Ranking the 5 Most Likely NFL Players to Be Dealt During 2022 Draft

Alex KayContributor IApril 6, 2022

Ranking the 5 Most Likely NFL Players to Be Dealt During 2022 Draft

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The frenzy of trades that opened the new league year has calmed down over the last few weeks.

    The offseason is likely to remain relatively quiet until the 2022 NFL draft, an event during which a slew of players and picks are expected to change hands.

    Some teams will be desperate to move up to select the top prospects on their big board, often giving up proven players to facilitate this.

    Others will try to offload contracts to clear cap room, swinging trades for draft capital to clear their books.

    Certain players seem more likely to be moved than others according to their current status with their respective teams, as well as the amount of media chatter and rumors swirling around them. 

    With that in mind, here are five players most likely to be dealt during the upcoming draft.

No. 5: Grady Jarrett, DT, Atlanta Falcons

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons officially entered a rebuild after trading longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts last month.

    That isn't likely to be the last veteran to exit Atlanta this offseason. Grady Jarrett, the team's stalwart defensive tackle, could be on the move during the draft.

    After racking up 17.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss between the 2018 and 2020 seasons, the 2015 fifth-round pick contributed just one sack and three tackles for loss last year. He saw his Pro Football Focus grade drop to a middling 67.8 after three consecutive campaigns with an 80-plus mark.

    That type of fading production doesn't bode well for Jarrett's chances of sticking around. With the highest cap hit on the roster, a $16.5 million salary and advancing age—he'll turn 30 shortly after the 2022 season wraps up—Jarrett has all the makings of a trade candidate for this club.

    Atlanta settled for a third-rounder in exchange for Ryan's services and may be willing to deal Jarrett rather cheaply as well.

    Teams seeking help in the defensive trenches may look to the Falcons to get the seven-year vet at a bargain rate.

    The Dallas Cowboys could make a run at the defensive tackle, a move that would reunite the Clemson product with Dan Quinn. Jarrett played all but one of his professional seasons and made a pair of Pro Bowls under Quinn during his head coaching stint in Atlanta.

    Quinn has done well with his current crop of defensive tackles, but Jarrett would immediately slot in as the best of a steady but unspectacular group that includes Carlos Watkins, Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, Trysten Hill and Quinton Bohanna.

    The Cowboys defensive coordinator seems to know how to get the most out of the DT position. If Dallas offers up a Day 2 pick, it could be enough to pry Jarrett away from the Falcons.

No. 4: James Bradberry, CB, New York Giants

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The New York Giants are entering a new era under head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen. One significant holdover from the previous regime is James Bradberry, the highly paid cornerback who hasn't been performing at a high level.

    Bradberry inked a three-year, $43.5 million deal with the G-Men following his breakout 2019 campaign with the Carolina Panthers. He followed that up with his lone Pro Bowl nod in 2020 but fell off last year with a disappointing showing.

    Although Bradberry secured a career-best four interceptions, he allowed a career-worst 61.7 percent completion rate and gave up eight touchdowns in 2021. His PFF grade dropped from an impressive 79.8 to a replaceable 62.8 as well.

    Bradberry will turn 29 years old during training camp and may be most valuable as a trade chip to the rebuilding Giants.

    Big Blue would assume a good chunk of Bradberry's $21.9 million price tag in a trade, making him an appealing option for a veteran-laden squad lacking a reliable corner. The G-men would benefit, too, shedding $12.1 million from their cap by dealing him before June 1.

    ESPN's Jordan Raanan called it "very unlikely" that Bradberry will remain on New York's roster following the draft.

    The Cincinnati Bengals would make sense as a trade partner, given the team hasn't done much of note to address the position outside of re-signing the disappointing Eli Apple on a one-year deal.

    If the Bengals cough up their third-round pick—the consensus valuation for Bradberry's services, according to The Athletic's Dan Duggan—this deal could get done during the draft.

No. 3: N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots took DeVante Parker off the Miami Dolphins' hands last week, capitalizing on their rival's expensive trade for Tyreek Hill.

    With that move, the Pats augmented Mac Jones' receiving corps and should be fully ready to move on from N'Keal Harry this offseason.

    Harry, a first-round selection in 2019, failed to live up to expectations as an impact No. 1 wideout with three different starting quarterbacks—Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Jones—throwing him the ball.

    The Arizona State product has paltry career numbers of 57 receptions on 103 targets for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 33 games. He failed to even find the end zone on any of his 12 catches last year and no longer appears to be part of New England's plans.

    While the Patriots do have the option of releasing Harry, the team can actually save more cap space—an additional $700,000—by finding a trading partner to take the wideout off its hands.

    Harry still has some upside, however. He's only 24 years old and could benefit from a fresh start in another offense.

    One team Harry could thrive with is the San Francisco 49ers.

    The Niners have a legitimate superstar in wideout Deebo Samuel and a respectable No. 2 option in Brandon Aiyuk. With those two players soaking up defensive attention and head coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive creativity, you have the formula for Harry to flourish in the Bay Area.

    It's far from guaranteed, but for the low cost of a late-round pick, Harry would be worth taking a flier on to fill the 49ers' need for a third wideout.

No. 2: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    It appears to be a matter of when, not if the San Francisco 49ers will trade Jimmy Garoppolo.

    Although the quarterback guided the team to a Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game appearance over his past two healthy seasons, the Niners have made it obvious they are ready to move on with the Trey Lance era.

    Because of this, Garoppolo looked like he was a shoo-in to be dealt early in the offseason. Unfortunately for the Niners, the signal-caller's surprise decision to undergo surgery on his throwing shoulder cooled his market considerably.

    While some teams may be hoping that the 49ers simply release the 30-year-old, general manager John Lynch told reporters his team has no plans to do so and would rather keep a player due to make over $24 million in 2022.

    Interest in Garoppolo could ramp up during the draft, especially if QB-needy teams are happy with how his recovery is progressing. If these clubs strike out on the prospects they had atop their big board during a down year for the position, Garoppolo may be the best option for them to compete this year.

    The Carolina Panthers could end up being the ideal landing spot for Jimmy G.

    Even though the team possesses the No. 6 overall pick and is bringing QB prospects like Liberty's Malik Willis (scouting report) in for predraft visits, there is a chance Carolina eschews the position altogether when it is on the clock.

    A veteran like Garoppolo could instead be the missing piece here. The only experienced QB that the Panthers have under contract right now is Sam Darnold, who started his tenure in Carolina off hot but ultimately disappointed before suffering a severe shoulder injury last year. 

    With a talented supporting cast featuring the likes of DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey and over $30 million in cap space available, kicking a conditional Day 2 pick over to the 49ers could turn Carolina into a contender quickly.

No 1: Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns effectively put an end to the Baker Mayfield era when they gave up the farm for Deshaun Watson.

    The relationship between the incumbent starting signal-caller and the organization was already deteriorating before the Watson trade took place.

    ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that the Browns wanted to replace Mayfield with an "adult" at the position, and Mayfield requested a trade and authored a goodbye letter to the city of Cleveland after his employer brought in Watson for a meeting.

    Although the saga is effectively in the rearview, it won't officially end until the Browns release or trade Mayfield. That day could finally come during the 2022 draft, when several teams could turn to Mayfield to fill their QB needs.

    While SI.com's Albert Breer reported that the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions—two of the most obvious Mayfield suitors—do not have "much interest" in acquiring the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, there are some squads that are still in the running.

    Breer believes the Seattle Seahawks make "the most sense," especially with Cleveland likely to eat a "very significant percentage" of Mayfield's $18.9 million salary.

    Seattle finds itself looking for a new starting quarterback for the first time in a decade after trading Russell Wilson this offseason. The team would likely start Drew Lock—a player it acquired in the Wilson deal—if the season began today but would clearly be more competitive with Mayfield under center.

    A fresh start for Mayfield in the Pacific Northwest could revitalize the 26-year-old's career. He's only a season removed from going 11-5 as a starter—and guiding the Browns to their first playoff win since 1994—while completing a respectable 62.8 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions.

    Even if the Seahawks decide to use the No. 9 overall pick—a selection it also got in return for Wilson—on a QB, none of the prospects are likely to outperform the veteran Mayfield in their rookie campaign.

    Given the low cost of doing so, kicking the tires on Mayfield gives Seattle a bridge starter at worst and keeps the club relevant and possibly contending for the next few years.


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