2021 NFL Draft-Day Trades We'd Love to See Happen

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

2021 NFL Draft-Day Trades We'd Love to See Happen

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    Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields
    Ohio State quarterback Justin FieldsPaul Vernon/Associated Press

    A pair of predraft trades seemingly took the steam out of any hype for trades during the 2021 NFL draft's first round on Thursday. 

    Or did it? 

    San Francisco coughing up multiple first-round picks to leap from No. 12 to No. 3 to secure their quarterback of the future and the New York Jets sending Sam Darnold to Carolina is maybe best viewed as an appetizer of what's to come. 

    After all, this draft class boasts potentially five first-round passers, aggressive-looking teams and even veterans who could be on the move early in the process. Here's a look at some draft-day moves we'd love to see happen to keep things entertaining.  

Atlanta Trades Down from No. 4

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    New Falcons head coach Arthur Smith
    New Falcons head coach Arthur SmithAssociated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are the first big question mark in the draft, with three quarterbacks almost guaranteed to come off the board with the first three picks. 

    Those Falcons, resetting under new head coach Arthur Smith, could grab the fourth signal-caller in the class that happens to fall, though picking from the leftovers might not be too appealing. Also keep in mind Matt Ryan has a dead-cap charge of $65.4 million this season, so it's not like the Falcons are wiggling out of his contract. 

    Given what San Francisco coughed up to move to No. 3, the Falcons could eye a major draft haul of premium assets instead via a move down. Denver at No. 9 comes to mind because those Broncos aren't sold on Drew Lock, who completed just 57.3 percent of his passes with one more touchdown than interception last season. 

    The Broncos have even admitted they want to add competition for Lock, so leapfrogging up the order to guarantee a top-four passer is one way to do so. Such a move would net the Falcons the ninth pick, plus they could get 2022 first- and second-round picks. A savvy approach like that would still guarantee a top-10 player and critical long-term assets for the rebuild once the current aging core leaves. 

Chicago Leaps into Top 10

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    Bears GM Ryan Pace
    Bears GM Ryan PaceAssociated Press

    The Chicago Bears will spend time posturing as if the quarterback situation has the front office content, but one didn't need to see the social media reaction to the Nick Foles-Andy Dalton tandem to know the approach wasn't going to go over well. 

    Maybe the Bears have something smooth up the proverbial sleeve though. Moving up for a quarterback if one or two of the top five fall past the fourth pick would make sense. Dalton and Foles, after all, are eerily similar players. The former is 33 with a career 62.2 completion percentage who averages 7.1 yards per attempt. The latter is 32 and has completed 62.3 percent of his attempts for a 6.8 average. 

    Carolina looks like the perfect spot for a move up, too, as the Panthers already acquired a potential passer of the future with Sam Darnold. Moving out of position for a top-10 talent isn't too appealing, but the Bears could offer No. 20, a third-rounder and multiple top-50 picks in 2022 and/or 2023 to make up the difference. 

    If nothing else, this would show Bears fans the regime led by general manager Ryan Pace is actually desperate to finally get the position right. Carolina, in the meantime, builds for the future and even has enough assets to make a big trade of its own in a future draft if Darnold doesn't work out.  

Dallas Trades Up for Kyle Pitts

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    Tight end Kyle Pitts
    Tight end Kyle PittsAssociated Press

    Jerry Jones could always up the fun factor of the draft by making a splash. 

    Jones has a defense that needs some serious love, of course, but it's also worth pointing out he is apparently very enthralled with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. 

    And who wouldn't be? Pitts is an elite pass-catching weapon who can line up all over the place and put up 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons, even averaging 17.9 yards per catch last year. Let's just say he'd be fun in an offense with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb with Dak Prescott back under center. 

    Dallas drafting Pitts would require a move up from No. 10, though. Targeting a team like Miami, which sits at No. 6 and is comfortable with passer Tua Tagovailoa, is the way to go. Since Miami won't get first dibs on an elite prospect for the offense while moving back, Dallas could dangle a huge-upside player like wideout Michael Gallup, plus a mid-round pick to make the move more appealing. 

    This way, Dallas gets the best tight end in the draft to add to Prescott's arsenal, and the Dolphins pick up another big asset and a potential star wideout while moving back just four spots.  

Washington Trades for Teddy Bridgewater

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    Washington head coach Ron Rivera
    Washington head coach Ron RiveraAssociated Press

    Washington hasn't been shy about getting aggressive in the first round in recent years, such as moving back up into the first round for Montez Sweat in 2019.  

    The right move this time around to fix the quarterback spot would be to not sacrifice all of the team's assets in a move up from No. 19, but to go after a veteran.

    The player who makes the most sense is Carolina's Teddy Bridgewater, who is redundant after the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold. Bridgewater had a 69.1 completion percentage with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last year, making him an upgrade over 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

    Part of the appeal here for Washington is cost. Carolina might have to just cut Teddy otherwise, because the whole league knows his time there is almost over. Washington could also bank on him being quite a bit more productive in an offense with Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson. 

    And from Carolina's end, netting a second-rounder or something similar for a guy it doesn't plan on playing is a win, too. 

Patriots Trade Up to No. 5 with Cincinnati

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    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
    Patriots head coach Bill BelichickAssociated Press

    It's always fun to think about what Bill Belichick might do next. This offseason, the New England Patriots head coach re-upped with Cam Newton, then shocked the NFL landscape as one of free agency's biggest spenders. 

    So why not a trade up from No. 15 next? 

    This idea had plenty of weight before any reports, but it sure doesn't hurt that NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported on Monday that the Patriots are interested in moving up, possibly for a quarterback like Ohio State's Justin Fields

    Which makes perfect sense. While the Patriots spent big to better build the offense to fit Newton, Belichick and Co. need to have a long-term plan behind him. And teams like Miami, Cincinnati and Carolina could all be viable trade-down targets since they are content at quarterback. 

    With the chance four passers come off the board over the first four picks, let's focus on Cincinnati at No. 5. Those Bengals are going to roll with the best offensive lineman or wideout available to help Joe Burrow, but moving down 10 picks, still getting a quality prospect at one of those deep spots and picking up first-round selections in 2022 and 2023 would be hard to pass up. 

    For the Patriots, it's an aggressive, almost necessary move because the team doesn't plan on being any higher in the draft order next year. 


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