5 Players Likely to Be Traded During the 2022 NFL Draft

Alex KayContributor IApril 28, 2022

5 Players Likely to Be Traded During the 2022 NFL Draft

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    The NFL draft is a hotbed for trades. In the past decade, there has been an average of six deals featuring first-round picks in the weeks before and during the first night of the draft.

    That won't change in 2022, as multiple picks have already exchanged hands and more swaps are surely in the pipeline.

    Notable players could be on the move during the draft as well.

    There are a couple of proven quarterbacks who are openly available to the handful of teams that need upgrades behind center. There are also players pining for changes of scenery who may get their wishes during the frenzy of transactions that is sure to start Thursday.

    Here are five players who are likely to get traded during the draft.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

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    Baker Mayfield's tenure with the Cleveland Browns effectively ended the day the team traded for Deshaun Watson, but the lame duck is still on the roster.

    That could change as soon as the draft, even though the Browns are reportedly fine with keeping Mayfield through the summer.

    According to Anthony Lima of 92.3 The Fan (via 93.7 The Fan's Andrew Fillipponi), Cleveland will likely hang on to Mayfield until after the draft and could even have him on the roster at the start of training camp.

    One reason for this could be the reported lack of interest in the quarterback. FS1's Shannon Sharpe questioned why teams aren't offering a late-round pick for Mayfield's services, saying Monday on Undisputed: "Nobody willing to trade a fifth-round pick? ... You won't give up a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder, a seventh-rounder? ... Don't nobody want [Mayfield]. ... It's hard, but it's fair. Sad, but it's true."

    That could change soon, after franchises have a chance to process the results of the first round and see which quarterbacks remain going into Day 2.

    The Carolina Panthers are a potential suitor in wait-and-see mode.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (via NFL.com's Kevin Patra), the Panthers may make a play for Mayfield after the first round.

    If they pass on a quarterback at No. 6 and aren't satisfied with the options when they are back on the clock, a trade with Cleveland may be the most palatable option.

    The Seattle Seahawks have also been linked to Mayfield after the club traded longtime starter Russell Wilson.

    FanSided's Matt Lombardo reported last week that a team executive said the Seahawks are "very much in the mix for Baker."

    While Mayfield's $18.9 million salary for the upcoming campaign is an albatross, the 2018 No. 1 pick still has upside. He led the Browns in 2020 to their first postseason victory since 1994 before an injury-marred 2021 campaign.

    With a weak quarterback class and several teams in need of upgrades at the position, Mayfield's market should heat up by Day 2 of the draft.

Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

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    The Las Vegas Raiders may have relied heavily on Darren Waller to carry their passing attack over the last three years, but that should change next season.

    Thanks to the teams' blockbuster trade for superstar wideout Davante Adams, quarterback Derek Carr will no longer need to target his tight end over eight times per game—the number of looks Waller has gotten in the last three seasons—and will instead look for his new teammate often.

    While Waller isn't expendable—it's not easy to find an elite tight end—he will turn 30 on Sept. 13 and is nearing the end of his contract.

    He missed five games last year, and his production has tailed off. His 60.5 receiving yards per game and two touchdowns were noticeable dips from the career highs of 74.8 yards per game and nine scores he notched in 2020.

    With no dead money attached to his deal, Waller is an ideal trade candidate for an organization that may wish to recoup some draft capital after it gave up first- and second-round selections for Adams.

    Though the Green Bay Packers received only picks for Adams, the club attempted to acquire a player as part of the deal. According to Cheesehead TV's Aaron Nagler, that player was Waller, and the Packers have reportedly reopened their pursuit of the 2020 Pro Bowler. 

    It is not known what it would take to pry the seven-year veteran from the Raiders, and Waller was reportedly told that he will not be traded, but both sides could benefit.

    Green Bay holds five picks in the top 92, while Las Vegas has just five selections and lacks a choice until No. 86. The Packers would have to give up assets, but they would acquire a playmaker who would be a major upgrade over Robert Tonyan, the projected starter at the position.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    After emerging as one of the NFL's top weapons and playing a major role for the San Francisco 49ers during their unexpected run to the NFC Championship Game last season, Deebo Samuel could shockingly be traded.

    The third-year playmaker has requested a trade and purged references to the Niners on his social media pages. He did not participate in the club's voluntary offseason conditioning program, and a video recently surfaced wherein the star seemingly disagreed with a sign at a nightclub that read "DEEBO IS STAYING #49ERS."

    The request has put the 49ers in a tough situation. San Francisco general manager John Lynch has repeatedly maintained that the organization has no desire to deal Samuel, but the receiver could still get his wish.

    If the Niners do honor Samuel's request, it will almost certainly be because they received a massive offer leading up to or during the draft.

    Pro Football Talk's Peter King reported that one general manager said a mid-first-round pick and a significant asset would be fair market value. According to SI.com's Albert Breer, another GM said it would take a pair of first-rounders to get San Francisco to budge.

    Since the 49ers lack a first-round pick after they surrendered a pair of first-rounders to get quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 last year, this could be an opportunity for them to recoup the cost of that deal.

    The wide receiver class is also exceedingly deep. The Bleacher Report Scouting Department projected a record-tying seven wideouts will come off the board in the first round in its latest mock draft, and it ranked 11 receivers in the top 50 in its latest big board.

    If the Niners can get two lofty selections for Samuel, they will have a great shot to unearth a viable replacement for the All-Pro.

N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots drafted N'Keal Harry with the hope that he would develop into a much-needed No. 1 wideout. Instead, the Arizona State product has overwhelmingly disappointed, failing to carve out a meaningful role or establish chemistry with three different starting quarterbacks during his three years with the team.

    It's evident that Harry doesn't have much of a future with New England, not after an abysmal 2021 season in which he didn't reach the end zone, tied a career low with 12 catches and was targeted a career-worst 22 times in 12 games.

    Early this month, New England traded for DeVante Parker, a move that further bumped Harry down the depth chart at a spot where the Patriots appear deep.

    While New England has the option to simply cut Harry, it could be holding out for a suitor that will be willing to kick the tires on a player who was drafted 32nd. A team would need just $1.9 million in cap space to take on Harry as a reclamation project.

    It would be the shrewd financial move for the Patriots, too, since they would save $673,937 more by trading Harry rather than releasing him.

    NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported last week that the front office and Harry's representatives have had "positive dialogue" regarding trade options. And Harry has not participated in the team's voluntary offseason workouts.

    Though he has been involved in trade speculation in the past—his agent formally requested a move last year—it appears this time it could get done. Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed reported in early March that there was interest in Harry, and teams may make a play for him if they still need receiver help going into the final day of the draft.

    The Patriots almost certainly won't recover anything near the 2023 third-rounder they paid for Parker, but the team could get a late Day 3 selection in addition to the cap relief.

    All things considered, expect New England to finalize a deal if a remotely respectable offer gets floated its way during the draft.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    There's a good chance Jimmy Garoppolo will finally get traded during the draft.

    The San Francisco 49ers have been trying to find a taker for the signal-caller since last season ended. The team went all-in for Trey Lance in last year's draft and is ready to forge a new path with the second-year quarterback.

    But trying to move Garoppolo hasn't been easy. He surprised the team by undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder following the team's loss in the NFC Championship Game, and the operation has given teams pause as he recovers.

    While San Francisco brass has maintained it isn't desperate to move on from Garoppolo, the 30-year-old is due $25.6 million in the final year of his contract, a price tag that would make him an exorbitantly expensive backup.

    Garoppolo has been linked with the Carolina Panthers, who only have Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker on the roster.

    Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has remained vague on the club's plans for the position.

    According to ESPN's David Newton, Fitterer said there are a couple of quarterbacks he likes at No. 6 and that a handful of teams have expressed interest in moving up to that spot.

    NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco noted that the GM said he is "not just sitting here looking solely at the draft" and is "looking at every option" when it comes to an upgrade behind center.

    There have even been rumors that the 49ers could package Garoppolo with wideout Deebo Samuel. The quarterback addressed that speculation last week, saying he would love to continue playing with the rising star.

    Regardless of how a deal gets done or which team it involves, San Francisco would be wise to move on from Garoppolo this week. Having him linger behind Lance would not only cost the 49ers a significant amount of cap space but also potential draft capital that they could use to upgrade more pressing concerns on the roster.