Dec 24, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) directs the offense during the second half against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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The start of the past two free agent periods have been marked by significant trades. Could the same fate be in store for 2017 NFL free agency?
Don’t discount the possibility. Trades are becoming more commonplace as teams like New England prove it can be done provided the quality coaching is in place to help players transition quickly. There are a number of plausible scenarios that could play out within the next month, all of which would have a significant impact on next season.
None more so, of course, than the quarterbacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo to the Cleveland Browns
The Bears may be getting the heat of the rumor mill lately but all signs point to the Cleveland Browns deciding where Jimmy Garoppolo goes in 2017. After all they have the best ammunition to make a run at him. They could easily offer up their #12 overall pick in the 1st round and still leave the #1 left over to take whomever they wish. Odds are the New England Patriots would gladly accept that deal over anything Chicago or San Francisco could put together.
The true wild card in this is whether head coach Hue Jackson envisions Garoppolo as what he’s looking for in a quarterback. Also there is the matter of Deshaun Watson and whether the Browns do indeed like him. These factors make the trade a little harder to gauge but there is no doubt Cleveland is easily in the driver seat for a Garoppolo deal. Whether they’re willing to give up that #12 pick remains the big obstacle left to clear.
Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 32-14. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mychal Kendricks to the Arizona Cardinals
Not too long ago inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks was on the cusp of becoming a Pro Bowler. Unfortunately scheme changes really stunted his growth with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s no longer in his natural position under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Besides that the team is looking for possible ways to free up cap space for some moves in free agency this year. Trading him would free up $1.8 million and possibly get some decent in return.
The Arizona Cardinals might be a team to talk to. They aren’t afraid to do a little wheeling and dealing. They need help at inside linebacker pretty back and run a 3-4 scheme. That will be most welcome for Kendricks. In return they could either give up a decent draft pick or even wide receiver John Brown. He regressed for them last year but is only 26 and features that speed element the Eagles wish they never let go with DeSean Jackson a few years back.
Sep 22, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Sheldon Richardson to the Washington Redskins
The New York Jets are in a serious salary cap crunch. If they don’t start making some moves, they could enter the free agency period without any money to speed. Creative ways must be found to free up cash. Chief among the names they have to consider moving is defensive end Sheldon Richardson. Even though he’s been such an effective part of their front seven, the presence of rising star Leonard Williams makes his loss tough but acceptable.
If there is one owner out there who doesn’t mind making the bold moves, it’s Daniel Snyder. The Washington Redskins defense was really out-manned in a number of games this past season and it cost them a second trip to the playoffs. Their defensive line is perhaps the biggest problem, filled by mostly average players. Richardson would be a gigantic talent boost right where it’s needed most and it could free the team up to address problems in other areas during the draft.