NFL Rumors: Rounding Up Trade Buzz Ahead of 2019 Free Agency

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

While the early NFL offseason is devoid of on-field action, it doesn't lack excitement. The scouting combine is underway, which affects the pre-draft evaluations of several prospects and also the landscape of the pending free-agency period.

With decision-makers from all 32 teams gathered together at the combine, talks are taking place behind the scenes. Potential trades are being discussed, even though many won't be made until the start of the new league year on March 13.

It's impossible to know what potential deals are being hashed out. There is plenty of smoke to follow. With the start of free agency almost upon us, let's dig into some of the latest trade buzz.


Raiders Reportedly Shopping Derek Carr

The Oakland Raiders have a young, promising quarterback in Derek Carr. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock seem to like Carr. They have gone out of their way recently to reiterate that Carr is their quarterback.

Scott Bair @BairNBCS

Jon Gruden reiterated what Mayock said yesterday, that “Derek Carr is our franchise quarterback. Let me make that clear.”

This doesn't mean, however, that Oakland's new front-office duo is sold on Carr as the franchise's long-term signal-caller. If the buzz being heard by Bleacher Report's Master Tesfatsion is accurate, they very much do not.

Master @MasterTes

Hearing the Raiders were shopping Derek Carr at the NFL Combine

The idea that Gruden could move on from Carr in favor of his own quarterback has been gestating since early in the 2018 season. The two often didn't appear to be on the same page in games, and it's not like Carr had a career year in Gruden's offense.

As Tesfatsion also points out, Carr could be a prime trade candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars, for whom John DeFilippo is now offensive coordinator. DeFilippo was Carr's quarterbacks coach during his rookie season.

Jacksonville, though, isn't the only quarterback-needy team that could be interested in Carr.

If Carr is dealt soon, it could mean that the Raiders are falling in love with a quarterback from the 2019 rookie class, perhaps Kyler Murray. It could also mean, though, that the Raiders want to continue stockpiling picks and pushing the true start to their rebuild until after their relocation to Las Vegas, which is scheduled for 2020.

Oakland already has three first-round picks in this year's draft and two the following year. Dealing Carr might yield another in 2020, and six first-round talents would make for a solid young core for the Las Vegas Raiders.


Chiefs Open to Trading Justin Houston, Dee Ford

Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

While this year's crop features more quality edge-rushers than we're accustomed to seeing, many of the top guys—like Demarcus Lawrence and Jadeveon Clowney—are expected to be re-signed or given the franchise tag before hitting the market.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford is now among the list of pass-rushers who won't make it to free agency, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

However, teams interested in pass-rushing help still have a chance to end up with a Kansas City sack artist. As Schefter points out, the Chiefs are at least willing to listen to offers for him.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Chiefs are placing their franchise tag on LB Dee Ford today and plan to play with him this season, but with the change to a 4-3 defensive scheme, they will listen to trade offers for their franchised player, per league sources.

According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, the Chiefs are also open to trading fellow pass-rusher Justin Houston.

Houston should be an attractive target, as he only recently turned 30 and should have several strong seasons ahead of him. Though injuries caused him to miss 16 games over the past three seasons, he's still managed to produce 22.5 sacks in that span.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was asked at the combine about the possibility of trading Houston, and while his answer was a bit vague, it wasn't a no.

"I think everything is fluid for the next few weeks until we get into the new league year," Veach said, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com. "And we'll kind of handle that as the information we get, what's real, what's not real, and it's a good problem to have because he's a great player."

It sounds like Houston can be had for the right price. Ford, who is three years younger than Houston, may command a steeper price, but he can likely be had too.


Brown May Be Hurting Trade Value, but At Least 3 Teams are Still Interested

Could we see a franchise quarterback, a star pass-rusher and an All-Pro receiver all traded in the same offseason? It's possible if the Pittsburgh Steelers are able to move wideout Antonio Brown.

Like Houston, Brown is 30. Also like Houston, Brown is one of the best players at his position in the league. There are plenty of reasons a receiver-needy team would want to add him, but the trade market will be limited to teams willing to deal with his strong personality.

Brown hasn't shied away from publicly criticizing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—largely for Roethlisberger's own criticism of teammates—and he has stated that he wants to play football on his own terms.

"I don't even have to play football if I don't want, bro," Brown said in an interview with ESPN's Jeff Darlington. "I don't even need the game. I don't need to prove nothing to anyone. If they're going to play, they're going to play by my rules."

The idea that Brown doesn't need football isn't going to sit well with teams who want Brown to put the game first. According to Schefter, the Raiders, Washington Redskins and the Tennessee Titans are the teams most interested in Brown, and the wideout isn't helping to create a bigger trade market.

The Steelers have made it clear that they won't trade Brown on the cheap.

Ed Bouchette @EdBouchette

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says they will try to trade Antonio Brown but won't give him away. Said if the trade does not benefit the Steelers, they won't trade him.

Ultimately, Brown may cement a stay in Pittsburgh by diminishing his own stock.