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Mike McCarn/Associated Press
The NFL suddenly resembles the NBA as a land of many blockbuster trades.
Fans know the big ones: Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham Jr., Frank Clark, Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Antonio Brown and Jalen Ramsey, just to name a few—and it’s fun.
There are a ton of reasons for the boon. The NBA’s entertainment value is one. So are analytics that predict the success rate of draft picks; front offices and coaching staffs in danger of losing jobs every few seasons are more than comfortable exchanging picks for proven contributors to win now. Don’t forget the silly, ever-rising prices of marquee free agents.
In other words, more blockbuster trades are undoubtedly on the way this offseason. Based on logical buyer-seller scenarios surrounding some big names, let’s take a look at some of the massive moves we’d like to see.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
The trade: Tampa Bay Buccaneers send TE O.J. Howard to New England Patriots in exchange for a first-round pick
The New England Patriots don’t seem like a team to panic while trying to squeeze the most out of an aging future Hall of Famer under center.
But the front office did go after Antonio Brown, after all.
Perhaps Bill Belichick and Co. dial it back a bit this offseason given the backfire there. But a big move for a safer, long-term option that helps them contend now and later makes plenty of sense, hence the idea of a move for Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard.
Call it potential immediate production in exchange for a draft pick not guaranteed to produce a year removed from drafting N’Keal Harry in the first round and only getting 12 catches from him. The Buccaneers might posture like Howard isn’t available, but there’s no arguing he’s disappointed compared to expectations with just 34 catches and one score last year on a team that threw 33 touchdowns.
From a Patriots perspective, the idea here is to acquire the No. 19 pick in the 2017 draft and put him in a better place to succeed, as is wont to happen with Tom Brady under center. The Patriots get a big-time weapon with potentially two years left on his rookie deal, and the Buccaneers acquire another top-25 selection to spur a rebuild.
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Mark Tenally/Associated Press
The trade: Washington Redskins send edge-rusher Ryan Kerrigan to Miami Dolphins in exchange for a second-round pick
Ryan Kerrigan might not be the biggest name compared to what he does on the field, given his quiet demeanor and the fact that he plays for the Washington Redskins.
He happens to be just what a team like the rebuilding Miami Dolphins might covet.
The 31-year-old has put up 90 career sacks and didn’t slow down in 2019, posting 5.5 sacks, 11 hurries, six quarterback knockdowns and 25 pressures over just 12 games. It was the first time in his career he’s missed a game.
Granted, this doesn’t sound like a player the Redskins would want to let go of. But Kerrigan is going into the final year of his deal and will want a big extension, never mind the $11.7 million cap hit he carries in 2020. Washington has Ryan Anderson and others to rush the passer, and it needs more playing time for 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat.
Miami could be content to deal one of its many picks for a player like Kerrigan for the leadership and team-building alone, never mind that its defense only hit home for 23 sacks last season.
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The trade: Cincinnati Bengals tag and send WR A.J. Green to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a first-round pick
The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t host a fire sale at the trade deadline like some might’ve wanted given the team’s eventual two-win finish and securing of the No. 1 overall pick.
But the mood from an organization can change in the offseason, especially when it’s time to pay up and prevent a player like A.J. Green from hitting the open market. The two sides haven’t agreed on an extension after he missed all of last season, plus seven games in 2018 and six more in 2016, which could lead to a franchise tag.
That’s where a team like the San Francisco 49ers comes into play. Super Bowl-bound or not, they seem ready to add a No. 1 wideout via free agency or trade, and Green fits the mold. The late first-round pick is like a second-round pick anyway, which is a nice way to bridge the gap in compensation for an injury-prone wideout who’ll be 32 next season.
He’s still a top-20 player at his position, though, and the 31st or 32nd pick isn’t guaranteed to provide instant production. The upside of such a deal screams value, especially considering that only one 49ers wide receiver surpassed 502 yards this season and a key name like Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent.
Losing Green would sting for Cincinnati, but it makes sense to acquire another first-rounder to build around likely No. 1 pick Joe Burrow considering head coach Zac Taylor has yet to see Green on the field and isn’t guaranteed to get him back.
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Bryan Woolston/Associated Press
The trade: Cincinnati Bengals send QB Andy Dalton to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a second-round pick
Andy Dalton seemed like a probable trade-deadline mover even before Zac Taylor announced he was benching him in favor of rookie Ryan Finley.
Granted, Dalton ended up getting back on the field and even winning two games after the Finley experiment blew up in Taylor’s face. But he still finished with a paltry 59.5 completion percentage, largely in line with his career rate of 62.0, along with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Teams with strong defenses and support systems might still have an interest in Dalton, though, especially after the veteran made it clear he and his reps would have preferred a trade after he got benched.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are searching for answers after botching the Nick Foles gamble. The veteran’s play was miserable, and he isn’t the starter moving forward. It comes down to whether the Jaguars want to move slowly with a developing Gardner Minshew II under center or acquire a player like Dalton as a bridge.
Intriguingly, the Jaguars just brought on Jay Gruden as the offensive coordinator. He was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator when it drafted Dalton in 2011, and he helped produce some of the quarterback’s best years, including seasons with 27 and 33 touchdown passes. Jacksonville has two first-round picks, so a second-rounder is a small price for a strong mentor and possible effective starter in Dalton.
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Mike McCarn/Associated Press
The trade: Carolina Panthers send QB Cam Newton to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round pick, 2021 mid-round pick
Strap in, as Cam Newton is going to be one of the most speculated-about players of the 2020 offseason.
The veteran Carolina Panthers quarterback is 30 years old and has one year left on his deal, checking in at a cap hit of $21.1 million. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has already reported the Panthers will look to deal him.
That makes sense if new Panthers coach Matt Rhule wants to get his own quarterback and reset everything. It wouldn’t hurt to land a few assets while clearing the books of not only Newton’s current number, but also his future extension.
Perhaps this is what the Indianapolis Colts have been waiting for. The front office in Indianapolis has generally been conservative, using draft picks smartly to build up the offensive trenches after failing Andrew Luck. The Colts are sitting on about $90 million in cap space.
They didn’t have a choice but to give it a shot with Jacoby Brisset given the timing of Luck’s retirement last August. He responded with a 60.9 completion percentage with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Colts went 7-9.
While there is an inherent risk in sacrificing multiple assets to bring Newton to town, the cap hit wouldn’t hurt much, and he remains a former MVP who could have productive seasons left. Pairing him with a weapon like T.Y. Hilton, along with some potential free-agent adds, sounds like fun and could help Indianapolis return to contention.
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David Richard/Associated Press
The trade: Cleveland Browns send WR Odell Beckham Jr. to Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for a first-round pick, WR Tyrell Williams
Amazingly, Odell Beckham Jr. might be at the forefront of all NFL trade rumors again this offseason. Alongside the rest of the Browns, he was a disappointment in his first year in Cleveland, finishing second on the team in receiving with 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. That was the second-lowest output of his career behind a four-game season in 2017. In 2018, he had 1,052 yards and six scores over just 12 games.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports has already reported Beckham wants a trade out of Cleveland. On top of the cap hit of $14.25 million or more in each of the next four seasons, the constant distractions (the latest the money saga at LSU’s title game) might encourage the Browns to make something happen.
Despite that, other teams won’t blink at the idea of adding a talent like Beckham. Jon Gruden and the Raiders, for example, have already shown a willingness to take a gamble on a player like Antonio Brown and sure wouldn’t mind the publicity during a massive move to Las Vegas.
The Raiders have a pair of first-round picks and might be willing to sacrifice one of them if they package a productive veteran wideout like Tyrell Williams into the deal. Beckham’s arrival could keep nudging Derek Carr in the right direction after a season in which he completed 70.4 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.