Every year, I offer up my own piece of vaguely NFL draft-related content by producing a mock draft consisting entirely of trades. There are 32 picks in the first round and for each of those selections, I try to construct a trade that makes sense for two or more teams given their respective needs and team-building styles. These trade ideas, all of which are created in good faith, almost always make fans angry. Not a single one has actually come to fruition.
Am I holding out hope that this year will be different? Not really, but the biggest trade of the offseason gave me a little belief. There are plenty of three- and four-team trades in this column each year, and what amounted to a three-way swap between the Dolphins, 49ers and Eagles would hardly have been out of line with what we usually see in this space. The Dolphins traded down and still left themselves in position to grab an impact receiver, the Eagles picked up an extra first-round pick, and the 49ers moved up to build around a cheaper, more reliable quarterback than Jimmy Garoppolo. You might not like the trade, but you could see the logic for each side involved.
With that move to spark us, let’s do this again. Thirty-two picks, 32 trades. Each of the trades exists in its own universe, so you’ll see a pick dealt more than once or a team move up or down in multiple deals. Picks in the 2021 draft will be notated with the round and the overall selection, so “2-47” would be the 47th overall pick, which comes off the board in the second round.
I try to use a combination of the traditional Jimmy Johnson draft chart and the more modern, quantitatively built draft chart created by Chase Stuart to underpin each pick’s value, using history to see where teams have typically been willing to pay over the odds.
In a typical year, finding a trade that makes sense for the first overall pick is the toughest part of the article. This year is no exception:
Jump to a pick:
1. JAX | 2. NYJ | 3. SF | 4. ATL
5. CIN | 6. MIA | 7. DET | 8. CAR
9. DEN | 10. DAL | 11. NYG | 12. PHI
13. LAC | 14. MIN | 15. NE | 16. ARI
17. LV | 18. MIA | 19. WSH | 20. CHI
21. IND | 22. TEN | 23. NYJ | 24. PIT
25. JAX | 26. CLE | 27. BAL | 28. NO
29. GB | 30. BUF | 31. KC | 32. TB
Before you get started, I know. There’s no way to make a Jaguars trade out of the first overall pick make sense. I asked a few people around the league where Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence would stand on a trade value board as he enters the NFL and the responses ranged from five to 15. He is the best quarterback prospect we’ve seen since Andrew Luck, and the Jaguars are going to have him for at least three years on a rookie deal before they even have to worry about talking extension. This pick might be worth something in the ballpark of $100 million in surplus value over the next five years.
To be a completist, though, we have to make a trade. Let’s imagine a scenario in which, like John Elway and Eli Manning before him — eventual No. 1 picks who were traded away from the teams that drafted them — Lawrence decided that he didn’t want to play in Jacksonville. If the Jaguars were going to trade this pick, they could have undoubtedly amassed a haul of selections from a team such as the 49ers. Given the disappointment of missing out on Lawrence, I would rather make a move for a superstar quarterback. Deshaun Watson would have made sense, but the sexual assault allegations against the Texans star means he’s off the trade market for the time being. Dak Prescott re-signed with the Cowboys, so he’s out. Realistically, we’re looking at 11 quarterbacks who are still on rookie deals.
Of those 11, we can rule out Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones, who haven’t done enough to justify being a significant part of a trade. Joe Burrow is coming off of a serious knee injury, which would put him off-limits. Tua Tagovailoa is coming off an inconsistent rookie season. You’re left with five guys: Herbert, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
Herbert could be the most appealing of those five. Allen and Jackson have had better years than him as pros, but Herbert was the best of the bunch as a rookie. Allen, Jackson and Mayfield are all three years into their rookie deals and eligible for extensions, while Herbert still has two years before coming due for a massive raise. Herbert wasn’t the same caliber of prospect as Lawrence entering the NFL, but he just had a wildly impressive rookie season while playing behind the worst offensive line in football.
The Chargers could also flesh out a Lawrence deal. James was one of the best defensive players in football at any position as a rookie, but he has played just five games over the past two years while dealing with foot and knee injuries. If the guy we saw in 2018 is back on the field in 2021, the Jags could end up trading Lawrence for a superstar quarterback, a Hall of Fame-caliber safety and the 13th overall pick. When the Chargers were forced to trade the Manning pick in 2004, they netted their own longtime quarterback in Philip Rivers and a short-lived superstar defender in Shawne Merriman with the Giants’ first-round pick in 2005.
Would the Chargers do this? If they saw Lawrence as a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback prospect, they’d have to take the shot. Herbert was very good as a rookie; his 105 adjusted yards per attempt index (AY/A+) is one of the best marks we’ve seen for a quarterback, but it’s not proof of consistent MVP-caliber play. Mayfield was at 106 as a rookie and took a major step backward in Year 2. Jameis Winston was just behind Herbert at 101. Matt Ryan was ahead of him at 114, and while Ryan has had an excellent career and won an MVP, if the Chargers think Lawrence is a surefire Hall of Famer, that’s worth more than Ryan.
The idea of this trade undoubtedly will make both sets of fans very angry, which is fine, but it’s more of a thought exercise than an actual proposal.
The Wilson trade talk has died down in recent weeks, but to make a move out of the second pick work for the Jets, they need to find a solution at quarterback. It’s tempting to think about the Browns and Ravens looking at disastrous quarterback extensions in recent years before at least considering moving on from Mayfield or Jackson, but I don’t think those moves are plausible. A Wilson trade remains unlikely, but if the Seahawks really decided that the future Hall of Famer had become too much of a problem in Seattle, this is the sort of return they would need to cut ties.
The No. 2 overall pick would get the Seahawks their pick of the non-Lawrence quarterbacks. They would get back two additional first-rounders, including the first they sent to the Jets for Jamal Adams. General manager John Schneider & Co. would also get the best-positioned first-rounder between the two selections the Jets have in 2022, which would give Seattle some leeway if it struggled without Wilson in 2021.
Why would the Jets do this? Well, about 40 years of subpar quarterback play comes to mind. The only quarterbacks in Jets history to post more than two seasons with an AY/A+ of 100 or more are Joe Namath and Ken O’Brien. Wilson has done that in each of his first nine seasons as a pro and hasn’t missed a start. At 32, he realistically has another five or six years at a high level, if not more. Wilson probably doesn’t single-handedly propel the Jets into contention, but he raises their floor at quarterback dramatically and gives them their best option since Namath.
49ers get: 1-4, 3-68, 2022 third-round pick
Atlanta Falcons get: 1-3
When the 49ers traded up to the No. 3 overall pick, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that San Francisco had talks with the Falcons at No. 4 and the Bengals at No. 5 before moving into the third slot. We’ve spent the ensuing few weeks wondering whether the 49ers are moving up for Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Schefter’s report makes me wonder whether the Niners have a strong preference; there’s a chance that Kyle Shanahan thinks they’re all franchise quarterbacks and that the trade up is more about getting a cheaper, healthier option than Garoppolo over the next few years.
If that’s the case, there’s also a scenario in which the Falcons want to draft a quarterback and do have a quarterback preference. Moving up would allow them to get the passing prospect they want to learn behind Matt Ryan in 2021. We’ve seen the Niners make a trade like this in the past, when they moved down one spot early in the 2017 draft to let the Bears jump ahead and draft Mitchell Trubisky. That move from No. 3 to No. 2 cost the Bears two third-rounders and a fourth-rounder, and this would be a similar haul.
Jeremy Fowler looks into the possibility of the 49ers drafting either Trey Lance or Justin Fields with the third pick in the NFL draft.
I still think it’s more likely that the Falcons trade down and add more pieces to fix their defense while trying to win around Ryan over the next couple of years. They’re a terrible fit for the receivers and tackles who are likely in the discussion at No. 3, so they can trade down and still address the edge or their secondary. I think they’ll have talks with the Broncos at No. 9, but once the 49ers traded up, the most obvious team to move up became the Patriots.
No, the Pats don’t typically package multiple first-rounders to move up in the draft. That’s true. They also don’t typically make a splash by signing more than a half-dozen players across the first two days of free agency, though, and that’s exactly what Bill Belichick did this March. We can’t assume that the Patriots are going to play by their old, Tom Brady-era rules when it comes to roster construction. They added weapons for Cam Newton this offseason, but Newton was inconsistent in 2020, has a rough injury history and isn’t under contract in 2022. The Pats still need a long-term solution at quarterback.
Trading up gets them one of Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance. It costs them two first-rounders, the third-round compensatory pick they got in return for Brady and a swap of cornerbacks. Jackson has intercepted 17 passes in three seasons and looks like one of the best young corners in football, but Belichick has generally been comfortable letting late-drafted (or undrafted) cornerbacks leave in free agency. Jackson is a restricted free agent, so the Patriots have one more year of cost control over him. They would swap him for Oliver, a second-rounder who hasn’t been good for the Falcons; the Colorado product would hope to improve with better coaching in New England before the final year of his rookie deal.
Bengals get: 1-13, 4-118, 2022 first-round pick
Los Angeles Chargers get: 1-5
The Bengals typically turn off their phones on draft weekend and pick when it’s their turn, although they did move down in the second round in 2019. They’re popularly linked to Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell here, but they did just draft Jonah Williams in the first round in 2019 before signing Riley Reiff in free agency last month. It’s not out of the question that they’re looking toward receiver, which is a position they could comfortably hit later in Round 1. The extra first-rounder would be nice for a team that needs to hit on more young talent in the years to come.
For the Chargers, meanwhile, this would be a move up to get Sewell. L.A. had the league’s worst pass block win rate last season, which is a dangerous game to play in front of a young quarterback. Two first-rounders is a lot to give up for a young tackle, but the Texans gave up more than that for Laremy Tunsil and then gave the former Dolphins standout a huge extension. Sewell would step right in at left tackle and give Justin Herbert time to breathe. It’s the most important position the Chargers have to hit in this draft, and they might need to move ahead of the Dolphins and Panthers to get the left tackle they want.
This could work for both sides. The Cowboys have a quarterback starting a contract worth $40 million per season, and given how much they’re spending elsewhere on their core, something has got to give. Cooper has a cap hit of $22 million in each of the final four years on his deal, and they notably didn’t restructure his deal when they created cap space this offseason. They would be on the hook for only $8 million in dead money as part of a Cooper trade. Michael Gallup is a pending free agent after this season, and the Cowboys could very well see themselves using Cooper’s money on two players.
One would be Gallup, who would get a new deal shortly after this trade. The other would be Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, with whom team owner Jerry Jones is reportedly infatuated. The Dolphins already have a poor man’s version of Pitts in Mike Gesicki, and while they could draft one of the wideouts in this year’s class, the Miami-born Cooper would be an immediate No. 1 target over the next few years for Tua Tagovailoa. A receiving corps of Cooper, Will Fuller, Devante Parker and Gesicki would rank among the scariest in football. Then again, so would Gallup, Pitts, CeeDee Lamb and either Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz. This trade would allow the Cowboys to play more two tight-end sets, which could help restart their run game in 2021.
Dolphins fans who had visions of adding a young superstar to their lineup might not like the idea, but ask yourself this: Would you rather have Pitts or, say, the combination of Cooper and Northwestern lineman Rashawn Slater? Heck, there’s a good chance that the Dolphins could add Cooper, trade down and still land one of the top-tier wideouts at No. 10. I think Miami will stay put at No. 6 after trading back up, but if we have to include another move for them, locking in a star wideout and staying in the top 10 is an easy victory. And if the Cowboys plan to move on from Cooper in the next year or two, adding Pitts would keep their passing attack humming.
Lions get: 1-23, 3-66, 2022 first-round pick
New York Jets get: 1-7
The Lions should be amassing as many picks as possible. The Jets should probably be doing the same thing, but I could see one argument for trading up. They added wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole this offseason, but regardless of which quarterback they draft with the No. 2 overall pick, he’ll be inheriting a below-average group of weapons.
If general manager Joe Douglas sees LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts as a generational pass-catcher and they’re still on the board at No. 7, he could use one of his extra first-rounders from the Jamal Adams trade to get his quarterback a new best friend. We saw Sam Darnold wither without receiving help these past few years; if any team should be sensitive to the idea of getting its young quarterback the right pieces from Week 1 on, it’s the Jets.
The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold this month, which likely takes them out of the quarterback market here. If Trey Lance is still on the board at No. 8, teams in the bottom half of the first round might try to move ahead of the Broncos at No. 9 or the Patriots at No. 15 to get him.
Washington coach Ron Rivera already made one deal with his old team last year when he dealt for Kyle Allen; this time around, he would be moving up for his quarterback of the future. Lance would get to spend at least part of 2021 learning behind Ryan Fitzpatrick before taking over as the full-time starter the following year. The Panthers would move down 11 spots and get a potentially juicy first-rounder in 2022, given Fitzpatrick’s relative inconsistency.
They would also get a wildly underrated defensive lineman in Ioannidis, who missed most of 2021 with a torn biceps. A rotation piece alongside four first-rounders in Washington when everyone’s healthy, Ioannidis would be a full-time starter for the Panthers, where he would reunite with former college coach Matt Rhule.
This is our first three-way trade, but it won’t be our last. If the Falcons don’t trade out of the No. 4 overall pick in a deal with the Patriots, the Broncos would be the second-most plausible candidates to move up. Drew Lock has shown flashes of competence as a pro quarterback, but Denver has a playoff-caliber roster around a questionable passer. If new general manager George Paton thinks there’s a franchise signal-caller on the board at No. 4, this is a move he’ll have to seriously consider making.
It’ll cost the Broncos their first-rounder in 2022 and a useful wide receiver. Patrick had three 100-yard games while filling in for the injured Courtland Sutton last season, but with Sutton back and Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler potentially ahead of him on the depth chart, Patrick’s role in the offense is uncertain.
As a restricted free agent, the Broncos would be at risk of losing Patrick to unrestricted free agency in 2022, so it might make sense to send him out as part of this deal. The Falcons don’t need another wide receiver, but they could pass along Patrick to the Ravens for a midround pick. Patrick would be part of the wideout rotation in Baltimore and a possible breakout candidate catching passes from Lamar Jackson.
There’s a scenario in which the first nine players off the board all play offense: the five quarterbacks, Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase and one of the two Alabama wide receivers (DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle). The players on the board at No. 10 would include the remaining Alabama wideout, Slater and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. It’s not a great fit for the Cowboys, who probably want to look toward help on the edge or in the secondary.
They can address both of those problems by trading down and grabbing a star edge rusher in the process. Hunter, who went to high school in Texas, missed all of 2020 with a neck injury amid reports that he was unhappy with his contract. George Edwards, who was formerly the defensive coordinator in Minnesota, is on Dallas’ staff as a senior defensive assistant. The Cowboys would still be in position to take a player such as Alabama corner Patrick Surtain at No. 14. (They’ll figure out the cap later.)
By the Johnson chart, this deal would value Hunter as roughly equivalent to the 25th pick in a typical draft; given that he’s coming off neck surgery and is due for a meaningful raise, that’s probably close to fair value. The Vikings would be moving up to grab Slater, who would step in as their left tackle after they cut Riley Reiff. The Giants (No. 11) and Chargers (No. 13) would both be plausible candidates to take Slater ahead of Minnesota, who would then have to address its holes on the edge later in the draft. The second-rounder it gets from the Cowboys would help make up for the second-rounder it shipped off to the Jaguars as part of the ill-fated deal for Yannick Ngakoue last year.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay give their opinions on what the Cowboys should do with their first-round pick.
The Giants, as a rule, do not trade down. It’s been 15 drafts since either Jerry Reese or Dave Gettleman have traded down in a draft. Gettleman didn’t trade down once during his time in Carolina, either. Virtually every one of the optimal trades I would try to concoct for the Giants would involve trading down and addressing the interior of their line or the edge with additional picks in the early rounds. The Giants also aren’t drafting a quarterback and don’t need a wide receiver after they signed Kenny Golladay in free agency. They just drafted a left tackle with the fourth overall pick last year, so they’re probably not trading up for Penei Sewell. We’re left with Kyle Pitts, who projects as a much more impressive version of Engram, the Giants’ current tight end.
So how would swapping Pitts for Engram work? If quarterbacks come off the board with the first four picks, the Bengals choose Sewell at No. 5, and the Dolphins go for Ja’Marr Chase at No. 6, Pitts would still be on the board. The Lions probably wouldn’t go for a second tight end in the top 10 after using their first-rounder on T.J. Hockenson in 2019, and the extra second-rounders would help fill out their roster. They would still be in position to draft the best available player at No. 11.
The Lions don’t really need Engram, who is a pending free agent after the season. One team that does want a receiving threat at tight end, though, is Buffalo, where Knox has been inconsistent as the primary option. Upgrading to Engram gives the Bills an athletic difference-maker over the middle of the field, which might be the last missing piece of their offense. If Engram doesn’t work out, the Bills would still be in line to get back a compensatory pick for the 2017 first-rounder in free agency.
Eagles get: 1-18, 2-50
Miami Dolphins get: 1-12, 3-84, 6-224
The Eagles will be open for business here, and with the Chargers and the Vikings both in the market for an offensive tackle with the next two picks, they should hear some calls from teams that want to move up and get ahead of those organizations for Rashawn Slater or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker.
The Dolphins just made a deal with the Eagles, of course, but this move up would get them another building block with which to protect Tagovailoa. This is an almost perfect swap on the Stuart chart, which would be more likely to align with these two analytically inclined franchises and how they typically value picks.
This is another way for the Chargers to get their left tackle of the future. Brown filled in at left tackle for the injured Ronnie Stanley last season, and with the former first-rounder returning to the lineup in 2021, Brown wants to be traded to an organization in which he can play on the (often more lucrative) left side. The Ravens will likely lose Brown after the season in free agency, so while they would gain a compensatory pick in the 2023 draft, they have to be giving some thought to the possibility of a Brown trade.
This move would value Brown on the Johnson chart as something close to the 37th pick in a typical draft, which seems fair given his relative inexperience at left tackle. The Ravens would move up and be in position to add one of the promising receivers in the draft if they fall to No. 12. They did add Sammy Watkins this offseason, but the possibility of acquiring a playmaker such as Jaylen Waddle would give Lamar Jackson the upside of a superstar wide receiver. The Chargers would add their left tackle and could use their new pick at No. 27 to hit the defensive side of the ball.
Vikings get: 1-24, 2022 first-round pick
Pittsburgh Steelers get: 1-14, 2022 fourth-round pick
If you want what the Patriots might be having, this is your last chance to get ahead of New England at No. 15. In some scenarios, that could be for a linebacker such as Micah Parsons or Tulsa’s Zaven Collins. Here, though, it would be in a world in which one of the five first-round quarterbacks are still left on the board. The Vikings aren’t taking a quarterback, and they’ll be able to address their defensive depth and tackle concerns later in the first round.
The Steelers have plenty of needs elsewhere on their roster, which is why I think they probably would package their 2022 first-rounder as opposed to trying to use their second-round pick. This would be a move up to grab a quarterback such as Trey Lance if he’s still on the board. With Ben Roethlisberger entering what appears to be the final year of his career, the future is totally uncertain in Pittsburgh. Getting their quarterback now gets the Steelers ready for 2022 and hedges their chances if Roethlisberger isn’t able to play at a high level in 2021.
Patriots get: 1-20, 2-52, 6-204
Chicago Bears get: 1-15, 7-242
Bill Belichick has changed his roster-building style in recent months out of necessity, but unless he’s making a major move up to grab a quarterback, I still think he’s going to lean toward amassing extra picks while taking advantage of desperate teams. He has hooked up with general manager Ryan Pace and the Bears in the past, with Chicago moving up in the second round to grab Anthony Miller in 2018.
This time, the Bears would be moving up ahead of the Cardinals for a cornerback such as South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Chicago was forced by cap constraints to swap out Kyle Fuller for Desmond Trufant this offseason, and the former Falcons corner has been alternately injured and ineffective over the past few years. Horn would step in as the team’s third corner before forming the team’s starting duo of the future alongside promising 2020 second-rounder Jaylon Johnson. The Pats would move down and add an extra second-rounder, which would be helpful for a team that lost a second-rounder in 2020 to the Mohamed Sanu trade and a third-rounder in 2021 for filming the Bengals during a game.
Cardinals get: 1-22, 3-85, 5-166, 2022 third-round pick
Tennessee Titans get: 1-16
The Cards have dealt away their third-, fourth- and sixth-round picks, so a trade down makes sense. The Raiders are a bit of a wild card when it comes to draft selections, and teams such as Washington and the Bears and Colts could be looking at offensive tackles, so I wonder if this is where the Titans would consider making their move.
Tennessee needs a right tackle after 2020 first-rounder Isaiah Wilson flamed out in spectacular fashion, and if Alijah Vera-Tucker or Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw are still on the board here, this is where it could make its move.
I don’t think you can ever rule out the possibility of Jon Gruden falling in love with a quarterback. Derek Carr hasn’t been holding the Raiders back, of course, but remember how the Chiefs leveled up when they replaced the steadiness of Alex Smith with the upside of Patrick Mahomes? If Gruden thinks Justin Fields or Trey Lance have something close to that sort of ceiling, he’s not going to let Carr (or Mariota) stand in his way.
So, we have a three-way trade. The Raiders send a third-round pick and their 2022 first-rounder to the Lions to move up 10 spots and grab their quarterback of the future. Carr will start in 2021 and then become a trade candidate as he enters the final year of his deal in 2022, just as was the case for Smith in Kansas City. The Raiders also send Mariota, who just took a pay cut, to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick, where there will be a battle of Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback between Mariota and Cam Newton.
Dolphins get: 1-31, 2-63
Kansas City Chiefs get: 1-18, 7-231
The Chiefs are another one of the teams that will be in the market for a tackle after cutting both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz this offseason. Mike Remmers is expected to lock down the right side, but left tackle is a huge question mark, and we just saw in the Super Bowl how a struggling offensive line can slow down Mahomes.
To get a plug-and-play left tackle, the Chiefs will probably have to move up from their spot at No. 31; this would net the Dolphins yet another premium pick at the bottom of the second round.
Washington gets: 1-9
Denver Broncos get: 1-19, 3-74, 2022 second-round pick
Washington made huge strides on defense last season, as Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio helped coax a unit that ranked 27th in the league on that side of the ball in 2019 all the way to third. Surprisingly, for a defense run by two former linebackers, Washington didn’t invest much in terms of players at that position. The Football Team has an expensively assembled secondary and a defensive line with four first-round picks, but not much in between.
This move would change that, with Washington moving up to grab Micah Parsons. The 2020 opt-out could come off the board earlier in the first round, but Washington probably is eyeing the Eagles as a possible landing spot for Parsons at No. 12. (Philly hasn’t valued off-ball linebackers during the Howie Roseman era, but if you had to watch Philadelphia’s linebackers for 16 games last season, you might change your mind, too.) With division rivals in Dallas and New York picking at Nos. 10 and 11, respectively, Washington probably would need to get to No. 9 to ensure a major upgrade with Parsons. The Broncos would move down and address their depth later in the round and also add two Day 2 picks.
This would be the move for the Bears if they want to jump the line for a quarterback. The Eagles might not draft a quarterback at No. 12, but they would probably be open to trading their pick to a team such as the Patriots or Washington if they want to move up from their spots for Trey Lance. With the Giants entrenched at No. 11, moving up to No. 10 would get the Bears in the right spot.
The Cowboys would move down 10 spots and reap a tantalizing draft pick in Chicago’s 2021 first-rounder; if the Bears collapse with Andy Dalton under center, that pick could fall somewhere in the top 10. They’ll also get a relatively cheap backup in Foles, who is owed $4 million in 2021 and has only $1 million of his $8 million in 2022 guaranteed. Foles would only be in the lineup if Dak Prescott got injured, but imagine the universe in which the former Super Bowl MVP starts against the Eagles in a division-deciding game in Week 18.
Colts get: 1-28, 3-98, 3-105
New Orleans Saints get: 1-21
The Colts need a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo. After trading their first-round pick last year for DeForest Buckner and then sending their third-rounder with either a first- or second-round pick to the Eagles to acquire Carson Wentz, though, they also need to replenish their draft capital.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard typically prefers to grab extra picks, and moving down here would net his team two compensatory selections in the third round. The Saints are in the market for help at cornerback and receiver, two positions the Titans (No. 22) and Jets (No. 23) could also target before them.
Titans get: 1-12, 5-150
Philadelphia Eagles get: 1-22, 2-53, 3-100
The Titans don’t need a left tackle with Taylor Lewan entrenched on Ryan Tannehill‘s blind side, but they could want to take one of the draft’s top tackles to play the right side. Kendall Lamm, who came over from the Browns, is probably best as a swing tackle in the role Dennis Kelly used to play for Tennessee.
Moving ahead of the Chargers and Vikings could get the Titans Rashawn Slater. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson would send the Eagles a second-rounder and the third-round compensatory pick they netted for losing Jack Conklin, the team’s prior solution at right tackle.
Here’s another way for the Jets to surround their new quarterback with talent. Scherff has been franchised twice by Washington, leaving him one season away from free agency. His $18 million cap hit in 2021 is the largest for any guard in football by more than $3 million, and he would be in line for a quarterback-level franchise tag in 2022. If Washington doesn’t get a deal done by the franchise deadline, Scherff is as good as gone next year for no more than a third-round compensatory pick.
Here, Washington would trade Scherff to the Jets for what amounts to the 37th pick in a typical draft by the Johnson chart. Washington also gets a short-term replacement on the interior in Van Roten, who played under Ron Rivera in Carolina before joining the Jets. Scherff would be in line to become the highest-paid guard in football after joining Gang Green, but with the Jets holding more than $28 million in cap space, they can afford the All-Pro’s price tag. Washington could use this pick to draft its own lineman or a linebacker.
Stephen A. Smith has questions for Mel Kiper Jr. about Zach Wilson, whom Kiper has going No. 2 overall to the Jets.
Steelers get: 2-48, 3-79, 3-80
Las Vegas Raiders get: 1-24, 4-140
The Steelers have shed talent on both sides of the ball this offseason and have used their picks to trade up (Devin Bush) or away (Minkah Fitzpatrick) for talent over the past two years. This is a spot in which they probably want to try to gather multiple picks over first few rounds of the draft. Trading down here would net the Steelers three top-100 picks from a Raiders team that often finds itself on their its wavelength during the draft.
Las Vegas could be trading up for help in the secondary or at wide receiver. Pittsburgh could use its extra picks to shore up depth along the line of scrimmage.
Jaguars get: 1-10
Dallas Cowboys get: 1-25, 2-33
By the Johnson chart, the 25th and 33rd picks are a perfect match for the 10th overall selection. I’m not sure either of these teams are actually using the old-school chart at this point, but this is close enough to make sense for both sides. The Cowboys probably want to hit multiple pieces of their defense with early picks.
The Jags added Marvin Jones this offseason and have a potential No. 1 (DJ Chark) and No. 2 (Laviska Shenault) on the roster, but they can’t add enough in the way of weapons for their young quarterback. If Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith are still on the board, they could build one of the league’s most promising receiving corps with a move up. If Kyle Pitts somehow fell to No. 10, this would be an even bigger must for new coach Urban Meyer & Co.
Browns get: 3-67, 2022 first-round pick
Houston Texans get: 1-26, 3-89
Let’s pitch another creative trade between these two teams. The Texans have been without their first-round pick in three of the past four drafts — those picks went to trades for Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil — and they doesn’t have much in the way of cheap, talented young players. Houston and new general manager Nick Caserio will finally have something close to a full complement of picks in 2022, but what if somebody they have as a top-five or top-ten talent in a weird year falls to the 26th pick?
The Browns could speculate on the possibility of adding a truly premium pick. The chances that the Texans will finish with one of the seven best records in football next year are slim, meaning that Cleveland could come away with a superior pick for its patience. If it ends up getting a pick in the 20s, this deal won’t be anything to write home about. But if a Tyrod Taylor-led Texans team struggles to win five games, the Browns could net a top-five pick out of this deal.
Ravens get: 2-57, 3-88, 2022 second-round pick
Los Angeles Rams get: 1-27
The Rams hate first-round picks, but having just mentioned the Texans, Sean McVay’s team is the last team we need to include to mention all 32 in this piece. If Los Angeles was going to make an exception to its policy of avoiding picks at the bottom of the first round, it might be to add talent at a critical position.
Andrew Whitworth turns 40 this year, and there’s no left tackle of the future on the roster. If Alijah Vera-Tucker, for example, is still on the board here, the Rams could start him out on the interior before eventually moving him to left tackle. This would be a departure for the Rams, but then again, who thought they were about to cut bait on Todd Gurley and Jared Goff in consecutive offseasons?
The Ravens can address their front seven with additional picks in the second and third round.
Saints get: 1-9
Denver Broncos get: 1-28, 3-98, 2022 first- and third-round picks
Let’s make one final trade up the board for a quarterback. The Saints are bringing back Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston for 2021, but it would take a big leap forward for either quarterback to serve as this team’s long-term solution under center. Sean Payton’s team has the talent to compete for Super Bowls if it can find an answer at quarterback, and if it can get a cheap option with upside under center, New Orleans can keep everybody left on the roster and even add a piece or two in free agency over the next few seasons.
In 2017, the Saints tried to draft Patrick Mahomes at No. 11 overall, only for the Chiefs to trade up and beat them to the punch. This time around, if a quarterback such as Trey Lance is still on the board at No. 9, the Saints can’t afford to move up to only Nos. 12 or 14 to try to get ahead of the Patriots as they search for their passer of the future, because New England might move up to No. 10 and beat them to the punch. Getting all the way to No. 9 should lock the Saints in for a quarterback, although it’ll take the Broncos passing on that same signal-caller.
Packers get: 2-36, 3-81
Miami Dolphins get: 1-29, 4-142
Will the Packers stay put and draft the wide receiver their fans have wanted them to add for years? Well, the evidence we’ve seen from the past couple of years suggests that’s unlikely, but they could still move down seven spots and add a weapon for Aaron Rodgers at No. 36.
Offensive line depth could also come into play. If the Dolphins add a receiver at No. 6 and an offensive lineman at No. 18, this could be a spot in which they move ahead of the Bills and Chiefs to try to add an edge rusher.
Dan Graziano says the Packers stand firm on the way they continue to conduct football operations, particularly with the Aaron Rodgers situation.
Bills get: 2-35, 4-108
Atlanta Falcons get: 1-30
The Bills lost a little bit of depth this offseason, and given how well they’ve drafted in recent years, there are worse things for general manager Brandon Beane & Co. than adding extra picks in the first few rounds of the draft.
Buffalo doesn’t need any immediate starters, but it probably wants to refresh its depth on defense, which it can do in the later rounds of the draft. This could be a spot for a team to trade up for a running back — likely Clemson’s Travis Etienne or Alabama’s Najee Harris — ahead of teams such as the Bucs (No. 32) and Jets (No. 34); a rookie runner would be in position to trade carries with Mike Davis in 2021.
A lot of teams in the NFL will try to pretend at one point or another that they’re one player away from winning the Super Bowl. The Chiefs might actually have been one good left tackle away from back-to-back titles, given how quickly their offense fell apart without Eric Fisher against the Buccaneers. We know Andy Reid takes left tackle very seriously; he traded a first-round pick to the Bills for Jason Peters during his time with the Eagles and made Fisher his first draft pick after joining Kansas City.
This would be a lot to give up for one player, but the Chiefs might think left tackle is just that important. By getting ahead of the Chargers and Vikings, Kansas City could have its pick of the non-Penei Sewell left tackles in the class.
By making a deal with their old coach, the Eagles would get a first-round pick, two second-rounders and add a wide receiver with upside to their roster in Hardman, whose role with the Chiefs is capped by the presence of Tyreek Hill.
The Buccaneers were able to bring back just about everyone from a team that finished second in DVOA and won the Super Bowl. They could use depth along the offensive line, a rotational edge rusher and the thing they get here: a backup quarterback. Tom Brady is the only passer currently on the roster, and while he looked like his old self last season, the Bucs would be foolish to not have something behind Brady just in case. The cliff can come at any time, and there’s always the chance of a freak injury, like the ACL tear which felled Brady in 2008.
Getting Minshew would lock down the most obvious collapse point on the Tampa Bay roster and give it a possible bridge quarterback behind Brady. Minshew doesn’t have much use for the Jags after they draft Trevor Lawrence, but with two years left to go on his deal at a total of just over $1.8 million (before any performance incentives), he is a bargain in terms of backup quarterbacks. This deal would value him in line with the 86th pick in a typical draft by the Johnson chart and get the Jaguars a third first-round pick.