0 of 32
Don Wright/Associated Press
The 2019 NFL offseason has reached the edge of free agency, which begins March 13, meaning it’s time for each franchise to be aggressive in building the best situation possible. While some are looking to add a difference-maker, others would be better off collecting future assets.
We’ve identified the one offseason trade each NFL team should make to help them reach their goals. Because of cap constraints or roster construction, not every swap will be jaw-dropping. Long-term sustainability and immediate needs were considered in these deals.
Hot-stove rumors also helped reveal who may be attainable. As we go through the trades, we’ll link any buzz regarding the player.
1 of 32
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
The Kyler Murray-to-Arizona rumors have been red hot recently as the NFL combine provided media access to team personnel. NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported teams view Murray as the universal top pick for Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals—even though the team took Josh Rosen No. 10 overall last year. Though it would be shocking to see Arizona give up on Rosen, the team’s brass needs to make the best decision for the franchise.
Murray and Rosen aren’t much alike in their play styles, but both boast strengths that should allow the right staff to find success. If Kingsbury desires Murray’s explosiveness over Rosen’s cerebral nature, then maybe he can override general manager Steve Keim’s 2018 first-round investment. If so, Rosen must be traded.
Even coming off a bad rookie season in which he was constantly being hit, Rosen should have considerable value. They shouldn’t take less than an offer that starts with a second-rounder. Even for teams such as the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, moving their first-rounder would still net an excellent prospect for three years under a cheap contract.
2 of 32
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
The Atlanta Falcons had a disappointing 2018 because of myriad key defensive injuries and limited returns from several veterans. That and a tight budget mean change is coming. They have to trim as much cap fat as possible as Dan Quinn and his staff look to rebound.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff doesn’t have many bad contracts to shed, but he also doesn’t have the salary space to make a big splash. Moving off Ryan Schraeder’s $7.75 cap number would help the Falcons maneuver in free agency, as trading him would open an additional $4 million.
The 30-year-old offensive lineman is coming off a down year, so any interested party would be doing the Falcons a favor by taking his salary. A conditional pick or late-round swap like the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars completed for Branden Albert in 2017 is a good template for this deal. Atlanta would then start Ty Sambrailo or a rookie at right tackle.
3 of 32
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
New Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman told The Lounge podcast (h/t the Ravens‘ official site) he wants an elite running back to pair with quarterback Lamar Jackson. They could get into the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes with creative cap management, but chances are they’ll have to look into cheaper options.
Raiding another team’s backfield could offer young, explosive playmakers who can develop in Roman’s system.
While Tampa Bay’s Ronald Jones would be a solid buy-low option after his disappointing rookie season, Miami’s Kenyan Drake is more established and a better home run hitter to pair with incumbent runner Gus Edwards. Miami could be open to moving Drake for a middle-round pick as it restarts with a new staff. The 25-year-old has yet to earn a majority workload because of pass-blocking and durability concerns.
But with Baltimore, Drake’s explosiveness in outside-zone schemes would further stress run defenses. The Ravens would have unrivaled backfield speed, and Drake would double as a capable receiver. He’s entering the final year of his rookie deal.
4 of 32
Nick Wass/Associated Press
As painful as it was to watch Buffalo’s 2018 passing offense, the Bills have the assets to pump talent into their woeful unit. Though the class of free-agent receivers is thin, they can still dip into the veteran pool and snag an immediate contributor. Los Angeles Chargers pass-catcher Travis Benjamin makes a lot of sense.
Benjamin is set to earn $6.5 million in the final year of his deal despite only 12 receptions in 2018. His usage dropped significantly because of the team’s depth around him, making him expendable. Acquiring him could cost next to nothing, but his speed and ability to play in the slot or out wide would be valuable to Buffalo.
Along with Robert Foster, Zay Jones and presumably another receiver either drafted or signed, the Bills can have a balanced receiving corps that complements quarterback Josh Allen’s skill set. Foster and Benjamin can flourish as intermediate and deep threats. In addition, there’s no long-term commitment with Benjamin, making it easier to create a rotation of capable playmakers.
5 of 32
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Losing star guard Andrew Norwell was a killer for the Carolina Panthers last offseason. Instead of tagging the stalwart, they failed to even replace him with an adequate option.
Bolstering this offensive line via trade should be a priority despite having only $17.4 million in cap space.
The Cleveland Browns could prove to be a valuable partner in a deal here. On Wednesday, ESPN’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported the Browns could move on from guard Kevin Zeitler, who is one of the best in the league. The soon-to-be 29-year-old is expensive and is sitting in front of 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett.
On paper, the Browns would be foolish to move Zeitler since they’re already flush with cap space. But if the Panthers can swap a Day 2 pick for the elite blocker, they’d have one of the nastiest interior lines in football.
Zeitler’s $12.4 million cap hit would force them to move some money around, but he’d be well worth it.
6 of 32
Tony Avelar/Associated Press
The downside of the Chicago Bears’ dramatic 2018 leap is the resulting salary-cap limitations on general manager Ryan Pace. They may lose free-agent safety Adrian Amos because of those cap constraints.
They’d be wise to deal another veteran for a draft pick to free space as they try to build a sustainable winner.
Running back Jordan Howard fetched an offer of a third-round pick at the October trade deadline, per David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. While it’s understandable the Bears kept him for the playoff race, any similar offer should be quickly accepted. Howard’s decreased efficiency and fit within Matt Nagy’s offense make him a candidate to be replaced via the draft.
Howard can bring value to a more traditional offense that feasts on interior runs. His yards-per-carry average dipped from 5.2 in 2016 to 3.7 in 2018, though, which is a sign of a skill mismatch within the scheme. He’d make sense for the Jets, Raiders, Bills, Texans and Buccaneers for a Day 3 pick.
7 of 32
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
The Cincinnati Bengals went bold with their head coaching hire, opting for a young, promising choice in 35-year-old Zac Taylor. The team’s new regime needs to shake things up because the roster has grown stale. Taylor and the Bengals should be aggressive with their $49.5 million in cap space and try to compete for the AFC North in 2019.
A perfect trade partner is the cap-strapped Jaguars. Now paying for their free-agent bonanza from a few years ago, the Jaguars need to offload several veterans to reset their money. That means letting defensive tackle Malik Jackson walk, even though he’s still a quality piece.
Moving Jackson would save the Jaguars $11 million this year and $13.8 million in 2020. The Bengals should have leverage to rework that deal and acquire Jackson for next to nothing. Pairing the relentless, versatile tackle with Geno Atkins would give the Bengals one of the NFL’s better duos and shore up a major weakness.
8 of 32
Seth Wenig/Associated Press
The trade rumors continue to swirl around Odell Beckham Jr. despite his recent extension and obvious on-field talent. Though he’s one of the league’s best receivers, Beckham brings baggage with his sideline outbursts. But he’s also on a Hall of Fame pace, on a set long-term contract and has played with a mediocre quarterback for years.
If the New York Giants make the mistake of trading Beckham, the Cleveland Browns would be a tremendous landing spot. The Browns are flush with cap space for the next few years and could use a game-breaking receiver for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Along with a creative offensive designer in head coach Freddie Kitchens and an exciting young quarterback, the Browns also have a dominant offensive line to buy Beckham time to create big plays.
The receiver’s cost should be high because of his immense talent. Unlikely to sniff a player of his caliber with the 17th pick, the Browns should happily invest in Mayfield by swapping that selection and possibly more for Beckham. A surrounding cast of Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Rashard Higgins and Beckham would be one of the NFL’s best.
9 of 32
Matt Rourke/Associated Press
The Dallas Cowboys were slated to have decent cap space for the first time in years, but they won’t have a significant amount after they franchise-tagged Demarcus Lawrence. If they have dreams of adding Earl Thomas and more as they pursue a Super Bowl, they’ll have to trim some fat. Unfortunately, that means trading stalwart linebacker Sean Lee.
Lee will count as $10 million against the cap this year and carries a $3.1 million dead-cap number in a trade. After he lost his job to Leighton Vander Esch, Lee has no future with the team unless his pay is severely reduced. But he could make an impact elsewhere.
He averaged 123 tackles per year from 2015 to 2017 before he missed nine games in 2018. The rangy playmaker isn’t worth much and needs a pay cut, but he’d be a talent upgrade for other contenders. The Steelers stand out as a terrific option, considering Lee is from the area and went to Penn State.
10 of 32
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Already a participant in a major offseason trade, the Denver Broncos have more work to do at quarterback. Acquiring Joe Flacco gave the Broncos an expensive QB depth chart that lacks long-term hope. Now general manager John Elway must prove his acumen as he tries to swap Case Keenum despite a lack of leverage.
Keenum carries a $21 million cap hit, and cutting him would only save $11 million. A trade, however, would open $18 million. But it’s hard to envision any team being interested in the 31-year-old journeyman for that kind of money—especially now that everyone knows he’s on the outs.
Flacco isn’t discernibly better than Keenum, but he offers a different skill set. Elway must make a Keenum trade work to avoid allocating more than $30 million in cap space to a quarterback room that lacks a long-term plan. The only teams that make sense for Keenum at this price are Arizona, Miami and Washington as either a stopgap or backup.
11 of 32
Todd Olszewski/Getty Images
The Detroit Lions are a sneaky candidate for an aggressive offseason. Armed with $33.6 million in cap space, the Lions could swing a trade and sign a quality veteran without disrupting their books. They have critical needs for a cornerback and pass-rusher.
Finding a No. 2 corner to play across from star Darius Slay shouldn’t be hard. Detroit could use a physical presence who disrupts receivers better than incumbent Nevin Lawson. Baltimore’s Brandon Carr appears to be the perfect short-term fix.
The Ravens have already jettisoned Flacco and Eric Weddle as they clean their cap sheet. Moving Carr, who is their third outside corner and set to make $7 million in 2019, is a must, as they extended slot Tavon Young. Carr will turn 33 in May but has been durable and reliable because of his technique and 6’0″, 210-pound frame.
He’d be well worth a late-round pick and serve as a bridge starter for the Lions.
12 of 32
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
It’s not surprising the New York Giants are considering trading pass-rusher Olivier Vernon three years into his career with the franchise, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported. He carries too big of a contract for someone who was never an elite creator off the edge in Miami. While a solid presence, his $19.5 million cap hit is a tough pill to swallow for the Giants, considering the state of their roster.
Moving Vernon isn’t a must, as New York can trim money elsewhere, but it could recoup a decent asset for him. The Green Bay Packers make the most sense as a suitor. Though Vernon won’t become Khalil Mack, he’d be a boost for a Packers defense that needs to create more pressure.
With $34.5 million in cap room and the ability to find more, the Packers could justify moving a third-round pick or more for Vernon as part of their roster revamp. The 28-year-old would also likely benefit from playing with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark on Green Bay’s defensive line. He’s set to be a free agent again after 2020.
13 of 32
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Another Giant on the move in our projected trades is cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The 30-year-old can still play well enough, but his $14.75 million cap hit is an albatross for a team that’s hurting for cap space and needs to address holes all over the roster. They could repurpose the $7.75 million they’d save via trade to get younger and deeper.
Jenkins had a phenomenal 2016 season, but injuries led to a decline the last two years. Still capable in man and zone due to his quick-twitch talent, Jenkins can be a solid second corner with some upside because of his ball skills. He’s just not worth a superstar salary for a non-playoff team.
Enter the Houston Texans, who have arguably the NFL’s worst cornerback situation. Sitting with $74 million in cap space and a dire need for stability at the position, they can justify moving middle-round picks for Jenkins. He’d immediately bring more of a dynamic presence to the unit.
14 of 32
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
The veteran quarterback carousel is looking subpar this offseason. The most interesting signal-caller who could be available might be 25-year-old Jacoby Brissett. The Indianapolis Colts backup is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters he wouldn’t trade Brissett unless blown away, but it’s time to get value before he walks. Brissett showed enough in his 2017 stint as the starter for a team to use a Day 2 pick and a year to see if he can be their answer. At best, the Colts would only get a 2020 third-round compensatory pick if Brissett leaves next offseason.
Getting another Day 2 draft pick could allow Indy to chase a valued asset on the trade market, such as Beckham, Antonio Brown or a star pass-rusher. Saving Brissett in case Andrew Luck gets hurt is understandable, but it’s not the best usage of assets. Instead, the Colts could leap out in front of their competition by maximizing Brissett’s value.
15 of 32
Alika Jenner/Getty Images
We already had the Jaguars trading Jackson to the Bengals to help alleviate their cap situation, but it’s time to use some assets. Even though Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Jaguars are expected to sign Nick Foles in free agency, they shouldn’t get complacent. Jacksonville should move up in the draft to select Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.
Though Foles has been magical at times, there are reasons the 30-year-old hasn’t had sustained success. He needs a simple offense and elite playmakers to be good enough, and the Jaguars can’t replicate what the Eagles gave him in his incredible 2017 Super Bowl run. He’s a stopgap.
Haskins, on the other hand, is a cerebral passer with the skill set to blossom into one of the NFL’s finest. A one-year starter at Ohio State, he’s already more advanced mentally than most quarterback prospects. Giving him time to refine his game behind Foles and eventually supplant him would be the best long-term course the franchise can take.
Moving up from the seventh overall pick into the top five may cost the Jaguars Day 2 picks or a 2020 first-rounder, but they could sleep comfortably knowing they’ve addressed the most important position.
16 of 32
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
The Kansas City Chiefs defense was a bottom-of-the-barrel unit in 2018, and it cost them in their playoff loss to the New England Patriots. Their 31st-ranked defense in yards per carry was woefully ineffective and must be addressed. The easiest way to bolster Steve Spagnuolo’s D is to add a gap-eating veteran.
Buffalo’s key 2018 free-agent signing, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, was a bust. The run-stuffer played just 47 percent of the Bills’ defensive snaps and accumulated only 17 tackles. His $50 million contract was a terrible investment.
Still, he’d be a good fit in an expanded role as a 1-technique for the Chiefs. Trading him would open cap space for the Bills and remove all guaranteed money on the Chiefs’ end. While Lotulelei would still be expensive, Spagnuolo could utilize him next to Chris Jones—much in the same way Lotulelei played with Kawann Short in Carolina.
A late-round pick could net the Chiefs a starter who impacts the unit beyond his individual stats.
17 of 32
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers ran out of steam in 2018 as injuries stacked up, and the Patriots eviscerated them in the playoffs. However, they finally seemed to get over some of the haunting losses that have plagued them in recent years.
They should continue to pump talent into this roster to boost their chances of a deeper playoff run in 2019.
Trading for Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso would reinforce a position of need for the Chargers while making them more dynamic. Though Alonso’s effectiveness runs hot and cold, his ability to create turnovers helps to justify his $8.3 million cap hit for a contender. Meanwhile, it doesn’t make sense for the Dolphins to keep him around as they head into a rebuild.
Playing behind Brandon Mebane, Joey Bosa, Corey Liuget and Melvin Ingram would also open pass-rush lanes for the weak-side linebacker. The Chargers wouldn’t ask Alonso to be a star, and he would be insurance for if Denzel Perryman can’t stay healthy or leaves in free agency.
He’d likely be available for a Day 3 pick.
18 of 32
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
As aggressive as the Los Angeles Rams have been the last two years, it’s time to sell some of their pricier players and rely on their scouting staff to unearth talent. Though they aren’t in dire need of cap space, the luxuries of spending on a slot cornerback are gone. L.A. should trade corner Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips reduced Robey-Coleman’s role in 2018, cutting his snaps by nearly 10 percent. With his salary growing to $6 million, the Rams should replace him in the draft for a fraction of the cost. Trading him would open about $5 million in space.
The 5’8″, 180-pounder is still only 27 years old and is a capable starter. He brings physicality and great quickness to help make up for his height disadvantage. Still, the Rams can’t expect much more than a late-rounder, since free agency is deep with lengthier slot corners.
19 of 32
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press
After they spent the last several years toiling in mediocrity, the Miami Dolphins appear ready to rebuild. Overspending on mediocre outsiders, trading talented in-house players and failing to develop from within have plagued them.
They must purge expensive veterans and retool with accumulated assets.
Their most talented player is safety Reshad Jones. The 31-year-old was still dynamic even as he struggled with a torn labrum in 2018. But his massive $17 million cap hit is an albatross for a team that’s not ready to win.
Because of his most recent extension, trading him after June 1 would open the most cap room. They’d save $13.1 million in 2019 cap space at that point and $11.6 million in 2020. Trading him to Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit or Green Bay for a middle-round pick could give both teams exactly what they need.
20 of 32
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
The Minnesota Vikings could swap cornerback Trae Waynes for Oakland Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele in a rare player-for-player swap that would work wonders for both the individuals and teams involved.
For Minnesota, this would use one roster strength to address a major weakness. The Vikings’ cornerbacks are loaded with talent, including Xavier Rhodes, Mike Hughes, Holton Hill and Mackensie Alexander. Paying Waynes $9 million on his fifth-year option is a tough sell considering their tight cap situation.
Osemele would benefit from getting out of Oakland’s outside zone scheme into an inside zone and power mix like Minnesota’s. This would give quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook time to operate. Osemele’s $10.2 million salary would nearly offset Waynes’ deal and could be restructured to lower his 2019 cap hit in exchange for 2020 money.
21 of 32
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
There’s never been a team as good as the Patriots at exploiting market inefficiencies and getting the most out of their talent in the salary-cap era. Coming off another Super Bowl win, they can continue to be aggressive with acquisitions and leverage late-round picks for veterans. With $23.9 million in cap space and the ability to reach nearly $40 million with some restructures, they can chase a veteran tight end.
It’s a position of need, as Rob Gronkowski‘s future looks murky and Dwayne Allen has been released. The Patriots could overhaul the position through the draft and a trade, making 35-year-old Vernon Davis an attractive option despite his age. Davis has been a playmaker for Washington over the last three years when given the chance, averaging 14.3 yards per catch.
His speed continues to be a problem for linebackers and safeties, and he’s an adept blocker. If partnered with a quality rookie, the Patriots could once again hit a home run after retooling. His $6.3 million salary would need to be reduced, but Washington should be a willing trade partner, as it needs to slash several high-priced veterans anyway.
22 of 32
Julio Cortez/Associated Press
The New Orleans Saints tried to reinforce their playmaking depth by signing receiver Cameron Meredith last offseason. He was coming off a torn ACL and other ligament damage but offered potential as a third receiver in this explosive offense. Unfortunately, he contributed in only three games and became a distant memory in 2018.
Considering his $6.45 million 2019 cap hit, the Saints need to dump his money. Tre’Quan Smith’s emergence makes Meredith expendable. Trading him would save the Saints an additional $1 million, which can help, seeing as the Saints have less than $11 million in space.
The Saints are limited in ways to upgrade this offseason. With only one pick before the fifth round, they need to accumulate assets however possible—even if it’s a late-round pick or salary relief. Moving Meredith helps accomplish that.
23 of 32
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
We’ve traded several Giants already in an effort to clear their bloated books and rebuild a lacking roster. Accumulating young assets and draft picks doesn’t fit the timeline general manager Dave Gettleman likely envisions, but New York isn’t ready to compete. Nabbing multiyear contributors would be wise.
One of the most underrated slot defenders in 2017 was Colts cornerback Nate Hairston. He was excellent as a rookie despite being a fifth-round pick in a zone-based system that lacked complementary playmakers. The 6’0″, 195-pound Hairston’s ability to play man against ultra-quick and larger slot receivers alike should’ve led to a bigger role in 2018, but his playing time dropped after an ankle injury.
The Giants need corner help badly, and prying away Hairston for cheap would be a coup. Ideally, Hairston and 2018 third-round supplemental pick Sam Beal would be the faces of the position, along with another draft pick this season. Swapping one of their fourth-round selections for a solid slot corner would be a wise investment.
24 of 32
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
The Kansas City Chiefs are undergoing a defensive overhaul even though it may cost them pass-rushers Justin Houston and Dee Ford. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Chiefs may be open to dealing Ford for a second-round pick. Though the Jets don’t have a second-rounder because of their trade up for Sam Darnold, they could acquire one via a trade down from the No. 3 overall pick.
Ford is a better fit for a stand-up role than a 4-3 end, and the Jets badly need to find edge-rushers after they ignored the position over the last few years. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has experience in running a 4-3 front but can adjust for Ford by having him stand up as a de facto edge-rusher. It doesn’t change the defensive function despite being a wider gap assignment, but it helps the player be more effective.
Trading down and acquiring two edge-rushers could immediately make the Jets defense elite if they nail the pick. Ford and a top-10 selection would start right away and increase the effectiveness of all the surrounding pieces. A long-term deal for Ford also wouldn’t be an issue, considering the Jets have $102 million in cap space.
25 of 32
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Here’s the other side of the Vikings-Raiders swap. Oakland would trade Osemele for Waynes. While Minnesota would take advantage of its cornerback depth, the Raiders would move away from an expensive veteran who no longer fits their scheme.
Had Oakland continued to be a pulverizing gap run team, keeping Osemele would be a priority. Instead, head coach Jon Gruden saw diminished returns as he failed to adjust his scheme to his personnel. He might as well get value for players who don’t fit his requirements.
Landing Waynes, 26, to pair with budding star Gareon Conley, 23, at corner would be a kick-start for revamping this defense. Both Conley and Waynes are above-average man corners due to their 6’0″ length and physicality, and they profile as a quality tandem in their prime years. Oakland would also get one season to evaluate Waynes before it decides whether to commit to him long term.
26 of 32
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Philadelphia Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman continues to be a wizard at manipulating cap space to find competitive advantages. The team restructured Lane Johnson’s deal to open more salary for this season, giving needed breathing room. It should now chase an upgrade at running back.
Although the Browns extended Duke Johnson this offseason, he’s a prime candidate to be moved. Cleveland already had Nick Chubb and signed Kareem Hunt, making Johnson more expendable despite his immense efficiency and speed. He’s continued to be underused, tallying only 87 touches last year.
His $3 million cap figure in 2019 makes him affordable for the Eagles, and he’s an on-field fit. He’s faster than anyone in their backfield and is a tremendous receiving threat. Johnson’s durability has been an issue with little nicks and dings, but he fits this offense’s zone and screen game better than any available talent.
27 of 32
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
The move for the Pittsburgh Steelers shouldn’t be to trade Antonio Brown, but rather to stay aggressive and add to the team. Their championship window may close after 2019, if it’s not already dead. Therefore, the Steelers should pump in as much dynamic talent as they can find if it comes at a reduced price.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee isn’t cheap, but assuming he’d take a considerable pay cut to play near home, he’d be a shrewd acquisition. His quickness and tackling efficiency would give the Steelers a similar presence to Ryan Shazier’s without giving up a significant draft asset or long-term money. Few linebackers have been as productive as Lee when he’s on the field.
The weak-side linebacker would be a great complement to Vince Williams because of his movement in space. While there are hurdles that make Lee a risk—including his cap number and injury history—we’re assuming it wouldn’t cost the Steelers much to get this deal done. A late-round pick and a restructured contract would be ideal.
28 of 32
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Able to take advantage of cap-strapped teams needing to open room, the San Francisco 49ers could easily justify adding another explosive playmaker to their offense. Although adding a linebacker or cornerback would be a better move, the receiver market is deeper.
We already have the Buccaneers trading DeSean Jackson, and the 49ers are a natural landing spot.
With more than $68 million in cap space, general manager John Lynch can pursue immediate help. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be back in 2019, and he has a promising playmaker corps led by George Kittle, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Imagine adding a receiver who averaged a league-high 18.9 yards per catch last year to that group.
Acquiring Jackson would give head coach Kyle Shanahan tremendous speed and game-breaking ability with which to work. The Niners would also have cheap talent to serve as depth in both Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, which would mitigate concerns about Jackson’s ability to stay healthy.
This would be a low-risk, high-reward move for a team that needs to win in 2019.
29 of 32
Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
Pass-rusher Carl Lawson was one of the hottest rookies from the 2017 NFL draft class. Despite knee issues in college, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks in his first pro season, proving to be a fourth-round steal. But his second campaign was disappointing before he tore his ACL again.
There’s not a better destination for a pass-rusher who needs to rebuild his career than the Seattle Seahawks. With the opportunity to play across from Frank Clark and with another top athlete in Rasheem Green, Lawson could slowly return from injury. He’d also have low expectations in his new situation.
The change of staff in Cincinnati may cause Lawson to become available. He has no ties to this regime, and a 2018 campaign with one sack and a torn ACL doesn’t guarantee his roster spot. Though he’d be a flier for Seattle, he’s a high-upside trade target who could provide immense value for a unit that could use one more edge defender.
30 of 32
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the NFL’s most confusing teams. While not they’re not close to being good, they have little cap space. Their extension agreement with mediocre left tackle Donovan Smith was another head-scratcher, and it’ll cost them players elsewhere, as they need to fill out their roster.
Either receiver DeSean Jackson or tight end Cameron Brate will need to be dealt just to allow the team enough space to sign its rookie class—if not both. The 32-year-old Jackson makes more sense as a trade candidate—even though he’s a fantastic big-play threat—because of his age, injury history and $10 million salary. The Buccaneers could recoup a third-round pick for him.
Even last season as he bounced between quarterbacks, he averaged an absurd 18.9 yards per catch. He’s a difference-maker and fits Bruce Arians’ offense, but it’s hard to justify keeping him when the defense needs more work. The Colts, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers and Titans should all be interested.
31 of 32
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
The Steelers and Brown apparently failed to iron things out this offseason, and a trade of the future Hall of Famer seems inevitable. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Tennessee Titans are among the teams most interested in him, and he would be a huge addition.
The Titans are equipped with more than $43.5 million in cap space, but the free-agent pool doesn’t appear deep with options to fill their biggest needs. They can afford to trade for Brown and finally give quarterback Marcus Mariota a respectable supporting cast. Brown and Corey Davis would give them a dynamic duo to build around for the next few years.
Figuring out the price for Brown is difficult because of the recent drama. On the field, he’s worth a first-round pick, but the Steelers may have to settle for a second-rounder. He’ll live up to that price, because his game should age well, but the 30-year-old also should be viewed as a likely three-year investment.
32 of 32
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
The Washington Redskins overpaid for quarterback Alex Smith one year ago, as they poured too many assets into a mediocre veteran. Smith’s leg injury was horrifying, and his on-field future is murky as he tries to recover. Cap-wise, the Redskins are in an extreme bind because they guaranteed so much to Smith.
Instead of spending on another veteran quarterback, which must be an option considering that Jay Gruden needs to win sooner than later, trading for a talented quarterback on a cheap deal makes more sense. Enter Rosen.
The accounting on a trade for Ryan Tannehill, for example, would give the Redskins an enormous cap allocation toward a mediocre quarterback room. But moving either their first-round pick or less for Rosen wouldn’t break the bank and would give Gruden an ideal offensive fit to build around. The trade would also benefit Rosen, who could play in a much friendlier system than he had in Arizona in 2018.
Salary-cap info provided by Over the Cap.