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NFL team-building continues to evolve with general managers more attuned to all the possible avenues toward talent acquisition. The strategy of building through the draft while adding complementary pieces through free agency is somewhat outdated because it overlooks the possibility of pursuing trades.
Frank Clark made a crucial play to seal the Kansas City Chiefs’ first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. General manager Brett Veach traded for him prior to last year’s draft.
Numerous significant trades occurred last offseason. Odell Beckham Jr. became a member of the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs sent Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers. Even a transaction like Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans, which wasn’t viewed as a big deal at the time, created a profound ripple effect throughout the entire league.
In total, 21 player trades occurred prior to the start of the 2019 regular season.
The following proposed trades are considered ideal situations for each individual team while trying to remain semi-realistic. So, no, your favorite team won’t be trading for Patrick Mahomes. Instead, the players mentioned have previously been on the trade block, look to be potential cap casualties or are veterans with bloated contracts their current organizations might want to move.
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Last season, the Cardinals turned down “significant” offers for Patrick Peterson’s services, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
General manager Steve Keim must now weigh the long-term benefits of retaining the eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback with potentially missing the opportunity to receive a legitimate return for an aging player.
Peterson turns 30 before the start of the 2020 campaign. He’s also in the last year of his current deal with a base salary of $12.1 million.
Can the former All-Pro defensive back still play? Absolutely. At the same time, his decline is inevitable, and interest will wane from potential suitors.
The Cardinals became a competitive squad with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray leading the way. But they’re likely still a year or two away from a legitimate playoff run. A potential Peterson trade to a cornerback-needy squad like the Philadelphia Eagles would provide Arizona with more ammunition to build up the roster.
Potential trade: Cardinals receive second- and fourth-round draft picks from the Eagles for Peterson.
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When an NFL team owner directly addresses a specific position, everyone else knows it’s a significant problem.
A year ago, the Atlanta Falcons spent first-round picks on guards Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Their additions weren’t quite enough, though.
“We have another hole I think at left guard,” Arthur Blank said, per Matthew Tabeek of the team’s official site. “We have some talented young players there, but we’ll probably look at that position I assume during the draft.”
The Falcons shouldn’t wait until the draft if a solid veteran can be acquired.
A neck injury forced Mike Pouncey to miss 11 games last season. In his absence, Scott Quessenberry played relatively well at center for the Los Angeles Chargers and could easily take over the position. Pouncey, meanwhile, turns 31 in July and enters the last year of his current deal.
Don’t worry. Pouncey isn’t just a center. He has experience playing guard throughout his career.
Potential trade: The Falcons acquire Pouncey from the Chargers for a third-round draft pick.
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The Baltimore Ravens have never been afraid to make a splash move.
A year ago, the organization signed safety Earl Thomas III. Two years ago, the front office traded up for quarterback Lamar Jackson. And so on and so forth.
Baltimore is quite aggressive when it wants to get something done. The next step is a continuance of building around Jackson. The Ravens developed the greatest ground game of all time last season. Their wide receiver corps needs a bit more work, though.
Whatever the case, the Vikings have a premium trade chip if general manager Rick Spielman decides to pull the trigger. Diggs is 26 and coming off of consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns. Minnesota does need to clear significant salary-cap space.
Maybe the Maryland native would finally be happy returning home to play for the Ravens.
Potential trade: The Ravens acquire Diggs from the Vikings for a first-round draft pick.
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The Buffalo Bills must pursue every opportunity to make life easier for quarterback Josh Allen.
The process began a year ago when general manager Brandon Beane revamped the offensive line and signed free-agent wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley. These moves helped lead the team to a playoff appearance, but they didn’t quite go far enough, particularly at wide receiver.
Brown is a speed merchant, whereas Beasley is the consummate slot receiver. The group lacks a big-bodied target to make contested catches.
The Philadelphia Eagles somehow thrived during their latest playoff run despite being down to three healthy wide receivers, a couple of which came from the practice squad. That’s not the way to build a roster, of course. But circumstances showed the offense doesn’t require big-dollar receivers on the outside to win, which makes Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson expendable.
Buffalo has more than enough to absorb Jeffery’s $9.9 million base salary and complete its skill positions.
Potential trade: The Bills acquire Jeffrey from the Bills for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks.
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The Carolina Panthers organization knows it’s entering a rebuild because owner David Tepper said so.
“We have a shared vision,” he told reporters after Matt Rhule’s introduction as head coach. “We know it’s not going to be a fast process. We’re willing to build something for the long term.”
The first step of a complete rebuild involves gaining assets, and the idea of trading quarterback Cam Newton isn’t about Kyle Allen or Will Grier. It’s about providing a fresh start.
By trading Newton, the Panthers could jump-start their rebuild by gaining valuable draft assets and financial flexibility.
“If you don’t think I have to build something long term, if you don’t think it takes time to build something great, if you think something great gets built in one second, then that’s wrong,” Tepper added.
Nothing Tepper said points to retaining a soon-to-be 31-year-old quarterback with a concerning injury history who also happens to be entering the final year of his current deal.
Potential trade: The Panthers send Newton to the Chicago Bears for 2020 second-round and 2021 first-round draft picks.
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The Chicago Bears will try to do everything in their power to make quarterback Mitchell Trubisky successful. But should they?
For the first time ever, the market could be flooded with starting-caliber quarterbacks. Maybe the organization doesn’t actively pursue any of the big-name free agents. At the same time, the Bears should quietly inquire about other potential possibilities like Cam Newton.
The Bears need to consider the Panthers quarterback for the opposite reasons Carolina might want to trade him. They’re in win-now mode, and the quarterback position is clearly holding them back. Newton could provide a spark to make another playoff push.
It’ll be costly, though.
Chicago doesn’t have a first-round draft pick this summer thanks to the Khalil Mack trade. But it can flip this year’s second-round selection and next year’s first-round pick, especially since it would be expected to make a significant improvement with Newton leading the way.
This particular path would also allow the Bears to avoid the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s rookie contract.
Potential trade: The Bears acquire Newton from the Panthers for 2020 second-round and 2021 first-round draft picks.
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The Cincinnati Bengals literally need help at every position. We can safely assume quarterback will be addressed with LSU’s Joe Burrow, who should become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
As a result, Andy Dalton‘s time with the franchise is nearing its end. The only question is whether he’ll be released or traded. He has one more year left on his current deal at $17.5 million, none of which is guaranteed.
Obviously, the quarterback carousel will be interesting to watch this offseason with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota hitting the market. Dalton’s value will be based on where the rest of those quarterbacks fall.
Although, the Chicago Bears must first decide what they plan to do with Mitchell Trubisky. If they’re not entirely sold on the 2017 No. 2 overall pick, Dalton could be a quality bridge toward another long-term starter.
For Cincinnati, getting something in return for its previous starter instead of nothing would only help the rebuilding plans.
Potential trade: Cincinnati sends Dalton to Chicago for a sixth-round draft pick (if Cam Newton isn’t available).
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Former Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey tried to pry Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins for months before Washington decided not to move the seven-time Pro Bowl blocker.
His situation remains in flux, though.
Yes, Washington fired general manager Bruce Allen, who seemed to make the matter personal, while also dismissing the head of the team’s medical staff, which remained a sticking point.
Even so, Williams previously stated, “I’ll never be a Redskin again, so I don’t have to worry about it,” per The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker.
Where the 31-year-old lineman currently stands is unknown, though new head coach Ron Rivera wants him back.
Cleveland’s need for starting-caliber offensive tackles still remains an issue. On top of that, new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski hired Bill Callahan, who served as Williams’ offensive line coach for four seasons before his lost 2019 campaign.
Very few starting tackles will be available. The Browns must pounce on any opportunity to acquire one.
Potential trade: The Browns acquire Williams from the Redskins for second- and sixth-round draft picks.
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The potential Jamal Adams-to-the-Dallas Cowboys scenario may have been the biggest deal that didn’t occur prior to last year’s trade deadline.
Adams became quite vocal and despondent about the New York Jets’ willingness to listen to potential offers for his services.
“I’m excited to be here right now as we speak,” he said in October. “But for the future, I don’t know. I really don’t.”
Attitudes tend to change over time. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Adams is now optimistic he’ll receive a contract extension from the Jets.
If that doesn’t happen in the near future, though, Dallas should be champing at the bit to reignite trade negotiations for the two-time Pro Bowl safety. He’s only 24 years old, so the Cowboys shouldn’t blink at the possibility of trading a first-round pick (and more) to replace Jeff Heath and massively upgrade strong safety while also adding a locker-room leader.
Potential trade: The Cowboys acquire Adams from the Jets for first- and third-round draft picks.
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Left tackle Garett Bolles is holding the Denver Broncos back.
General manager John Elway already hedged when asked about the offensive lineman’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
“We’ll wait. There’s no sense doing it early. We’re not going to do it until May. We’ll see when we get there where we are,” he said, per the Denver Post‘s Ryan O’Halloran.
Basically, Elway framed his response to leave the door open for a potential upgrade. It’s the right approach.
Bolles is a penalty machine. He’s been among the league “leaders” in penalties for the last three seasons. He’s not a terrible lineman, per se, but mental mistakes often ruin drives.
As such, the Broncos should not pick up Bolles’ fifth-year option and should instead look for alternatives. Other franchises will be interested. They always are, especially with a first-round pick (2017), because every coach thinks he can fix an individual’s issues even if they’re well-established over time.
Potential trade: The Broncos send Bolles to the Arizona Cardinals for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks.
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The Detroit Lions could go in multiple directions for potential salary dumps.
They owned the league’s third-worst record last season, and they haven’t trended in the right direction under head coach Matt Patricia’s supervision. So, some roster shuffling should be expected.
Will the team make an extreme move by trading quarterback Matthew Stafford? That may be a bit much. Potential departures for defensive tackle Damon Harrison and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. make some sense.
But cornerback Darius Slay drew the most interest during last year’s trade deadline.
Currently, the Lions and Slay continue to discuss a new long-term deal, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. If one cannot be reached, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback will likely re-enter the trade market.
Slay is talented and Detroit’s best defensive back. At the same time, he could enter the season on the final year of his current deal with a $13.4 million cap hit after the Lions posted the league’s worst pass defense.
A shakeup probably needs to occur.
Potential trade: The Lions send Slay to the Washington Redskins for 2020 second- and seventh-round draft picks.
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted Davante Adams 149 times this past season (including the postseason). Geronimo Allison finished second among the team’s wide receivers with 59 targets.
Basically, there was little to no reason for another wide receiver to be on the field because the Packers weren’t going to throw to him with any regularity. Running back Aaron Jones and tight end Jimmy Graham were bigger parts of the passing game.
This can’t happen for yet another season.
Adams is an exceptional receiver. But true offensive balance is getting the ball in the hands of all the team’s playmakers. Thus, the Packers must find someone—anyone—who will give opposing defenses pause when they have to account for multiple targets.
The Kansas City Chiefs are in a bit of a financial bind. Sammy Watkins is an obvious candidate to become a cap casualty unless a team can take on his contract and is willing to flip a draft asset the Chiefs’ way. The Packers should fit both those categories.
Potential trade: The Packers acquire Watkins from the Chiefs for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.
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A year ago, the thought of trading edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney probably didn’t cross many minds. Yet, it happened.
Bill O’Brien is now officially the Houston Texans’ head coach and general manager. Clearly, he isn’t afraid to strike a deal.
Clowney was only the tip of the iceberg. The Texans acquired offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, running back Duke Johnson Jr. and cornerback Gareon Conley via trade.
As such, Houston doesn’t have much wiggle room since O’Brien already traded away a first-round pick, a pair of third-rounders and two sixth-round picks. That will limit their options in the trade market.
Instead of going after one of the potential bigger-named cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson, Darius Slay or even Desmond Trufant, the Texans will be forced to go shopping for bargains.
Trumaine Johnson has been a massive free-agent bust. The New York Jets will likely dump him for anything in return. Houston has the salary-cap space to take on his current contract while gaining a veteran presence to help a depleted secondary.
Potential trade: The Texans acquire Johnson from the Jets for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.
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The Indianapolis Colts didn’t have a choice. The franchise had to commit to Jacoby Brissett after Andrew Luck‘s abrupt retirement last offseason.
General manager Chris Ballard left some room for possible movement when the team signed Brissett to a two-year, $30 million contract extension. The quarterback’s salary-cap hit escalates to $21.4 million this year, but $8.9 is structured as an upcoming roster bonus. Either the Colts can release him before the bonus comes due or they can try flipping him to another franchise.
The latter might be an outside possibility, but interest could be present, especially from a team with an established working relationship.
The New England Patriots originally drafted Brissett with a third-round pick in 2016.
While the Colts play the free-agent market to find an upgrade at the game’s most important position, the Patriots could prepare for a future without Tom Brady.
Yes, some bad blood exists between these two franchises, but it shouldn’t get in the way of doing business that’s best for both.
Potential trade: The Colts send Brissett to the Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars can’t really make the move they need to make because Nick Foles‘ contract is prohibitive until 2021. So, they’re stuck for another year of Foles and Gardner Minshew II.
At this point, the best course of action is to build the best possible cockpit for either of the quarterbacks.
The overall quality of the team’s offensive weapons can be improved.
Tight end production, in particular, barely existed last year. James O’Shaughnessy led the group with 14 receptions for 153 yards in only five games before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
David Njoku hasn’t been the dynamic presence the Cleveland Browns expected after they made him the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Initially, he was dinged last season before coming back, only to become a frequent healthy scratch. Plus, he’s not exactly an ideal fit in the new coaching staff’s incoming system since he’s not an in-line tight end.
At 23 years old with a ton of untapped potential, Njoku will still intrigue teams.
Potential trade: The Jaguars acquire Njoku from the Browns for a second-round draft pick.
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The Kansas City Chiefs can enjoy the spoils of their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years, but only for a few days. Some major decisions are coming in the next few weeks and months.
A Patrick Mahomes contract extension should be the organization’s top priority. That’s crucial to everything Kansas City does moving forward. Currently, the Chiefs have $19 million in projected salary-cap space, according to Spotrac. Mahomes’ next contract could broach $40 million annually.
Thus, the organization must create more financial flexibility to make its quarterback the league’s highest-paid player.
Sammy Watkins’ departure seems like more of an inevitably than a possibility since the Chiefs would save $14 million by ridding themselves of the 26-year-old wide receiver. They would still feature an explosive and exciting wide receiver corps with Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson.
It now falls on general manager Brett Veach to turn Watkins into an asset.
Potential trade: The Chiefs send Watkins to the Packers for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.
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A comment Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made when the organization acquired Antonio Brown last offseason still lingers.
“We don’t want to have a good receiving corps. I want to have the best receiving corps in football, and I think in order to have the best, you have to have the best,” he told reporters during that press conference.
Gruden certainly hasn’t changed his mind between then and now. Of course he still wants to have the game’s best receiving corps. He should.
But the Raiders fall well short of that lofty goal.
Right now, the Browns don’t plan to trade Odell Beckham Jr., according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. However, that could change if the new leadership isn’t entirely sold on his commitment to the organization. If it does, the Raiders have an extra first-round draft pick to use as an enticement and land one of the game’s best receivers.
Potential trade: The Raiders acquire Beckham from the Browns for a first-round draft pick (Chicago Bears’ original selection).
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The Los Angeles Chargers already decided to move on from Philip Rivers, which makes quarterback the franchise’s top priority. However, the organization currently owns the sixth overall draft pick (and could possibly trade up?) to address the position.
In order for a rookie signal-caller to survive, the Chargers must build a much stronger offensive front to protect him and give him time.
Lane Taylor isn’t a sexy name compared to those involved in other potential blockbuster deals, but his previous history with new offensive line coach James Campen shouldn’t be overlooked. Taylor started 46 games for the Green Bay Packers from 2016-18 under his supervision. He’s a known commodity and reliable as a potential starter at one guard spot.
Tackle remains a significant problem area, but the Chargers have a chance to build a solid interior with the Scott Quessenberry at center, Taylor’s possible acquisition solidifying one guard spot and Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp in a competition for the other.
Potential trade: The Chargers acquire Taylor from the Packers for a fifth-round draft pick.
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The Los Angeles Rams’ vision of team-building is the equivalent of listening to speed metal at the loudest possible volume.
The Rams don’t own this year’s or next year’s first-round picks thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade. In fact, general manager Les Snead hasn’t made a first-round pick since the Rams traded up to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and chose quarterback Jared Goff.
What’s trading another high-round pick really going to do?
The Baltimore Ravens are open to moving their top pass-rusher, Matt Judon, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. A couple of dominoes need to fall in place for that to actually happen, though, since Judon is a free agent.
First, the Ravens must place the franchise tag on the edge-rusher. Then, Judon’s expected salary demands would have to exceed the Ravens’ ability to re-sign him. Finally, the Rams must want to go all-in to acquire a legit sack artist.
Potential trade: The Rams acquire Judon from the Ravens for a second-round draft pick.
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The Miami Dolphins front office tore down the team’s roster last year to signify the start of an organizational rebuild. It’s now time to increase the talent pool by using an excess of draft and financial capital to make several significant acquisitions.
Culture will be an important part of the Dolphins’ plan. Head coach Brian Flores came from the New England Patriots, where success is constantly cultivated.
In order to emulate that standard, Miami must bring in certain individuals who aren’t just great talents but are leaders, as well.
One thing the Patriots do well is make moves and get significant value for players who are a year or two away from their eventual decline. Dont’a Hightower currently fits that profile. He turns 30 in March, and he’s on the last year of his contract.
Normally, division rivals don’t conduct business together. But this is a case in which the Patriots could maximize Hightower’s value since the Dolphins need a tone-setter to expedite their rebuild.
Potential trade: The Dolphins acquire Hightower from the Patriots for a second-round draft pick.
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The Vikings are in salary-cap hell.
OK, the previous statement may be a tad hyperbolic, but Minnesota’s current standing is pretty much as close as any team gets to financial straits.
According to Spotrac, the Vikings are $12.3 million over the projected 2020 salary cap. Obviously, a few veteran cuts will be forthcoming. To make matters worse, fullback C.J. Ham (restricted), kicker Dan Bailey, punter Britton Colquitt, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and safeties Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse are free agents.
One big move, like cutting defensive Everson Griffen, won’t solve Minnesota’s problems. Other options have to be considered.
If the Vikings can move Xavier Rhodes’ $9.9 million base salary, they would have far more breathing room. Rhodes’ play has declined in recent years. The soon-to-be 30-year-old defensive back made the Pro Bowl in 2019 on name recognition alone, though that could help Minnesota when it comes to his trade value.
Potential trade: The Vikings send Rhodes to the Dallas Cowboys for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks (if Dallas doesn’t make a move for Adams).
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The Patriots should do the smart thing—yes, the smart thing—and let Tom Brady walk in free agency.
The organization can’t be beholden to a soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback who no longer elevates the play of those around him, especially if his contract demands meet or exceed $30 million annually. Let some other team take that risk. The Las Vegas Raiders are a perfect example.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Las Vegas plans to pursue Brady if he hits the open market.
Gruden has never been enamored with the team’s starting quarterback. Everyone within the organization will publicly state Derek Carr is their guy, but interest in other quarterbacks says otherwise.
In what would be a unique twist of fate, Brady could sign with the Raiders while the Patriots trade for Carr’s services. That would help New England on multiple levels.
First, the offense would get significantly younger since Carr will be 29 when the season begins. Second, he’s a good fit for the Patriots’ quick passing game. Finally, his base salary doesn’t exceed $19.8 million in any of his current contract’s final three seasons.
Potential trade: The Patriots acquire Carr from the Raiders for a second-round draft pick.
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A.J. Klein, Manti Te’o and Stephone Anthony are free agents the New Orleans Saints shouldn’t make a concerted effort to resign.
Demario Davis is exceptional as the team’s middle linebacker, but the Saints need more speed at the position while adding defenders who are comfortable working in space. Though Kiko Alonso is a solid contributor, he suffered a torn ACL during the Saints’ playoff contest against the Minnesota Vikings, and his recovery might extend into the 2020 campaign.
Christian Kirksey is a perfect fit in New Orleans on multiple levels.
The Cleveland Browns will likely move on from him because of recent injuries and the fact that the franchise would save $7.6 million with his release or trade. New Orleans is looking for someone exactly like the 27-year-old linebacker: a free-flowing defender with plenty of experience covering tight ends. He’s also been a team captain and locker-room leader.
As long as Kirksey stays healthy, he’s a quality Will backer.
Potential trade: The Saints acquire Kirksey from the Browns for a sixth-round draft pick.
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The New York Giants made a major free-agent mistake, and it’s time to own up to it.
The organization should never have made Nate Solder the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman (at the time) during the 2018 offseason. It’s not entirely fair to say he has been terrible, but he certainly hasn’t been good, either.
After two seasons, the Giants have reached the point at which his contract has become manageable. New York could save $6.5 million by releasing or trading him instead of keeping the left tackle in place with a $19.5 million cap hit.
Yes, this particular move seems counterproductive since the Giants already need offensive tackle help. It isn’t, though.
The Giants own this year’s fourth overall draft pick with a top-heavy offensive tackle class. They should look to move Solder while addressing the position with the top available prospect. Other teams are always looking for an experienced left tackle to deal with their own offensive line problems.
Potential trade: The Giants send Solder to the Los Angeles Chargers for a sixth-round draft pick.
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The New York Jets’ most effective pass-rusher last season happened to play safety. Jamal Adams finished second on the team with 6.5 sacks. Only outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins managed more with eight. As a unit, the Jets accumulated 35 sacks, which ranked among the league’s bottom 10 squads.
A defense operates at peak efficiency when it doesn’t need to blitz in order to create pressure. Defensive linemen are required to win one-on-one matchups. That’s not always the case, though. Not a single defensive lineman on the Jets roster provided more than 2.5 sacks in 2019.
The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, will likely revamp their roster this offseason. Quarterback Andy Dalton, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn could all be moved thanks to their age and contracts. Dunlap is particularly interesting for the Jets because he’s a long and productive edge-rusher (32.5 sacks over the last four seasons).
Potential trade: The Jets acquire Dunlap from the Bengals for third- and fifth-round draft picks.
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Patrick Peterson has been a potential target for the Philadelphia Eagles over the last two seasons, but the Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t budge.
The eight-time Pro Bowler repeatedly asked to be moved, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, before reversing course toward the end of last season.
“This won’t be my last home game here,” Peterson said after the Cardinals’ home finale against the Cleveland Browns, per Kyle Odegard of the team’s official site. “I’ll be back.”
The timing seems right for a potential Peterson trade as the eight-time Pro Bowler gets a little older and his contract nears its end. The longer Arizona waits, the more his value will be driven down.
Philadelphia should still offer an early-round draft pick and possibly throw an offensive lineman into the mix. Arizona needs to build up its front, while the Eagles have some of the league’s best offensive line depth. Peterson would be a significant upgrade to Philadelphia’s secondary, especially since cornerback Ronald Darby is a free agent.
Potential trade: The Eagles acquire Peterson from the Cardinals for a second-round pick and offensive lineman Matt Pryor.
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Maybe the most interesting storyline to develop during last year’s trade deadline was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ interest in possibly acquiring running back Le’Veon Bell, who spent six seasons in the Steel City.
“I found out through my agent he had talked to the Jets and there were teams like Houston, the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs and, surprisingly, the Steelers were all in the mix in trying to trade for me,” Bell admitted on Uninterrupted’s 17 Weeks podcast.
Pittsburgh didn’t want Bell to leave. In fact, the franchise offered multiple deals in an attempt to re-sign him.
James Conner, his replacement at running back, has dealt with injuries, and he hasn’t been quite as good. Familiarity with the offense and many of the players in the locker room would make for an easy transition for Bell, so long as no bad blood exists after his holdout and subsequent departure.
Furthermore, New York Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly want Bell. Previous general manager Mike Maccagnan made that call. If the two sides can work out a deal and forget recent history, it would work in both teams’ favor.
Potential trade: The Steelers acquire Bell from the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.
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Desmond Trufant’s name tends to come up as a potential trade target because teams are always searching for quality cornerbacks and he carries a pretty hefty contract as he nears 30 years of age.
The Atlanta Falcons may not be actively shopping Trufant, but they should be interested in a package that brings a young pass-rusher and a high-round draft pick in return, which the San Francisco 49ers can offer.
For San Francisco, Emmanuel Moseley showed he’s the answer opposite Richard Sherman. The problem is with Sherman moving forward. He turns 32 in March while entering the last year of his current deal.
General manager John Lynch should consider alternatives. Trufant is intriguing since he’s played for Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, who came from the same Seattle Seahawks-influenced background as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Also, an acquisition of Trufant’s caliber could somewhat offset the potential free-agent losses of defensive end Arik Armstead, safety Jimmie Ward and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who the organization might struggle to re-sign.
Potential trade: The 49ers acquire Trufant from the Falcons for defensive end Solomon Thomas and a third-round draft pick.
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Germain Ifedi, Mike Iupati, George Fant and Joey Hunt are free agents. Those four offensive linemen started a combined 46 games for the Seattle Seahawks this past season.
Seattle must restock with starting-caliber blockers and improve the team’s depth up front all in one fell swoop after the unit was rather mediocre to quite poor in 2019.
Quality offensive linemen are few and far between, though. Most teams won’t willingly give up a quality blocker for no reason. The Cincinnati Bengals are a little different because Cordy Glenn will likely be replaced by last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams, who missed all of his first season with a torn labrum.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old Glenn, who also dealt with injuries during the last four campaigns, could help the Seahawks at guard or right tackle, depending on what the team does during free agency and in the draft.
Potential trade: The Seahawks acquire Glenn from the Bengals for a fifth-round draft pick.
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are difficult to read because no one outside the organization knows exactly what it plans to do with quarterback Jameis Winston. It’s hard to imagine the franchise sinking another significant long-term deal into the turnover machine, but he could very well be Tampa Bay’s best option this season.
What if another opportunity arose?
The Detroit Lions are in a fascinating position with this year’s third overall draft pick.
With LSU’s Joe Burrow and Ohio State’s Chase Young expected to go first and second to the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, respectively, the event really starts once Detroit is on the clock. The organization needs to seriously consider drafting Stafford’s replacement if the staff falls in love with one of the remaining quarterback prospects.
If that happens, the Buccaneers must do everything in their power to land the 2009 No. 1 overall pick. Matthew Stafford’s exceptional arm talent in Arians’ vertical passing game would be something to see.
Potential trade: The Buccaneers acquire Stafford from the Lions for a first-round draft pick.
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Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Even though linebacker Harold Landry III could use a proper running mate, the Tennessee Titans must first sort out exactly what the organization can and will do with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, who are both set to enter free agency.
Tannehill doesn’t plan to leave the Titans, while Derrick Henry wants to become the league’s highest-paid running back. Once those situations are settled, general manager Jon Robinson can look toward other opportunities. But obviously, a renewed combination of Tannehill and Henry would create a significant dent in the Titans’ financial standing.
Even so, Tennessee should still have enough room to add a veteran pass-rusher like Olivier Vernon and his $15.3 million base salary. The team can offset nearly $5.6 million by releasing Cameron Wake after his injury-plagued and part-time 2019 campaign.
The Cleveland Browns aren’t forced to move on from Vernon, but they may be interested in adding another piece to their starting lineup and a draft asset while shedding some salary.
Potential trade: The Titans acquire Vernon from the Browns for tight end Anthony Firkser and a fifth-round draft pick.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Washington needs to start over at tight end.
Vernon Davis announced his retirement Monday. Jordan Reed’s injury history and 2020 cap hit ($10.3 million) make him a prime candidate to be cut later this offseason. Beyond those two, Washington’s tight end room consists of Jeremy Sprinkle, Caleb Wilson, Jerome Cunningham and Hale Hentges.
The team’s interest in the recently released Greg Olsen shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially because head coach Ron Rivera previously worked with the three-time Pro Bowler on the Carolina Panthers.
Three talented young wide receivers developed last season in Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Cam Sims. A starting-caliber tight end, whether Olsen or a trade acquisition, would further help the development of quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
O.J. Howard hasn’t progressed as expected with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 2017 first-round pick’s receptions, receiving yardage and touchdowns all stagnated or declined in Bruce Arians’ first season. The position isn’t a priority in the head coach’s offensive scheme. Plus, Tampa Bay still has Cameron Brate under contract.
Potential trade: Washington acquires Howard from the Buccaneers for a second-round draft pick.