Blockbuster NFL Trades That Could Happen Before 2021

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2020

Blockbuster NFL Trades That Could Happen Before 2021

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    It's become increasingly normal to expect blockbuster NFL moves throughout the year. 

    This applies even during what used to be quiet parts of the summer. Most recently, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots made a splash by signing 2015 league MVP Cam Newton in a move that dramatically reshaped the AFC's outlook. 

    More blockbuster transactions—in the form of trades—seem forthcoming. Whether it's a summer trade before the season kicks off or a late-October deadline deal, big names will switch teams. The likeliest candidates to be traded before 2021 have either been included in rumors or simply make droves of sense because of team fits, cap space and more.  

    Here are a handful of blockbuster NFL swaps that could happen before next year. 

Patriots Send Joe Thuney to Eagles

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    New England made the big splash with Newton but might not be done. 

    The Patriots, after all, have roughly $1.5 million in cap space and haven't agreed to a long-term extension with franchise-tagged guard Joe Thuney. 

    Thuney signed his tender, though, meaning the Patriots can trade him. There's bound to be some interest even at his roughly $14.7 million cap hit in 2020 because he hasn't missed a game in four seasons and last year continued his elite play, receiving a 77.4 grade at Pro Football Focus. 

    While ideally the Patriots would like to keep a player of Thuney's caliber, there's also wiggle room to suggest Newton is such a dynamic quarterback that he wouldn't be overwhelmingly hurt by losing a guard, assuming the quarterback's mobility is intact after his December foot surgery. 

    That's some wiggle room the Patriots might take if the Philadelphia Eagles come calling, after starting guard Brandon Brooks suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer has even suggested the Eagles might make such a play. 

    The mere thought of the cap relief and an incoming second-round pick would perhaps be enough for New England to swing a deal.

Browns Send David Njoku to Packers

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    A first-round pick going on the trade block after just three seasons qualifies as a blockbuster even if the subject—Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku—hasn't yet made a major impact. 

    That isn't to say he has been bad, but he's coming along slowly and made it on the field for just four games in 2019 (because of a broken wrist) after putting up 639 yards and four scores as a sophomore. 

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Njoku has requested a trade, and his alluring upside is still enough to net the Browns a significant return.

    And that's especially the case if a contender comes calling.

    Thanks to surrounding talent and an approach that can unlock the 23-year-old's potential, the Green Bay Packers could be that team—especially now that Jimmy Graham is gone and with names like Jace Sternberger yet to emerge. 

    Those Packers could win a bidding war with a Day 2 pick—teams told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that he might be worth a fourth- or fifth-rounder—and get a 36-year-old Aaron Rodgers a high-upside weapon, while the Browns would rid the locker room of a player who doesn't want to be in town. 

Jaguars Send Yannick Ngakoue to Raiders

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    That Yannick Ngakoue wants out of Jacksonville is no secret. 

    He also hasn't signed his tag, and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the edge defender could sit out "well into training camp" if he isn't moved.

    The standstill isn't surprising, given the Jaguars' asking price for the 25-year-old pass-rushing star who has 37.5 sacks over just four seasons and 78 pressures over the last two seasons alone. ESPN's Jordan Raanan reported that price is a first-round pick and more. 

    It would take a team with a penchant for massive moves to make something happen.

    A team like the Las Vegas Raiders. 

    Those Raiders aren't strangers to big transactions—like a Khalil Mack or Antonio Brown trade. Losing the former still isn't something the organization has recovered from (32 sacks as a team last season), so shipping first- and second-round picks to Jacksonville to fully hit win-now mode makes sense. 

    Ending the saga at that compensation point would be a boon for Jacksonville, and the Jon Gruden regime in Las Vegas would take another step toward perceived contention in an AFC West that just had a Super Bowl winner. 

Jets Send Jamal Adams to Cowboys

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    A predictable blockbuster doesn't mean it'll be boring. 

    It's clear New York Jets safety Jamal Adams could be on a different team by the time 2021 hits. He's been a major point of speculation for a long time, and Schefter recently reported he'd welcome a trade to seven teams. 

    One of those teams is the Dallas Cowboys.

    They engaged the Jets in Adams trade talks at least year's deadline but balked at the asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    But the Jets are well within their rights to jack up the price on a 24-year-old safety who easily stands as one of the NFL'd best. Adams has allowed a 53.9 completion percentage over the last two years, and last season he checked in with an 87.9 grade at Pro Football Focus. 

    The two teams could talk shop on Adams again by this year's deadline. By then, the Jets will have gone through another summer of speculation as Adams enters the final season of his deal, and the Cowboys might be hoping for Super Bowl contention, meaning the parties can better come to a price. A first- and second-round pick from the Cowboys would likely get it done.

    Dallas, by the way, already owns one of the league's most complete rosters, yet safety sticks out as an upgradeable area even after the arrival of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. 

Browns Send Odell Beckham Jr. to Dolphins

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumors don't figure to go away until a move happens. 

    That's just how it seems to go with the star wideout, and it doesn't help that he underperformed in his first season with the Cleveland Browns.

    Beckham's fit with quarterback Baker Mayfield was such that he didn't even lead the team in receiving, catching just 74 of 133 targets for 1,035 yards and four scores—the yardage checking in as the lowest total of his career during a healthy season. 

    In April, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported that rumors about Browns-Minnesota Vikings trade talks were false. But the old "smoke and fire" adage applies, even if the Browns don't owe Beckham any guaranteed money after this year and can cut ties. 

    Fast-forward to the trade deadline: If Beckham's having another ho-hum season or things have otherwise gone haywire, the Browns will want to recoup something for him. 

    That's where an obvious rebuilder like the Miami Dolphins could swoop in and make a move in the hopes of providing an instant boost and long-term upgrade for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

    The Dolphins could easily ship a first-round pick and other mid-range assets to Cleveland. Other speculated Beckham destinations, such as San Francisco, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Denver and Philadelphia either drafted a wideout early or made a big move for one.     

                

    Salary-cap info via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.