The NFL Draft is a little more than two weeks away as teams are working through prospects and building their draft boards. One of the best aspects about the draft is the number of trades that go down in the first round and in the days leading up to the big night.
It’s unlikely the Browns will trade the first overall pick as the Titans did last year, but there are a number of players who could be on the move before the seventh round concludes.
Among them are star players, as well as a few quarterbacks who could be starters outside of their current cities. Now, there are no guarantees any of these players will be dealt, but they’re undoubtedly the biggest names swirling in the trade winds.
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Redskins QB Kirk Cousins
Cousins was a rumored trade target for the 49ers after he and the Redskins couldn’t come to a long-term deal. The Redskins ultimately tagged their quarterback for the second straight year, but that doesn’t ensure that he’ll play in Washington this season. Cousins is still a candidate to be traded, albeit a longshot.
The Redskins and 49ers can still strike a deal for Cousins, but it’s becoming somewhat unlikely that it happens. San Francisco would likely have to part ways with the second overall pick. John Lynch, in his first year as a GM, would probably be unlikely to do so, looking to leave his mark in his inaugural draft at the helm.
Still, anything is possible when it comes to the Redskins.
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Bengals QB AJ McCarron
The Bengals aren’t shopping McCarron at the moment, but things change once the draft gets underway. The Texans have a clear need at quarterback and the top prospects aren’t sure to be there at 25 when they go on the clock. If they’re wiped out by that time, don’t be completely surprised to see McCarron dealt for a mid-round pick.
The Bengals are set with Andy Dalton at the helm, and although he missed three games in 2015, he’s a durable starter. That lowers the value of someone like McCarron for Cincinnati, and could make him a potential trade piece. The Bengals need help on both sides of the ball – namely on the offensive line – and turning a backup quarterback into a potential starter at guard would be a win for them.
Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo
The Patriots haven’t come out and said they won’t trade Garoppolo, which leaves the door slightly ajar. Trading him would be easy if the Patriots were willing to do so, largely thanks to the number of teams in need of a quarterback. The Browns are a fit, as are the Texans and 49ers. However, it seems like the Patriots would be happier to retain him. Or at least that’s what they want teams to believe.
Don’t be surprised in the least if Garoppolo winds up in Cleveland before the Browns go on the clock with the 12th pick. Landing him would cost at least that selection and possibly a lot more. Fortunately, the Browns have enough draft capital to make it happen, even holding an extra second-rounder in 2018 thanks to the Brock Osweiler trade.
He’s arguably the biggest trade chip on the market, it’s just a matter of Bill Belichick being willing to part ways with him.
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Browns QB Brock Osweiler
Osweiler has already been traded once this offseason, and he could be on the move once again. Almost immediately after the Texans traded him to Cleveland, the Browns began trying to trade him again. It’s highly unlikely any team will want to take on his current contract, which makes an outright cut the likeliest scenario.
However, a team could get desperate and offer a mid-to-late-round pick for Osweiler on Saturday of the draft. The likelihood of that happening will increase if a team like the Jets or 49ers somehow don’t land their guy in the earlier rounds. Don’t expect him to be traded, but it could absolutely happen.
Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks
A report surfaced in February that the Eagles were looking to deal their linebacker. Chip Kelly was obviously a fan of his game as Kendricks signed a four-year, $29 million deal under his watch, but Jim Schwartz appears to have a different opinion of the linebacker.
Kendricks saw his playing time decrease dramatically in Schwartz’s first season, starting just eight games. He made just 32 tackles on the season, which was shocking after he had at least 75 in each of his first four seasons.
Finding a team to take on the remainder of his salary won’t be easy, which is likely the issue Philly has faced. In the right scheme, Kendricks can still be a starter.
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Patriots CB Malcolm Butler
Butler has seen his name swirling in trade winds for some time now with the Saints being the only realistic suitor. Sean Payton said the Saints won’t give up the 11th pick for him by signing him to an offer sheet, so a trade for the 32nd selection seems more likely.
While talks seem to be on hold for the moment – mainly because Butler needs to sign his tender before any deal happens – expect discussions between the Saints and Patriots to pick up in the coming weeks.
The Patriots would probably like to get the 32nd pick back after sending it to the Saints in exchange for Brandin Cooks, and Butler would certainly warrant that in return. Of all the players on this list, Butler seems to be the likeliest to go. Keep a close eye on this one.
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Browns CB Joe Haden
The Browns are retooling on defense, bringing in Jamie Collins, while also drafting Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib in the first three rounds last year. They’re expected to add Myles Garrett and possibly a cornerback in the first round, so Haden could be on the chopping block.
That’s not to say the Browns will cut him, but they could view him as a trade chip. Haden was awful in limited action two years ago, and in 2016, he wasn’t much better. He allowed a passer rating of 97.7 in coverage, per Pro Football Focus, and has missed 14 games in the past two seasons.
The Browns need help at cornerback regardless of whether Haden is in the mix, and if they can get a third-round pick for him in a deep draft class, they may just pull the trigger.
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Jets DL Sheldon Richardson
Richardson has been on the trade block for some time now for a couple of reasons. For one, he has character concerns and has dealt with off-field issues, as well as locker room spats. Secondly, the Jets have a wealth of talent on the defensive line with Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams under contract for years to come.
That alone makes Richardson expendable, especially with his production tapering off in recent years. Last season, he had just 1.5 sacks after posting eight in 2014. That doesn’t tell the whole story, but he’s simply not as valuable as he once was.
What the Jets can get for him remains to be seen. It won’t be a first- or second-round pick, and a third might not even be on the table. The Jets would love to get a selection that high, but no team seems to be willing to part with that much capital. When the draft rolls into Day 2 and 3, look for Richardson’s name to pop up even more.
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Seahawks CB Richard Sherman
It’s surprising to see an All-Pro’s name on this list, let alone a player of Sherman’s caliber. Strangely enough, that’s where we are right now because it seems entirely possible that Sherman will be dealt at some point in the coming weeks.
Reports have suggested the Seahawks not only fielded calls from teams, but they also initiated them. It’s also been reported that Sherman was the one who requested a trade, which is shocking.
A team like the Eagles, Cowboys, Chargers or Raiders could call the Seahawks when they go on the clock on draft night and offer their first-rounder, likely with a later pick included, too.
The Seahawks would seemingly be crazy to deal Sherman, but this is a deep cornerback class and they could have their eyes set on his eventual replacement. Kevin King could be a guy they target at the end of the first round if they do wind up dealing Sherman before then.