Brand-New Landing Spots for NFL's Top Trade Targets

Alex KayContributor IAugust 10, 2022

Brand-New Landing Spots for NFL's Top Trade Targets

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    The 2022 NFL offseason has already seen several trades occur, and more could be coming in the months ahead.

    There are several high-profile players who could be available after requesting a trade, falling out of favor with their current teams or would return draft capital for a rebuilding squad.

    With that in mind, here is a look at five top trade targets—listed in alphabetical order—and where they could land if dealt.

Nelson Agholor to Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys receiving corps has been gutted this offseason. Trades, injuries and free agency took a toll on what was one of the league’s deepest groups last year.

    While the Cowboys still have CeeDee Lamb as their No. 1 wideout and promising rookie Jalen Tolbert behind him, there is a critical lack of depth. That could change if the club engineers a trade with the New England Patriots to acquire Nelson Agholor.

    The receivers room in New England has gotten a bit crowded this offseason after the franchise landed veteran DeVante Parker in a trade and drafted a promising second-round prospect in Tyquan Thornton.

    With Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne returning to round out the receiving corps, Agholor could be the odd man out.

    The 29-year-old didn’t live up to expectations in 2021. He only caught 37 passes for 473 yards and three scores after signing a two-year, $22 million contract.

    Agholor is just a season removed from a career-best showing with the Las Vegas Raiders, however. He reeled in 48 receptions for 896 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020 and could get back to that form with a change of scenery.

    The Cowboys would provide ample opportunity. Even with Michael Gallup and James Washington returning this season, Agholor could provide big-play capabilities for a unit that is one injury away from a full-blown crisis.

    Keep in mind Gallup is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered late last season, while Washington will miss six-to-10 weeks after fracturing his foot in practice Aug. 1.

    Given Agholor's expiring contract and New England’s logjam at the position, it shouldn't take much more than a Day 3 pick to get the Patriots to move on from the wideout.

Sam Darnold to Seattle Seahawks

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    With Baker Mayfield seemingly well on his way to earning the Carolina Panthers' QB1 gig, the team will soon have to figure out what to do with incumbent starter Sam Darnold.

    The Panthers kicked the tires on Darnold last year after the signal-caller had three disappointing seasons with the New York Jets. Unfortunately, they didn't get much out of him.

    Darnold went just 4-7 as a starter, passing for 2,527 yards and nine touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He cost three draft picks, including a 2022 second-rounder, which is capital Carolina will struggle to recoup in a trade.

    The Seattle Seahawks may be able to get a bargain for a quarterback who is still only 25 years old and has some upside remaining.

    Seattle made the franchise-altering decision to deal Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos this offseason. Although Drew Lock and Geno Smith are competing to fill the role in training camp, neither is a viable long-term starter.

    Darnold would give the Seahawks a chance at unearthing a franchise QB during a rebuilding year. If he can stay healthy—he has yet to play a full NFL season—and reach the ceiling that made him the No. 3 pick in 2018, there is a chance he'll emerge as a viable starter.

    With weapons like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett surrounding him, Darnold could finally find sustained success. Though there is a good chance the quarterback doesn't realize his potential, for a late-round pick at most, this is a trade worth making for the Seahawks.

Jimmy Garoppolo to Detroit Lions

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    The San Francisco 49ers have been attempting to find a taker for Jimmy Garoppolo for months. While there has been little interest thus far, that could soon change with him clear to play following a recovery from shoulder surgery.

    The Detroit Lions may emerge as a contender for a healthy Garoppolo's services.

    They are one of the more intriguing up-and-coming squads in the league. While the Lions have been inept for years, team brass has quietly assembled a promising young roster with several playmakers on both sides of the ball.

    The one glaring hole is under center. The team relied on Jared Goff as its QB1 last year after the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 came over as part of the Los Angeles Rams' trade package for Matthew Stafford.

    Goff went just 3-10-1 in the Motor City and does not appear to be the long-term fix for the Lions' QB woes.

    Garoppolo represents a major upgrade as a proven winner. The eight-year veteran boasts a 33-14 record and has reached the conference championship game in each of his last two healthy seasons. He's amassed nearly 12,000 passing yards and thrown 71 touchdowns against 38 interceptions since entering the league.

    The costs of acquiring him would be low. Although the Lions would have to take on his $24.2 million base salary, a conditional Day 3 pick was enough for the Panthers to get Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns, and a similar offer would likely work for Garoppolo.

    He may not take Detroit to the Super Bowl immediately, but securing Garoppolo and keeping him around on a long-term extension would cross off the biggest to-do item on the team's rebuilding list.

Kareem Hunt to Kansas City Chiefs

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    Kareem Hunt made it clear he wasn't happy with the Browns this week, opening the door for his potential exit.

    ESPN reported Sunday that the running back asked to be traded after failing to get a contract extension. The Browns denied Hunt's request, but the club may relent given it is already dealing with questions over Deshaun Watson's personal-conduct policy suspension.

    One team that Hunt could get dealt to is the one that he emerged as a star with: the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Hunt burst onto the scene as a third-round rookie in 2017, tallying 246 yards from scrimmage and three scores in his first game. It was the first step toward a 1,782-yard, 11-score campaign and his lone Pro Bowl appearance.

    Hunt was eventually cut from the team in 2018 after TMZ published footage that appeared to show Hunt kick and shove a woman during an argument. The running back served an eight-game suspension, but he wasn't charged despite the woman telling police she wanted to press charges.

    Hunt voluntarily underwent treatment and counseling during the NFL's investigation into the allegations against him. There have been no reports of him being in trouble since that point, so it seems possible the Chiefs may consider his return.

    The 27-year-old hasn’t reached his same levels of success since exiting Kansas City but there is a real opportunity for him to thrive with the 2022 version of the Chiefs if they are willing to take him back.

    Kansas City appears to be lacking a playmaking running back. 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire has failed to live up to expectations and is in danger of being a bust. The club also parted ways with versatile pass-catcher Tyreek Hill this offseason, leaving the 120 touches he got last year up for grabs.

    If the Chiefs wish to keep their streak of four consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances alive, they would be wise to consider flipping a middle-round pick to the Browns for the dynamic back.

    Even if it only amounts to a one-year rental—Hunt is in the final season of a two-year, $12 million contract—it would better position Kansas City to compete in what has become a much more daunting AFC West.

Roquan Smith to New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots declined to retain longtime linebacker Dont'a Hightower this offseason. They could opt to get younger and faster at the position by trading for Roquan Smith.

    Smith publicly demanded a trade Tuesday, releasing a written statement that detailed his frustration with the Chicago Bears.

    The 25-year-old has been seeking an extension as he prepares for the final year on his rookie contract but believes his current employer has "refused to negotiate in good faith" and that the "new front-office regime doesn't value me here."

    Although general manager Ryan Poles has said the club is working to retain 2018's No. 8 overall pick, this situation may be irreparable.

    The Patriots are an intriguing landing spot for Smith given their need for a talent of his caliber. The team has a rich history of off-ball linebackers thriving under head coach Bill Belichick.

    New England has some expendable talent in addition to draft picks that could entice Chicago.

    Nelson Agholor would give the Bears the type of receiver they direly need to foster the development of second-year quarterback Justin Fields. The Patriots already sent a failed first-round pick in Harry N'Keal to the Windy City earlier in the offseason, but the reclamation project has a long way to go before he proves to be valuable depth behind Darnell Mooney.

    If New England is confident in its offensive line depth, offering tackle Isaiah Wynn may just get the Bears to bite.

    Wynn moved from left to right tackle during training camp but still represents a sizable upgrade on either side of Chicago's line. Pro Football Focus projected the Bears to have the second-worst performance in the offensive trenches in 2022 if a move isn't made.

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