Bold Trade Predictions Before the NFL Season Begins
Don't believe everything you hear from NFL head coaches and general managers, especially when they say a specific player isn't available for trade. In January 2019, New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman said, "We didn't sign him to trade him," in regards to wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Two months later, Big Blue sent him to the Cleveland Browns.
On a smaller scale, kicker Eddy Pineiro recently opened up about his sudden move from the Oakland Raiders to the Chicago Bears, per Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"I was only supposed to be out two weeks," Pineiro said. "They were like: 'Hey, we're going to stash you. We're going to get you ready for the next season. You're going to be here for the next 10 years.' I was happy because they believed in me. And then they traded me."
Pineiro learned firsthand about the NFL's fluid nature. One year, you're part of a team's long-term plans; the next, you could be on your way to a new destination.
We'll take a look at eight players who could become centerpieces for trades before final roster cuts Saturday. The selections include high-profile playmakers surrounded by buzz, veterans in danger of losing starting jobs or roster spots and underperforming first-round draft picks from recent years.
Arizona Cardinals Acquire LT Trent Williams from Washington Redskins
The Arizona Cardinals could make a splash on the trade market with quarterback Kyler Murray in mind. The Raiders went after the rookie signal-caller with blitzes in Week 2 of the preseason, sacking him twice.
Murray will struggle tremendously if the offensive line can't keep him off the ground in the face of immense pressure. According to the Washington Post's STATs, left tackle D.J. Humphries allowed five sacks in nine games in 2018.
Humphries could show improvement during a crucial contract year, but the Cardinals may still add a proven high-quality starter in seven-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams on the blind side.
In an interview with NBC Washington's Sherree Burruss, team president Bruce Allen anticipates Williams playing for the Washington Redskins this season despite the left tackle's decision to stay away from the team thus far.
According to NBC Washington's JP Finlay, finances and distrust toward the organization fueled Williams' holdout.
"Sources explained that the situation is not all about money, rather his contract status along with the series of allegations that the seven-time Pro Bowl tackle has lost faith in the team's front office and medical staff," Finlay wrote.
The Cardinals should try their best to land the top-notch pass protector, who's clearly unhappy with his current squad, in exchange for a second-round pick. In the event of a trade, they can move Humphries to right tackle, where he played the majority of his rookie year, and release Marcus Gilbert to save $4.9 million of cap space, per Over the Cap. That money could go toward Williams' new deal.
Los Angeles Rams Acquire LB Kiko Alonso from Miami Dolphins
According to ESPN's Lindsey Thiry, the Los Angeles Rams' projected starting inside linebacker Micah Kiser underwent surgery for a left pectoral injury earlier this month. The Rams could turn to Bryce Hager, Travin Howard or rookie seventh-rounder Dakota Allen to fill the void, but general manager Les Snead can also acquire a veteran who may be on his way out of Miami.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Kiko Alonso seems expendable in Miami because of former CFL player Sam Eguavoen's emergence at linebacker:
"If Miami can trade Alonso, there would be $1.3 million in dead money and $7 million in cap savings. Finding a trade partner might be difficult, though, because the team acquiring him would be responsible for the entire $6.5 million base salary, including the $2.5 million guaranteed in March."
Despite the prospective cost of acquiring Alonso's $8.3 million cap hit, he's worth the price coming off a solid year with the Dolphins. The seventh-year veteran registered 79 solo tackles, six pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three interceptions in 2018.
The Rams should consider plugging a hole in the middle of their defense with a proven commodity still in his prime at 29 years old. He'd likely cost them a sixth-round pick.
Editor's Note: On September 1st, Kiko Alonso was traded to the New Orleans Saints.
Minnesota Vikings Acquire WR Ryan Grant from Oakland Raiders
The Raiders may have to cut a serviceable veteran talent at wide receiver. Keelan Doss, a rookie undrafted free agent out of UC Davis, has flashed through the preseason, racking up 162 yards and a touchdown. He's a potential keeper at the position.
If Doss makes the roster, slotting behind Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow on the depth chart, Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson would battle for the fifth spot.
Nelson sprained his ankle in the second preseason game against the Cardinals and didn't play in either of the last two contests. Grant has four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown in two exhibition matchups, showing what he can do in the passing game, so the sixth-year receiver may generate trade interest.
The Minnesota Vikings have an open competition for the No. 3 receiver spot behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Grant could slide into the slot position and reunite with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The front office should offer a sixth-round pick for his services.
In 2017, with Cousins under center in Washington, Grant had his best season, recording 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns. Because Laquon Treadwell has underwhelmed in three seasons in Minnesota (56 catches, 517 yards and one touchdown), the offense has room for a veteran to fill a void in the wide receiver group.
New York Jets Acquire CB Artie Burns from Pittsburgh Steelers
Save for his rookie campaign, Artie Burns hasn't played up to his first-round draft status. According to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, the Miami product has done just enough to hang on to a roster slot.
"Artie Burns did not turn back into the cornerback the Steelers thought they drafted in the first round in 2016, but he did enough this summer to possibly become their No. 3 man on the outside," Bouchette wrote.
Burns isn't likely to reclaim a starting spot on the boundary with Joe Haden and Steven Nelson on the roster. And Mike Hilton has manned the slot position over the last two seasons with strong results, logging 86 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks, 14 pass breakups and three interceptions.
The Steelers can part ways with Burns, sending him to the New York Jets in exchange for just a late-round pick. Gang Green is in need of cornerback help, even after they acquired Nate Hairston in exchange for a 2020 sixth-rounder Wednesday. The secondary may need two cover men on the boundary while Trumaine Johnson remains day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
If Johnson misses regular-season action, Burns could start on the outside. In the best-case scenario, the Jets would have their lead cornerback on the field with options, being able to use Hairston or Burns on the opposite side.