NFL Trades That Need to Happen After Early Free-Agent Moves
The busiest part of free-agency has passed with a flurry of trades and surprise signings.
The 2018 NFL draft is looming, though, meaning theres still time for teams to make impactful moves to improve their rosters. And teams that struggled to find solutions in free agency need to make trades to compete in 2018.
Some franchises may need to step back, clear cap space and gather assets for the future. Aggressive general managers can create win-win situations with strong offers to pry talent away with a premium draft pick or two.
Stars, starters and backups alike can benefit from a trade into a new situation. These six trades need to happen to benefit all parties involved.
New York Giants Trade Odell Beckham Jr. to Seattle Seahawks
The situation between the New York Giants and superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seems to have escalated to the point where separation is a real possibility. Giants president John Mara expressed his disappointment in Beckham's recent appearance in a viral video that may have featured drugs and noted that no player is "untouchable," according to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
One day later, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Beckham Jr. will not play again until he has a contract extension, which could force this situation to come to a head.
Beckham is a talented and impactful player. He is on a Hall of Fame pace, as he's one of few receivers who can consistently create explosive plays on a weekly basis. But the drama has clearly rubbed the Giants the wrong way, and we've already seen an uber talented player with a similar situation (Marcus Peters) moved in his prime this offseason.
The Giants should have no problem finding a taker for Beckham, if they decline to offer an extension that would top Antonio Brown's $17 million-per-year deal. The Seattle Seahawks make the most sense, as they're trying to expedite a quick reload in favor of a full rebuild, and they're set to have around $80 million in cap space in 2019 to dip into for an extension.
Pairing Beckham Jr. with Doug Baldwin would give quarterback Russell Wilson two elite playmakers without crippling the team's cap.
Compensation for Beckham could be limited compared to his talent, because his new team will be handing him such a large extension. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Giants are seeking "at least" two first-round draft picks in an offer, although that's not to say anyone has or will offer that.
Seattle can't offer any Day 2 picks in the 2018 draft currently, but general manager John Schneider hasn't used his original first-round pick in the past six drafts, so he could easily opt to move down to gather more ammunition or simply offer the 18th overall pick and a 2019 Day 2 pick in a swap.
Buffalo Bills Swap Picks with Cleveland Browns
The Buffalo Bills have clear intentions of moving up in the first round for a quarterback after maneuvering up to the 12th overall pick. Armed with six draft picks in the top 100, they have no shortage of ammunition to make it happen, but they're short on potential trade partners.
It's likely that both the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets will take a signal caller at Nos. 1 and 3, respectively. That leaves the Browns holding incredible leverage with their other first-round pick, No. 4. That selection would allow any interested team to leap over the Denver Broncos, who gave a two-year deal to Case Keenum, but have continued to show interest in Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
If Mayfield slips past the top three and the Bills are convinced he'll be a franchise player, they'll need to pay the price to get ahead of Denver.
The cost will be steep, and the Bills may have to dip into their 2019 stash to help convince the Browns to pass on Bradley Chubb or Saquon Barkley at No. 4. Bills picks No. 12, No. 22, No. 53 and a 2019 second-round pick provide enough value, per the draft pick trade value chart at Pro Football Reference.
Unless the Bills love Lamar Jackson, they have no choice but to move up for one of the consensus top-four quarterbacks.
Houston Texans Trade Kareem Jackson to Green Bay Packers
After a considerable fall from a near-elite defense in 2016 to a bad unit in 2017, the Houston Texans focused on bolstering their secondary in free agency. That led to the acquisitions of cornerback Aaron Colvin and hybrid slot corner and safety Tyrann Mathieu. The team's questionable decision to re-sign aging veteran Johnathan Joseph created a logjam, with incumbent slot corner Kareem Jackson as the clear odd man out.
With Joseph and Kevin Johnson as outside-only corners, and both Colvin and Mathieu able to play in the slot, Jackson lacks a defined role. He practiced at safety last training camp, so becoming a third safety with Mathieu and Hal could be possible, but the Texans could find a more experienced and cost-efficient option elsewhere. Trading Jackson to a more cornerback-needy team could net a nice asset in addition to opening $6.75 million in cap room for 2019.
No team would make more sense for Jackson than the Green Bay Packers, who wisely signed a familiar veteran in Tramon Williams to be a stopgap across from second-year corner Kevin King, but there's a massive hole in the slot after Damarious Randall was traded. Jackson could immediately upgrade their secondary without harming their cap, as his salary expires after the season.
The potential trade compensation for this deal shouldn't be overwhelming. The Packers are one of few teams with enough room to absorb Jackson's contract without having to make other moves, and they also have a need in the slot.
Backup swing tackle Jason Spriggs hasn't worked out as expected since being drafted in the second round in 2016, but he could be a worthwhile flier for the blocking-starved Texans. Or the Packers could offer picks Nos. 129 and 174.
Arizona Cardinals Trade Larry Fitzgerald to Oakland Raiders
It's been a difficult offseason for the Arizona Cardinals after they struck out in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. Their veteran-laden roster is a result of poor drafting and injuries, and they're on pace to be nearly capped-out, despite looking mediocre overall on paper.
One way to alleviate their cap woes while begin to collect assets is to trade stalwart wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald's been nothing less than excellent throughout his career in collecting over 100 receptions, 1,000 yards and six or more touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. It's unlikely the Cardinals would move Fitzgerald, but there'd certainly be a market for his services. The Oakland Raiders would be an ideal landing spot as new head coach Jon Gruden looks to gather veterans to help turn the team around.
The Raiders have signed several older players in free agency, and while acquiring 34-year-old Fitzgerald would continue that trend, a receiving trio of Fitzgerald, Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson would be versatile and dangerous for opposing defenses.
Although the Raiders have just $15 million in cap space currently, which isn't enough to take Fitzgerald's $16.9 million, Fitzgerald could either take a pay cut, or the Raiders could easily restructure the contract of one of their veterans that look to be with the team long-term, including Derek Carr, Kelechi Osemele or Rodney Hudson. That option would still give the team enough flexibility in 2019 to re-sign Khalil Mack and Cooper.
It would be tough for the Cardinals to part with Fitzgerald, but Oakland can be creative with its offer. A swap of their first-round picks plus Oakland's fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick would be a strong offer. That would leave Arizona sitting in position to select a quarterback with the 10th overall pick, or to move up again for a future franchise signal-caller.
Detroit Lions Trade Ameer Abdullah to Denver Broncos
This is far from a blockbuster trade, but it makes too much sense for both parties for there to not be mutual interest. The Detroit Lions haven't received the type of production they expected out of 2015 second-round pick Ameer Abdullah through his first three years, and they signed LeGarrette Blount this offseason.
The team with the best opportunity for Abdullah is the Denver Broncos. General manager John Elway recently told Mike Klis of 9News that starting running back C.J. Anderson may not return. That likely depends on if he can replace him for a fraction of his $4.5 million salary. Although Abdullah isn't the clear heir, he'd be a young option who would require little in terms of financial and asset allocation to add to a stable that is otherwise unimpressive.
The Broncos will boast a better offensive line in 2018 after acquiring tackle Jared Veldheer and potentially adding another left guard in the draft. Abdullah has never played behind a solid run-blocking unit, and the Broncos' zone scheme is favorable to his style. There's little doubt he could earn playing time this season, even if the Broncos address the position early in the draft.
A late-round pick could be enough for the Lions to part with Abdullah, after his yards per carry dropped to just 3.3 in 2017. The 24-year-old's inconsistent availability has hampered his development, despite his versatility to catch passes out of the backfield. He's an ideal low buy for the Broncos, considering he's in the last year of his rookie contract and the team is more cap-strapped than they'd ideally be.
Washington Trades Ty Nsekhe to New England Patriots
There's no question that the New England Patriots have been as good as any franchise this era at replacing talent lost in free agency. But the departure of left tackle Nate Solder especially stings, as the Patriots are limited with resources and without a clear replacement.
That's why trading for Washington backup swing tackle Ty Nsekhe would be the right blend of value and talent for the Patriots.
Nsekhe is another massive tackle like Solder at 6'8" and 325 pounds. He's already 32 years old, and a free agent next year, so the commitment is limited. Washington already boast two great tackles, and while Nsekhe has proven to be a terrific value as a backup, it can collect a middle round pick in return for someone who hasn't seen the field much to this point.
Nsekhe graded as a starting-caliber left tackle in B/R NFL1000 scout Duke Manyweather's 2017 rankings. Manyweather noted that he'd been above average until suffering a core injury that required surgery. Solder ranked 23rd, but for the big price difference, Nsekhe would be a better value for a similar impact.
Although the Patriots are slated to have six draft picks in the 2018 class right now, it's always a possibility they'll acquire more throughout the three-day event. Their third-round pick, No. 95 overall, could be part of a trade for Nsekhe, as the Patriots already have three picks in the top 63 to help fill out their roster. Landing Nsekhe would also buy time for 2017 third-round project Antonio Garcia to continue his development.