Ranking the 7 Players Most Likely to Be Traded During 2020 NFL Draft

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2020

Ranking the 7 Players Most Likely to Be Traded During 2020 NFL Draft

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The 2020 NFL draft could feature the conclusion of many longstanding trade storylines. 

    The event serves as an annual resolution of sorts for trade scenarios as teams select replacements, others seek veteran value and draft picks make for persuasive trade assets via instant gratification. 

    Players most likely to be traded include those speculated about often in the predraft information machine. Some teams are merely on the hunt to sell. Others will draft replacements. And others need to shed salary or get out of a soured relationship. 

    The following trade candidates are ranked with an emphasis on a team's need to move the player based on cap numbers and logistics of the relationship, as well as the likelihood of finding an acceptable return during Thursday through Saturday's virtual event.      


    Tune in to our 2020 NFL Draft Show for live, in-depth analysis on what each pick means for your team, with hosts Adam Lefkoe, Matt Miller and Connor Rogers. No fluff, no B.S. Download the B/R app and watch starting Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m. ET.

7. Josh Rosen, QB, Miami Dolphins

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Is Josh Rosen about to get moved again? 

    Regardless of how the Miami Dolphins maneuver (if at all) their three first-round picks, it seems obvious the front office will take Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert as its next franchise passer.

    That would leave Josh Rosen on the outs. 

    Rosen, the 10th pick in 2018, got moved a year later by an Arizona team more infatuated with Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in 2019. With his second franchise in as many years, Rosen completed 53.2 percent of his passes over six games (three starts) for a tanking Miami. 

    Unless Rosen is fine with sticking as a backup again, or the Dolphins want an open competition with unnecessary pressure on a top rookie, a move seems likely. He's still got an attractive three out of a possible five years on a rookie deal and wouldn't come at steep cost—never mind the fact he's not far removed from being a top-10 prospect and plays the most important position on the field. 

6. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    An Alshon Jeffery trade seems inevitable.

    The 30-year-old got in just 10 games last year and enters 2020 coming off Lisfranc surgery. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane, the Eagles started shopping Jeffery last year only a month after guaranteeing his 2020 salary and continue to have him on the block. 

    But given the injury and contract, which carries a cap hit of $15.4 million in 2020 and $18.5 million the year after, a trade was always going to take a long time to happen. This was especially the case while bigger, more productive names like DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs were available. 

    The Eagles will probably treat this like a salary dump. A rebuilding team with plenty of space probably wouldn't mind taking on Jeffery's baggage, and even a contender that doesn't want to wait for a rookie to develop could bite. Jeffery, after all, did score 15 times over his first two years with the Eagles before last year's injury-skewed results. 

5. Joe Thuney, OL, New England Patriots

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Don't sleep on the idea that the New England Patriots could move elite offensive lineman Joe Thuney. 

    The Patriots already shocked many by slapping the franchise tag on him when it seemed like the front office would avoid the $14.8 million cap charge by letting him go to the open market. Those Patriots, even without re-upping Tom Brady, only have about $2 million in cap space. 

    ESPN's Mike Reiss furthered the idea recently with the following: "If a guard-needy team is willing to deal a second- or high third-rounder to help fill in the Patriots' draft board, that would have to be something Belichick seriously considers with the knowledge that the sides haven't been close to an extension."

    And to be blunt, losing Brady probably lessens the need for Thuney. The Patriots are looking at a scenario in which a trade could free cap space and bring a nice return. Some team will more than happy to pay up for a 27-year-old guard who received a grade of 77.4 at Pro Football Focus and didn't get flagged last season. 

    A player of Thuney's caliber might normally be higher up a list like this. But the Patriots like to move in unorthodox manners, and the monetary number in the form of the franchise tag or a long-term extension could still slow negotiations. A move is likely, but it isn't guaranteed.

4. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    While it seems like the Washington Redskins could move Trent Williams any day...it has seemed that way for the better part of a year. 

    Williams proved last season he's willing to simply not play for the Redskins again after a dispute over his medical treatment by team doctors. The franchise proved it's willing to go blind in this staring contest, as according to NBC Sports' JP Finlay, the Redskins want "something comparable in value" for him. 

    That exact value is almost impossible to guess. 

    Williams will turn 32 in July and hasn't played a down of regular-season football since 2018. He was one of the best left tackles in football and still has the potential to stand as such again, but injury concerns, the holdout and the potential for his wanting a lucrative extension when he goes somewhere else stand in the way of a deal. So do Washington's demands. 

    Despite all this, the Redskins' patience might wane during the draft. This saga has dragged on for too long, and a fresh regime led by Ron Rivera might want it finished. New leadership and the allure of an immediate return positions the draft as a logical, merciful end to the stalemate. 

3. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Yannick Ngakoue has topped many on the potential trade list for a few reasons. 

    One, it's clear the Jacksonville Jaguars continue full-steam ahead on the rebuild train after dumping assets like Nick Foles and others while planning to build around Gardner Minshew II or one of the 2021 draft's top passers. 

    Two, Ngakoue has been plenty transparent he doesn't want to be in Jacksonville long term, which includes recently calling out the team's co-owner. 

    Compensation is the big hiccup with a trade. The team dealing for Ngakoue will no doubt love a 25-year-old edge-rusher who has at least eight sacks in all four of his pro seasons, as well as 78 pressures over the last two campaigns. 

    But the team trading for Ngakoue probably won't be in love with the $17.8 million cap hit that comes with the franchise tag, never mind the tandem of trade compensation plus the money on a long-term extension. 

    But none of these factors will stop a trade from happening, because given the talent here, a plethora of teams—regardless of contention status—should have at least some interest. 

2. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    It didn't take long for Leonard Fournette to shoot to a prominent spot on this list. 

    ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday the Jaguars talked with teams about the star running back, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up Monday by revealing trade talks went on for longer than a month. 

    It's not hard to see why. Fournette, selected fourth in 2017, hasn't lived up to expectations if we're comparing him to other top running back picks, such as Saquon Barkley. He played a role in Jacksonville's run to the 2017 AFC title game but otherwise has averaged just four yards per carry (33rd out of 37 backs who played as many games in that span) and scored 17 touchdowns over 36 contests. 

    Jacksonville might want out as its general roster purge continues, and Fournette could spur a middling return. Perhaps the bigger backdrop is skirting around a pay squabble as the evolving running back market twists and turns and he gets ready to make the case that he was a top-five pick who deserves a massive extension. Either way, he'd be easier to move than Ngakoue given Jacksonville's likely asking price. 

    Fournette carries an $8.6 million cap hit in 2020. But there aren't many running back-needy teams, there's another draft class set to restock the NFL and potential trade partners might have the same reservations about an extension. Provided the Jaguars are willing to settle, they can likely move Fournette to a team that will make him part of a rotation, not a centerpiece. 

1. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    When the musical chairs at the top of the draft end and Joe Burrow, Tagovaiola and Herbert have new homes, some team will have missed out on a potential franchise passer. 

    That team might just call about Andy Dalton

    The Cincinnati Bengals figure to make Burrow the first pick Thursday, meaning Dalton's $17.7 million cap hit will be untenable for an organization that uncharacteristically spent big in free agency and has to consider extensions for stars A.J. Green and Joe Mixon. 

    While Dalton has hinted at a return despite the Burrow's impending arrival, that'd likely require some contractual restructuring and the Bengals front office to eschew trade compensation. 

    The Bengals will surely get offers for a 32-year-old veteran who has largely been steady and available for most of his career. He'd be competing for suitors with free agents Cam Newton and Jameis Winston, but the former has health questions and the latter makes too many on-field mistakes.

    Dalton is a known commodity at a set price as a one-year rental, which gives him appeal to rebuilders in need of a transitional starter and contenders who are looking for a veteran to push things over the edge. The Bengals merely need to say yes to the highest offer when the time comes. 

                  

    Salary-cap info via Spotrac.

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