Predicting Landing Spots for the NFL's Biggest 2020 Trade Targets
Unofficial trades could deliver the first major splashes of the NFL offseason.
Last year, two star wide receivers—Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.—were dealt before April's draft. We also saw a pair of starting quarterbacks change locations. The Baltimore Ravens traded Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos, who sent Case Keenum to the Washington Redskins.
Days before the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs acquired defensive end Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks.
What could happen this year?
Beat reporters and NFL insiders have speculated on moves involving household names due to contract disputes, upstart talent, poor scheme fit and incoming regimes.
The reasons listed above, along with rumors, will point us in the direction of the big-name players who could suit up with new teams for the 2020 campaign.
We'll go through eight trade scenarios for quarterbacks, who generate eye-catching headlines, Pro Bowlers and All-Pros and list feasible compensation for each player.
Keep in mind that franchise-tag-and-trade projections could center around 2021 picks. Teams can attempt to work out long-term deals with designated players until the July 15 deadline.
QB Cam Newton to the Los Angeles Chargers
Carolina Panthers receive: 2020 2nd-round pick, 2020 5th-round pick, 2021 3rd-round pick
The Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers need fresh starts at quarterback.
"... The expectation is that the Panthers will attempt to trade Newton this offseason provided they can get a large deal to make it worth their while," Rapoport wrote.
The report came before the Panthers hired head coach Matt Rhule to replace Ron Rivera. However, with owner David Tepper and general manager Marty Hurney still in place, the team will probably stick to that plan.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports doesn't see Philip Rivers re-signing with the Chargers, and the 38-year-old signal-caller "permanently" moved his family to Florida, per ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.
That doesn't ensure a change of scenery for Rivers, but he's coming off a down year in which he threw for 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with a 48.9 QBR. Los Angeles may be ready to move on before he hits a new low point.
When healthy, Newton can perform at a high level. We saw evidence of that during the 2018 campaign, when he recorded 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing a career-high 67.9 percent of his pass attempts.
Before the 2019 term, Newton only missed five games in eight seasons. It's too early to label him injury-prone after he missed all but two games this past campaign.
The Chargers would receive a quarterback who can provide juice to an organization on the move to a new stadium in Inglewood, California.
In return, the Panthers would recoup 2020 and 2021 draft capital for their roster rebuild under Rhule and his staff.
QB Andy Dalton to the Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals receive: 2020 4th-round pick, 2020 7th-round pick
Before the 2019 trade deadline in October, the Cincinnati Bengals benched Andy Dalton for rookie fourth-rounder Ryan Finley. The veteran quarterback's agent attempted to line up potential takers for his client's services, but the timing of the switch made it difficult to put anything together, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic.
The Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick in April and have no plans of trading the selection, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. They will likely take 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, which would push Dalton out of the team's future plans.
Dalton's agent will have an entire offseason to line up trade suitors, but it's a rough time for free-agent signal-callers, with Rivers, Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota set to hit the market in March.
Dalton has been a steady starter, throwing for 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions while completing 62 percent of his passes. He's earned three Pro Bowl invites in nine seasons.
If the Panthers trade Newton, they should acquire a veteran stopgap. In 2019, Kyle Allen had decent starts but sputtered down the stretch, which led him to the bench. Rookie third-rounder Will Grier opened the last two games but failed to record a touchdown and tossed four interceptions.
Carolina can turn the reins over to Dalton while grooming the next passer. With the No. 7 overall pick, the Panthers may miss out on Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert if the Miami Dolphins and Chargers choose quarterbacks. Another club may also trade up for one of the highly touted prospects.
Dalton only has one year left on his deal. He could be the short-term answer for a team with a couple of productive offensive playmakers in running back Christian McCaffrey and wideout DJ Moore.
If the Bengals select Burrow, Dalton would clearly be on his way out of Cincinnati, dropping his trade value. Carolina can start negotiating with a fourth-round pick.
RB Le'Veon Bell to the Washington Redskins
New York Jets receive: 2020 3rd-round pick
Aside from signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal, Le'Veon Bell had a rough stretch through 2019.
In his first season with the New York Jets, he finished with a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. Despite averaging 16.3 rushing attempts per game, he expressed dissatisfaction with his workload.
A couple of days after the 2019 season ended, general manager Joe Douglas said he'd "listen" to trade offers for Bell.
ESPN's Rich Cimini thinks the Jets will trade the two-time All-Pro, but he pointed to head coach Adam Gase's philosophy at running back rather than Bell's disappointing campaign.
"[Gase] didn't want Bell in the first place because he prefers a 'committee' backfield instead of having a high-priced feature back, but he was overruled by former GM Mike Maccagnan. My hunch is he will push for a trade," Cimini wrote.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Bell's underwhelming performance takes some luster off his trade value. Douglas may have to settle for a third-rounder to unload his starting tailback.
The Washington Redskins don't have an established long-term option at the position. Adrian Peterson will turn 35 years old in March, and Derrius Guice has battled knee injuries since entering the league in 2018, suiting up for just five games. Rookie fourth-rounder Bryce Love is recovering from a torn ACL and sat out all of 2019.
When in Carolina, new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera had Christian McCaffrey—a dual-threat running back who handled most of the carries and caught 303 passes for 2,523 yards and 15 touchdowns through three seasons. Bell fits the same mold. In 77 contests, he's racked up 9,246 yards from scrimmage, and approximately 34 percent of that output was as a pass-catcher.
Rivera would obtain a featured ball-carrier still in his prime to help Dwayne Haskins under center. Unless left tackle Trent Williams returns and then re-signs, the Redskins need to bolster their pass protection, but Bell could become a reliable option on short throws.
LT Trent Williams to the New York Jets
Washington Redskins receive: 2020 1st-round pick, 2020 5th-round pick
Prior to the 2019 trade deadline, the Redskins attempted to move Trent Williams but couldn't find a team willing to give up anything more than a second-round pick, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport said Washington would attempt to trade Williams again in the offseason, hoping for more compensation.
Head coach Ron Rivera has worked to mend fences between the organization and Williams after a dispute over the handling of a cancerous growth on his scalp. At one point, the seven-time Pro Bowler said he'll "never be a Redskin again," per Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic.
If Rivera cannot convince Williams to return, the Redskins will definitely revisit trade talks. This time, a team in dire need of a high-end pass protector may offer more than a second-round pick.
The Jets could fall into that category. Gang Green have the 11th overall selection in the upcoming draft, which potentially leaves them outside of the range for the top two or three tackles in the class. Unless the coaching staff thinks Chuma Edoga could fill one of the positions in the starting lineup, the team may add two players at the position.
General manager Joe Douglas can push to acquire Williams. As a perennial Pro Bowler going into his age-31 term, the tackle is worth the proposed compensation.
The Redskins would likely look at the package the Houston Texans used to acquire left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The AFC South club sent two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and next year's second-rounder to Miami in the deal. Williams isn't as young and missed 13 games from 2016-18, but his Pro Bowl accolades elevate trade value.
If the Jets want an instant solution to cover quarterback Sam Darnold's blind side, they should make a strong attempt to acquire Williams.
DT Chris Jones to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs receive: 2021 2nd-round pick, 2021 4th-round pick
The Kansas City Chiefs haven't placed Chris Jones on the trade block, but ESPN's Adam Teicher cited a reason the Pro Bowl defensive tackle could be on the move:
"Jones gives the Chiefs a playmaker on the interior of their defensive line, and there's no way the team will let him walk without compensation. So barring agreement on a long-term contract, look for the Chiefs to give Jones the franchise tag. The Chiefs traded last year's franchise player, Dee Ford. While in a perfect world the team would prefer to keep Jones, that scenario may prove too costly."
The Chiefs don't have to extend quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but he's eligible for a new deal in the offseason. The front office just signed defensive end Frank Clark to a five-year, $104 million contract in April. Safety Tyrann Mathieu averages $14 million annually.
Some success can create difficulty in retaining top-notch talent. Like Ford, Jones should fetch at least a second-round pick because of his ability to rush the passer, though he's on the interior as opposed to the edge. Both of them earned their first Pro Bowl nods in contract years.
As one of the best defensive tackles in the league, Jones may cost a team a little more than an early Day 2 selection. He had a dominant 2018 campaign, logging the third-most sacks (15.5) leaguewide.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can accelerate their defensive progress. Instead of re-signing 33-year-old Ndamukong Suh, the front office can acquire someone who's still a viable pass-rusher in his prime.
Jones, 25, would help maintain the Buccaneers' stout run defense, which ranked No. 1 this past season, and provide more pocket pressure than Suh.
Rather than looking for help with the No. 14 overall pick, Tampa Bay can land a surefire playmaker for its 29th-ranked scoring defense.
DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Buffalo Bills
Jacksonville Jaguars receive: 2021 1st-round pick
Because Calais Campbell and Josh Allen could start as the bookends on the defensive line next season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have some flexibility in their decision on Yannick Ngakoue's future, and the front office could allow him to walk.
In January, Ngakoue tweeted a Next Gen Stats graphic that connected his pass-rushing impact to turnovers and stated: "Know your worth. And never double back."
General manager David Caldwell said a deal for Ngakoue should be in place "relatively easily," but the two sides have yet to agree on terms. The longer negotiations drag out, the greater the possibility the Jags franchise-tag the defensive end and trade him. Last offseason, Ngakoue held out for an extension.
To avoid another disruption, the Jaguars may deal Ngakoue for premium draft capital if they're unable to work out an agreement. Already equipped with four first-round picks in the next two drafts because of the Jalen Ramsey trade, they can add another top-32 selection in exchange for the one-time Pro Bowler.
As a starting edge-rusher, Ngakoue has displayed consistency, recording at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons, which explains why a team would probably have to give up a first-rounder.
The Buffalo Bills don't have a steady, reliable edge-rusher. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has had one standout season in five years, logging a team-leading 9.5 sacks in 2019. Jerry Hughes' quarterback pressures dropped over the last two seasons from 39 to 17. Trent Murphy hasn't recorded more than five sacks since his 2016 campaign.
In addition to getting help on the edge, the Bills can load up on costly acquisitions while third-year quarterback Josh Allen plays out his rookie deal.
Buffalo's second-ranked scoring defense was a huge factor in its 10-6 season that ended during Wild Card Weekend. Ngakoue would add another layer to a strong unit capable of stifling the best offenses.
As the NFL adage goes, defense wins championships.
EDGE Matt Judon to the Miami Dolphins
Baltimore Ravens receive: 2021 2nd-round pick, 2021 5th-round pick
The Baltimore Ravens should do whatever it takes to re-sign Matt Judon, who led the team in sacks (9.5) last year. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale employed a blitz-heavy defense to compensate for the lack of consistent pass-rushers on the edge. Tyus Bowser was second on the team with only five sacks.
Despite the need to keep Judon on the roster, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the four-year veteran could be subject to a tag-and-trade scenario.
"Judon is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, and the Ravens would like to bring him back, but they also are likely to listen if another team expresses interest in trading for him, according to sources," Schefter wrote.
Without a doubt, Judon would garner interest. He's coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he logged a career high in sacks. The 27-year-old can also sniff out the run in the backfield, registering 45 career tackles for loss.
If the Ravens prefer to move Judon after the draft, they should call rebuilding teams that have high chances of finishing with sub-.500 records, which would boost the value of the returning pick.
Although Judon isn't an elite player, he could fetch a second-round pick and a middle-round selection because of the importance of his position.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Dolphins inquired about Jadeveon Clowney before the Houston Texans traded him to the Seattle Seahawks for linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo and a third-round pick.
Taco Charlton led the Dolphins in sacks (five) this past season. Miami could fill its need on the edge with one of its 2020 first-round selections, but that player would be unproven. General manager Chris Grier can add an experienced veteran to ensure the defense brings more heat near the pocket. The Dolphins finished last in quarterback pressures (95) and sacks (23) in 2019.
Judon isn't an elite-level pass-rusher, averaging roughly seven sacks per season, but he earned his first Pro Bowl invite in 2019. The Dolphins could bundle a 2021 second- and fifth-rounder to acquire him if his contract talks with the Ravens linger into the summer.
CB Xavier Rhodes to the New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings receive: 2020 5th-round pick
The Minnesota Vikings may look for someone—anyone—to take Xavier Rhodes off their books. After five solid seasons—nine total interceptions and double-digit pass breakups in each campaign from 2013-17—he's become a liability in coverage.
Over the last two seasons, opposing quarterbacks have successfully singled out Rhodes' matchup on the perimeter. He has registered 13 pass breakups and hasn't picked off a pass since the season opener of the 2018 term.
Furthermore, head coach Mike Zimmer revealed Rhodes isn't guaranteed to follow an opponent's top wide receiver, per ESPN's Courtney Cronin, which isn't a good return on a five-year, $70.1 million contract extension. The seven-year veteran has a $12.9 million cap hit in 2020, per Spotrac.
Following a rough 2019 season, Rhodes could be on the move despite a questionable 2020 Pro Bowl invite as an alternate.
It only takes only one club to think he could return to peak form.
In December, the Giants released cornerback Janoris Jenkins after he used offensive language toward a fan on Twitter, leaving the secondary without a solid veteran starter opposite DeAndre Baker.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his staff can attempt to salvage Rhodes' career. If that doesn't work out, the front office can release him and save $11.75 million in cap space next year, per Over the Cap.
In the event Rhodes flips the switch, the Giants would have a solid pair to patch up their 28th-ranked pass defense.
Because Rhodes has battled inconsistencies, New York can take advantage of his low trade value. He's essentially a flier who's demonstrated the ability to play at a high level.