Ranking the Top NFL Players Likely to Be Traded This Offseason

Marcus Mosher@@Marcus_MosherFeatured Columnist IMarch 8, 2019

Ranking the Top NFL Players Likely to Be Traded This Offseason

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Every offseason, a handful of NFL teams move stars via trade. This has become more of a trend in recent years, as Khalil Mack, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib all got flipped last offseason alone.

    NFL teams seem to be more open to trading than ever, which makes the offseason especially exciting.

    With the new league year and free agency rapidly approaching, let's look at the top players who could be traded this offseason. These players are on the market for a variety of reasons, but they're ranked here based on how much trade buzz they've been generating.

    Going from the least to most likely, the following players could be on the move over the coming days, weeks and months. 


9. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    At one point, Derek Carr looked like one of the NFL's top young quarterbacks. However, his effectiveness has cratered over the past few seasons, which begs the question of whether he's a franchise quarterback moving forward.

    While Carr's overall numbers in 2018 weren't terrible, he has turned into a dink-and-dunk quarterback who is afraid to throw the ball down the field. In 2018, his Oakland Raiders averaged only 18.1 points per game, fifth-fewest in the NFL. 

    With the Raiders owning the fourth pick in the 2019 draft, new general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden may want to hand-select their own quarterback of the future. With Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins looming as potential targets, Oakland should be open to the idea of moving Carr.

    Which teams might be interested in Carr? If the New York Giants don't land Murray or Haskins, they may consider Carr to be a long-term replacement for Eli Manning. The Miami Dolphins also figure to be in the market for a new starting quarterback this offseason. 

    If the Raiders draft a quarterback high in this year's class, expect there to be a sizable market for Carr.

8. Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    When healthy, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has been one of the NFL's most dominant players at his position. He's been named to the Pro Bowl twice and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2016.

    Dallas has tried to keep Lee fresh in recent years by limiting his snaps. But with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith now in the fold, the 32-year old looks more expendable than ever.

    Nearly every NFL team is struggling to find two reliable linebackers to have on the field in nickel packages. Even though Lee has missed 17 games over the past four seasons—including nine in 2018 alone—he could generate a formidable trade market. 

    Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said he wants Lee around for the 2019 season, but the team could opt to move him if it received an adequate offer. If Lee is on the trade block, expect linebacker-needy teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers or Oakland Raiders to sniff around the former Penn State star. 

7. Dee Ford, EDGE, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Players who get franchise-tagged rarely get traded, but Dee Ford may prove to be the exception to that rule.

    Ford had a breakout season in 2018, racking up 13 sacks while being named to the first Pro Bowl of his career. But with the Chiefs moving to a 4-3 defense, he doesn't fit as nicely into Steve Spagnuolo's system.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Chiefs are entertaining trade offers for Ford and could be willing to flip him for a second-round pick. Considering how difficult it is to find quality pass-rushers, that price seems reasonable.

    Expect teams like the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts to have interest in Ford this offseason. He may be the best pass-rusher available on the market.    

6. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    With the Buffalo Bills mired in a rebuild, running back LeSean McCoy doesn't align with their timeline.

    McCoy, who turns 31 in July, is heading into the final year of his contract. He struggled in 2018, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry on 161 rushing attempts, but he added 238 receiving yards on 34 receptions.

    McCoy's name came up in rumors heading into the trade deadline this past October, but the Bills were "unwilling to part with him unless another team makes an offer that would be in Buffalo's best interest," according to ESPN's Adam SchefterIf they change their mind this offseason, the six-time Pro Bowler should generate some interest around the league.

    Would a reunion with his former team in the Philadelphia Eagles make sense? What about rejoining with his former head coach in Andy Reid in Kansas City?

    If Buffalo decides to move on from McCoy, expect multiple contending teams to consider making a move for the two-time first-team All-Pro.

5. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins appear ready to move on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    In December, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported Tannehill's "days as the Dolphins quarterback will not extend through to next season." Earlier this month, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Dolphins have "had trade talks about him, which often is a precursor to a release."

    In 88 career starts with Miami, Tannehill has a passer rating of 87.0 and has thrown 123 touchdowns to 75 interceptions. In his last 19 starts, he averaged 7.3 yards per attempt, threw 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and had a passer rating of 96.1.

    Tannehill may not be a franchise savior, but he's proved to be a competent quarterback. 

    For teams looking to get solid quarterback play at a low price this offseason, Tannehill might prove to be a worthwhile gamble. A QB-needy team like the Giants could have interest in him.

4. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Last offseason, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the New York Giants were willing to listen to trade offers for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In February, NBC Sports' Chris Simms reported the Giants nearly traded him this past season, and the New England Patriots were the "most aggressive" in pursuing him. 

    Meanwhile, The Athletic's Jay Glazer recently predicted the Giants would trade Beckham this offseason.

    The 26-year-old has already made three Pro Bowls and has four seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. If the Oakland Raiders could fetch a first-round pick for Amari Cooper, who hasn't been nearly as good as Beckham, the Giants' asking price is likely astronomical.

    If the Giants were to move Beckham, look for them to get a first-round pick and more from another team. 

3. DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Teams searching for premium talent at wide receiver won't find much help in this year's free-agent class. The best available players are Golden Tate and Tyrell Williams, both of whom will likely get $10 million per season or more on the open market.

    There could be other avenues to pursue, though.

    Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two young, productive receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, veteran DeSean Jackson may be expandable. He's entering the final year of his contract, and his $10 million cap hit makes him too expensive for a No. 3 wide receiver.

    The 32-year-old Jackson led the NFL last season with 18.9 yards per reception, which was the fourth time he's led the league in that category over his 11-year career. Contenders like the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots may seek to acquire him as a deep threat to help space the field and draw away defenders.   

2. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals traded up to select quarterback Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall last April, but he may not be long for Arizona.

    During the combine, NFL Network's Kimberly Jones reported "people are beginning to believe almost universally" that the Cardinals will spend their No. 1 overall pick on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, with whom new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has long been enamored. If they do go that route, they'd likely attempt to recoup some draft compensation by flipping Rosen.

    Would the Redskins be willing to move one or more of their top picks for the former UCLA quarterback? Might the Patriots, who have multiple Day 2 picks, view Rosen as Tom Brady's heir apparent? 

    Considering Rosen's low cap hit, multiple teams should be interested in his services. If the Cardinals are serious about taking Murray first overall, expect Rosen to be moved this offseason.

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown may be on the move in the next few days.

    "Teams that have spoken to the Pittsburgh Steelers about a potential Antonio Brown trade have been told that a deal is expected to be in place by Friday," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday.

    Brown officially requested a trade in mid-February, per Schefter, after tensions between he and the franchise boiled over in previous months. According to Schefter, "The Steelers' asking price started as a first-round pick and other compensation but has been reduced to a first-round pick."

    The Oakland Raiders have three first-round picks and need a No. 1 wide receiver after sending Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys in October, but they aren't the only team interested in the four-time All-Pro. Schefter reported the Steelers have spoken with "six or seven" teams about a Brown trade in the past few days.

    At this point, it seems like only a matter of days before Brown finds a new home.