6 NFL Trades That Should Happen Right Now
We're only two weeks into the 2022 NFL season, which means it's far too early for teams to hit the panic button. It's too soon for playoff hopefuls to get aggressive on the trade market and too early for struggling teams to break apart rosters.
However, some early trades would make plenty of sense. Injuries have created holes on several rosters, and after two games, some weaknesses are clear and not aberrations.
We'll examine six trade ideas that could logically be executed now—as in, right now, before the start of Week 3.
Since we're focusing on early-season trades, we're looking primarily at backups and role players who could be viewed as expendable. We'll examine why each could be dealt and where each could best fill a void.
Factors like roster makeup, past performance, projected roles, contract status and cap space were all considered. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Clelin Ferrell to the Cleveland Browns
Browns Get: Edge Clelin Ferrell
Raiders Get: 2023 sixth-round pick
The Las Vegas Raiders are sitting at 0-2 following Sunday's second-half collapse against the Arizona Cardinals. However, trading 2019 fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell isn't about the team's record.
Ferrell doesn't have a prominent role in Patrick Graham's defense. Through two weeks, the Clemson product has played 27 percent of the defensive snaps and logged one tackle and one quarterback pressure.
Based on his role and production, Ferrell won't garner a big return. However, the Raiders could get something back for a player who will likely depart in 2023 free agency anyway. The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, could be inclined to take a flier on Ferrell.
The Browns had their own collapse Sunday, squandering a 13-point lead with less than two minutes remaining—and losing because of a missed extra point. Busted coverage helped the New York Jets engineer the comeback against Cleveland, but the Browns' lack of a pass rush allowed Joe Flacco the time needed to take advantage.
The Browns pass rush was effective for much of Sunday but less so after Jadeveon Clowney exited in the third quarter with an ankle injury. According to Chris Easterling and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Clowney left in a walking boot after the game—never a good sign.
The Browns have announced Clowney will miss Week 3.
If he misses extended time, Cleveland will be scrambling to find a complement to star Myles Garrett. Ferrell, who had 4.5 sacks as a rookie, could be a nice project to include in the rotation.
D'Ernest Johnson to the Los Angeles Rams
Rams Get: RB D'Ernest Johnson
Browns Get: S Terrell Burgess
The Browns should have handled the Jets on Sunday, and they would have if Nick Chubb had stopped short of the end zone on Cleveland's last scoring drive. Had he not waltzed into the end zone, the Browns would have had a 1st-and-goal with less than two minutes and the Jets out of timeouts. A couple of kneeldowns and the game would have been over.
This was the only glaring mistake by a Browns ground game that has been dominant through the first two weeks. Cleveland has tallied 401 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry.
The Browns, though, have not yet utilized No. 3 back D'Ernest Johnson, who is playing on a one-year, $1.2 million deal. Johnson, who racked up 534 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry last season, is a quality trade chip.
The Los Angeles Rams could use a hard runner like Johnson, as they're getting little out of their ground game, specifically Cam Akers. Los Angeles has averaged a mere 2.7 yards per carry, while Akers has averaged 2.4. In L.A., Johnson could be a solid complement to Darrell Henderson Jr., who has averaged a more respectable 4.1 yards per rush.
Instead of trading draft capital, the Rams could flip backup safety Terrell Burgess, who has yet to play a defensive snap this season. The 2020 third-round pick wouldn't fix the communication issues on the back end of Cleveland's defense, but he could give defensive coordinator Joe Woods another option on the back end.
Sidney Jones IV to the Baltimore Ravens
Ravens Get: CB Sidney Jones IV
Seahawks Get: 2023 fifth-round pick
We promise we're not just examining teams that melted down in Week 2. Did you see the Baltimore Ravens' defensive collapse, though? Baltimore held a 35-14 lead over the Miami Dolphins heading into the fourth quarter and lost.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished with 469 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
While the Ravens have cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters after both missed time in 2021—Peters missed the entire season with a torn ACL—they've lost Kyle Fuller for the year to a torn ACL. As Sunday's result shows, Baltimore's cornerback depth is still questionable.
It would behoove the Ravens to trade for a starting-caliber corner, and Sidney Jones IV seems like a prime candidate. The Seattle Seahawks may be 1-1, but they didn't look like a contender in Sunday's blowout loss to the rival San Francisco 49ers.
Jones hasn't seen extensive playing time this season—he played 12 defensive snaps in Week 1—but he made 11 starts for Seattle in 2021. He allowed an opposing passer rating of only 84.3 in coverage last season.
Jones is playing on a one-year, $3.6 million deal, and if the Seahawks aren't going to contend, moving that salary would be logical. The Ravens, who have $4.7 million in cap space remaining, could take it while bolstering their depth in the secondary.
Mason Rudolph to the San Francisco 49ers
49ers Get: QB Mason Rudolph
Steelers Get: 2023 fifth-round pick
While the 49ers embarrassed the Seahawks in Week 2, the game wasn't a win from start to finish. San Francisco lost second-year quarterback Trey Lance to a season-ending ankle injury.
Lance suffered a broken ankle that required surgery.
"I'm really happy about the win, but it's a little somber once you get in the locker room," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters.
The 49ers have a starting-caliber quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo because they restructured his contract and kept him for the 2022 season. However, San Francisco could use a veteran backup, as rookie Brock Purdy is the only other quarterback on the roster.
Enter Pittsburgh Steelers backup Mason Rudolph, who has 10 starts and a 5-4-1 record. Rudolph wouldn't oust Garoppolo from the starting role, but he's more proven quarterback insurance than Purdy.
The question is whether the Steelers would make Rudolph available. He's a valuable backup and well versed in second-year coordinator Matt Canada's offense. However, Rudolph is also the third quarterback behind starter Mitch Trubisky and rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett.
Rudolph is playing on a one-year, $6 million deal, so the Steelers could get significant savings by moving a player they aren't using. The 49ers, who have $2.5 million in cap space, would have to clear space to get a deal done. However, they could use the insurance more than a Steelers team that may turn the offense over to Pickett this season anyway.
Darius Slayton to the Indianapolis Colts
Colts Get: WR Darius Slayton
Giants Get: 2023 seventh-round pick, 2024 sixth-round pick
The Indianapolis Colts were widely expected to be contenders in 2022, thanks in large part to the acquisition of quarterback Matt Ryan. However, Ryan has been saddled with one of the most underwhelming receiving corps in the NFL, and Indy is off to an 0-1-1 start.
Sunday's 24-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was an utter embarrassment. Ryan was 16-of-30 for 195 yards and three interceptions. Ashton Dulin and running back Nyheim Hines were the only Colts players to top 30 receiving yards.
While No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (quad) didn't play against Jacksonville, the lack of receiver depth is glaring. Despite the rough start, the Colts view themselves as a potential playoff team.
"As pathetic as that was today, where this is and where we need to be, the distance is not that far," coach Frank Reich told reporters. "We have the players and coaches to do it."
If Indy wants to turn its season around, it needs to get Ryan some help ASAP. Trading for New York Giants wideout Darius Slayton could help the depth tremendously.
Slayton has fallen out of favor in New York and has played a mere four offensive snaps in 2022. During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, though, Slayton produced 1,491 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The talent is there.
The Giants are unlikely to get a large return for Slayton because they have little trade leverage—they're not using him and can't pretend that they intend to. Moving him, though, would clear just over $900,000 from the books.
The Colts should jump at the chance to add a proven pass-catcher to their ranks.
Michael Schofield to the Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals Get: G Michael Schofield
Bears Get: 2023 sixth-round pick
The Chicago Bears took a flier on 2021 Raiders first-round disappointment Alex Leatherwood following 53-player roster cuts. However, the Bears placed Leatherwood on the non-football/illness list last week, meaning he'll miss a minimum of four games.
With Leatherwood out for at least another three games, the Bears re-signed Michael Schofield to the active roster. Schofield, who was cut and re-signed to the practice squad, is likely a short-term depth solution for Chicago.
The Bears should strongly consider offering Schofield to the Cincinnati Bengals. The defending AFC champions are in a 0-2 hole to start the season, and their offensive line remains a massive question mark.
The signings of La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras were supposed to fix last year's biggest weakness. That hasn't happened. Quarterback Joe Burrow has been sacked a league-high 13 times despite being under pressure on only 18.2 percent of his dropbacks.
Rookie guard Cordell Volson has been responsible for two sacks and one penalty, according to Pro Football Focus.
Schofield, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Chargers, might not be a high-end starter, but he has experience playing both guard and tackle. He started 12 games in 2021 and was responsible for only three penalties and two sacks allowed, according to PFF.
Adding Schofield would give Cincinnati another option as it continues to shuffle its offensive line and try to find a combination that can protect Burrow. Chicago, meanwhile, could get something in return for a player who may be out once Leatherwood is ready to return.