Financial Ramifications for NFL Trade Candidates

Financial Ramifications for NFL Trade Candidates

The NFL Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away, with the window to move player set to close at 4PM ET, Halloween day. We’ll dive into a few names rumored to be on the trade block this month, including the financial ramifications associated with a move.

QUARTERBACKS

Not much to see here honestly (as per usual with starting QBs at the trade deadline). Minnesota will need to bottom out and be blown away by an offer to honestly consider moving Cousins, and Tennessee would need to pay down most of Tannehill’s remaining $15M to even begin to get sniffs. If you told me a few experienced backups (Jameis Winston, Mason Rudolph) found a new home by November, that wouldn’t be too surprising.

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Minnesota converted $20M of Cousins’ 2023 compensation into signing bonus prior to the season, leaving just a $10M base salary to operate with. They’ll be $5.5M of it remaining at the deadline should he truly hit the block. He projects to a 3 year, $117M contract in our system currently.

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Tannehill’s QB Rating is at a career low 71 entering Week 7, and an ankle injury, plus a $15M deadline salary could be far too much for another team to swallow, even if just as a rental.

RUNNING BACKS

Kind of get the feeling this list is going to grow significantly as we get closer to Halloween, but for now, these players at least have a legitimate reason to be on the trade block. 

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

The 29 year old is in a contract year in Tennessee, who have begun to sell off pieces at this deadline. The productive as ever running back carries a $5.8M deadline salary.

Rashaad Penny (RB, PHI)

Penny finds himself 4th on the Philly depth chart heading toward the deadline, but a $670,000 deadline salary could make him attractive to teams in need.

Dalvin Cook (RB, NYJ)

It’s been weird right? Cook was always going to be insurance for Breece Hall, but at this stage it just seems like he’s an extra body in the room. He’ll carry about $3.6M remaining on his 1 year contract at the deadline, including per-game active bonuses.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn (RB, TB)

Fournette leaving was supposed to vault Vaughn into a big role for Tampa, but it’s been much of the same for the former #76 pick. A change of scenery to finish off his rookie contract ($672,770 deadline salary) seems a good fit here.

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, NE)

Last year’s breakout star is now averaging only 3 yards per rushing attempt, and is on pace to catch 20 less balls than he did in 2022. Is it a back to earth situation? Is he missing the viable 1-2 punch that Damien Harris afforded him? Stevenson holds $522,222 at the deadline, with a non-guaranteed $1,055,000 available in 2024.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC)

CEH’s usage has been much better to start 2023 than it has been in recent years (likely to account for Jerick McKinnon’s disappearing act thus far). Has he proved himself to be a viable weapon for this KC team down the stretch? The final year of his rookie contract holds a $1,103,150 salary at this year’s deadline.

WIDE RECEIVERS

This list is loaded with talented WRs who, for the most part, are either stuck on bad rosters, or buried in a depth chart right now. Feels like at least three of these will be changing cities in the next two weeks.

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

Sutton was rumored to be in trade talks prior to the season, so it only makes sense to include him here now with the Denver situation not much improved. He’s in Year 3 of a 5 year, $62M contract, including an $8,042,476 salary for the remainder of 2023. None of the 2 years, $27.5M remaining thereafter comes with an early guarantee.

Jerry Jeudy (WR, DEN)

Jeudy posted career numbers in 2022, but he’s done little to hold up his end of the #15 overall draft selection. It didn’t stop Denver from exercising his 5th-year-option for 2024, meaning a trade at the deadline would send along $1,489,871 guaranteed for the rest of 2023, & $12,987,000 fully guaranteed in 2024.

Marquise Brown (WR, ARI)

Hollywood is having his healthiest and most productive season in a few years right now, despite a makeshift offense being thrown together in Arizona. There’s a world where he’s a part of their future, and this is an extension conversation instead of a trade one. But if not, paying down some of the $7,451,666 remaining on this deal to acquire a strong draft pick makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals.

Adam Thielen (WR, CAR)

On paper, Thielen penned a 3 year, $25M free agent contract with Carolina this past March, but from a guarantee standpoint it’s essentially a 1 year, $14.5M deal. An acquiring team would take on around $900,000 for this season, with a $4M guarantee built into his 2024 compensation. Doable, but not likely?

K.J. Osborn (WR, MIN)

Justin Jefferson’s injury might make this a less viable move for Minnesota, but Osborn is playing out the final year of his rookie contract, and his $1.5M deadline salary could be attractive to a contender in need.

Hunter Renfrow (WR, LV)

He’s just a year and a half removed from a 103 catch, 9 TD season for the Raiders, but has fallen completely out of favor in terms of targets & subsequent production. There’s about $3.9M left on his 2023 compensation when you factor in per-game-active bonuses, so Las Vegas might benefit from paying that down a bit to secure a larger draft pick in return. None of Renfrow’s $11.8M for 2024 contains an early guarantee.

Kendrick Bourne (WR, NE)

He’s on pace for a career high in targets & receptions, so the Patriots have at least made a bigger attempt to incorporate his services this year. A $3M deadline salary may be too rich for some teams, but it’s possible New England can flip Bourne in the coming days.

Parris Campbell (WR, NYG)

The Giants took a flier on the former 2nd rounder with an incentive-laden showcase deal, but honestly, it’s tough to imagine a team taking on the $1.9M cap hit to acquire the 26-year-old at this deadline.

Terrace Marshall (WR, CAR)

Carolina drafted Marshall #59 overall back in 2021 but have received little to no return on investment since then. A change of scenery makes sense here for Marshall, who carries a $614,367 deadline salary for the rest of 2023, then a non-guaranteed $1,441,294 in 2024.

Devin Duvernay (WR, BAL)

Duvernay still holds plenty of value as the leading return man in Baltimore, but his targets as a receiver have almost completely gone by the wayside. With a $2.4M deadline salary, it seems most likely that he remains with the Ravens to complete his rookie contract.

Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, CLE)

DPJ took a nice step forward in 2022, posting career highs across the board and making him one of the more notable “breakout” candidates for 2023. It hasn’t worked out that way, leaving an underutilized 24-year-old WR on an expiring contract seeking a bigger role elsewhere. His $1.5M deadline salary shouldn’t be too daunting to move this month.

TIGHT ENDS

Not much to write home about here, and New England moving on from Henry is probably a long shot, but Ertz latching on to a contender to (likely) finish off his career should be considered a must move.

Zach Ertz (TE, ARI)

Ertz is in Year 2 of a 3 year, $31.5M contract in Arizona, but none of his $10M for 2024 is guaranteed right now. Barring any retained salary from the Cardinals, an acquiring team would take on $5.1M to bring in Ertz at the deadline.

Hunter Henry (TE, NE)

If the Patriots truly decide to rip the band-aid off on their expiring contracts, Henry could very much be in demand. A $5.8M deadline salary could be too rich for many, but New England may be willing to help lower that number a bit to get something done.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Bolles is a viable starting tackle, but he’s been publicly calling out the coaching staff in Denver of late. That’s generally a sign that the relationship isn’t going to continue much longer. Cleveland & Onwenu are on expiring contracts and could return mid-to-late draft picks before they hit the open market.

Garett Bolles (OL, DEN)

Bolles is in Year 4 of a 5 year, $70M contract, but none of his $16M set in 2024 is guaranteed right now. An acquiring team would be looking at $8.6M for the rest of 2023, making this one a tough sell for Denver.

Ezra Cleveland (OL, MIN)

Cleveland currently sits as a Top 10 rated Guard according to PFF, so it’s not crazy to think that Minnesota could be considering an extension out of his expiring rookie contract instead of a trade, but it seems like everyone might be on the table for the Vikings this week in some capacity. Cleveland carries a $1.6M deadline salary.

Mike Onwenu (OL, NE)

Onwenu had a strong start to his career in New England, but appears to be sliding in terms of future with the organization. He carries a $1.6M deadline salary in the final year of his rookie contract.

DEFENDERS

Honestly, there’s a lot more smoke than fire here with many of these names, but it stands to reason that a player or two on an expiring contract should be flipped for a draft asset. 

Brian Burns (DE, CAR)

If news breaks that Brian Burns has been traded this month, be prepared for a trade compensation package that comes with shock and awe, because that seems to be the only way Carolina gives up on this relationship midseason. Burns is playing out his $16M 5th-year-option in 2023, with free agency or a franchise tag ahead of him next March. His deadline salary comes in just under $8.9M.

Chase Young (DE, WAS)

After Washington declined Young’s 5th-year-option for 2024, it seemed the writing was on the wall for his future with the Commanders. But he’s played well to start the 2023 campaign, making a deadline trade less likely than originally thought. His $2.95M deadline salary will certainly attract some attention either way.

Carl Lawson (DE, NYJ)

Lawson missed all of 2021, but then posted 7 sacks in 2022 to resurrect his tenure with the Jets. A slow start to 2023, plus an extremely tradable $600,000 deadline salary makes this one of the more likely moves.

Julian Okwara (LB, DET)

The former 3rd rounder finds himself buried in the Lions depth chart right now as he returns from an early season knee injury. Now on an expiring rookie contract, look for Detroit to seek a late round draft pick in exchange for his friendly $712,475 deadline salary.

Danielle Hunter (LB, MIN)

Hunter seems to find his name on every trade list, and maybe rightfully so (8 sacks, 32 tackles, 1 forced fumble, in 350 snaps). But his $6.3M deadline salary (including per game active bonuses) is a bigger number than we’re used to seeing move midseason. Will Minnesota pay it down a bit to make him an easier acquisition?

Preston Smith (LB, GB)

Smith just locked in a 4 year extension in March of 2022, but it feels like the Packers could be reshuffling quite a few roster spots in the coming months - especially if they fall out of contention in 2023. Smith is a get to the quarterback player with a $965,000 deadline salary (and no guarantees on his future $39.9M). Somebody’s calling.

Jerry Hughes (LB, HOU)

Hughes was a big part of a transitioning Houston team in 2022, but his role has reduced now that many young players are starting to flourish in starting positions. There’s plenty reason for the Texans to keep him around for the rest of 2023, but if he seeks a larger role elsewhere, his $1.26M deadline salary isn’t too daunting.

Jaylon Johnson (CB, CHI)

I’m on record stating that the Bears need to be thinking core players, not flashy weapons, so I’m in what appears to be a minority that feels as though the Bears should be looking to lock in their talented CB on an expiring contract. But if the trade compensation is too good to pass up, the acquiring team can have him at $1.6M for the rest of the season.

Adoree' Jackson (CB, NYG)

It feels like the Giants are nearing sell-mode, and Jackson’s expiring contract would certainly qualify as a candidate for that. It’s a $6.6M investment to take on the former #18 overall pick for the rest of 2023.

Kaiir Elam (CB, BUF)

To say that Elam and the Bills haven’t been a match made in heaven since he was selected #23 overall back in 2022 is an understatement. Sure it’s still early, and yes he’s only 22 years old, but the BIlls aren’t in a window to wait around for anybody - and Tre’Davious White’s potential career-ending injury expedited a need to get bigger and better at this position. A move at the deadline comes with $737,394 for the rest of 2023, $1,949,619 in 2024, & $2,571,929 - all fully guaranteed.

Harrison Smith (S, MIN)

Toss 11-year vet Smith into the “if the Vikings fire sell” bucket. The 34-year-old is under contract through 2025, but the next two seasons are “fluffy” in terms of guarantee. For all intents and purposes, this is a 1 year, $4.4M rental.

Xavier McKinney (S, NYG)

A healthy McKinney is an above average safety in this league, and that’s exactly what he’s been in 2023. The former #36 overall pick is on an expiring rookie contract, holding a $974,574 salary at the deadline. NY should be extending him, not shopping him.