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The NFL may be at a relatively quiet point in the offseason when it comes to trades and transactions, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any big moves in the coming weeks.
With mandatory minicamps getting underway this week, teams will have a chance to seriously evaluate their full rosters for the first time ahead of the 2022 campaign. Those assessments could lead to trades as clubs look to patch holes.
It would benefit several organizations to move quickly and get deals worked out ahead of training camp next month. Integrating new pieces at the start of camp makes preparing for the upcoming season easier on both players and coaches, affording them plenty of time to jell before Week 1.
With that in mind, here are five trades—factoring in team needs, rebuilding status, the availability of a replacement and cap space—that should get done before the start of training camp.
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The San Francisco 49ers are ready to move ahead with Trey Lance as their top quarterback. Unfortunately, the club still has its incumbent starter lingering on the roster with an albatross of a contract.
Jimmy Garoppolo is set to make a whopping $24.2 million this season, the final term of a five-year, $137.5 million deal he signed in 2018. Even if the Niners aren’t sold on Lance as their QB1 of the future—as some reports indicated—it’s still an exorbitant cost to pay for a projected backup.
Garoppolo’s market has been cool following his decision to undergo surgery on his right shoulder after the 2021 campaign. While the procedure was successful, the 30-year-old still hasn’t been cleared to throw.
According to NBCSports.com’s Matt Maiocco, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan expects that to change in the next month, noting the veteran QB has been excused from minicamp to continue his rehabilitation. Shanahan had previously said he expects a trade to go down when Garoppolo is declared fully healthy, and those plans have not changed.
The Carolina Panthers are likely keeping tabs on Garoppolo’s recovery. The team has been in the market for a proven QB this offseason but has yet to land one. The Cleveland Browns reportedly declined a deal that would have sent Baker Mayfield over during the draft, leaving Garoppolo as the best available option for Carolina.
While finances submarined the Mayfield trade, SI.com’s Albert Breer noted the 49ers and Garoppolo are both reportedly flexible when it comes to the quarterback’s contract.
Given Carolina has an estimated $24.6 million in cap space to work with, the club should have little issues fitting Garoppolo in, especially if he’s willing to renegotiate that final season on his current deal.
The Panthers shouldn’t have to give much up to bring Jimmy G aboard. The 49ers would likely be happy to unload the Eastern Illinois product for a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick at this juncture, finally putting an end to a chapter they had hoped to wrap up before the draft.
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The Washington Commanders are all too familiar with how a minicamp holdout can turn into an unrepairable relationship.
According to Al Galdi of the Al Galdi Podcast, Trent Williams and Albert Haynesworth were the two most recent players to skip the organization’s minicamp. Both were traded within a year of their respective holdouts.
Another storm could be brewing with Terry McLaurin’s decision to stay away from this year’s minicamp. The star receiver became eligible for a contract extension this offseason, and he’s holding out in an attempt to get it.
ESPN’s Adam Scheter found that McLaurin wants an extension that is “consistent with other comparable WRs,” many of whom have signed big contracts following the 2021 campaign.
Two wideouts from the 2019 class have already inked new deals. Hunter Renfrow re-upped with the Las Vegas Raiders on a two-year, $32 million extension, while AJ Brown signed a four-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles after he was traded by the Tennessee Titans.
Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, Tyreek Hill, Christian Kirk, Cooper Kupp, Mike Williams and Allen Robinson II all received new contracts worth $15 million or more annually this offseason as well.
If Washington isn’t willing to meet McLaurin’s asking price—which would be a puzzling decision given he’s already eclipsed 3,000 receiving yards and scored 16 touchdowns on 222 catches since coming into the league—the organization should trade him quickly for maximum value.
The Titans returned first- and third-round selections for Brown during the draft, a trade that set the market for a wideout of McLaurin’s caliber. The Baltimore Ravens could offer a similar package for Washington’s disgruntled star, a move that would fill the void left by Marquise Brown, who Baltimore dealt to the Arizona Cardinals during the draft.
The Ravens have their own picks in each of the first four rounds of the 2023 draft. Kicking over first and a third-rounders to the Commanders for a highly productive and healthy 26-year-old receiver just entering his prime would provide Baltimore with the ideal Brown replacement.
Getting the deal finalized before training camp would give McLaurin time to get integrated into the Ravens offense and allow the Commanders to prepare for a campaign without their top offensive weapon.
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Terry McLaurin isn’t the only wideout from the class of 2019 who is currently unhappy with how his contract negotiations are going. DK Metcalf is also skipping mandatory minicamp after the Seattle Seahawks failed to offer him a suitable extension this offseason.
Metcalf has patiently watched while other elite wideouts cashed in on big paydays this offseason. Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp and draft classmate AJ Brown all signed new deals that will pay them over $25 million per year, while Metcalf is set to make a shade under $4 million in the final season of his rookie contract.
The Seahawks have made it clear they want to keep the 24-year-old around for the long term, but the lack of a finalized contract has already started to negatively impact their preparations for the 2022 campaign.
According to NFL.com’s Grant Gordon, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll admitted this is a “crucial time” to work things out, and he wants to get an extension in place with his star wideout before training camp kicks off in July.
During an appearance on the Pat McAfee ShowNFL insiders Ian Rapport said he would be surprised if Metcalf is traded, but noted a deal is “not impossible,” either.
There should be no shortage of suitors for Metcalf after the Ole Miss product racked up nearly 3,200 yards and scored 29 touchdowns on 216 catches to start his career.
The Green Bay Packers should be one of the interested parties. They desperately need a true No. 1 wideout after trading Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders earlier in the offseason.
While the Packers did add second-round pick Christian Watson and free agent Sammy Watkins to shore up the receiver room following the Adams trade, the team would be foolish to pass up a chance to add a playmaker of Metcalf’s caliber.
After signing Aaron Rodgers to a blockbuster $150 million extension that will keep him in Titletown for the next three seasons, Green Bay needs to augment the aging quarterback with a high-end weapon to keep the club contending in that window.
Flipping a pair of early draft picks—the Packers hold their own selections in the first five rounds—may be enough to pry Metcalf away from Seattle.
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The Chicago Bears have been steadily plugging away at their rebuild this offseason, but they still have at least one more major move to make before training camp begins. The team needs to offload veteran Robert Quinn, a talented but aging edge-rusher who may no longer fit with the its timeline.
Quinn racked up an impressive 18.5 sacks last year—the second-most in the league—and made it clear he still has something left in the tank after a disappointing 2020 season. With Quinn’s value now sky-high, the 32-year-old could be most valuable to the Bears as a trade chip.
The Los Angeles Rams would make an ideal trading partner. After giving up a pair of Day 2 draft picks to rent star pass-rusher Von Miller for a Super Bowl run, the defending champs could employ a similar tactic with Quinn.
Miller’s decision to join the Buffalo Bills in free agency left a hole the Rams could opt to fill with another splashy trade. Los Angeles is quite familiar with what Quinn brings to the table after he spent the first seven years of his career with the organization, and a homecoming could greatly benefit both sides.
Chicago already shipped a veteran edge-rusher to Los Angeles by dealing Khalil Mack to the Chargers earlier in the offseason. It would hardly be a surprise if Quinn, who CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported “wants out” of Chicago, soon joins him.
While the Rams would have to do some finagling to fit Quinn’s contract under the cap—he still has three seasons remaining on the five-year, $70 million deal he signed in 2020—the team has nearly $10 million in available space after freeing up funds by extending Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp.
Los Angeles may not be flush with draft capital, but the franchise does hold second- and third-round selections in 2023. Offering those picks could entice the rebuilding Bears to give up Quinn.
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Tyron Smith has anchored the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line for over a decade. Despite what he’s provided to the club in terms of on-field production and locker room leadership, Smith’s tenure in Dallas could soon be at an end.
While Smith is still undeniably productive on the field—he made his eighth Pro Bowl last year despite appearing in just 11 games—his spotty availability, rising costs and readily available replacement could render him expendable.
The veteran offensive lineman has been dealing with a back injury during OTAs, the latest in a string of ailments that have plagued him in recent years. The 31-year-old has missed 20 games over the past two campaigns and hasn’t played a full season since 2016.
Smith is due to make $13.5 million this season and $13.6 million in 2023, the final two seasons of his eight-year, $97.6 million contract. While it’s not an exorbitant amount for a high-end left tackle, it’s still a rather steep cost in comparison to the four-year, $13.4 million rookie deal the Cowboys agreed to with Tyler Smith.
By drafting Tyler Smith, the no. 24 pick this year, Dallas has its heir-apparent at left tackle in place. The Tulsa product is almost certainly in line to take starting snaps during the 2022 campaign because of Tyron Smith’s durability issues. The Cowboys could speed up the transition by moving on from the incumbent starter before training camp even begins.
While Dallas may not field many offers to Smith because of concerns about his health, there is precedent for aging tackles to return a decent haul of draft capital. A 31-year-old Trent Williams netted third- and fifth-round picks, and Duane Brown was traded for second- and third-rounders when he was 32 years old.
Getting back a third-rounder for Smith would be a win for the Cowboys, and a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers should be happy to oblige. The Steelers had PFF’s No. 26-rated offensive line in 2021 while deploying ineffective rookie Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle.
Upgrading from Moore to Smith would be a major boon for the Steelers as they prepare for life in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. Even if he’s not available for all 17 games, Smith’s presence would allow Moore to further develop as a backup before returning as the full-time starter in a couple of years.