The NFL offseason got officially underway with free agency last month. While there were some big moves (JJ Watt to Arizona, Kenny Golladay to NY Giants, Patrick Peterson to Minnesota), most transactions did little to catch the attention of the average fan. But that’s NFL free agency. Unless your team is making big deals that move the needle for you, it’s unlikely you put much stock into what other teams are doing unless they can reel in a household name. It’s rare those players change teams unless they have a falling out or are worth more than the team can afford.
Beyond those three moves, free agency was largely a snooze fest this year, but the NFL Draft starts Thursday night and has the potential to shake things up in a big way. For example, a couple of blockbuster first-round trades have already taken place, and we’re still at least a day away from draft night.
San Francisco traded their 2021 first (#12) and third (#102) round picks with their 2022, and 2023 first round picks to Miami for the #3 overall pick.
Miami took SF’s #12 pick, packaged it with their own 4th round pick (#123) and a 2022 first-rounder, and traded those to Philadelphia for their #6 overall and a fifth-rounder (#156).
Kansas City traded their 2021 first (#31), third (#94), fourth (#136), and a 2022 fifth-rounder to Baltimore in exchange for OT Orlando Brown Jr, a second-rounder (#58), and a 2022 sixth-round pick.
If you’re Miami, you’ve already won the draft. You have a team ready to take a big leap forward, so they took a very high pick they didn’t really need (but that other teams were really interested in), got an extra first-round pick in 2023, extra third and fifth-round picks this year, and all it cost them was three spots in the draft and a 4th round pick.
So who is going to compete with Miami to win the draft? If you’re one of the NFC West teams, winning the draft probably doesn’t help you compete for the Super Bowl anyway, which is what all four are jockeying for. So what do you do with your best pick available? Trade it for a player that helps you become a Super Bowl contender TODAY.
Here are the deals (and yes we know they are mostly insane) we are lobbying each team to make, and fast –
Seattle has upgraded their offensive line, re-signed RB Chris Carson, added TE Gerald Everett, and brought back most of their defense. They are still missing one or two key pieces, which is at cornerback. High draft picks have not benefited the Seahawks during the Pete Carroll era, so why stop now? Trade them for players that can help you win today. They need at least one shutdown corner, and with Shaquill Griffin in Jacksonville, that player is not on the roster today. New England has been open to trading all-pro and shutdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but the asking price was too high for most teams. Seattle should take their 2nd round pick (#56) and package it with their 2022 first-round pick in exchange for Gilmore.
The addition of Gilmore is more than worth the deal’s cost and will likely get Richard Sherman’s attention, who is still a free agent and has voiced being open to a return to Seattle. A secondary of Sherman, Gilmore, Jamal Adams, and Quandre Diggs would more than cover any passing attack and put Seattle almost automatically back toward the top of NFL defenses. You might think a first and second is too much for one player, but given Seattle’s recent history of whiffing on high draft picks, knowing you are getting one of the best at the position would be more than worth it. Gilmore is in the last year of his current contract (and Seattle is almost out of salary cap room), so he will need to rework his deal most likely to make the trade happen, but going to what should be a Super Bowl contender should help make his agent interested in a new deal. Trading for Gilmore and bringing back Sherman should interest QB Russell Wilson into restructuring his current $32M cap hit as well.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams already traded QB Jared Goff, their 2021 third-round pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to Detroit for QB Matthew Stafford, so why not make at least one more deal to help his supporting cast? You have one of the NFL’s best defenses, a rising star in RB Cam Akers, and one of the most innovative offensive minds in HC Sean McVay. What you are really missing is a deep threat at receiver that can stretch the defense, and that has been missing since Brandin Cooks departed in 2019.
Right now, the best discount deep threat in the league is WR Will Fuller, who signed with Miami. The Dolphins have many playmakers and are likely going to draft a receiver, so why not deal Fuller for another pick? It would help if you had players who will grow with Tua Tagovailoa, who will not retire halfway into his career. Deal Fuller to LA for their 2nd rounder (#57) and get another draft asset in an absolutely loaded draft. That would give Miami two picks in the first round (#6 and #18) and three picks in the 2nd round (#36, #50, and #57) to reload their roster overnight. They may not be a contender this year, but they will be a force with tons of young (and top-level) talent next year. It’s a deal both teams would benefit from and should absolutely do it. Fuller is on a one-year deal currently and has a slew of past injury issues, so the Rams might want to keep that deal as is and let him prove it.
Like Miami, Arizona has a very young QB in Kyler Murray, and they need young playmakers to play and grow with him. They signed DE JJ watt and WR AJ Green in free agency, but both guys are well past their primes and struggle to stay healthy. WR DeAndre Hopkins is without a doubt one of the best receivers in the game, but at 28, he has limited top years remaining, whereas plenty of other teams in the league have young receivers and an aging QB. Why not make a deal and right both ships at once? Give Murray a great receiver he can grow with, and give a veteran another veteran?
Unlike most teams in this division, Arizona is relatively young. It should hold onto their top pick, but they should package their best trade asset in Hopkins and their 5th round pick (#160) and send it to Minnesota for WR Justin Jefferson and their 3rd round pick (#78). Arizona would get younger, get a better pick to load up on more talent, keep their first-round pick, and probably don’t take too many steps backward (if at all, assuming Jefferson takes the year two leap). In contrast, Minnesota gets a veteran receiver to pair with QB Kirk Cousins and WR Adam Thielen. It’s a win-win, and both teams should go for it.
San Francisco 49ers
Here we go again, the 49ers have a high first round pick to go with a Super Bowl roster.
Their key losses in the offseason were DE Solomon Thomas and CB Richard Sherman. Still, they believe the fearsome pass rush of Arik Armstead, Joey Bosa, Dee Ford, and Javon Kinlaw will more than cover up any other player on the defense, and they are probably right.
This year, they are looking to return to being contenders, which starts with the offense, and more importantly, QB. With the #3 selection, they could go all-in on a rookie QB, but we all know that’s not likely to translate to team success for at least another year in a best-case scenario, and 2-3 years is most likely. We also know that Jimmy Garoppolo is not in their plans long term, and by the time a rookie is ready to go at QB, their best players would be looking for new deals or already too expensive to keep. They need to keep their title window open this year, and the only way to do that is to get a veteran star QB familiar with HC Kyle Shanahan’s system. The team wants a first-round pick in exchange for QB Jimmy G, and they need a young mobile QB to bring up behind him. The best trade partner would be a team that has a superstar QB, a young mobile QB to mold, and is looking to move on from said QBs.
San Francisco should package their #3 pick, Jimmy G, and their 4th round pick (#117) and trade them to Green Bay in exchange for QBs Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love. This gives Rodgers the chance to win now with a championship-level defense, in an offense he knows and loves as Green Bay HC Matt LaFleur runs a variation of it. It gives both teams a young QB to groom (assuming Green Bay uses the pick on a prospect like BYU QB Zach Wilson) while using a veteran to win in the short term and let the young QBs sit and learn for at least two years behind them. It’s win-win-win-win.