perhaps not for long.

    The 49ers are likely to try trading Garoppolo once he's recovered from offseason shoulder surgery enough to pass a physical. According to Jeremy Fowler, Garoppolo is expected to resume throwing in the next few weeks.

    The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, don't know the future of Deshaun Watson. The former Houston Texans quarterback faces league discipline under the personal conduct policy stemming from 24 lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct or assault. The league wrapped his disciplinary hearing last week and awaits the decision of Judge Sue L. Robinson.

    The Browns—who have a playoff-caliber roster—could use a better insurance policy than journeyman Jacoby Brissett. They still have Baker Mayfield, but Mayfield admitted that playing in Cleveland this season is unlikely.

    "I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out," he told reporters. "But we're ready to move on, I think—on both sides."

    In this scenario, the Browns get their insurance in Garoppolo, who was good enough to guide San Francisco to the NFC title game last season.

    In a player-for-player swap, San Francisco would take on Mayfield and his $18.9 million salary. This would save roughly $8 million off the 2022 cap while adding a starting-caliber quarterback behind second-year signal-caller Trey Lance.

    San Francisco and Cleveland both have talented rosters and should be in the championship mix if they stay healthy and can get steady quarterback play. A Mayfield-for-Garoppolo trade would help ensure that each franchise has quarterback insurance while allowing the 49ers and Browns to move on from players they no longer want.

Chicago Bears Trade Robert Quinn to the Kansas City Chiefs

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    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    Chiefs Get: Edge Robert Quinn

    Bears Get: 2023 second-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick

    The Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this offseason but should still be among the AFC's top contenders.

    Kansas City still has Patrick Mahomes under center, Andy Reid calling the plays and a defense that finished the 2021 season ranked eighth in points allowed. The Chiefs could also add to that defense by acquiring pass-rusher Robert Quinn.

    Quinn was fantastic last season, tallying 18.5 sacks and 49 tackles. Alongside Frank Clark, Chris Jones and rookie first-round pick George Karlaftis, Quinn could give Kansas City arguably the conference's top pass rush.

    And the Bears could be inclined to move the 32-year-old.

    "I continue to hear that Quinn wants out of Chicago—and who could blame him?—and there are a host of interested teams," CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote in late May. "Bears brass has told everyone he ain't going anywhere, but they will keep asking and that's not lost on the veteran defensive end."

    If Quinn is eager to leave Chicago, the rebuilding Bears would be wise to get something valuable in return and make the move. They already dealt Khalil Mack this offseason, so it's not as if they're averse to moving top players.

    The problem is that Quinn has a base salary of $12.8 million in 2022 and $12.7 million in dead money remaining on his contract. The Chiefs, who have $11 million in cap space, would have to clear some room to absorb Quinn's salary.

    This could be done by signing offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to a contract extension before the July 15 franchise-tag deadline.

    In this hypothetical deal, Kansas City would get another proven playmaker for its front seven, while Chicago would get future draft chips with which to aid its ongoing rebuild.

Pittsburgh Steelers Trade Diontae Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys

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    Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cowboys Get: WR Diontae Johnson

    Steelers Get: 2023 second-round pick

    Like the Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a rebuild in 2022. Ben Roethlisberger retired this offseason, and Pittsburgh will start either Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett in Week 1.

    While wideout Diontae Johnson would help the Steelers' next quarterback tremendously—he had 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns this past season—his Pittsburgh future is uncertain. While he hasn't requested a trade as Deebo Samuel has, Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

    "At the end of the day, I can only move forward and just control what I can control. I want to be here. I'm patient. I'm just going to keep working," Johnson said, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "My agent is going to do what he do in that situation, and I'm not going to focus on that."

    Johnson was great last season but has only one 1,000-yard campaign on his resume. The Steelers may not be willing to give him, say, Terry McLaurin money (three years, $70 million) based on one strong season—especially after adding rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III to the receiver room this offseason.

    If the Steelers aren't willing to lock up Johnson, they could trade him out of the conference and to the Dallas Cowboys, who lost both Amari Cooper (traded) and Cedrick Wilson Jr. in the offseason.

    Dallas is talented enough to make a Super Bowl push in the NFC but could use another veteran receiver to remain in the upper echelon. Dallas has CeeDee Lamb, drafted Jalen Tolbert and signed Johnson's former teammate, James Washington, but presumed No. 2 receiver Michael Gallup is coming off a torn ACL.

    Adding Johnson would help ensure that Dallas' top-ranked offense keeps rolling. The Steelers, meanwhile, would get more in return than they would by losing Johnson for a compensatory pick in 2023 free agency.

Seattle Seahawks Trade DK Metcalf for Baker Mayfield and Picks

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    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    Browns Get: WR DK Metcalf

    Seahawks Get: QB Baker Mayfield, 2023 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick

    As previously mentioned, the Browns have a loaded roster, quarterback questions aside. The only other potential area of concern is at wide receiver, where Amari Cooper is the only proven veteran option.

    Cleveland could find a trade target in DK Metcalf, who skipped mandatory minicamp and is entering the final year of his rookie deal—though the Seattle Seahawks remain confident that they can come to an agreement.

    "These are crucial weeks to get something done, and we'll see what happens and hope that we can work something out," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, per ESPN's Brady Henderson. "[We've] really intended to get that done."

    The reality, though, is that Metcalf may not be inclined to stay with a Seattle team that dealt Russell Wilson in the offseason. The Seahawks are currently looking at either Geno Smith or Drew Lock as a Week 1 starter.

    This is where Mayfield comes in. The Oklahoma product played through a torn labrum last season but has shown glimpses of being a franchise signal-caller. He would, at a minimum, be an upgrade over Lock and Smith.

    In this scenario, Seattle would get a one-year opportunity to see if Mayfield can be Wilson's heir and some added draft capital to go up and get a quarterback in 2023 if he isn't. Cleveland, meanwhile, would get a proven Pro Bowl-caliber receiver to pair with Cooper on the perimeter.

    Armed with a league-high $41 million in cap space, the Browns could give Metcalf the long-term deal he is seeking and give a large chunk of his money up front.

    Cleveland would still face the uncertainty of Deshaun Watson's immediate future, but the rest of the roster—from top to bottom—would become one of the best in the NFL.

    *Cap and contract information via Spotrac.

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