It might not officially be summer yet, but it is in the
National Football League—and not just because Memorial Day has come and gone.

OTAs are underway across the league. Mandatory minicamps are
just around the corner. Before you know it, training camp will be here. Then
the preseason. And then the beginning of fall—when the Kansas City Chiefs host
the Baltimore Ravens on September 5.

There’s a boatload that will happen between now and then. Some young players will shine on the practice field. Others will disappoint. Sadly, some players will go down with injuries—we have already seen the Denver Broncos lose linebacker Drew Sanders to an Achilles tear.

Many NFL teams already have holes on the roster. More will have them open up. Some will be plugged with free agent signings—there’s still some meat left on that bone. But in some cases, the only way for clubs to overcome adversity this summer will be to swing a trade.

Of course, for there to be buyers there have to be sellers,
and now that June 1 has come and gone, changing salary cap implications have
shaken up the trade market—in many cases making dealing big names more

Most of the players listed in this column will open the
regular season on the teams they are already on. But a few may well be dealt.

Because on every team in the NFL, there’s one player that franchise should consider dealing—if the price is right.

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This is hardly the first time that Arizona Cardinals safety
Budda Baker has been mentioned as a trade candidate—and he has only himself to
blame for that.

Back in 2023, as more and more safeties got bigger and bigger deals, Baker asked for a new contract. When that request wasn’t granted, Baker asked to be traded. The Cardinals eventually gave Baker a raise, and at the time head coach Jonathan Gannon told reporters he was glad all the hullabaloo was put to rest.

“What storyline?” Gannon said. “I’m glad that
Budda is out here and he’s going to help us win games.”

Baker had another fine season, making his sixth Pro Bowl
despite missing five games. But the rumors that he could be traded never went
away, and as soon as last season ended, they ramped up again.

Now, Baker is headed into the final year of a contract that will pay him $14.6 million in 2024. In Jalen Thompson, the Redbirds have another high-end safety. Arizona also drafted Texas Tech safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

The realities are this. As good as Baker may be, he’s not going to make the Cardinals contenders in 2024. After this season, he’s probably a goner.

Arizona may have to eat some of his salary, but a contender hit
by an injury in camp might be willing to part with a Day 2 pick in 2025 to get
Baker this summer.

That’s as well as the Cardinals would do with a compensatory selection. So, if that offer comes, Monti Ossenfort has to seriously consider it.

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The 2024 offseason has not been kind to Atlanta Falcons
quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

Not that long ago, Heinicke was making starts for the
Falcons. The 31-year-old made four starts in Atlanta last year, throwing for
890 yards, five scores and four interceptions.

In the offseason, the Falcons handed $45 million a season to Kirk Cousins, spurring Heinicke to take a pay cut to even remain on the Falcons’ roster. Then things got that much worse when Atlanta used a top-10 pick on Washington signal-caller Michael Penix Jr.

Heinicke told reporters from his youth football camp that right now he’s just trying to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

“This isn’t my first rodeo,” Heinicke said. “You can only control what you can control, just try and be the best teammate you can be and whatever happens, happens.”

At this point, if Heinicke sticks on the Falcons roster, it
would likely be as the emergency quarterback. If Cousins Achilles injury is
healing well and Penix is half the player scouts believed him to be, the odds
he sees the field in 2024 are slim to none.

However, Heinicke is also a seventh-year veteran who has
made 29 NFL starts who is only two games under .500 despite playing for less
than stellar teams. There are teams out there where Heinicke would be an
upgrade at QB2 right now. An injury could drive his value that much higher.

“Value” may just mean a Day 3 pick. But that beats just cutting Heinicke loose for nothing.

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It’s not easy to find trade candidates for Super Bowl contenders. After coming one game from the Super Bowl last year, the Baltimore Ravens aren’t likely to be looking to shed talent this summer.

It may seem doubly strange to suggest that the Ravens trade
a young player in wideout Rashod Bateman who was not only a former first-round
pick but who just signed a three-year extension.

But this isn’t a trade for picks. This is a play to upgrade at a position where the Ravens aren’t especially deep—say wide receiver or edge-rusher. A “win now” move.

Bateman’s first three NFL seasons have been mostly disappointing—after 515 receiving yards as a rookie, Bateman hasn’t cracked 400 yards either of the past two seasons. But while speaking to reporters, rookie cornerback Nate Wiggins said that Bateman has been a handful in OTAs.

“He’s just shifty. A lot of quickness in the
route,” Wiggins said.

If there’s a team out there that buys into Bateman’s talent and reasonable salary (about $5 million a year over the next three seasons), he could be used as part of a deal that gets the Ravens an even better player at the position.

Package Bateman with a pick and go get one of the
bigger-name receivers listed later on in this column.

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The Buffalo Bills are one of the hardest teams in the league to find a trade candidate for. The Bills absolutely fashion themselves a Super Bowl contender, but it’s hard to look at Buffalo’s roster after this offseason and say they were better than a year ago.

However, there is one veteran that stands out—tight end
Dawson Knox.

In both 2021 and 2022, Knox flirted with 50 catches and topped 500 receiving yards. He had 15 receiving touchdowns over that span. But with Dalton Kincaid’s emergence at tight end last season, Knox’s numbers plummeted—his snap count dropped by 20 percent, and he caught just 22 passes for 186 yards and two scores in 12 games.

Now, given the losses the Bills suffered at wide receiver this season, dealing a proven pass-catcher may seem unwise. But it’s clear that Knox has given way to Kincaid as the team’s No. 1 tight end. Knox’s injury last year played a part, but when Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator in Buffalo, the team ran fewer “12” personnel (two tight end) sets.

Knox may be second-fiddle now in Western New York, but he
would be the best tight end on more than a few NFL teams, including some with
postseason aspirations in 2024. After re-working his contract, Knox has a
reasonable cap hit of just $7.7 million in 2024, but it balloons to over $14
million in 2025—a signal that this could be his final season with the team.

If a TE-needy team comes calling this summer, the Bills
would be wise to at least listen.

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The Carolina Panthers signed running back Miles Sanders to a
four-year, $25.4 million contract in 2023. Much like just about everything else
in Charlotte last season, Sanders was a disaster—he averaged a woeful three
yards per carry and managed just 27 yards on the ground per game.

However, despite that faceplant, Panthers general manager
Dan Morgan said the team still has big plans for the 27-year-old.

“In terms of Miles, we love Miles,” Morgan told reporters. “We see a big role for him. I think Dave [Canales] will tell you the same thing—we think really highly of Miles, we love Miles. He can do a lot for our offense. He’s versatile in the pass game and he’s a really good runner. So, we’re excited about him as well.”

Of course, Morgan said that after the Panthers drafted Texas running back Jonathon Brooks. And with Chuba Hubbard also on the roster, it’s hard to see much of a role for Sanders on the Panthers in 2024.

However, we are talking about a player who in 2022 posted
the first 1,000-yard season by an Eagles running back since LeSean McCoy in
2014. Prior to last season, Sanders had never averaged fewer than 4.6 yards per
carry in a season.

That productivity and experience could have appeal to teams
who lack depth in the backfield and/or suffer an injury in the backfield in
training camp.

And frankly, a rebuilding Panthers team could use additional
draft capital more than a $6 million running back holding down the bench with
his backside.

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Given all the wheeling and dealing the new-look Chicago
Bears have already done in 2024, finding a candidate for yet another trade is
something of a challenge.

But there is at least one player the Bears could consider dealing—and it’s a trade that would be a lulu.

One year ago, the Bears inked linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to
a four-year, $72 million deal to lead the Bears defense. In 2024, Edmunds will
be playing for a familiar face—new defensive coordinator Eric Washington was
defensive line coach in Buffalo while Edmunds was there, and the 26-year-old is
excited for the switch.

“Putting guys in position to make plays definitely excites me just because I know the leader that [Washington] is, I know the man that he is, and I know guys will be locked in and listen to what he has to say,” Edmunds told reporters. “I think he’ll make a lot of guys better. Guys are going to be able to feel the passion that he has.”

The problem is that Edmunds didn’t play like an $18 million linebacker last year—he was badly outplayed by fellow newcomer T.J. Edwards and uncharacteristically struggled badly at times in coverage.

Jack Sanborn doesn’t have Edmunds’ reputation or salary, but he has played well when afforded the chance in the past. Edwards has shown in Philly that he can be the leader the Bears hoped to be getting in Edmunds. And the team can shave a cool $20 million off the cap by trading Edmunds.

Now all the Bears have to do is find a trade partner who doesn’t believe that Edmunds is overpaid.

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When OTAs opened for the Cincinnati Bengals, neither of the team’s star wide receivers were in attendance. While addressing the media, head coach Zac Taylor downplayed the absence of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

“[They] are still working hard elsewhere, and they’ll
be back at the right times,” Taylor said. “And the beauty is we know
those guys, we know what they’re about and that they’ll be ready and focused
when it’s time to come back.”

These workouts are admittedly voluntary, and there’s zero doubt that Chase is going to get a massive contract extension at some point in the near future, But Higgins’ future in the Queen City is much cloudier. The Bengals slapped the franchise tag on Higgins in 2024, but in past years if Cincy tags someone, that all but guarantees they are gonesville the following season.

Trading Higgins at this point wouldn’t be an easy sell for fans of a Bengals team with playoff aspirations—Chase is one of the very best wideouts in the game, but dealing Higgins would leave Cincinnati awfully thin behind him.

But there are still a few veteran free agents available who have produced in the past, and the market for Higgins’ services should be robust even in June.

About the time that a team suffers a major injury at the wide receiver position later in the summer, things could potentially go from “robust” to the Bengals essentially naming their price.

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Oh, how the Cleveland Browns likely wish that a team would express any measure of interest in quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson’s $230 million contract is a massive anchor around the franchise’s neck, and if Watson doesn’t improve his play markedly in 2024, the Browns are going to face some incredibly difficult decisions.

However, no one is taking on that albatross of a deal. Not even most of it. But there’s another quarterback in Cleveland who could be of interest to other clubs.

The Browns thought enough of Dorian Thompson-Robinson to let
the former UCLA standout start three games last year. But in the offseason, the
Browns added both Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley, effectively burying
Thompson-Robinson on the depth chart.

The youngster tried to put a positive spin on those
developments while talking
to reporters
, saying that he looks forward to learning from the veterans.

“I think Jameis has gotten to know everybody. He’s super great,” Thompson-Robinson said. “I love Jameis and Tyler [Huntley]. Two really good additions to the room and two guys that have really helped me in my development. That process of learning how to be a pro quarterback at the highest level, I think it’ll be a big part of that.”

However, Thompson-Robinson will be hard-pressed to learn much from them from his spot on the practice squad—which is where he’s headed. At this point the best thing for both player and team may well be another team expressing interest in an athletic young signal-caller with the potential to at least develop into a quality backup.

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Markquese Bell’s second NFL season was an—interesting one.

A safety at Florida A&M, Bell was pressed into action as an off-ball linebacker last year in Dan Quinn’s defense. Bell played in all 17 games, making eight starts and tallying 94 total tackles. But in the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Packers, Bell’s size and lack of experience were both exposed by a Green Bay team that gashed Dallas on the ground.

That fiasco led to major changes on the Dallas defense. There’s a new defensive coordinator in town in Mike Zimmer. And a pair of new linebackers in veteran Eric Kendricks and rookie Marist Liafau.

With that position shored up, the Cowboys plan to move Bell back to his more natural position of safety. But even with Jayron Kearse gone, Dallas still has a pair of established starters in Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker.

There may not be a clear path to significant playing time for Bell with the Cowboys. But there are several NFL teams that could have a use for Bell’s versatility as a “hybrid” player—including former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is now the head coach for the Washington Commanders.

Veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks could be another possibility here, but trading the NFL’s most-traded player ever (well, tied for that rather odd “honor”) would leave Dallas thin at wideout behind CeeDee Lamb.

Bell’s departure wouldn’t create nearly as many problems.

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Like Tee Higgins in Cincinnati, Denver Broncos wide receiver
Courtland Sutton was a no-show for the first round of OTAs as he seeks a new
contract. And just like with the Bengals, Denver general manager George Paton
downplayed that absence while speaking
to reporters

“I mean, it’s 100 percent voluntary,” Paton said. “[Head coach] Sean [Payton] has talked to Courtland; I’ve talked to Courtland. He’s in a good place, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

There have been trade rumors surrounding Sutton for months, despite multiple reports that the Broncos aren’t interested in dealing him. And on some level, that makes sense—Denver already traded Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns, leaving Sutton as easily the most accomplished wideout on Denver’s roster. Rookie quarterback Bo Nix is going to need a go-to target.

However, it’s at least possible that Nix already has one in former Oregon teammate Troy Franklin, who was also drafted by Denver. And while the Broncos can tell themselves whatever they want about their prospects as a team in 2024, this is a rebuilding team. There won’t be any AFC West title. Or playoffs.

Sutton is under contract through 2025, but given his displeasure with his current deal, that doesn’t really matter. What does is that teams have already kicked the tires on a deal for Sutton. As we move into the summer, one of those teams may well sweeten the pot.

And at some point, the Broncos may realize that a sacrifice in the present will help the team’s prospects for the future.

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The Detroit Lions are one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIX. (Man, it still feels weird to write that). Given that, the team isn’t likely to part with any players of note.

With that said, a deal involving a depth piece at a premium
position for a Day 3 pick, while somewhat of a yawner, is at least a

The Lions appear set on the edge—Aidan Hutchinson is a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber talent, and if Marcus Davenport can add 8-10 sacks from the other end slot the Lions should have a formidable pass rush. But after logging four sacks in 556 snaps for Detroit two years ago, sixth-year pro John Cominsky’s production fell way off last year.

After Cominsky took a substantial pay cut to stay on the
team, head coach Dan Campbell told
that he remains a substantial part of what Detroit does

“He handles a lot of jobs for us. He handles the big
end. He can play three-technique inside. He’s really one of the keys for us
setting up our rush game when we get in third down and some of those
things,” Campbell said. “He’s physical, he’s got push, he can separate,
and he can play the run. He’s a little bit of the unsung hero for us on the

However, that was before Davenport (who does most of those
things at a higher level) joined the team. NFL clubs are always looking for
help on the defensive front, and one could offer up some draft capital for

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I can feel the eyes of Cheeseheads everywhere rolling. I can sense the scorn. The disdain. I’m already reading the articles that will be written about how bad the idea of a playoff contender trading a proven veteran pass-rusher is.

Y’all know words hurt, right?

But the notion of at least considering trading Preston Smith isn’t that outlandish.

For starters, yes, Smith is productive—the 31-year-old has at least eight sacks in four of the past five seasons. But he’s not a game-wrecker—Smith’s lone season with double-digit sacks came in 2019. He also carries a cap hit north of $14 million this year and $17.5 million in 2025 and 2026.

That’s a lot of coin for a player who will be 32 in November.

It’s not like the Packers don’t have a replacement for Smith, either. Green Bay used the 13th overall pick on Iowa edge-rusher Lukas Van Ness, who tallied four sacks in just 365 snaps as a rookie—a sack-to-snap ratio almost identical to Smith’s.

At the end of last season, teammate Rashan Gary told
that he expects big things from Van Ness in 2024.

“I know it’s going to be a big jump next year because
he has the same type of work ethic as me and he’s hungry for everything he has
in front of him … He understands what he needs to work on, and I know he’s
going to get better at it. I just can’t wait to see him tear it up next

There are multiple contenders who would be more than a little interested in adding some pop to the pass rush. And dealing Smith would both add draft capital and clear a path for Van Ness to assume the role he was drafted for—Smith’s replacement.

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There was a time when Robert Woods was one of the better
veteran receivers in the NFL—from 2018 to 2020, Woods caught at least 85 passes
and posted at least 900 receiving yards. Woods has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons
on his professional resume.

When the Texans signed Woods to a two-year, $15.3 million
pact last year, he was supposed to provide some veteran stability to a young
wide receiver room. But while youngsters Nico Collins and Tank Dell thrived
with C.J. Stroud, Woods was mostly a non-factor—40 catches for 426 yards and a
single touchdown.

Now, the Houston wideouts are more loaded than ever after the acquisition of Stefon Diggs. At best, Woods is the No. 4 wide receiver, and when you take into account tight end Dalton Schultz and new running back Joe Mixon, and Woods’ target share is—there isn’t one.

Still, while the Texans may not have anywhere to put Woods,
there are quite a few other teams who could. There are multiple contenders who
could benefit from adding Woods—especially if they believe that he has at least
one more season of decent production left in the tank.

The compensation involved in a Woods trade probably wouldn’t amount to much—a late-round pick. But the Texans would clear a cool $6.5 million off the books by trading a player they really don’t have any use for anymore.

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The Indianapolis Colts appear to be a team on the rise.
Indianapolis missed the playoffs in 2023, but if quarterback Anthony Richardson
can build on the flashes he showed in limited playing time as a rookie, there
is enough talent surrounding him on both sides of the ball for the Colts to be
a factor in the AFC South.

As a matter of fact, the Colts have such an embarrassment of
riches at at least one premium position that they can afford to consider
dealing a player who could have considerable appeal on the open market.

Tyquan Lewis isn’t the only player on this list who was actually just re-signed by his team. And as JJ Stankevitz wrote for the team’s website, while Lewis’ raw stats last year weren’t all that impressive, a deeper look tells another story.

“Among defensive ends who played at least 200 pass rushing snaps, Lewis’ 17.1 percent pass rush win rate (per Pro Football Focus) ranked 15th in the NFL and was the highest on the Colts,” he wrote. “Lewis also had the third-most total pressures (44) on the Colts despite playing the fifth-most pass rushing snaps on the team.”

However, the Colts re-upped Lewis before using their first pick in this year’s draft on UCLA edge-rusher Laiatu Latu. The team is now either loaded or crowded at the position, depending on how you look at it. Latu. Kwity Paye. Samson Ebukam. Lewis. Dayo Odeyingbo.

That much depth affords the Colts the luxury of shopping one
of the reserve edge-rushers. And Lewis would likely net Indianapolis the best

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Starting-caliber offensive linemen are worth their weight in gold in the NFL—especially tackles. That’s evidenced by the three-year, $55 million extension the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Cam Robinson in 2022 despite the fact that Robinson is by no means an elite player.

The 2024 campaign will be the last year on Robinson’s deal, and it comes after a 2023 season marred by injury and suspension. While speaking to reporters, Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson called Robinson an important member of the team—but one who has to step up this season.

“He has to — he’s like Trevor (Lawrence) — he understands that hey, his role is to help this team win and can’t put the team, can’t put the players, can’t put us in situations that he did last year,” he said. “Now the injury is out of anybody’s control but talking about the suspension, right, and it’s about being a pro. And listen, these are conversations that Cam, we know, he’s had and we’ve had, you know. I definitely like having him on the team. He’s fun to be around, brings a lot of energy out there and it makes us better.”

Trading the team’s starting left tackle would be a blockbuster move. But the Jaguars have a Plan B in Walker Little who isn’t significantly worse than Robinson, and come next year the latter could easily be priced out of the Jaguars’ range after they re-up Lawrence.

There’s at least one team that comes to mind (really good one—red helmets) that could be willing to offer a high pick to shore up the left side of the line. If the Jags can not only improve on the compensatory pick they’d get if Robinson bolts in 2025 but also bump that pick up a year, it’s worth consideration.

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The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t exactly a team that impresses as being in a “selling” mood—the team is attempting to become the first franchise in NFL history to win three straight Super Bowls. And given the Chiefs’ struggles at wide receiver last year, it’s that much harder to imagine them dealing a player at that position.

OK, except Kadarius Toney—Kansas City would likely give him
up for a strawberry Pop-Tart if they could find a buyer who still thinks the
former first-rounder is an NFL wideout.

But after adding Rashee Rice in 2023 and veteran Marquise
Brown and rookie Xavier Worthy in 2024, the Chiefs wide receiver room looks a
lot different. And that affords Kansas City the opportunity to rid themselves
of another mistake from the past few years.

In 2022, the Chiefs drafted Western Michigan wideout Skyy
Moore in the second round. To day that Moore has been a disappointment to date
is an understatement—he has yet to eclipse 250 receiving yards in a season.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach told
that the team still holds out hope that Moore can be the player
they thought he was.

“Skyy has always been a mentally tough kid,” Veach said. “He had that knee injury last year, too. So, to some degree, it is just these guys being on the field and staying healthy, and then making plays when their number is called.”

If Veach can get another team to actually believe that,
Kansas City should get what they can and move on.

Because just like Toney, it just ain’t gonna happen with Moore.

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What fun would a column like this be if I didn’t drop at least one bombshell?

Sure, said bombshell will be roundly pilloried, but hey—what’s a week without getting savaged on social media?

While appearing on teammate Maxx Crosby’s podcast, Davante Adams made a point of saying that he doesn’t regret pushing for a trade to Las Vegas two years ago. But he did admit that watching Jordan Love lead his former team to the postseason last year was—something.

“I don’t regret what I did,” Adams said, “but, at the same time, it’s definitely you look back on it like ‘damn that boy kind of balling right now.'”

At 31, Adams remains one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL. But he’ll add another candle to the cake before the 2024 season ends, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, a drop-off is coming.

That pending drop-off should matter to both Adams and the Raiders. Because news flash, Raider Nation—this team is no threat to the Chiefs in the AFC West with Aidan “Noodle Arm” O’ Connell or Gardner “My Mustache is the Best Thing About Me” Minshew under center. They certainly aren’t a contender in the AFC as a whole.

What the Raiders are with Adams is just good enough to win
7-8 games and screw up any chance at a high-end quarterback prospect in 2025—when
Adams will be that much older. Unless, that is, the team flips the veteran
wideout and either craters or uses the pick they get from a contender to move
up in Round 1 next year.

The Raiders aren’t going anywhere without a better quarterback outside the merry-go-round of mediocrity. If they want to ride that until Adams’ wheels fall off (or he demands to be traded), they should have hired Jeff Fisher instead of Antonio Pierce.

No one does mediocrity better than Jeff Fisher.

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Might as well just keep blowing things up. As Boris and Natasha would say back in the day, “Kaboomski.”

It’s from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I swear people have no sense of culture nowadays.

There was a time when it appeared that the sky was the limit
for Chargers edge-rusher Joey Bosa. Bosa was the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the
Year after tallying 10.5 sacks. He would better that mark two more times over
the next three seasons.

Since then, Bosa has posted just one 10-sack season in four
years. Over that span, he has missed 26 games—including 20 over the past two
seasons. However, Bosa told
that he expects both his fortunes and those of the team itself to
improve under new head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“That’s an expectation for sure,” Bosa said. “I’d like to win Game 1 first, then we can talk about Week 2 and then Week 3. Sometimes getting caught up with all the Super Bowl talk and all the hype gets you unfocused and worrying about the wrong things when you should just be worrying about what’s in front of you.”

The problem is, edge-rusher is one of the few position groups where the Chargers don’t have a deficiency. This team is nowhere near a Super Bowl contender. Bosa has already been mentioned in trade rumors, and both he and Khalil Mack restructured their contracts in the offseason to help LA’s then-dismal cap situation.

The Chargers have a replacement on the edge waiting in Tuli Tuipulotu. Frankly, whether it’s Bosa or Khalil Mack (who posted a career-high 17 sacks in his age-32 season in 2023), the Bolts should get the best return they can for one of their star pass-rushers and look toward the future.

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On one hand, Los Angeles Rams tackle Joe Noteboom brings quite
a bit of value to the team—he played all over the line last year, and head
coach Sean McVay talked up his value back in February while addressing
the media

“I think it’s so impressive what Joe did do,” McVay said, “the toughness that he showed last year, the ability to really play all four spots with the exception of center. We are working through that. We’ll see what that looks like as it relates to his status with us moving forward. But Joe’s been a big-time contributor and certainly we wouldn’t have done a lot of good things without Joe and his ability to play right tackle, left tackle, right guard. If he had to play left guard, I’m sure he could.”

Of course, that was while the Rams were trying to decide whether or not to cut a backup lineman who carried a cap hit in the range of $20 million. The team eventually agreed with the 29-year-old on a restructured contract, but his cap hit remains in excess of $11 million, and he’s all but certainly gone after this year.

Noteboom has struggled to stay healthy over his six NFL seasons, playing in 16 games only once. But when healthy he’s a capable lineman who can man just about every spot on the offensive line.

There could be a team out there that views Noteboom as more than a “Super Sub.” And if the Rams can get more than the sixth or seventh-round compensatory pick the team would receive in 2026 for the 28-year-old, moving him might not be such a bad idea.

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Hey, not every name in this column can be a big one.

Miami Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson spent the majority of last season watching Raheem Mostert and DeVon Achane gash defenses. But running backs coach Eric Studesville lauded Wilson’s ability to step up when needed while addressing the media last December.

“‘He does everything right,” Studesville said. “He’s prepared and gives himself the best chance to win. He goes in the game, he’s going to perform well.”

The problem for Wilson in 2024 is that it’s nearly impossible to see where he’s going to get an opportunity to get in a game unless injuries hit the Miami backfield.


After tallying 176 carries in a 2022 season split between Miami
and the San Francisco 49ers, Wilson was nearly invisible last year—41 totes for
188 yards. It took a contract restructure to keep Wilson on the roster—and that
was before the Dolphins used a fourth-round pick on Tennessee running back
Jaylen Wright.

Still, Wilson has demonstrated some aptitude for getting the
job done when he has been on the field. In that limited action last year,
Wilson averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Just two years ago Wilson quietly eclipsed
1,000 total yards and averaged almost five yards a pop.

Teams may just wait for the seemingly inevitable release of the 28-year-old. But if a running back goes down in camp or a club doesn’t like their backfield depth, it likely wouldn’t take more than a sixth-rounder (if that) to convince Miami to make a deal.

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We’re over 20 games into this little exercise, and this is the first cornerback that has been mentioned. There’s a reason for that—in today’s pass-heavy NFL, even marginally competent corners are considerably valuable.

And that may be the best way to describe third-year pro Akayleb Evans of the Minnesota Vikings—marginally competent.

In 15 starts last season, Evans wasn’t exactly Darrelle Revis—he allowed over 70 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed, missed a whopping 16 tackles and posted a robust passer rating against of 120.4.

However, there are those who aren’t ready to write Evans off just yet—including Kyle Joudry of Purple PTSD.

“Go back to what made him a promising player in the first place,” Joudry wrote. “Evans possesses a great frame as someone who is 6’2″ and who weighs roughly 200 pounds. In theory, he should be able to hang with the NFC’s bully receivers, such as Atlanta’s Drake London, Green Bay’s Christian Watson, Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf, and Arizona’s Marvin Harrison Jr. (all of whom are on the schedule in 2024). Having a corner with size is one way of matching up with those players.”

Evans’ physical attributes are a reason to keep the soon-to-be 25-year-old around. So is the fact Evans has two years left on his rookie deal.

But with Shaquill Griffin in Minnesota, Evans likely enters camp as Minnesota’s fourth or even fifth corner. And with the Vikings in possession of just three picks in 2025 (and just one before Round 5), the same things that make Evans worth keeping could help recoup some badly-needed draft capital.

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

To say it’s a new day in New England is an understatement—a depressing one.

The glory days of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and six Super
Bowls are long gone. In fact, the Patriots might be the worst team on paper in
all of the National Football League. As the Pats endeavor to start over, they
need to start looking at every aging veteran as much as a trade commodity as an
on-field contributor.

Enter ninth-year edge-rusher Matt Judon.

Judon, who is skipping voluntary workouts in search of a new contract, had four sacks in four games last year before tearing his biceps tendon. The 31-year-old told WEEI Radio that he’s fully healthy, and he’s hopeful that new deal will come in Boston.

“I think with the contract stuff, if it happens it happens,” he said. “If we can get a new contract worked out to where I try to end my career in Boston, that’d be great. I’ve been healthy and I’ve been ready. So, it’s just whenever that time comes, I’mma be ready.”

Judon is an excellent player who racked up a whopping 28
sacks in 2021 and 2022 during a stretch of four straight Pro Bowl trips with
the Ravens and Patriots. Provided he truly is healthy, he could have considerable
value to any number of NFL teams.

But for the Patriots, that value lies more in what they can
get for him in a trade than his chasing around quarterbacks for a five-win
football team in 2024.

Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

This is another one that will rile some folks up. As the
Saints enter the 2024 season in the most wide-open division in the NFL, the
idea of trading arguably the best running back in team history may well strike
some as lunacy.

There has been talk for much of the offseason that Kamara
could be either a cap casualty or a trade candidate (this analyst should know—he
did some
of the talking
). But Darrion
Gray of Saints Wire
expects Kamara to be a big part of the New Orleans
offense in 2024.

“Kamara is still a prominent part of improving the rushing attack,” Gray wrote. “With the introduction of offensive coordinatior Klint Kubiak, the Saints running game should be revitalized. Kamara has not been put in a position to succeed over the last couple of seasons. He should and will be given one more season to prove he hasn’t lost it. There isn’t a better system for him to prove that than the Shanahan system Kubiak will be installing.”

That’s the glass half-full version. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the idea that Kamara is an aging running back coming off arguably the worst season of his career who has failed to average four yards a carry in two of the past three seasons. Next year, Kamara’s cap hit swells to a ridiculous $29 million.

With the Saints annually in salary cap purgatory, they are
either going to have to extend a past-his-prime player at a position teams are
investing less and less in or cut bait in 2025—and eat a dead cap hit.

If the Saints have any faith whatsoever in 2023
third-rounder Kendre Miller, New Orleans should be willing to deal Kamara if a
reasonable offer emerges.

Elsa/Getty Images

Yet another player who no-showed at OTAs, New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton got what he wanted from the team—sort of. After having additional incentives tacked onto his contract, Slayton told reporters he’s ready to get down to work.

“I’m satisfied,” he said. “We got done what we needed to get done and I’m just looking forward to getting back to playing ball. We just adjusted my contract this year a little bit, just try to make it a little more lucrative.”

Whether he’s going to be satisfied with where he now fits in the pecking order in New York is another matter. 2024 first-rounder Malik Nabers was drafted to be what Slayton has already shown he is not—a No. 1 receiver. Wan’Dale Robinson had 10 more catches in fewer targets last season. Jalin Hyatt is expected to take a step forward in his second season. The odds that Slayton leads the team in targets again are low, even with veteran tight end Darren Waller seemingly no longer in the picture.

Add in that this is the final year of Slayton’s contract, and he’s potentially expendable—even for a New York offense for which wide receiver has been a weakness for years.

OK, maybe because of it. Whatever.

Slayton may not be an elite wideout. But he has quietly
topped 700 receiving yards in four of five seasons and could have appeal as a
reasonably-priced upgrade in the slot.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In fairness to Allen Lazard, at least part of his miserable 2023
season can be attributed to equally miserable quarterback play in the Big
Apple. But Aaron Rodgers should be leading the offense for the New York Jets in
2024, and per Rich
Cimini of ESPN
Rodgers intends to help get his long-time teammate in Green
Bay back on track this season.

“That’s one relationship that I’m going to lean into
this offseason,” Rodgers said. “It was definitely frustrating for
him. … I want to see him getting back to more of a positive mindset and
feeling good about himself and his potential role in the offense. I’m going to
lean into Allen. I have a lot of love and appreciation for him, but, obviously,
this year didn’t go the way that he wanted.”

That is, of course, if Lazard is on the team.

The Jets made substantial upgrades at wide receiver this
offseason, adding Mike Williams in free agency and drafting Western Kentucky
wide receiver Malachi Corley in the third round. Given how poorly Lazard played
last year, which could drop the veteran to fourth on the depth chart.

This wouldn’t be an easy deal to pull off, for a number of reasons. There’s Rodgers’ relationship with Lazard, which landed him in New York to begin with. There’s the $10 million in guarantees that Lazard is owed in 2024. And there’s last year’s drop-filled, 23-catch of a mess from Lazard.

This could actually be an “Osweiler”—a trade in which the Jets actually have to sacrifice a pick a round higher than the one they give up just to dump Lazard’s salary.

But that may well beat Rodgers trying to force-feed targets
to a wideout who looked washed in 2023.

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Not that long ago, the notion of the Philadelphia Eagles
trading cornerback James Bradberry would have seemed laughable—as recently as
two years ago, the 30-year-old was one of the better players at his position in
the league. But as Nick
Faria wrote for Pro Football Network
, a lot can change from one season to
the next in the NFL.

“After an elite season in 2022 with just a 51.6 passer rating allowed, opposing quarterbacks posted a 114.3 passer rating against Bradberry in 2023, per Pro Football Reference,” Faria wrote. “He was repeatedly picked on throughout the season — especially later in the year against mediocre quarterbacks and teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants.”

Philadelphia’s struggles against the pass contributed to the team’s late-season collapse in 2023, and the Eagles attacked the secondary with a vengeance in this year’s draft—Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell and Iowa corner Cooper DeJean were the team’s first two selections.

Veteran Darius Slay’s starting spot is likely safe, but Bradberry appears headed for a reserve role. That doesn’t appear to sit well with the 30-year-old—he has yet to show for voluntary workouts.

There are no shortage of NFL teams that have a need in the secondary—you’d likely have to remove your shoes to count them all. At least one will talk themselves into believing Bradberry can regain his 2022 form.

Philly should find such a team, add a pick in 2025, and rid
themselves of an unhappy veteran before he becomes a distraction.

Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This should turn some heads, if only because the Pittsburgh
Steelers have seemingly been trying to assemble a decent offensive line for
years—so trading away a tackle who has started all 49 of his NFL games might

The thing is, while Dan Moore has indeed been a three-year starter, he hasn’t exactly been decent—per Pro Football Focus Moore allowed eight sacks last year in less than 1,000 snaps and has surrendered at least seven sacks in all three NFL seasons.

While appearing on 93.7 The Fan, Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly came to Moore’s defense—sort of.

“It’s hard to criticize his resume,” Kaboly said. “What does he have, 50 career starts? I think people pay attention a little bit too much to Pro Football Focus numbers with him. I don’t think he’s as bad as a lot of people think he is. Is he great? No, but put it this way. If he leaves next year, a guy that’s 25 and has 50-some-odd starts, he’s gonna get paid a decent amount of money next year. He’s gonna be like a Kevin Dotson type of guy because the position is so light.”

As has already been stated here, even average offensive tackles can generate considerable demand in the NFL. Pittsburgh drafted Troy Fautanu in the first round this year, ostensibly to replace Moore. Broderick Jones should be the starter at right tackle. And Dylan Cook has been working at OTAs as both a “jumbo” tight end and the team’s top “swing” tackle.

That could leave Moore as the odd man out entering his
contract year—and give the Steelers a chance to get something out of those 22
sacks allowed in three years.

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

There was talk around the NFL Draft that the Pittsburgh
Steelers and San Francisco 49ers had nearly agreed to a trade that would have
sent one of the Niners star wideouts to the Steel City—talk that former NFL
general manager Michael Lombardi said was more than smoke.

“There was talk that, at the draft, that Pittsburgh thought they had made a trade,” Lombardi said, via the GM Shuffle Podcast. “Whether it was for Deebo or whether it was for Aiyuk, I don’t know. But then things kind of fell apart late.”

Five will get you 10 that the deal was for Samuel.

There was a time that Samuel was one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game—in 2021 he eclipsed 1,700 total yards and scored 14 times. That massive season got Samuel an equally massive contract. But in the two years since, injuries and a reduced role in the San Fran offense have caused a significant drop in Samuel’s numbers—he went from a do-it-all weapon to a simple outlet valve for Brock Purdy, taking a clear back seat to Brandon Aiyuk among San Francisco receivers.

Dealing Samuel could be easier said than done—declining numbers plus a $28.6 million cap hit in 2024 doesn’t make for an especially easy sale. But the Niners used a first-round pick on Ricky Pearsall this year and are staring at contract extensions for both Aiyuk and Purdy.

The latter deal will likely be a knee-buckler.

San Francisco may well decide to just ride out this season,
make a run at another Super Bowl and deal with the consequences next spring.

But if a team without great depth at the position suffers an
injury and makes a strong offer, that could change in a hurry.

Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Last wide receiver. Promise.

The 2024 season will mark Tyler Lockett’s 10th with the Seattle Seahawks. It also brings a new head coach in Mike Macdonald and a new offensive coordinator in Ryan Grubb. Lockett told reporters that after watching Grubb’s scheme at the nearby University of Washington, he feels like he already has a leg up on getting the nuances of Grubb’s offense down.

“I’m very familiar in kind of how they did their offense,” Lockett said. “So now just being able to learn about it, I think it’s really cool to see exactly how they were successful and what they did and how they used everybody. And they also had a great running game, too, so I think all that helps.”

The larger question is whether Lockett should be out there
when the Seahawks host Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos in Week 1.

For years, Lockett was consistent as can be for the Seahawks. But his numbers tailed off in 2023—his 894 receiving yards were Lockett’s fewest since 2017. The team also has a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings in second-year pro Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Lockett restructured his contract this year to remain a
Seahawk, but with a cap hit north of $30 million
in 2025 this is probably his final season in the Pacific Northwest.

Fans of the team may be fiercely loyal to Lockett, but the new coaching staff isn’t. And Lockett is just the kind of proven veteran that a team could make an offer for if there’s an injury in camp or a young wideout fails to shine in camp.

The Seahawks are a good team. But they aren’t a Super Bowl team—and moving Lockett for the right draft pick wouldn’t make them markedly worse.

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Fresh off Tampa’s blowout win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the Buccaneers first-round pick the following year was Washington edge-rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

Per B/R’s Alex Ballentine, Tryon-Shoyinka hasn’t exactly paid off on that pick.

“He’s made 34 starts and played in every regular-season game since then, but his production has been underwhelming,” Ballentine said. “There’s more to the position than sacks, but he has only 13 across three seasons. His pressure rate has actually been better than you’d think, but it took a dip in 2023. After posting a 13.2 pressure percentage as a rookie, he was down to just 9.1 last season. That would explain why he ceded snaps to YaYa Diaby, who put up 7.5 sacks in his rookie year. Tryon-Shoyinka’s early success and pressure rates would hint at some untapped potential that just might not be reached in Todd Bowles’ defense.”

With Shaquil Barrett now in Miami, the Buccaneers aren’t exactly loaded on the edge behind Tryon-Shoyinka and Diaby. But the team did add veteran Randy Gregory in free agency, who is essentially (production-wise) an older version of Tryon-Shoyinka. The team has already declined Tryon-Shoyinka’s fifth-year option, so 2024 is a contract year.

There’s at least a chance that there’s a team out there who believes their defense is a better fit—that they can “fix” Tryon-Shoyinka.

If the offer is appealing enough, perhaps the Buccaneers
should let them.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There was a time when the Tennessee Titans thought they may
have a future starter under center in Malik Willis.

Granted, Willis was a member of the Class of 2022—one of the weaker at the quarterback position in recent memory. Willis was also easily the rawest of that year’s top prospects after playing collegiately at Liberty. But Willis offered an intriguing blend of athleticism, mobility and arm talent—enough for the Titans to roll the dice with a third-round pick.

Two seasons and three shaky starts later, the Titans have moved on to Will Levis. And as Cody Benjamin wrote for CBS Sports, if Willis is ever going to get a chance to start in the NFL again, it probably won’t be in Nashville.

“Humble and mobile as he may be,” he said, “Willis has effectively been shortchanged by two straight Titans regimes, with current general manager Ran Carthon not only building around young starter Will Levis but adding Mason Rudolph as a new No. 2. It’s possible Willis might prefer a fresh start, and an acquiring team would have the added bonus of getting him under contract through 2025.”

Will Levis ever be an NFL starter? The results we have seen from Willis to date haven’t exactly been encouraging. But Willis is barely 25 years old, he has made just three starts and was Bleacher Report’s No. 2 quarterback prospect in 2022.

Frankly, Willis deserves at least some glimmer of an opportunity—and that isn’t coming in Tennessee. In a league where quarterbacks are king, his talent alone is worth another roll of the dice.

And a draft pick is more valuable to the Titans than gluing
Willis to the bench or relegating him to the practice squad.

Ric Tapia/Getty Images

There’s an entirely new regime with the Washington Commanders this year, from ownership all the way down to the general manager and head coach. And after seven frustrating seasons in the nation’s capital, veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Allen told reporters coming to OTAs has been reinvigorating.

“I think it’s pretty known that we’ve had our struggles in the past,” Allen said. “But, I mean, it has been really good this year. Not going to talk about how great it is. We’ve still got a lot to prove. But I have a smile on my face coming to work every day.”

The real kicker of it all? For all those struggles, Allen’s days with the team may be numbered.

Allen’s 2023 season was not his best—his 53 tackles were the second-fewest of his career, and his 5.5 sacks were third-fewest. Those numbers were actually better than batterymate Da’Ron Payne, but the year before Payne logged 11 sacks—a number that Allen has never approached.

In terms of average annual salary, Payne and Allen are the second and third-highest paid players on the Commanders. With a rookie quarterback on the roster that’s not a killer, but it puts the team in a bind at other position groups nonetheless. The Commanders appear to realize this, spending a second-round pick in 2024 on a high-end tackle prospect in Jer’Zhan Newton.

Both Allen and Payne and Pro Bowl-caliber interior linemen
who should command a hefty return in a trade. But with Allen the older of the
two and the first to hit free agency in 2026, he would appear the most likely
to be a potential trade chip for a rebuilding Commanders organization.

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