Ranking the NFL's Best Trade Pieces of the 2022 Offseason

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2021

Ranking the NFL's Best Trade Pieces of the 2022 Offseason

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    It may feel like the NFL season started just a few weeks ago, but time flies when football is involved. We've already reached December and the final six weeks of the 2021 campaign. There are still plenty of snaps left, but teams have at least one eye on the post-Super Bowl world.

    The 2022 offseason will inevitably involve trades. As franchises look to retool rosters, manage the salary cap and jockey for draft positioning, notable pieces will move. 

    The following nine players have either already been the subject of trade chatter or are entering situations that would make a trade logical. We'll rank them based on proven production, upside, health and positional value.

9. Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Amy Lemus/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles made former Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard the 22nd pick in the 2019 draft. However, Dillard has failed to develop into a full-time starter and was the subject of trade chatter before the Nov. 2 deadline.

    "The Eagles won't give him away, and there are scenarios where he's a part of their future, anyway," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport wrote. "But teams believe a quality second-day pick would be enough to pry Dillard away."

    The Eagles kept Dillard, but he has only played special teams snaps since getting 14 offensive reps in Week 8. Philadelphia may view him as a fine piece of insurance now, but it might want to move him in the offseason.

    He has proven little, but he's still a 26-year-old left tackle with a first-round pedigree and has plenty of untapped potential. He'll also be on the final year of his rookie deal next year and is a cap-friendly option for interested teams.

    The Eagles won't recoup a first-rounder for Dillard, but they should get something of value.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Fourth-Round Pick, 2022 Sixth-Round Pick

8. Marcus Peters, CB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters would rank higher on this list if he weren't recovering from a torn ACL and set to carry a cap hit of $15.5 million in 2022. He represents a fairly sizable risk and could be a cap casualty anyway—only $5.5 million in dead money remains on his deal.

    These are all reasons the Ravens could be willing to move Peters, though. Baltimore's defense has survived without him, and the Ravens hold the top seed in the AFC. The Ravens could easily determine that they don't need Peters at his price point, and they would likely get a decent return.

    He is a three-time Pro Bowler with an impressive 31 career interceptions. He'll turn 29 in January and will still be in his prime—provided he's back to 100 percent, of course. While Peters was a bit of a risk-reward cover corner early in his career—he had three picks but allowed six touchdown passes in 2018, for example—he's been more consistent since arriving in Baltimore.

    In 2019 with the Ravens, Peters allowed an opposing passer rating of only 63.4 over 10 games. Last year, he allowed an opposing passer rating of 78.0.

    Cover corners are generally in high demand, and Peters should draw plenty of interest if he lands on the trade block. His health will be a concern, but at least one team should be willing to bank on a return to pre-injury form.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Third-Round Pick

7. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Cleveland Browns wideout Jarvis Landry has dealt with knee issues and a poor passing attack in 2021, which may hurt his trade value some. However, he did have his first 100-yard game of the season in Week 12 and remains a high-end No. 2 possession option.

    The five-time Pro Bowler is the best wideout on Cleveland's roster but could be trade bait in the 2022 offseason. The Browns have invested in young receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones, 22, and Anthony Schwartz, 21, and will have a financial decision to make regarding Landry.

    The LSU product is set to carry a cap hit of $16.5 million in 2022 but will have just $1.5 million in dead money remaining.

    Though he could be an outright cap casualty, expect the Browns to first try trading Landry. In a league regularly starved for reliable pass-catchers, the 29-year-old should draw plenty of interest if made available.

    Don't be shocked if Cleveland moves Landry early in free agency and looks to continue reloading at receiver in the draft.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Third-Round Pick

6. Preston Smith and 5. Za'Darius Smith, Edge, Green Bay Packers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Pass-rushers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith have both been wonderful since they joined the Green Bay Packers in 2019. Za'Darius Smith has been out following September back surgery but had his second straight Pro Bowl campaign in 2020. He finished that season with 12.5 sacks and 39 quarterback pressures.

    Preston Smith has five sacks and 18 quarterback pressures this season.

    Both Smiths will be free agents in 2023. With 2019 first-round pick Rashan Gary emerging as a quality pass-rusher, it would be a mild surprise if one of the two Smiths isn't traded in the coming offseason.

    It's also unlikely that the Packers would trade both veterans, which is why they're being listed together. It is possible, though, as Green Bay could be looking at a fairly significant rebuild sooner than later.

    Za'Darius Smith has been the more productive of the two and would carry a higher trade value in a vacuum. However, cap dollars could even things out a bit between the two. Za'Darius is set to carry a cap hit of $28.1 million next season. Preston Smith's cap hit is set at $19.75 million.

    Expect one of the two sack artists to be moved and to net Green Bay a Day 2 selection as part of a trade package.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Third-Round Pick, 2023 Fifth-Round Pick

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Quarterbacks make the NFL world go 'round, and so it should be no surprise that three of our top four entries are signal-callers. First up is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who will almost certainly be on the move in the offseason.

    "Absent a Super Bowl run, which at this point is still theoretically possible, this is the 49ers' plan next season: start Trey Lance, trade Jimmy Garoppolo. Not a surprise there. They've been pretty up front about that," Rapoport said on NFL Gameday Morning.

    Injuries are an obvious concern with Garoppolo, as he's only played a full 16-game slate once, in 2019. He did help lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl that season, though, and Garoppolo is having another solid year.

    Through 10 games, he has passed for 2,342 yards with 13 touchdowns, six interceptions and a rating of 99.1. He's also rushed for three touchdowns and has a 6-4 starting record.

    But the 49ers have made it obvious that they'll send him packing. San Francisco has little negotiating leverage and can't demand, say, two first-round picks for a player it doesn't plan to keep. Still, an above-average starter with a $27 million price tag in 2022 will bring value in a trade. 

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Third-Round Pick, 2022 Fourth-Round Pick

3. Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans

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    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    Houston Texans wideout Brandin Cooks was also the subject of trade buzz ahead of the deadline. However, the Texans reportedly had little interest in moving him.

    "Cooks is the kind of player the Texans want to build around, not trade. Don't expect him to be available," Rapoport wrote.

    Houston may be willing to change its stance in the offseason, though. The Texans are among the NFL's worst teams and will almost certainly be in the market for a new franchise quarterback.

    Deshaun Watson requested a trade last offseason and has been out of the lineup this year, as he faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women who have accused him of sexual assault or misconduct.

    He's also a clear trade candidate but isn't ranked given the possible league and legal ramifications.

    While Cooks may be a fine building block for a new-look offense, he's also scheduled to be a free agent in 2023. By the time the Texans are relevant again, Cooks may already be gone.

    So, it would make sense to cash him in for draft capital. He's been a No. 1-caliber receiver even on a bad Texans offense—he has 62 receptions, 704 yards and three touchdowns—and at only 28 years old should have many prime years ahead of him.

    The Texans acquired Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick for a 2020 second-rounder. They should get similar value in return by dealing him.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 Second-Round Pick

2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    We noted that the Packers could face a rebuild in 2022. That will hinge entirely on the future of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While he is under contract through next season, he generated a ton of trade buzz in the offseason and could still be dealt.

    According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Packers have agreed to trade Rodgers after this year if he still wants out.

    "They have about six months to try and repair that relationship," Glazer said during the Hall of Fame Game.

    If the Packers decide to start the Jordan Love era and put Rodgers on the block, they'll have no shortage of suitors. Rodgers is the reigning MVP and may make a push for the award again this season.

    Through 11 games, Rodgers has thrown for 2,878 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions with a rating of 105.5. While he is 37 years old, he's shown no signs of slowing down and should provide a franchise with a four- to five-year championship window.

    The Detroit Lions got two first-round picks, a third-rounder and Jared Goff in for Matthew Stafford. Rodgers should bring a similar package to the Packers.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 and 2023 First-Round Picks, 2022 Second-Round Pick

1. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn't quite as accomplished as Rodgers, but he should have more value on the trade market. At 33 years old, the seven-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl champion could have a decade or more of football ahead of him.

    However, Wilson's future may not be in Seattle. According to Glazer, Wilson had a "dicey" situation in Seattle this past offseason and could try to force his way out in 2022.

    "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," Glazer said on the NFL on Fox pregame show in October.

    Wilson missed three games following finger surgery and is battling through a disappointing Seahawks campaign. However, this will likely mark the first time in Wilson's career that he hasn't finished a season with a winning record. If the 3-8 Seahawks go on to miss the playoffs, it will be only the second time that has happened with Wilson under center.

    While the presence of Rodgers and Watson on the market could diminish Wilson's value some, the Seahawks should expect a hefty return for the future Hall of Famer.

    Teams willing to go all-in on a quarterback trade will have options, but Wilson should be at the top of their lists.

    Projected Trade Value: 2022 and 2023 First-Round Picks, 2022 Second-Round Pick, 2023 Fourth-Round Pick


    Salary-cap and contract information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.