5 NFL Players Who Should Headline Early 2023 Offseason Trade Market

Alex KayContributor IJanuary 11, 2023

5 NFL Players Who Should Headline Early 2023 Offseason Trade Market

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    HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans walks towards the huddle against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at NRG Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    The 2022 NFL regular season may have just ended, but it's not too early to start thinking about the upcoming offseason and the inevitable trades that will take place.

    There are a handful of notable veterans likely to be available right away. Whether they are seeking to join a contender, needing a change of scenery after a down year or lost their job and are seeking a fresh start, they could be on the move soon.

    With that in mind, here's a look at five players who should headline the trade market during the 2023 offseason.

Josh Allen, Edge, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - JANUARY 07: Josh Allen #41 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in action during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field on January 07, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)
    Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

    The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly received plenty of trade calls for Josh Allen at the Nov. 1 deadline but ultimately opted not to deal the edge-rusher despite their 2-6 start.

    While the decision paid off as Allen helped Jacksonville make a surprise surge to its first AFC South crown since 2017, the franchise could end up trading him this offseason.

    The 25-year-old will be playing out the final year of his rookie contract in 2023 and is expected to command a massive raise on his next deal.

    Spotrac estimates his market value to be around $15 million per season. That would be a fair price for a player who has recorded 26.5 sacks during the first four years of his promising career.

    The Jaguars could be facing some financial issues soon, making the possibility for a trade more likely. They are projected to be nearly $20 million over the cap—a mark only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints are topping—heading into the offseason.

    Allen has continued to play well since the deadline passed and finished the regular season strong, recording three of his six sacks during the last five games. He logged 77 percent of Jacksonville's defensive snaps in 2022 while starting every contest for the first time in his career.

    While he didn't notch a career high in sacks, he did record more knockdowns (18) and hurries (15) than any other year and matched his career-best marks in pressures (39).

    If Jacksonville does listen to offers for 2019's No. 7 overall pick, there will be no shortage of interest. SI.com's Albert Breer noted that the Kansas City Chiefs were one of the teams that "checked on" Allen at the deadline but decided against making a move after being reluctant to part with their 2023 first-round pick.

    A first-rounder would be a reasonable asking price for Allen, who has steadily developed into a quality edge-rusher. He may not be a game-changing force, but he's played well enough to carve out a reliable role for the foreseeable future.

Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots

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    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 24: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the start of the game between the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images)
    Nick Grace/Getty Images

    The New England Patriots had a rough year offensively. The team lacked dynamic pass-catchers outside of Jakobi Meyers, and Kendrick Bourne was one of the bigger disappointments for the club.

    Bourne failed to build on a career-best 2021 campaign—one in which he reeled in 55 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns—catching just 35 balls for 434 yards and one score.

    The sixth-year veteran let his frustrations boil over in early December when he criticized New England's play-calling and protection issues, per Mark Daniels of MassLive:

    "We need to scheme up better. We need to know what they're doing. We need to know what they wanna do on third down. We're kind of sporadic. They call this, and we call that, and it falls right into what they want. We need to have it where they're falling into what we want, and things like that."

    While Bourne told Daniels he wants to return in 2023, New England may be better served by trading the 27-year-old and finding another receiver to take his roster spot.

    Bourne came over to the Patriots in 2021 following a four-year run with the San Francisco 49ers. He has one year left on the three-year, $15 million contract he signed, making him an intriguing trade candidate as New England gears up to build on a disappointing 8-9 showing.

    While the Patriots won't be able to return too much value for a receiver coming off a poor year, getting some late-round draft capital while also opening an opportunity for another wideout to play a more consistent role would be a net win.

Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders

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    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)
    Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

    It appears the Derek Carr era is over for the Las Vegas Raiders.

    After he was informed that he would be benched in favor of backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham for the Week 17 matchup with the 49ers, Carr reportedly elected to step away from the team and was deactivated.

    Carr had arguably his worst season as a professional in 2022. The 31-year-old completed just 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,522 yards and 24 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. The Raiders went 6-9 in his 15 starts, including losing four of their first five games to open the year.

    It was an especially poor showing given the team invested so much in providing him with a top-flight wideout in Davante Adams. While Adams managed to have a strong season after Las Vegas brought the superstar over from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for first- and second-round picks, his quarterback struggled to spark the offense consistently.

    Head coach Josh McDaniels—also brought over in the offseason to improve the Raiders offense—said he wanted to evaluate the team's younger backups when explaining the decision to demote Carr, per SI.com's Nick Selbe:

    "None of us is happy with where we're at, but we think it's an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn't had much time to play. Talking to Derek, who was great, he understands the scenario that we're in, the situation, very supportive of the two guys."

    While McDaniels said Carr was supportive of the decision, it's unlikely the quarterback will stick around for 2023 after he chose to walk away from the team.

    It should come as no surprise that NFL insider Ian Rapoport had sources tell him the Raiders will try to field offers for the three-time Pro Bowler this offseason.

    Carr's massive contract could make it difficult to find a taker unless Vegas retains a good portion of his salary. The nine-year pro just signed a three-year, $121.5 million extension in April and remains under contract through the 2025 campaign. The Raiders could release him post-June 1 to save $33 million, however.

    Still, Carr is a serviceable, experienced signal-caller who could get back in form with a change of scenery. With many teams in desperate need of a quarterback heading into 2023, the veteran could see a major uptick in interest following April's draft.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 13: Brandin Cooks #13 of the New York Giants warms up prior to the game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
    Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

    Few players are as familiar with the trade process as Brandin Cooks after he's been dealt three times in his nine-year career.

    While Cooks stated in January 2021 that he wasn't going to accept any further trades, the Houston Texans wideout changed his tune during yet another abysmal campaign by his club and could soon tie Eric Dickerson's record for most times being moved.

    According to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan M. Alexander, the 29-year-old Cooks admitted at his exit interview that he wants to go and compete for a championship:

    "That window where your gifts are at its peak only last for so long. So for me, I'm not looking at it (as) being part of a rebuild. ... I want to be a part of something that is a trusted plan that is organized. To be able to use my gifts in a way that's valued, and also to be able to help others."

    Knowing that his prime won't last forever, it's hard to blame Cooks for desiring an exit from an organization that has won a league-worst 11 games over the last three seasons. While the wideout was miffed about not being dealt at the trade deadline, he now has a great opportunity to find greener pastures this offseason.

    Click2Houston's Aaron Wilson noted that the Texans are likely to honor Cook's wish to be dealt this time around.

    Cooks had previously been traded from the New Orleans Saints to New England Patriots in 2017 in exchange for first- and third-round picks; from New England to the Los Angeles Rams for first- and sixth-round selections; and from Los Angeles to Houston for a second-rounder. Each of those deals included Cooks' current team also packaging a fourth-round pick along with the wideout.

    It remains to be seen what the Texans will get in return for the receiver. The 29-year-old has two years and a hefty $31 million in base salary remaining on his contract following one of his worst campaigns as a professional. He caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns while appearing in 13 games in 2022, all his lowest totals since his final year with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019.

    Despite drawing interest from several contenders, including the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys, at the deadline, the Texans couldn't secure their rumored asking price of a second-round pick and additional compensation.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans throws the ball during warmups before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The Tennessee Titans seem to have reached their peak with Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback. While he helped the team win 23 games during the 2020 and '21 campaigns, he came back down to earth this season while struggling with injuries.

    The 34-year-old Tannehill went just 6-6 in his starts, including four straight losses in his final four games, before ankle injuries cut his season short. The Titans went from a seemingly surefire AFC South champion to not even making a wild-card appearance and have begun cleaning house in wake of their disappointing finish.

    Tennessee announced Monday that offensive coordinator Todd Downing and three assistant coaches were fired following a seven-game losing skid that caused the team to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

    Tannehill could be the next domino to fall. NBC Sports' Peter King recently said on Football & Other F Words that he believes the Titans will want to rid themselves of the veteran quarterback before the 2023 season begins despite Tannehill still having another year left on his contract that's valued at over $36 million.

    While Tennessee could designate Tannehill as a post-June 1 release and save around $27 million, it will likely try to dangle the 10-year pro as trade bait first.

    Tannehill, 2019's Comeback Player of the Year, has struggled to play at a high level over the last two seasons. After coming over to Tennessee via a trade from the Miami Dolphins in 2019, the quarterback won seven of his first 10 starts. He completed over 70 percent of his passes that season for 2,742 yards and led Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game.

    While he set a career high in touchdown passes (33) in 2020, Tannehill failed to win either of his last two postseason starts and was consistently trending downward before he finally landed on injured reserve this year.

    Fortunately for the Titans, there are plenty of clubs that are downright desperate for quarterback talent. While Tannehill isn't going to raise the ceiling too high on an offense at this point, he's competent game manager who could serve as a bridge quarterback for the next few seasons.