7 NFL Players Likely to Be Traded After the 2021 Season
Tuesday's NFL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and we're likely to see several notable players moved in the coming days. However, not all teams will be in the position or willing to make deals in-season.
Cap constraints are part of the equation, as half of the league has less than $7 million in available cap space. Some teams also don't know whether they can still make a run at the postseason, which could affect their willingness to give up draft picks or young players for win-now veterans.
Several players will land on new teams, and several more are on the block. However, most teams will be inclined to wait until the offseason to go all-in on a blockbuster acquisition.
Here, we'll dive into seven noteworthy players who have a good chance of being traded in 2022. We'll examine why they could be moved—factors like roster makeup, cap implications and relevant reports will be considered where applicable—and we'll examine some logical landing spots for each.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns appear to be nearing the end of their Odell Beckham Jr. experiment.
It's been more than two years since the Browns acquired the three-time Pro Bowler from the New York Giants, but he still hasn't solidified himself as a star in Cleveland.
Beckham has struggled to develop chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield, and this season, he's been a minor part of the offense. In five games, he has only 16 catches for 226 receiving yards and zero touchdowns.
According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Beckham is likely to remain in Cleveland through the deadline but probably not beyond the season.
"Sources familiar with the Cleveland thinking suggested this could be the wide receiver's final season with the team," Howe wrote. "Beckham is under contract through 2023."
The New England Patriots, who lack a No. 1 receiver to pair with quarterback Mac Jones, would be a logical landing spot. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also make sense if Chris Godwin departs in free agency. Tampa is likely to remain all-in on winning championships as long as Tom Brady is still under center.
Beckham will carry a cap hit of $15 million in 2022, but there will be no dead money remaining on his deal.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
For now, Jimmy Garoppolo remains the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.
"In terms of deciding who is going at quarterback, that has to do with Jimmy's health," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Monday. "Jimmy, I wanted to see how his calf was. It's good today and so he'll be starting."
With No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance waiting in the wings, there's virtually no chance that Garoppolo remains in the Bay Area beyond this season. The veteran will carry a cap hit of $27 million in 2022 but will have only $1.4 million in dead money on his deal.
The 49ers could cut Garoppolo outright. However, interested teams should be willing to offer late-round compensation rather than try their luck at landing Garoppolo on the open market, especially since his $24.2 million base salary in 2022 isn't unreasonable.
The most likely suitors are teams looking to bridge the gap to a rookie quarterback in 2022 or 2023, depending on how this year's rookie class shapes up. The Houston Texans stand out among that group. They could soon part with Deshaun Watson, and general manager Nick Caserio was the Patriots' director of player personnel when they drafted Garoppolo.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could also be an option if Ben Roethlisberger decides to retire after this season.
Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins
After going 10-6 last season, the 1-6 Miami Dolphins appear to be barreling toward another rebuild.
If the Dolphins decide to start over in 2022, trading All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard would be a logical move. He requested a trade out of Miami in the offseason but was sated by a contract restructuring.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Howard also "received assurances" that Miami would negotiate a new deal in the spring. However, the Dolphins may be inclined to move him and his $14.4 million cap hit instead.
While Miami has San Francisco's first-round pick in 2022, it traded its own first-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins may be able to get another first-round pick for Howard, which they could use to help jump-start their next rebuild.
The Dolphins would also pass off the responsibility of working out a new contract with Howard.
Virtually any team looking for a top-tier corner should have some interest in Howard. The Kansas City Chiefs, whose 28th-ranked defense is a serious liability, could be a logical landing spot.
The Baltimore Ravens could also be interested, depending on how cornerback Marcus Peters recovers from his torn ACL. They could save $10 million in cap space by dumping the final year of Peters' contract.
Myles Jack, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
While the Dolphins are likely headed toward a rebuild, the Jacksonville Jaguars are still in the beginning stages of one. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has shown steady growth this year, but head coach Urban Meyer has raised his fair share of concerns.
Jacksonville's roster turnover will likely continue in 2022, and it could involve sixth-year linebacker Myles Jack. While Jack has been a solid starter for the Jaguars, Meyer recently stripped him of defensive play-calling duties.
"We have been evaluating that, because Myles plays three positions," Meyer told reporters. "... We just did some research, he plays best when he doesn't have to make the call."
With Jack set to carry a $13.2 million cap hit—and only $4.8 million in dead money—in 2022, Jacksonville may look to move a player it no longer views as a defensive centerpiece.
The defensively deficient Chiefs could be among the interested suitors. The Los Angeles Chargers would also make sense, as run defense has been their Achilles' heel in 2021. L.A. ranks dead last in both rushing yards and yards per carry allowed.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
At some point, the Green Bay Packers figure to turn the page from reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers to 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love at quarterback. That time may well come in the 2022 offseason.
According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), the Packers have "verbally agreed" to trade Rodgers next offseason if he wants out of Green Bay. Granted, just before the 2021 draft, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Rodgers didn't want to return to Green Bay this season.
"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," Schefter wrote.
Rodgers did return, and a lot will hinge on how far Green Bay can go in the playoffs and how the franchise approaches next offseason. For example, if star wideout Davante Adams leaves in free agency, Rodgers may be adamant about moving on.
And even if Rodgers is on the fence, 2022 would be the perfect time for Green Bay to rip off the proverbial Band-Aid and make the switch to Love. Rodgers will have only $26.8 million in dead money left on his deal and should bring multiple first-round picks in a trade.
The Denver Broncos would be a logical suitor, as they have loads of offensive and defensive talent but no long-term answer at quarterback. The Steelers would also make sense, though NBC Sports' Peter King believes that Denver would have the edge in trade talks.
"Rodgers might want Pittsburgh, but my guess is Denver would offer more," King wrote.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
The buzz that the Dolphins will acquire Deshaun Watson continues to grow louder.
Watson hasn't played this season as he faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women who have accused him of sexual assault or misconduct. However, Dolphins franchise owner Stephen Ross wants Watson, and the two teams have reportedly agreed on preliminary trade compensation, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
A deal isn't guaranteed to get done before the deadline, though, as Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reportedly wants Watson's legal issues resolved first and also wants to know if he would be suspended. Still, it's become clear that Ross isn't fully committed to second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Regardless of whether the Dolphins acquire Watson, there's a reasonable chance that they'll pull the plug on Tagovailoa as part of their 2022 rebuilding process. The big question is who will be willing to acquire him.
According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the Texans aren't particularly interested in acquiring Tagovailoa as part of a Watson trade. Mike Klis of 9News Denver reported the Broncos are also uninterested in adding Tagovailoa.
We could be looking at established franchises willing to take a chance on a talented but unproven signal-caller. The Steelers could be a candidate, as they took a flier on 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins earlier this year.
The New Orleans Saints could also be in the mix, depending on how things play out with Jameis Winston. While Winston has shown flashes this season, he's playing on a one-year deal and may not be affordable on a free-agent contract. The Saints are already projected to be $49.3 million over the cap in 2022.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
There was no shortage of trade buzz surrounding Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. It started when Wilson openly discussed his lack of pass protection and desire to be involved in the decision-making process on The Dan Patrick Show, which the Seattle brass did not appreciate.
"A source told me that the Seahawks' management is not happy with Russell Wilson and his camp for taking this to the media," Patrick said (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). "You wonder if they're going to be able to coexist. ... The current situation is not sustainable. That's what I was told."
While the Seahawks and Wilson mended fences, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that the relationship was tenuous and that trade chatter could resurface this offseason (h/t Bleacher Report's Scott Polacek):
"it was very dicey here in the offseason between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Now, of course, they put it back together. Everything is great right now with Pete Carroll. He was part of that interview process for Shane Waldron, his offensive coordinator. So, right now everything's great. But in the offseason can I see Russell do this again? A million percent. I see Russell trying to do this again."
Wilson could very well insist on getting out of Seattle after what is shaping up to be a disaster of a season.
The 10th-year veteran is on injured reserve following finger surgery, while the Seahawks are 2-5 and have yet to win a home game. The roster isn't great, so they'll likely need to rebuild to some extent this offseason.
If things were "dicey" between Wilson and the Seahawks following a 12-4 campaign, they could get downright ugly next offseason.
If Wilson is open to joining the Saints, New Orleans is a logical landing spot. The Cleveland Browns could also be an option, as they have a roster built to win now, one of the league's best offensive lines and a lot of lingering uncertainty around fourth-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Cap and contract information via Spotrac.