NFL Trade Ideas to Prevent a Rams Super Bowl Repeat in 2022March 1, 2022
NFL Trade Ideas to Prevent a Rams Super Bowl Repeat in 2022
The exciting finish of Super Bowl LVI wrapped up perhaps the best playoffs in NFL history. The Los Angeles Rams edged out the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20, validating their decision to go all-in on building a superteam.
The Bengals weren't considered a contender at the start of last season, but the right blend of free-agent signings, draft picks (particularly star wideout Ja'Marr Chase) and internal development catapulted them to the brink of a championship. Other teams will now look to follow suit this offseason.
The top Super Bowl LVII contenders are only a few moves away from closing the gap on the Rams. Here, we've laid out seven trades that teams could make to prevent the Rams from repeating next season.
Each of these moves takes into consideration cap situations, roster construction and the moves other teams can make. No two teams will make the same move.
Dive in and see how the stars can align for next year's potential Super Bowl champion.
Arizona Cardinals: Trade for Brandin Cooks
Arizona receives: WR Brandin Cooks
Houston receives: 2022 third-round pick (No. 87 overall)
Few NFL receivers have been as consistently productive regardless of scheme, coaching staff and quarterback as Brandin Cooks.
Cooks has six 1,000-yard seasons in eight years, filling a variety of roles that have spanned from deep-play threat to reliable WR1. The 29-year-old is entering a contract year on a rebuilding Houston Texans team, which makes now a good time for a contender to acquire him.
The Arizona Cardinals stand out as a particularly excellent fit for Cooks, as veterans A.J. Green and Christian Kirk are slated to hit free agency. Green was solid last season for a low-cost veteran pickup, and the 25-year-old Kirk has value as a complementary piece, but neither are game-breakers worth breaking the bank on if a better option presents itself.
The duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Cooks would be expensive, but they'd be incredibly powerful weapons for quarterback Kyler Murray. The Rams defense thrived off sacks and interceptions but allowed passing yards in droves, which could incentivize the Cardinals to beef up their aerial attack.
Meanwhile, Houston could get some extra draft capital to replenish its roster and expedite its rebuild.
Denver Broncos: Trade for Aaron Rodgers
Denver receives: QB Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay receives: 2022 first-round pick (No. 9 overall), 2022 second-round pick (No. 64 overall from Rams), 2023 first-round pick
The list of available veteran quarterbacks is quickly dwindling. Kirk Cousins appears likely to remain in Minnesota, while the Las Vegas Raiders "are prepared" to offer Derek Carr a long-term extension, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Quarterback-needy teams such as the Denver Broncos could be staring at either Jimmy Garoppolo or Carson Wentz as their best realistic options. But rather than settle at the position, the Broncos should make the Green Bay Packers an offer they can't refuse for Aaron Rodgers.
The 38-year-old just won his fourth MVP trophy after completing 68.9 percent of his passes for 4,115 yards, 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 16 games. Despite his age, Rodgers remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
If he decides to play in 2022, he's hinted that he may prefer to leave the Packers rather than endure a rebuild. Meanwhile, the Broncos hired his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, as their new head coach this offseason.
Few teams would be more attractive to any veteran quarterback than the Broncos thanks to their young and highly talented cast of playmakers. They're already projected to have $39.2 million in cap space this offseason, but they could carve out even more by restructuring deals to go all-in with Rodgers and impactful free agents who want to play with him.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trade for James Bradberry
Kansas City receives: CB James Bradberry
New York Giants receive: 2022 fourth-round pick (No. 133 overall)
The Kansas City Chiefs' shocking AFC Championship Game collapse against the Cincinnati Bengals overshadowed just how good this roster is.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense played as poorly in the second half as they had all year, but they have a clear path to return to the Super Bowl. They must add a quality second receiving threat, re-sign Orlando Brown and Tyrann Mathieu and bolster their edge and cornerback room.
The latter is the biggest question mark due to the importance of finding a playmaker at the position. While pending free agent Charvarius Ward played admirably, trading for New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry would give the Chiefs a feared presence to lock down one side of the field.
The 28-year-old has excelled over the past two seasons with the lowly Giants. He's entering the final season of his deal before a void year in 2023 makes him a free agent once again.
The Giants should be motivated to deal Bradberry this offseason, as they could save $12 million in salary-cap space as they continue their rebuild. They desperately need flexibility and have sparse ways to address their needs in free agency. Continuing to stockpile draft picks and investing in the right young players would help them reset their cap constraints and build a healthier outlook.
Kansas City can move a ton of money around with ease to absorb Bradberry's $13.4 million base salary. Bradberry and Mathieu would combine for a physically punishing tandem in the secondary.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trade for Deshaun Watson
Tampa Bay receives: QB Deshaun Watson
Houston receives: 2022 first-round pick (No. 27 overall), 2022 fourth-round pick (No. 131 overall), 2023 conditional first-round pick (protected in case of suspension), 2023 second-round pick
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's NFL future remains uncertain amid 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints by women alleging sexual assault and misconduct. No team figures to trade for him until the legal process plays out.
If Watson is eventually cleared to play in 2022, the Houston Texans would presumably prefer to trade him out of the AFC. Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which will allow him to control where he eventually goes.
The opportunity to play for Bruce Arians and with Mike Evans and a star-studded Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense should be his most attractive option.
The Buccaneers are scrambling at quarterback in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement. Second-year quarterback Kyle Trask and incumbent backup Blaine Gabbert won't keep them relevant in the title chase.
Even if the Bucs have to give up a huge haul to acquire Watson, they might be willing to do so to extend their Super Bowl window. He would be a phenomenal fit into Arians' and Byron Leftwich's vertical passing game.
In some ways, the Buccaneers would be in a better position to compete with Watson's playmaking throughout his prime years. No team is more able to withstand trading away several first-round picks since Tampa Bay already has a loaded roster on both sides of the ball.
Buffalo Bills: Trade for Danielle Hunter
Buffalo receives: Edge Danielle Hunter
Minnesota receives: 2022 second-round pick (No. 57 overall) and 2022 fifth-round pick (No. 155 overall)
Could the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings again make a deal involving a star talent?
The Vikings are at a critical crossroads this offseason. They can either trade away their veterans for draft assets and reset their cap situation or see if their new staff can push their roster into the playoff mix.
Should the Vikings choose to rebuild, contenders should line up for defensive end Danielle Hunter in particular. The 28-year-old is the perfect buy-low candidate considering he's owed only $6.3 million in base salary over the next two years and he's coming off a season-ending pectoral injury.
The Bills could be interested in Hunter, as they lacked defensive playmaking last season. Mario Addison was the lone Buffalo player with more than four sacks, as their young stable of defensive ends is more geared toward stopping the run. Recent draft picks Gregory Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa can also slide inside to tackle with a more effective pass-rusher on the edge.
With so few needs on their roster, the Bills would benefit more from an impactful veteran defensive end than a rookie who will need time and opportunity before producing. The Bills were a pass rush away from beating the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round, so trading for Hunter might push them over the top.
Cleveland Browns: Trade for Russell Wilson
Cleveland receives: QB Russell Wilson
Seattle receives: QB Baker Mayfield, 2022 first-round pick (No. 13 overall), 2023 first-round pick
The Cleveland Browns should be in the quarterback market after another dreadful season from Baker Mayfield. Although injuries contributed to Mayfield's struggles in 2021, the Browns front office must do its due diligence looking for an upgrade under center.
The Browns could appeal to Russell Wilson because of their elite offensive line and pair of standout running backs to complement a rising defense. After trading Mayfield, acquiring Wilson and making reasonable cuts, the Browns could still have about $30 million in cap space to find two starting-caliber receivers.
Cleveland's coaching staff and front office has a lot on the line in 2022, and major changes could be forthcoming if the team struggles again next season. Acquiring Wilson should turn the Browns into a legitimate Super Bowl hopeful.
Meanwhile, Seattle would save $38 million over the next two years while adding Mayfield and a bevy of draft picks in return for Wilson. The Seahawks would have a year to evaluate the 2018 No. 1 overall pick's health and fit within Pete Carroll's offense before making a long-term decision on his future in Seattle.
Los Angeles Chargers: Trade for Calvin Ridley
Los Angeles receives: WR Calvin Ridley
Atlanta receives: 2022 second-round pick (No. 48 overall) and 2023 conditional third-round pick
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley played only five games last season before stepping away to focus on his mental well-being. In mid-January, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said his "read here is a trade is a very strong possibility."
The Falcons are already projected to be $6.6 million over next year's salary cap. They could save $11.1 million by trading Ridley this offseason, which should pique the interest of contenders.
The 28-year-old Ridley is an explosive, well-rounded threat who would make a major impact on the Los Angeles Chargers' passing game. He has the ability to line up outside or in the slot thanks to his excellent quickness off the line, great route running and sure hands.
The Chargers are heading into free agency with the second-most cap space in the league. They should aim to continue to bolster Justin Herbert's array of big-play threats with part of that money.
The Chargers could opt to trade for Ridley and re-sign Mike Williams, which would give them one of the most feared receiving trios in the league. They could attempt to sign Ridley to an extension now as a buy-low opportunity, or he could be an affordable WR1 before earning a long-term deal next offseason.
No defense in the NFL would have the ability to cover all three of Ridley, Williams and Keenan Allen. Ridley's ability to get open deep and win on contested catches would help Herbert threaten defenses vertically far more often.