NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 1

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2019

NFL Trade Block Big Board Entering Week 1

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    We have officially reached the first week of the 2019 NFL season. All 32 teams will see their first regular-season action, whether they're equipped to handle it or not.

    The reality is many teams still have significant holes, and those aren't just going to go away. This is why the trade market exists and why it will bear watching in the coming weeks. Teams can look to the free-agent pile and to practice squads, but trades are often the quickest way to address a weakness or build on a strength in-season.

    Who are the top players potentially on the trade market in Week 1? That's what we'll examine here. You'll find a big board of sorts, ranking players on a combination of talent level and potential availability.

    This is in contrast to a traditional draft big board in which players are typically ranked on ability only. The best potential trade targets may not be readily available, and the players most likely to be traded may not be the best on-field options—so both factors will be considered.

    How does the 2019 trade-block big board shake out for Week 1? Let's dig in.

The Selection Process

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, both potential availability and overall talent are being considered.

    To come up with a top-10 list, we first determined the 15 players who could or should be on the trade block this season. This process involves both preexisting trade speculation and a little deductive reasoning.

    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway, for example, hasn't been the target of offseason trade speculation. However, he's buried on a depth chart, is set to serve a four-game suspension and plays for a franchise that has shown it will move a talented receiver with a suspension history. The team isn't looking to trade Callaway now, but if there isn't a role for him in the offense once he returns, it could start shopping him.

    Once the initial 15 were determined, they were weighted in order of trade availability—15 points to a player who is actively being shopped and one point to a player who seems unlikely to be moved in the foreseeable future. The same process is done for talent level, with 15 points for a player with All-Pro potential to one for a solid depth player.

    By combining point totals, we arrived at the top players on the big board. Yes, some subjectivity is involved, and yes, these values are going to change as the season progresses.

    The initial 15-player list, in no particular order, consists of the following:

    • Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
    • Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins
    • Josh Jackson, CB, Green Bay Packers
    • Joe Schobert, LB, Cleveland Browns
    • Joe Looney, C, Dallas Cowboys
    • Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns
    • Taco Charlton, DE, Dallas Cowboys
    • Rashaan Gaulden, S, Carolina Panthers
    • A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
    • Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Solomon Thomas, DE, San Francisco 49ers
    • Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Trae Waynes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
    • C.J. Beathard, QB, San Francisco 49ers

10. Joe Schobert, LB, Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Heading into Week 1, there hasn't been any definitive trade buzz involving Browns linebacker Joe Schobert; however, there was some during the offseason.

    "Joe Schobert from Cleveland is another linebacker name I've heard," The MMQB's Albert Breer said in April when discussing trade options on The Russillo Show.

    Cleveland also claimed linebacker Malik Jefferson after final cuts Saturday, which could make a player like Schobert expendable.

    The 2017 Pro Bowler should garner interest if he is available. He's started 29 games and amassed 247 tackles over the past two seasons. If your favorite team needs an inside linebacker, it couldn't hurt for it to give Cleveland a call.

    Schobert would make sense for a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who are still in the process of trying to replace Vontaze Burfict.

    Potential Destinations: Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers

9. Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Cornerback Artie Burns is another player we're speculating on, as the Steelers have not openly put him on the market. However, it does seem he would be available for the right price.

    He is not listed as a starter on Pittsburgh's depth chart, and the team did not pick up the fifth-year option on his contract.

    While Burns has been inconsistent as a pro, he does play a premium position and carries the status of being a first-round pick in 2016—a status teams love to gamble on. It would not be a shock to see an organization deal for Burns in order to give him a one-year tryout in 2019.

    A team with issues at the cornerback position—like the Arizona Cardinals, who won't have Patrick Peterson during his six-game suspension—should give the Steelers a call.

    Potential Destinations: Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals

8. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Again, we're speculating on trade availability. Cincinnati wideout A.J. Green, however, is entering the final year of his contract and is expected to miss regular-season games after undergoing ankle surgery.

    If the Bengals—who have a new head coach in Zac Taylor and could soon be headed toward another rebuild—aren't going to have Green for part of the season, why not try dealing him to a contender who could use him in December and January?

    Green, after all, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a premier deep threat when he's healthy. A trade could help another team make a playoff push while netting Cincinnati some valuable draft capital—which it could use to help land its next signal-caller. Andy Dalton is 31, hasn't played at a consistently high level in recent seasons and was inherited by the new regime. A transition at quarterback could be on the horizon.

    Green would make a lot of sense for a team like the Seattle Seahawks, who lost No. 1 wideout Doug Baldwin to retirement in the offseason.

    Potential Destinations: New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks  

7. Solomon Thomas, DE, San Francisco 49ers

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    For now, defensive end and 2017 first-round pick Solomon Thomas remains on the San Francisco 49ers roster. This isn't due to a lack of trying to move him, however. Thomas was on the trading block ahead of April's draft, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

    Should a team come calling, the 49ers would almost certainly deal Thomas now. With guys like Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, there isn't a real need to keep Thomas.

    Of course, the 23-year-old isn't as attractive an option as some other players on this list. He's been a decent run-stopper but has failed to emerge as a reliable pass-rushing presence—he has just 4.0 sacks in two seasons.

    Teams looking for a run-stuffer, though, could be interested—perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs, who ranked 27th in run defense a year ago and are transition to a new base defense under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

    Potential Destinations: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs

6. Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, the Browns are deep at receiver. They also recently added Taywan Taylor through a trade with the Tennessee Titans. When you combine this with the fact that general manager John Dorsey has already shown he won't hesitate to deal a player with a history of suspensions—he sent Josh Gordon to the Patriots early last season—it seems conceivable that Cleveland could move Callaway at some point.

    Who would trade for the second-year player? Virtually any team willing to deal with his suspension risk and looking to add a talented young wideout to its roster.

    Callaway is just 22 years old and proved as a rookie that he can be a dynamic deep threat. He caught 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. A team like the New England Patriots, who recently placed N'Keal Harry on injured reserve, would make a ton of sense.

    Potential Destinations: New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys

5. C.J. Beathard, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The 49ers have backup quarterback Nick Mullens. Though Jimmy Garoppolo is clearly the starter when healthy, Mullens showed that he can handle the job if required. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes last season for 2,277 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 picks.

    This leaves 2017 third-round pick C.J. Beathard as San Francisco's third quarterback and a possible trade chip.

    The 25-year-old may not be the most intriguing option, but he plays a valuable position and has 10 games' worth of starting experience.

    He could be a valuable addition for a team in need of quarterback depth or for one that suffers an injury at the position before the Oct. 29 trade deadline. The Denver Broncos could be such a team, as they only have Brandon Allen behind Joe Flacco on the active roster.

    If a squad comes calling, the 49ers will almost certainly listen.

    Potential Destinations: Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins

4. Joe Looney, C, Dallas Cowboys

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have not openly discussed trading center Joe Looney. However, there are a couple of reasons why it would make sense. For one, Dallas needs to find cap space in order to pay the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Moving Looney would free up roughly $1.6 million.

    Secondly, the Cowboys don't necessarily need him on the roster now that starting center Travis Frederick is back in the fold. Depth would be a concern if Frederick is forced to miss time, but the cap savings could outweigh that, given the players who need to be extended in the near future.

    "There's no question the pie is getting smaller. To the extent we look at how much we allocate to each and every player, each and every position, that creates boundaries," team owner Jerry Jones said, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).

    Looney started all 16 games for Dallas last season and would likely net something of value. He may not play the most important position along the line, but he is a starting-caliber player and would be a fine addition for any team with question marks at center.

    The Patriots, who placed David Andrews on injured reserve, could be a potential suitor.

    Potential Destinations: New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints

3. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams does play the most important position on the line. He's also a seven-time Pro Bowler and one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL. In terms of pure value, there is no better player on this list.

    However, despite Williams' desire for a trade, the Redskins have remained adamant that they won't move him.

    "Trent's going to play some football," team president Bruce Allen told NBC Washington's Sherree Burruss (h/t Les Carpenter of the Washington Post). "It will be with us."

    Williams should be the No. 1 target for any team looking to upgrade its line.The Browns, for example, still don't appear to be sold on Greg Robinson, having only signed him to a one-year deal this offseason.

    The tricky part will be convincing Washington to part with him.

    Potential Destinations: Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals

2. Trae Waynes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes plays a premium position and has performed well over the past two seasons, starting 30 games and recording 19 pass breakups. However, Minnesota has other talented corners, including Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes, who is working his way back from a torn ACL.

    With Hughes recently being removed from the PUP list and Minnesota dealing for Mark Fields, Waynes could be expendable. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that the Vikings were shopping Waynes back in February. They could revisit that idea now.

    Waynes is a starting-caliber cornerback, and there are few potentially available players as valuable as him right now. Teams looking for secondary help—like the Chiefs, who ranked 31st last season in pass defense—have their top target.

    Potential Destinations: Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints

1. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon—who is still holding out for a new deal—could be one of the first pieces to fall in the trade market.

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Chargers have granted Gordon permission to seek a trade. This makes sense, as Los Angeles has two quality backs in Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Barring a new deal, Gordon's contract will expire after this season anyway.

    A two-time Pro Bowler who averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry last season, Gordon has the top combination of likely availability and on-field prowess, and he should be a trade target for virtually any team in need of a starting tailback.

    The Houston Texans, who recently lost Lamar Miller to a torn ACL, would be a perfect fit.

    Potential Destinations: Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers