Buying or Selling NFL's Latest Trade Rumors as Training Camp Nears

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2021

Buying or Selling NFL's Latest Trade Rumors as Training Camp Nears

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    The first few waves of NFL free agency have passed, and the 2021 NFL draft feels like a distant memory. But a fair amount of player movement could transpire before the start of training camps this month.

    We've seen late-offseason trades crop up in recent years—like last July's deal that sent safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks—and the fall deadline is months away.

    At least a few teams are likely to take advantage of the trade window before the start of the 2021 regular season Sept. 9.

    Which recent trade rumors are grounded in truth, and which are strictly smoke? We'll dig into the latest trade buzz here.   

Eagles Preparing for Life After Zach Ertz

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles have not pressed for a Zach Ertz trade, but now that June 1 has passed, they could save $8.5 million by moving the tight end. While the three-time Pro Bowler has been a mainstay of the offense, it appears that Philadelphia is preparing to move on.

    According to John McMullen of Eagle Maven, the team has informed Ertz that Dallas Goedert is the franchise tight end moving forward.

    "What we do know is that the Eagles are planning for life after Ertz and trying to work out a big-money contract extension with Goedert," McMullen wrote. "More so the team has informed Ertz that Goedert is going to get the lion's share of snaps at the position no matter what."

    New head coach Nick Sirianni reportedly wants to move away from frequently utilizing two-tight end sets, while the Eagles are comfortable with Richard Rodgers as a depth option. With Goedert emerging as a premier receiving tight end, Ertz appears to be expendable.

    An Ertz trade feels like a matter of when, not if. My guess is that Philadelphia will accept a trade offer for Ertz at some point before the regular season but is comfortable carrying him as a rotational piece if a fair deal doesn't materialize. 

    Verdict: Buy  

'No Trade Market' for Aaron Rodgers

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been the face of the NFL trade market ever since ESPN's Adam Schefter reported over draft weekend that the reigning MVP wanted out of Green Bay.

    "Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is so disgruntled with the Green Bay Packers that he has told some within the organization that he does not want to return to the team, league and team sources told ESPN on Thursday," Schefter wrote April 29.

    Rodgers has not reported to the team for offseason activities, but according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, there is "no trade market" for Rodgers right now—with a big caveat.

    "No market because GB still giving zero indications it's trading him," Fowler tweeted. "Hence, there's nothing for monitoring teams to do right now."

    In short, teams cannot set the market for Rodgers if the Packers aren't listening to offers. However, the idea that there is no market whatsoever is likely only true in a technical sense. It would be foolish to believe that at least one team hasn't put together a hard offer and is simply waiting for the opportunity to pitch it.

    Verdict: Sell (sort of)      

Stephon Gilmore Doesn't Expect to Be Traded

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    New England Patriots star cornerback Stephon Gilmore is entering the final year of his contract. He has not reported for offseason workouts while angling for a new deal. However, it doesn't appear that Gilmore expects a trade to be the end result of his holdout.

    Fowler said the following on SportsCenter (h/t Bleacher Report's Tim Daniels):

    "And I'm told that Gilmore has largely not expected to be traded throughout this process because he knows the Patriots have made moves with Gilmore in mind. They haven't gotten a cornerback to replace him. And as one source told me, 'Do the Patriots really want to go into Week 4 against Tom Brady without their top cornerback?'"

    This paints a far different picture than the one surrounding Gilmore at the start of the offseason.

    "Most GMs have considered it a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade top corner Stephon Gilmore this offseason," CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote in March.

    New England probably won't dump Gilmore without a succession plan in place, as its offseason spending spree indicates a desire to contend in 2021.

    It's more likely that the Patriots will either work things out with Gilmore or allow his holdout to continue. 

    Verdict: Buy     

Jaguars Could Take 5th- or 6th-Round Pick for Gardner Minshew II

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars recently signed first overall pick Trevor Lawrence to a rookie contract. According to Schefter, the $36.8 million deal includes no offset language and has a roster bonus that would be paid even if Lawrence is on the active non-football injury list.

    With Lawrence under contract, Gardner Minshew II's time as the Jaguars starter is all but officially over. Could Minshew be on the move before the regular season? According to Fowler, it could happen.

    "One source from another team said they believe Jacksonville would take a fifth- or sixth-round pick for him," Fowler wrote last month.

    While a fifth- or sixth-round pick is at least something, it feels like a low asking price given Jacksonville's situation. While Lawrence appears to be a can't-miss prospect, there's a lot of value in having a Plan B. The Cincinnati Bengals experienced this last year when they lost first overall pick Joe Burrow to a knee injury.

    While the Jaguars did recently sign C.J. Beathard as injury insurance, Minshew has started 20 games for Jacksonville and is far more familiar with the team's personnel. He is better suited to fill the mentor role for Lawrence and/or to start the season if Lawrence isn't ready or healthy enough to do so.

    Jacksonville may ultimately decide to move the 2019 sixth-round selection closer to or during the regular season, but he's on a rookie deal and is too valuable of a depth piece to be dealt for a late Day 3 pick.

    Verdict: Sell    

Texans 'Still Open' to Trading Deshaun Watson

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans' offseason began with star quarterback Deshaun Watson requesting a trade in January. That request became more complicated by March.

    There have been 22 different lawsuits filed against Watson by women alleging sexual assault or misconduct. Potential suitors will likely be hesitant to make a deal until the lawsuits are resolved, and the league could discipline him when it completes its investigation. Watson is not scheduled to be deposed until February 2022 at the earliest.

    NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported in May that the lawsuits haven't affected Watson's desire to leave Houston. The Texans, meanwhile, have indicated that they plan to make a decision on Watson's future before camp.

    "As we get more information, as we get closer to training camp, we'll try to make the best decision for the Houston Texans, whatever that entails," general manager Nick Caserio told Sports Radio 610 (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).

    ESPN's Dianna Russini told Get Up in mid-June (h/t Bleacher Report's Adam Wells) that the Texans were indeed "still open to trading" Watson.

    This shouldn't come as a surprise. It's unlikely Watson will suit up for the Texans in 2021, and his future in the NFL is uncertain.

    If Houston can convince a team to take on Watson's contract and get conditional compensation as part of a package—perhaps a first-round pick that only transfers if Watson is exonerated and/or starts a specific number of games over the next few seasons—it should be quick to pull the trigger.

    Verdict: Buy