Slowly but surely, trades have become a more popular process for NFL teams to improve, rebuild, or shed cap dollars both in-season, and at the start of the league year. We've identified a few teams & players who may be on the move this spring, including three specific scenarios.
Denver Broncos & Buffalo Bills
Denver appears to have a plan in place to make a run at Kirk Cousins this March, and it’s been rumored that Cousins has Denver on his short list as well. Should this marriage not come to fruition, the Broncos may entertain a bit of a splash trade with the Bills who have are looking to refresh a few major positions - that just happen to be needs in Denver. Buffalo appears poised to find a trade partner for QB Tyrod Taylor & is likely also shopping LT Cordy Glenn as well. With two first round picks (#21, #22), the Bills could theoretically put together a package of veteran players & high draft picks to play ball with Denver and their #5 selection this April. Financially speaking the Bills would benefit from moving Glenn/Taylor prior to March 16th. While this isn’t likely, a Post June 1st trade benefits them next best. Trading Taylor Post 6/1 clears $10M in cap, while doing so with Glenn clears $9.25M.
Miami Dolphins & Indianapolis Colts
Miami has finally confirmed what we’ve all assumed for months now: WR Jarvis Landry is going to be traded. Additional rumors out of Miami lead us to believe a move up the draft board for a notable QB is also in the cards, as Ryan Tannehill contract offers a fair out this or next year. Package that with some angst in the organization over the current contract/cap figures for DT Ndamukong Suh ($26.1M), & Miami could also put together a player/pick package to woo one of the teams in the top of this April’s draft. The Colts make a lot of sense here. Assuming Andrew Luck is on track to return to health, an upgrade at the WR position and to the D-Line is essential for immediate success. Indy holds the #3 spot, which will cost a small fortune to get to, but getting creative (possibly including a 3rd team) could allow for a blockbuster swap. Expect a few teams to be in on Landry though, including Chicago, & San Francisco.
Cleveland Browns & New York Jets
It stands to reason that Cleveland will entertain the thought of trading out of either #1 or #4 this April, for a small fortune of course. While plenty of teams can be considered for this move, the Jets seem to have the most to gain. Even with $100M in cap space to work with, they likely rank 3rd in the Kirk Cousins race (behind Minnesota & Denver). This puts the Jets at #6 currently in a tight spot to land one of the Top 3 rookie QBs this April. The problem? The Jets don’t exactly have a roster full of players other teams are dying to get their hands on, meaning this move would require a few prominent current/future draft picks to get done.
The Super Bowl Champs went all in against their cap last season, putting their 2018 finances in a bit of trouble. There a moves to be made just to get in the black by March 14th, and trading a veteran or two could come into play.
29-year-old DE Vinny Curry had a great year for the Eagles, but a post 6/1 release would clear $9M this season. It’s possible a mid-round pick could be had for him, though his salaries of $9M/$9.25M/$10.25M respectively are a bit daunting.
OLB Mychal Kendricks wouldn’t be an easy trade, with Nigel Bradham set to hit free agency, but it’s a move the Eagles may have to make financially. At peak value, and with tradable salaries ($6M/$7M), Philly could bring back a decent haul for the versatile edge defender.
LT Jason Peters has likely already stamped his place in Canton, but the 36-year-old may simply be too expensive for a cap-strapped Eagles team in 2018. Trading him now clears $4.3M ($7M if Post 6/1). All said, this is a less likely move when push comes to shove.
Related: Eagles 2018 Salary Cap
The hire of Jon Gruden opened the rumor flood as to which current player’s may not make it through the offseason, notably WR Michael Crabtree, & RB Marshawn Lynch.
Crabtree is 30 now, and had a down here after to back-to-back 85 catch, 1,000 yard campaigns. He’s still got a knack for the end-zone, and it can be argued that he simply needs a role with more targets available. Crabtree holds no dead cap, meaning his full $7.75M/$8.25M salaries would transfer to a new team, lessening his value quite a bit (though it’s fair to assume a new deal would come with any trade)
Lynch came back to the game specifically to join Oakland, so putting him on a trade block seems silly. With 1,042 all-purpose yards and 7 scores in 2017, Marshawn can still produce at a high level and his $6M cap figure (8th) isn’t too much to swallow. He’s a lower end cut candidate, but more likely a Raider in 2018.
Related: Raiders 2018 Salary Cap
The Seattle defense appears destined for a shakeup in the coming weeks. It’s already been widely reported that DE Michael Bennett is available via trade, while CB Richard Sherman & FS Earl Thomas are also seemingly on the roster bubble. With Cliff Avril & Kam Chancellor dealing with major health issues going forward, Seattle needs to flip the switch fast in a lot of key defensive areas.
Sherman’s $11M salary for 2018 combined with his recovery from ACL surgery isn’t a very appetizing recipe for a trade. He’s a cut candidate heading toward March 14th, as a pay cut doesn’t seem feasible. Both a trade/release would clear $11M in cap.
Thomas questioned a desire to even continue playing the sport a few months ago, and is now taking a contractual stance with future holdout threats. Set to make $8.5M in 2018, Seattle may just decide to let another team deal with his future pay, as the 28-year old could bring back a nice return, clearing $8.5M for the Seahawks ($1.9M dead cap).
Bennett is a really interesting case, as the 32-year old has 3 year $22.5M remaining on his current deal, but is coming off an 8.5 sack, 40 tackle campaign in Seattle. A healthy Bennett is still a nice asset for a new team, especially at salaries of $7M, $7M, & $8.5M respectively. A pre 6/1 trade clears $3.175M, while Post 6/1 saves them $6.65M.
Related: Seahawks 2018 Salary Cap
We’ve already made mention of potential moves for QB Tyrod Taylor, & OT Cordy Glenn, but the Bills are in a bit of a weird position in terms of their short-term future. After sneaking into the postseason last year, Buffalo is prepped for new blood with 5 Top 100 picks this April, at least one of which will likely be designated for the QB of their future. Buffalo is certainly repositioning themselves to get younger and better at key areas, but timing is a big part of this as well.
For 15 years, Buffalo has entered the season behind the 8-ball known as the Tom Brady-led Patriots. Many believe that era will come to an end following the 2018 season, putting the rest of the AFC East back into a more level playing field. If the Bills are willing to accept a worse fate for the upcoming season, key veterans like RB LeSean McCoy, & DE Jerry Hughes could be placed on the block, as both still hold decent value, and represent a good chunk of cap to be saved for use in the Bills mini-rebuild process. Trading McCoy Pre-6/1 clears $3.7M, while doing so post 6/1 saves Buffalo $6.325M. Hughes would likely be traded prior to his $1M roster bonus on March 18th, clearing $4.6M in cap.
Related: Bills 2018 Salary Cap