NFL Trade Ideas That Should Happen in 2022

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2021

NFL Trade Ideas That Should Happen in 2022

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    It feels like the 2022 NFL offseason could be the biggest for blockbuster trades yet.

    That sounds like hyperbole with recent years featuring names like DeAndre Hopkins, Matthew Stafford, Julio Jones and Von Miller on the move. But with trade speculation centered around names like Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, prior years might have simply been an appetizer.

    This list highlights players already involved in speculation and/or nearing the end of their tenure with current teams. Teams range from contender to rebuilder, too, and have the capital to make moves work that patch needs, both for the short and long-term.

    Here's a look at a handful of major trades that should happen next year.

Marcus Peters to the Arizona Cardinals

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Marcus Peters, currently recovering from a torn ACL from the offseason, is one of those defensive names who could quietly be on the move via trade and has an instant impact for a new team right away. 

    The Baltimore Ravens have survived just fine without the 28-year-old Peters this season, sticking in the hunt for the AFC's top seed while allowing an average of just 21.7 points per game, a top-10 mark. Fellow starting corner Marlon Humphrey just suffered a season-ending pec injury in Week 13, but his return next year, plus additions via free agency and the draft, could excuse the team looking to still move Peters. 

    This is especially so if you consider Peters has a $15.5 million cap hit in 2022 but only $5.5 million in dead money. Win-now teams that need help at the position might be willing to take the gamble (and could ask for a reworked contract as part of the deal, if it's an issue) for a player that has recorded 31 interceptions over 91 games and only let up three touchdowns on 86 targets in 2020. 

    Think the Arizona Cardinals, as their cornerback depth gets a little dicey behind Byron Murphy Jr. While 33-year-old Robert Alford is playing well, he has missed the previous two campaigns with season-ending injuries. Meanwhile, rookie Marco Wilson has struggled to adapt to the NFL, allowing a 71.4 completion percentage, 516 yards and five touchdowns when targeted.

    Arizona is all-in on win-now moves with the addition of J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, so coughing up a second-round pick for Peters could be a gamble that is the difference between an early playoff exit and a Super Bowl run. 

Jonathan Allen to the Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    At 6-6 with a minus-51 point differential, the Washington Football Team might be willing to sell off some pieces as they continue to search for a franchise passer.

    One of those pieces could be star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who would undoubtedly fetch a first-round pick from a contender. 

    Allen, a first-rounder from 2017 and still just 26, is quietly one of the NFL's best defensive linemen thanks to his ability to fill running lanes and provide pressure from different gaps. He's earned a 90.9 Pro Football Focus grade (putting him in the "elite" tier, tops among all categories) with 6.5 sacks. 

    Washington would still boast a superb defensive line, with Chase Young, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Matt Ioannidis, even if they traded Allen to a team like the Baltimore Ravens. 

    Those Ravens want to keep contending but have to worry about the fact that linemen Brandon Williams will be 33 and Calais Campbell will be 36 by the start of next season. Allen would garner a first-round pick but would still be less than a $10 million cap hit in 2022 before his extension money kicks in and escalates the number. 

Andre Dillard to the Chicago Bears

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard is again about to find himself mired constant in trade speculation this offseason. 

    Dillard, a first-round pick by the Eagles in 2019, hasn't earned a starting role. Around the trade deadline, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted that "...teams believe a quality second-day pick would be enough to pry Dillard away."

    While the deadline has come and gone, Dillard still hasn't gotten many opportunities to play. Jordan Mailata, a former seventh-rounder, has locked down the long-term job at left tackle next to rookie guard Landon Dickerson and veteran Lane Jonnson continues to start at right tackle. Dillard has played just 33 percent of the offensive snaps over 13 games. 

    A team like the Chicago Bears, which invested in Justin Fields, needs to leave no stone unturned to fix the line in front of their rookie quarterback. The Bears used a second-round pick on Teven Jenkins, but Jason Peters is 39 years old. At worst, Dillard could be an excellent swing backup on a cheap rookie contract for at least one more season. 

    To that end, the Bears could make a deal worth it for the Eagles by offering up a second-round pick for a former first-rounder who is still only 26 years old. 

Russell Wilson to the Carolina Panthers

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    It feels like the relationship between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks has run its course. 

    The Seahawks are 4-8 at the bottom of the NFC West and an offseason removed from Wilson's agent making it public he'd accept a trade to four teams, per ESPN's Adam Schefter: the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears.

    It's safe to presume that whatever caused the divide between Wilson and the Seahawks is showing up on the field and the team's record. They've gone just 1-3 since his return from a finger injury, and Seattle might want to sell to get as many assets back as possible for a rebuild while Wilson still has high trade value. Considering he's thrown for 300 yards just once this season with only 14 touchdowns in nine games, that peak value might not last much longer. 

    A team like the Carolina Panthers might be aggressive enough to take the risk. The franchise has gambled on fixing the position, first acquiring Teddy Bridgewater before trading for Sam Darnold, then re-adding Cam Newton

    Wilson might waive a no-trade clause in this scenario. Five wins this year is still good enough to sit second in the NFC South. He'd get to work with weapons like D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall Jr., if not Christian McCaffrey. The move would cost the Panthers at least two first-round picks, two third-round picks and Darnold. 

Aaron Rodgers to the Denver Broncos

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    The relationship between the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers might be sour, but that won't stop them from contending this year.

    Rodgers, 38, has the Packers at 9-3 while completing 66.2 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. He's not going to reach the 48-touchdown mark from last year, but he's still a top-three passer sure to elevate almost any team. 

    Back in August, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported the Packers would trade Rodgers if he wanted out by the end of the year. If that remains the case, or if the team wants to roll with 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love and still maximize trade return for the near-40 Rodgers, a vast number of teams will have an interest. 

    It would surely include the Denver Broncos, a franchise that hasn't figured out the spot since Peyton Manning in 2015. They've worked through eight other names before settling on Bridgewater and Drew Lock this year. Lock has only appeared in relief when Bridgewater has gone down with an injury, but nonetheless, that tandem has underwhelmed en route to a 6-6 record. 

    While the Broncos don't have a Davante Adams (who does?), they do have Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton, plus a defense that lets up just 18.2 points per game, the league's third-best mark. 

    Denver, desperate to keep pace with Kansas City in the AFC West arms race, could cough up two firsts and two thirds, plus Lock, to make it work.