NFL Trade Ideas to Prevent a Tom Brady Super Bowl Repeat in 2021
They'll be aiming to become the first back-to-back champions since Brady guided the New England Patriots to a pair of championships in 2003 and 2004. Meanwhile, other teams will be keeping the Bucs in mind when they construct their rosters this offseason.
A handful of teams appear to be a move or two away from winning it all next year. Here, we've come up with a few trade ideas that could push these contenders over the edge.
Kansas City Chiefs Bolster Their Offensive Line
Kansas City receives: OT Orlando Brown Jr.
Baltimore receives: Kansas City's 2021 first-round draft selection (No. 31)
While Patrick Mahomes was spending most of Super Bowl LV running for his life, the Kansas City Chiefs were likely dreaming up trades to improve their offensive line.
Longtime right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was plagued with back problems throughout the year and played only six games. Left tackle Eric Fisher suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the AFC Championship Game, while guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 season.
General manager Brett Veach expressed optimism Monday that Fisher and Schwartz will be ready at the start of training camp, but the Chiefs should be looking for external additions as well. Since they're currently projected to be more than $25 million over the salary cap, they'll likely have to target inexpensive upgrades.
They should call the Baltimore Ravens about Orlando Brown Jr., who "expressed his preference to be traded" in mid-February, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The two-time Pro Bowler started his career on the right side of Baltimore's offensive line, but he slid to the left to fill in for Ronnie Stanley after the 2019 All-Pro went down with a season-ending ankle injury. Brown played 11 games at left tackle in 2020 and excelled, conceding zero sacks or quarterback hits during his 700 snaps at the position, per Pro Football Focus.
The Chiefs won't be on the clock until No. 31, but they could include Fisher in a trade package or send him elsewhere to acquire more picks to entice the Ravens. Either way, adding Brown would make them an even bigger favorite to get past the Bucs and lift the Lombardi Trophy again next February.
Deshaun Watson Elevates the Carolina Panthers
Carolina receives: QB Deshaun Watson
Houston receives: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina's 2021 first-round draft selection (No. 8), Carolina's 2022 first-round draft selection, Carolina's 2022 second-round draft selection.
To compete with the defending champs, the Carolina Panthers need to make a Bucs-like leap by swinging for the fences on a massive upgrade under center.
Teddy Bridgewater struggled in his first year with the Panthers, completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,733 yards and 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions while going 4-11 as the starter. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Carolina offered Bridgewater, the No. 8 overall pick and a fifth-rounder to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, but Detroit sent Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams instead.
While the Panthers could try to find their quarterback of the future with the No. 8 pick, they should also explore trading for one who has already proved himself in the NFL. They should call the Houston Texans about Deshaun Watson, who has grown disgruntled with the franchise and requested a trade in January.
Watson has a no-trade clause, but the Panthers could be intriguing to the former Clemson star. Carolina has two standout wide receivers in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson.
The Panthers could offer the No. 8 pick, Bridgewater and additional draft compensation to the Texans for Watson. While the cost may seem prohibitive, adding Watson to a core that already features plenty of skill-position talent and a defense with young standouts such as Derrick Brown, Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn could turn Carolina from a playoff afterthought into a Super Bowl contender.
Green Bay Packers Get Their Cornerback
Green Bay receives: CB Stephon Gilmore
New England receives: Green Bay's 2021 second-round draft selection (No. 62)
With future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers heading into the twilight of his career, the Green Bay Packers must shore up the few (but costly) holes on their roster. Their most glaring need is at cornerback, especially after Brady dissected their secondary in the NFC Championship Game.
Kevin King was exposed on some of the biggest plays of that game, including Mike Evans' 15-yard touchdown on the opening drive and Scotty Miller's 39-yard scoring strike right before halftime. The 25-year-old is heading into free agency and may not be a huge priority for Green Bay after his struggles on the big stage.
If King does not return, the Packers will only have one proven cornerback under contract in Jaire Alexander, who is heading into the final year of his rookie deal. While Alexander has become one of the league's best at his position, Green Bay needs another star-caliber corner to defend high-octane passing attacks.
The Packers should place a call to the New England Patriots about Stephon Gilmore, who is "a name to watch" on the trade market, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano. The 2019 Defensive Player of the year had a down season in 2020, finishing with only one interception and three passes defensed in 11 games.
Gilmore is heading into the final season of his five-year, $65 million contract, so the rebuilding Patriots may deem him expendable. Although he'll turn 31 in mid-September, he's still one of the league's premier talents at his position when healthy.
In November, ESPN's Dianna Russini reported the Patriots wanted a first-round pick and a player in exchange for Gilmore. If their asking price has dropped a bit, the Packers should be willing to swing a deal.
Las Vegas Raiders Land Julio Jones
Las Vegas receives: WR Julio Jones
Atlanta receives: Las Vegas' conditional 2022 first-/second-round draft selection
The Las Vegas Raiders have been steadily improving since Jon Gruden took over in 2018, going from 4-12 in his first season to 8-8 last year, but they've now missed the playoffs for four straight years.
The Raiders could increase their chances of earning a postseason berth by bringing in a star wideout for quarterback Derek Carr, who hasn't played with a great receiving corps during his tenure.
Las Vegas spent the No. 12 overall pick on Henry Ruggs III last year, and he showed flashes of promise as a rookie, but the speedster doesn't profile as a No. 1 wideout. Tight end Darren Waller has been a revelation and quickly took over as Carr's favorite target, but he needs more help on the outside.
If the Atlanta Falcons decide to begin to rebuild, the Raiders should reach out about Julio Jones.
The 32-year-old caught only 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games last season, but a hamstring injury hampered him throughout the year. Atlanta also has a star-in-the-making replacement lined up in Calvin Ridley.
If the Raiders are willing to take on Jones' three-year, $66 million contract, the Falcons should listen. A conditional-laden deal like the one Indianapolis made to bring in Carson Wentz from Philadelphia could suit both parties well, as a healthy Jones would vault the Raiders into playoff contention.
Los Angeles Rams Go In for Another Weapon
Los Angeles receives: TE Zach Ertz
Philadelphia receives: Los Angeles' 2021 sixth-round draft selection (No. 185)
After agreeing to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, the Los Angeles Rams now need to bolster his supporting cast. They've already begun sniffing around Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, according to Conor Myles of Eagle Maven.
A source told Myles that "Ertz would like a resolution to his future sooner rather than later, adding that if a deal does not come to fruition in the next couple of weeks, the Eagles tight end is expected to ask for his release in March."
Ertz caught only 36 passes for a career-low 335 yards and one touchdown this past season. The Eagles have already agreed to trade quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, and they have an in-house replacement for Ertz in 26-year-old tight end Dallas Goedert.
The Rams don't have a ton of draft capital to offer after giving up their first-round picks from 2020 through 2023 to acquire Stafford and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. If they can come up with a suitable package of late-round picks to bring in Ertz, they would still likely need to restructure his $8.2 million base salary to fit him in under their cap.
Doing so would be worth it, especially if Ertz can stay healthy and is motivated to get back to playing high-caliber football. The tight end is only a year removed from his last Pro Bowl appearance, and he had 278 catches for 2,903 yards and 22 touchdowns from 2017 through 2019.
Ertz would be an instant upgrade over Tyler Higbee, who had 44 catches for 521 yards and five scores last year. While the Rams still need a deep threat as well, this would be a low-risk, high-reward addition.