Home NFL NFL insider notes: Expect another wave of big-name trades and not just QBs, plus Deshaun Watson clues and more – CBS Sports
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NFL insider notes: Expect another wave of big-name trades and not just QBs, plus Deshaun Watson clues and more – CBS Sports

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So much of the early offseason attention has been given to the quarterback trades that have already been agreed to, or those likely to be consummated at some point to come, that it seems to have obscured the rest of the trade market.

It’s all Stafford or Goff or Wentz or Wilson or Rodgers or Watson. All the time. Throw in the second-franchise-tag dance the Cowboys are doing with Dak Prescott and the 49ers and Jets possibly waffling off their starting quarterback — and the Raiders as well, should they be able to upgrade into Russell Wilson — and it’s enough to make you forget about other recent blockbusters that were not connected to the QB position at all: Khalil Mack, Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey and Amari Cooper, to name a few.

The trade market has been very fertile in recent years, and I’d anticipate that to remain the case beyond just the quarterbacks.

The Broncos have a serious decision to make about Von Miller, and while I would certainly execute that team option if I were them, it might very well be a precursor to a trade. Chandler Jones could perhaps become expendable in Arizona, particularly should the Cardinals opt to dig deep to keep Haason Reddick after his breakout season in 2020. There is always demand for pass rushers — especially established ones — and even if they are coming off an injury or having potential off-field issues, it won’t quell interest.

It’s hard not to wonder about multiple trades looming at the receiver spot as well. Everyone I am talking to anticipates Allen Robinson and Kenny Golladay getting tagged, leaving a potential void of top pass catchers (other wideouts could also get tagged). The Browns aren’t putting out any vibes about dealing Odell Beckham Jr., but that doesn’t mean someone can’t make a phone call that results in a deal. We’ve certainly seen it before. Brandin Cooks hasn’t been traded in a few months … which means he is overdue, given the nature of his career. That $12M salary is steep, but if I were the Texans I would be all about adding draft picks. Does Michael Gallup have a real future in Dallas given all of the moves they have made at receiver in terms of trades, draft picks and contract extensions?

Most GMs have considered it a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade top corner Stephon Gilmore this offseason and I haven’t heard anything about a contract extension, so a trade still seems like an eventuality. I’ve been talking about Bradley Roby as a potential trade chip since before the trade deadline, despite him only just getting to Houston, because of that team’s quick collapse. Again, shed salary and add more desperately needed draft picks.

The Ravens already granted permission to Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to pursue a trade last month, as we first reported. The Falcons need to shed salary and add picks just as badly as the Texans; perennial Pro Bowl center Alex Mack would be a solid starting point (I’d be marketing Julio Jones if I was them, but I don’t get that vibe at all).

Will all of these guys get dealt? Of course not.

But a bunch of them very well could, and that is a pretty star-studded list. Trades are in the air, the lines of communication have long been open – as the completed trades already speak to – and it’s not all that difficult to envision another wave of transactions going down right as the league year opens in a few weeks.

Another reason to think Watson may be Panthers-bound

I’ve already told you about the lengths Panthers owner David Tepper is willing to go to in an attempt to land Deshaun Watson from Houston. Nothing has changed with that whatsoever.

I did pick up another tidbit, however, that could further facilitate a blockbuster between these teams if/when the Texans face reality and come off their position on not dealing their quarterback. League sources said Texans executive Jack Easterby – whose influence and import in that organization has only growing the past six months despite whatever is said or written about him – has a very close relationship with Panthers exec Steven Drummond, who has risen in that organization to great heights since Tepper took over.

Sources said that Drummond was under consideration for the Texans team president opening before quickly getting promoted again by Tepper – from a senior communications position to senior advisor to chairman in early February. Both of these young fast-risers have their owner’s ear in a way not too many in this industry do, and their working relationship is a dynamic to watch, should the Texans truly hold an auction for their star QB (which many around the NFL believe they will do at some point before the draft).

They might be able to get pretty creative and help each other out at the same time.

Has Brees changed his mind about retiring? 

Could Drew Brees have thrown a curveball to everyone around him? After sending every signal that his retirement was imminent whenever the Saints season ended, might he have changed his mind? He certainly is entitled to it, but it begs the question – a la Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh – as to what his market would be, who would be interested, and at what price? Because New Orleans would by no means be a lock for him. There is serious interest in keeping Jameis Winston and the Saints are absolutely intrigued – to say the least – about a potential coupling with Russell Wilson, knowing it would be a minefield to navigate contractually given their serious salary cap issues. Bottom line is Brees has run out of steam and had difficulty executing and getting the ball downfield late in the past several seasons, and nothing lasts forever. Retirement still would seem to make the most sense, but of course, it’s his call and his career and he’s earned the right to try to go as long as he wishes. 

Wondering about the Dolphins

Still trying to figure out exactly how the Dolphins dueling offensive coordinator thing is going to work out. Seems more complicated than it needs to be, and is wrought with potential issues.

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