I've listed all of the NFL Free Agent Signing Grades here, which included the trades. Because I've begun posting polls for the trades, I thought it would make sense to list just the NFL trades here, so archiving the voting would be easier.
Raiders acquire QB Christian Hackenberg from Jets for 2019 conditional 7th-round pick
This might just be the most meaningless trade that involves a well-known player in NFL history. In fact, I don't think it's even worth the paperwork.
Christian Hackenberg has been such a bust as a former second-round pick that he couldn't even earn a chance to get on the field for the miserable Jets. New York was willing to give up on him, yet was somehow able to find a suitor in the Raiders. The thing is, however, that Oakland surrendered a conditional seventh-round pick, and I can't imagine Hackenberg meeting the conditions for the Raiders to give up their last-round selection. It might have something to do with Hackenberg making the 53-man roster, and I just can't see that happening.
Like I said, this was not worth the paperwork.
June 13 Update: The Raiders have already waived Christian Hackenberg, which is not surprising whatsoever. The Jets will miss out on the conditional 2019 seventh-round pick, which was seen as a steal for Hackenberg. Poor Jets.
Cardinals acquire CB Jamar Taylor from Browns for 2019 6th-round pick
Jamar Taylor was chosen in the second round of the infamously horrendous 2013 NFL Draft, and he was considered one of the many busts from that class when the Browns acquired him in a swap of late-round picks two offseasons ago. Taylor played much better in Cleveland, performing as a solid starter after getting torched for three seasons in Miami.
Taylor, however, was deemed expendable after the Browns obtained Denzel Ward, E.J. Gaines and T.J. Carrie this spring. They're all projected upgrades over Taylor, so Cleveland's ability to get a sixth-round pick for him isn't bad.
That said, the Cardinals won this trade. They desperately needed a No. 2 cornerback across from Patrick Peterson, and Taylor is a big upgrade over what they had. He's well worth the sixth-round choice they surrendered to acquire him.
Dolphins acquire DT Akeem Spence from Lions for undisclosed 2019 pick
Last spring, I gave the Lions a "D" grade for signing Akeem Spence to a 3-year, $10.5 million contract. He had been awful in the past, thanks to lethargy, injuries and some off-the-field problems. He remained clean in 2017, however, and he put together a half-decent campaign. He was still overpaid, but not egregiously.
The Dolphins needed defensive tackle help in the wake of Ndamukong Suh's departure, and Spence should help. Spence, if healthy and focused, isn't very good at any one thing, but he's not a liability anywhere either. He's a serviceable rotational player, so this is a potentially decent move for the Dolphins, assuming this undisclosed pick isn't higher than a sixth-round choice. I'm going to assume that it's not; otherwise, I'll re-grade.
As for the Lions, it made sense to trade Spence because he doesn't fit Matt Patricia's defense very well. I like that they're getting rid of an unfavorable contract, so I think they win this small swap.
Cowboys acquire RB/WR Tavon Austin from Rams for 2018 6th-round pick
The Rams have tried for years to make Tavon Austin into an offensive weapon, and they've failed every single time. Going into each season, there would be stories about how they'd use Austin differently, yet it would always have the same ending.
Los Angeles finally threw in the towel on Austin and passed the burden on to the Cowboys, who are now discussing the possibility of having Austin play running back. It almost certainly won't work; if brilliant offensive coaches like Sean McVay and Greg Olson couldn't figure out how to use Austin properly, there must be no way to do it.
I'd criticize this trade if it was for anything more than a sixth-round pick. For a late-rounder, why not take a chance, right? I guess, but I still feel as though Dallas is wasting its time.
Cowboys acquire DT Jihad Ward from Raiders for WR Ryan Switzer
The Cowboys and Raiders swapped players during the third day of the draft. One has been a draft bust, while the other is primarily a special-teamer.
Jihad Ward was a second-round pick out of Illinois in 2016. He hasn't done anything in the pros, however. He's had foot problems, which have limited him to 21 of 32 possible games. He's registered just one sack. Perhaps he'll be able to finally live up to his draft billing if he can stay healthy, so Dallas could provide a fresh start for him.
Ryan Switzer, meanwhile, should be able to become Oakland's new return specialist in the wake of Cordarrelle Patterson's departure. Switzer could also be the Raiders' primary slot receiver, but his potential is limited.
This seems like an even trade. The Cowboys are getting more upside with Ward, but Switzer has a better chance of contributing.
Patriots acquire OT Trent Brown, 2018 5th-round pick (No. 143) from 49ers for 2018 3rd-round pick (No. 95)
Something seemed fishy when the 49ers selected Mike McGlinchey with the No. 9 overall pick. The strength of San Francisco's roster last year, prior to Jimmy Garoppolo starting, was the tackle position, as both Joe Staley and Trent Brown played extremely well. McGlinchey didn't make any sense unless the 49ers were going to trade Brown, and that's exactly what happened.
I don't know why San Francisco was so willing to give up on Brown. He's a talented right tackle, and he's very young. He won't even turn 26 until a couple of weeks prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Sure, Brown was heading into a contract year, but the 49ers had the cap space to re-sign him; they currently have the third-most cap room in the NFL.
The Patriots should be thrilled with the 49ers' poor decision-making regarding this matter. They're getting an upgrade at tackle for the mere price of dropping from the end of the third round to the fifth frame. The difference between picks 95 and 143, per the trade value chart, is a fourth-round choice, and I'd say Brown is well worth that.
Raiders acquire WR Martavis Bryant from Steelers for 2018 3rd-round pick
A third-round pick for Martavis Bryant!? What the hell did Bryant do to deserve a team giving up a third-round selection for him?
Bryant has been in the NFL for four years. In those four seasons, he has yet to register more than 50 receptions. He scored just three touchdowns last year. He missed all of 2016 because of a suspension. Does that sound like someone who should be acquired for a third-round pick?
The one positive thing I can say for the Raiders is that they're getting a player with immense upside and athleticism. However, Bryant hasn't been able to put it together quite yet. Perhaps he'll do that in Oakland, but I have my doubts. The Steelers seemingly won this trade by a mile.
Giants acquire P Riley Dixon from Broncos for 2019 7th-round pick
When Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that there were some crazy trade rumors circling about, I never imagined he meant something like this. Wow, talk about a draft-changing deal. I'm going to have to start my mock over from scratch.
In all seriousness, the Giants needed a punter, and Denver had no use for Riley Dixon after signing Marquette King. Dixon is a downgrade from King, hence the signing, but he's a mediocre punter who is worth this price tag. This seems like a fair trade for both teams.
Redskins acquire QB Kevin Hogan, 6th-round pick from Browns for 6th-round pick
The Browns have shipped off another quarterback, this time sending Kevin Hogan to the Redskins for an exchange of sixth-round picks. Washington will end up moving down 17 spots in return.
While moving down 17 picks in the sixth round isn't a big deal, it's about 17 spots too many for Hogan. The former Stanford product is horrible and doesn't belong in the NFL. He has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (4) in his brief career thus far. He can scramble around a bit, but that's it. When Hogan was coming out of the draft, Charlie Campbell described him best, saying something like: "This is what Andrew Luck will look like when he's 45."
The Browns won this trade despite the minimal return. It's nice that they can get at least something out for Hogan. I don't even think Hogan will end up making the Redskins' 53-man roster.
Rams acquire WR Brandin Cooks, 4th-round pick from Patriots for 1st, 6th-round picks
I don't know what's more surprising: The Rams trading for a receiver not named Odell Beckham Jr., or Brandin Cooks being dealt for the second year in a row. There's also a third option: Cooks being traded for a first-round pick.
I was leaving the gym when I saw an alert that Cooks was traded to the Patriots. I didn't see the compensation, so I thought about what it could be on the drive home. I thought a second-round pick seemed fair. Maybe a second and a fourth; something like that. The problem was that the Rams don't have a second-rounder, and that's when I realized that the first-round pick may have been involved.
This is too much for Cooks. There's no doubt that Cooks is a talented player, and he's still just 24, but it's very telling that two smart teams have given up on him already. Not only that, but they've done so in consecutive years!
Cooks is a problem in the locker room, no doubt, and the added caveat is that he's played exclusively with future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Tom Brady throughout his career. Jared Goff has great physical talent, but he's a young quarterback who isn't the sort of team leader Brees and Brady are at this stage of their careers. If Goff doesn't get Cooks the ball enough - a problem that occurred with Sammy Watkins last year - will Cooks cause major problems? It's certainly possible.
I don't hate this deal for the Rams because they're getting a very talented, young play-maker. However, I feel that they've overpaid for a big risk, so I can't grade this favorably for them. The Patriots, meanwhile, get to use the 23rd pick to either replace Cooks or select a left tackle like Kolton Miller. There's also a possibility that the Patriots could use Nos. 23 and 31 to trade for something - perhaps even Odell Beckham! I'd say New England clearly won this swap.
Jaguars acquire QB Cody Kessler from Browns for conditional 2019 7th-round pick
Former Browns general manager Sashi Brown did a good job of acquiring assets, but he didn't execute the draft very well. One of his many blunders was spending a third-round pick on Cody Kessler. We had Kessler pegged as a "6th-FA" player in our 2016 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings. It was absolutely stunning that Brown took him in the third round.
Kessler went on to struggle, as expected. He wasn't horrible, and he did a decent job of managing some games as a rookie, but he was ultimately benched because he couldn't complete routine NFL throws. He barely played last year.
The Browns are lucky that they're getting anything for Kessler, who wouldn't have made a roster comprised of Sam Darnold/Josh Allen, Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton. Meanwhile, the Jaguars needed a backup for Blake Bortles, and Kessler is a very cheap option. Thus, I think this trade makes sense for both teams, with Cleveland coming out on top by just a bit.
Broncos acquire LB/S Su'a Cravens, 2018 4th- and 5th-round picks from Redskins for 4th-round pick, two 5th-round picks
This seems like a lot, but to simplify this trade, the Broncos are really just giving up is a fifth-round pick for Su'a Cravens. The swap of fourth-rounders is just Denver moving down from either No. 106 or 109 to 113, so that's not really a big deal.
So, the question is if Cravens is worth a fifth-round pick. I'm not so sure. He didn't even play last year because he pseudo retired. He left the Redskins because of health and personal issues. Apparently, he's going to play in 2018, but he's obviously not a very reliable person to have on a team if he can just quit on a whim. That said, Cravens is a talented player - he was a second-round pick in 2016 - and so he could fill the need the Broncos have at linebacker if he dedicates himself to football again. It's just a matter if he wants to play or not.
The Redskins definitely won this trade. They couldn't count on Cravens moving forward, so getting a fifth-round choice, plus the ability to move up a bit at the beginning of Day 3, is a nice deal for them.
Broncos acquire OT Jared Veldheer from Cardinals for 6th-round picks
Jared Veldheer was once a solid starting left tackle in the NFL. He was never an elite player, but he was in the second tier of blind-side protectors for a while. That hasn't been the case recently, as he was atrocious last year. There were rumors that Veldheer wanted to retire prior to 2017, and he certainly played like he hung up the cleats. I figured Veldheer would call it a career after his awful 2017 campaign, but apparently not.
Not only is Veldheer a shell of his former self, he also carries a $10.2 million cap hit. The Broncos are eating it in exchange for a sixth-round pick, which doesn't seem right. You'd think they'd get a sixth-rounder to take on the Veldheer money in an NBA-style deal. Thus, I'd say the Cardinals won this trade because they got rid of a terrible contract.
However, this isn't a complete loss for Denver. Veldheer is still just 31, so there's still a chance, albeit a small one, that he would bounce back. The Broncos are desperate for right tackle help, and as bad as Veldheer was last year, he would be an upgrade over what they had there last year.
Buccaneers acquire DE Jason Pierre-Paul, 4th-round pick from Giants for 3rd-round, 4th-round picks
When the Giants hired former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher to man the same post, I thought Jason Pierre-Paul would make sense for Bettcher's 3-4. My reasoning was that Arizona tried to sign Pierre-Paul a few years ago. Well, apparently Bettcher has changed his mind about Pierre-Paul because the Giants shipped off the talented edge rusher to the Buccaneers for a swap of third- and fourth-round picks.
Pierre-Paul's career was potentially derailed a few years ago in the infamous fireworks explosion, but he rebounded since, generating 15 sacks in the past two years. Now 29, Pierre-Paul should be able to play well for the next two or three seasons. He's also cheap this year; he counts just $2.5 million against the cap. This, however, will change quickly, as Pierre-Paul has an unfavorable deal after this season, but the Buccaneers currently have the eighth-most cap space in the NFL, so perhaps they'll be able to manage it.
This is a fine acquisition for the Buccaneers. Moving down a whole round hurts a bit - the No. 69 overall pick is a valuable one - but they need to win now for everyone to keep their jobs, and Pierre-Paul can help them do that. With Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry rushing the quarterback, Tampa Bay certainly won't have the worst sack total in the NFL anymore.
As for the Giants, if they thought Pierre-Paul didn't fit well into their new 3-4, this trade makes a ton of sense. In fact, I'd say they won the deal. Obtaining the 69th-overall selection is a nice move for a team trying to rebuild. They're also getting rid of a bad contract - it gets ugly after 2018, as Pierre-Paul will eat up $27 million over two seasons - and they can take a younger edge rusher in the opening round as a replacement. The low-hanging fruit is to project Bradley Chubb to them at No. 2 overall, but it's likely that New York trades out of the spot. It's possible the Giants and Broncos could swap, and that Chubb is the fifth-overall choice. What I have happening in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft is the Giants trading down to No. 12 and selecting Marcus Davenport to replace Pierre-Paul.
Cowboys acquire FB Jamize Olawale, 6th-round pick from Raiders for 5th-round pick
This is a small trade that seems to make sense for both sides. The Cowboys lost their fullback, Keith Smith, to the Raiders, so they needed to replace him. They're doing so with former Raider Jamize Olawale, moving down a round in the process.
While this swap is logical, it's also a bit odd. The Raiders wanted to upgrade Olawale, and they did so with Smith, so it's strange that Dallas would trade for the fullback Oakland didn't want. Still, it's not a big deal, but I think Oakland wins the trade for that reason.
Patriots acquire WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, 6th-round pick from Raiders for 5th-round pick
The Patriots, once upon a time, traded for a receiver who played for the Vikings, then the Raiders. That was Randy Moss. Somehow, I don't think Cordarrelle Patterson is going to have that same sort of impact, at least on offense.
Patterson is a bust as a former first-round wide receiver, but he's been a dynamic return specialist. That in itself makes him worth a late-round pick swap, whatever it may be. Patterson will need several injuries to occur on offense to make an impact with Tom Brady throwing the ball to him, but he should help Brady score more often by giving the Patriots favorable field position quite often.
I'm going to assume that this is an exchange of sixth- and seventh-round picks; something of that nature. If more is involved, I'll adjust the grades, but I'd have to think the Patriots won this trade.
Update: The late-round swap referenced earlier is actually a trade of fifth- and sixth-round picks. This seems very reasonable, and I still think the Patriots won this trade.
Jets acquire No. 3 overall from Colts for Nos. 6, 37 and 49, and 2019 2nd-rounder
Wow, that's two teams trading up frantically to land quarterbacks! The Bills moved up to No. 12 several days ago, and now the Jets have jumped up to the third-overall selection.
The Jets got ripped off. The Colts won this trade by 610 points, which is the equivalent of the 31st-overall pick in the NFL Draft. In a sense, Indianapolis obtained a free first-round choice for moving down just three spots! Better yet, there's still a chance the Colts get their man at No. 6. They're out of the Saquon Barkley sweepstakes, but Bradley Chubb could be there. If three quarterbacks and Barkley are the top four picks, and the Broncos take Quenton Nelson, Chubb will still be on the board. Either way, it seems as though the Colts will have their choice between Chubb and Nelson. Thus, this is a genius trade by Indianapolis.
As for the Jets, I don't like it for multiple reasons. The first is that they surrendered too much value, as discussed. Indianapolis was aware New York was desperate and was able to acquire way too many assets. This deal would've been fair without the 37th-overall pick.
The second is that I don't think the Jets needed to make a move for a quarterback. I really liked the Teddy Bridgewater signing, as he's a young quarterback who can still be a franchise signal-caller if he can stay healthy. Granted, that's a huge question mark, but why even sign him in the first place if the Jets didn't think that was a possibility? He was worth gambling on for one year. If he failed, New York could've taken a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft (go here for my 2019 NFL Mock Draft.)
The third problem is that the Jets may not even get the quarterback they want at third overall. If they're targeting, say, Josh Allen (he's the sort of quarterback Mike Maccagnan seems to like), what happens if the Bills trade up to No. 2 and snatch Allen? The Jets will be stuck with a signal-caller they don't want, which would be a disaster.
The Colts obviously won this deal by a wide margin. I don't want to grade the Jets too harshly because I understand their desperation for a quarterback, and we don't have all the information yet (perhaps they'll swap with the Giants as well), but I just disagree with what they are doing.
Patriots acquire CB Jason McCourty, 2018 7th-round pick from Browns for 2018 6th-round pick
It was reported earlier in the day that the Browns cut Jason McCourty, but the Patriots swooped in and acquired McCourty before the paperwork was submitted. God bless the Browns and their penchant for filing paperwork at a snail's pace.
I listed the Patriots as the top possible destination for McCourty on my NFL Trade Block page, so I obviously love the fit. New England needed to replace Malcolm Butler, and McCourty isn't that much worse than the hero of Super Bowl XLIX. The primary difference is age - McCourty turns 31 in August - but he's also far cheaper. He's owed just $3 million for 2018, while Butler signed a contract with $30 million guaranteed!
New England won this deal by a mile. It's an obvious A+. The Browns, meanwhile, get a Millen. It's that bad for them. It can be argued that they were willing to cut McCourty, so getting something for him is a bonus, but the decision to release him was a moronic one in the first place. I'm not going to reward Cleveland for its incompetence in this matter.
Grade for Patriots - A+
Grade for Browns - MILLEN TWIN KIELBASAS FOR TWIN YOUNG STALLIONS
Dolphins acquire C Daniel Kilgore, 2018 7th-round pick from 49ers for 2018 7th-round pick
The Dolphins and 49ers are just swapping seventh-round picks in this trade, so it's not like Miami is giving up anything of significance for Daniel Kilgore. After cutting Mike Pouncey, they needed someone to compete for the starting center job with Jake Brendel. My money is on Brendel, who played very well in an upset victory over the Falcons. Brendel, in limited action, was better than the banged-up Pouncey this past season, so he's definitely superior to Kilgore, who is not a good blocker.
I was confused when the 49ers gave Kilgore a 3-year, $12 million contract on Valentine's Day, as he's not worth that salary. Kilgore is just a mediocre backup, at best, but does have experience, so that might be valuable for the Dolphins. Unfortunately for them, they must inherit his contract, which is far from ideal.
The 49ers apparently signed Kilgore as an insurance policy, just in case they couldn't make an upgrade to their big need at center. They did so, signing Weston Richburg, making Kilgore expendable. They didn't get anything of significance for him, but getting rid of his contract has to be considered a win.
Vikings acquire QB Trevor Siemian, 2018 7th-round pick from Broncos for 2019 5th-round pick
Trevor Siemian was the starting quarterback for the Broncos the past two years, but he was obviously miscast for that role. Siemian did an OK job at times, but failed too often. He ideally would have been the backup had Paxton Lynch developed properly. Siemian will now be the No. 2 signal-caller, but for a different team.
Some people may scoff at the Vikings acquiring Siemian, but I think they won this trade. The going rate for a solid backup quarterback is a fourth-round pick, yet the Vikings are giving up a fifth next year and getting back a seventh in next month's draft. That in itself is a bargain, as is Siemian's salary, which is just $705,000. Other reserve signal-callers are being paid anywhere from $3 million to $10 million, so Siemian is a very cheap solution.
I think the Vikings won this trade from a value standpoint. The Broncos, meanwhile, didn't really have room for Siemian, so it made sense to trade him. Denver signed Case Keenum and could spend the No. 5 overall pick on a quarterback, so why keep on Siemian for no reason?
Bengals acquire OT Cordy Glenn, No. 21 overall, 2018 6th-round pick from Bills for No. 12 overall, 2018 5th-round pick
This trade means so much for both teams, and there's a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it...
Cordy Glenn is a great talent. He's an excellent left tackle when healthy. Unfortunately, the "when healthy" stipulation is significant, as Glenn has missed 17 games in the past two seasons with various injuries, including foot problems. It's never great to hear that a big man has issues with his feet, as recovering from this sort of problem can be difficult for them. The good news is that Glenn is still just 28, so he's young enough to get healthy for 2018.
Buffalo didn't really have much use for Glenn, despite his talents. Dion Dawkins played well at left tackle as a rookie last year, so the Bills had an asset they could use in a trade. And they certainly did, as moving up from No. 21 to 12 is very crucial. It's an indication that it's the first of two or three trades to get the Bills into position to move up for a quarterback.
The Bills are now armed with the Nos. 12 and 22 overall selections, as well as 53, 56 and 65. If you add all of these up in the NFL Trade Value Chart, you get 2,955 points, just 45 shy of 3,000, which is what No. 1 overall is worth! The Bills could theoretically trade Nos. 12, 22 and 65 to get close to 2,200, which is what No. 3 is worth. The Colts might be very interested in trading down, as they have tons of needs. Thus, I have to think is a great trade for the Bills, as they shipped off an irrelevant player for them for a chance to get their franchise signal-caller.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have to be happy to get a much-needed upgrade on the offensive line. I just think they gave up a bit too much. The difference between Nos. 12 and 21 is 400 points, which is what the No. 50 overall selection is worth, and that seems like a bit too steep for such an injured blocker. Still, if Glenn is 100-percent healthy next year, Cincinnati won't be upset that it made this deal.
Patriots acquire DT Danny Shelton, 2018 5th-round pick from Browns for 2019 3rd-round pick
John Dorsey continues to wheel and deal. This time, he's the one shipping off a player for a draft pick. I loved what he did Friday night, and while this trade isn't as great as the Jarvis Landry deal, it also makes a lot of sense.
Shelton has been a stout run-stuffer for the Browns since they spent a first-round pick on him in 2015. However, they had a redundant player in Larry Ogunjobi, who is both younger and potentially better than Shelton. It didn't make much sense to have both on the field at the same time in most instances, so trading one was the logical move. Given that Ogunjobi has more potential, as well as more years remaining on his contract, Shelton had to go. Picking up a third-round pick in 2019 for the price of a fifth-rounder this year is a solid move.
The Patriots, meanwhile, needed someone to clog running lanes after what happened to them in the playoffs. Shelton is a great, young answer. The Patriots are moving back two rounds through two years, but that's a good price to pay for a talented defensive tackle.
Browns acquire WR Jarvis Landry from Dolphins for 2018 4th-rounder, 2019 7th-rounder
Are times changing in Cleveland? Will the Browns finally rise out of the NFL's cellar with John Dorsey as the general manager? We don't know for sure yet, obviously, but Dorsey is certainly off to a great start, wheeling and dealing like crazy on this Friday evening.
Jarvis Landry is the sort of player the Browns needed. Aside from Josh Gordon, they lacked proven receiving talent, and Gordon wasn't a reliable player because of his countless off-the-field issues. They now have a proven play-maker at receiver, and Landry will provide a huge boost for Tyrod Taylor and whomever Cleveland selects at No. 1 or 4 overall. Landry certainly has his detractors because he ran a 4.77 40, but that doesn't matter. He's a great route-runner, and he gets open very easily. Besides, Jerry Rice and Anquan Boldin both ran in the 4.7s. I don't know why NFL personnel people obsess over that time so much. It's irrelevant, and Landry is a dynamic slot receiver.
The only question was the compensation. We didn't know what it was for a couple of hours, but Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com broke the news. Miami obtained a fourth-round pick in 2018 and a seventh-round choice in 2019 for Landry.
Yes, that's it. This is a MAJOR steal for the Browns. Honestly, if they had given up their third second-rounder (No. 64 overall) instead of their fourth, I wouldn't have hated the trade. Landry should be worth way more than that, but the Dolphins almost didn't have a choice. They were in such a dire cap situation that they were forced into deal Landry, meaning they possessed very little leverage. Still, they should've been able to obtain something a bit more than this for their best offensive player.
Browns acquire CB Damarious Randall from Packers for QB DeShone Kizer
We don't have the details of the Jarvis Landry trade yet (edit: they just came in), and we don't possess everything for this deal yet either, but we know that Damarious Randall was traded to the Browns, and DeShone Kizer was shipped off to the Packers. For the sake of these grades, I'm going to assume that this is a one-for-one swap, but if details say otherwise, I'll make adjustments.
I'm assuming this is a one-for-one transaction because I think this is a very even trade for both sides. For the Browns, they're getting a much-needed new member for their secondary. Damarious Randall is still young (26 in August), and he was Green Bay's best cornerback in 2017. The Packers reportedly were willing to trade him because he clashed with the coaching staff. The Chiefs got rid of Marcus Peters for the same reason, so it's not like the Browns are necessarily acquiring a lemon. Randall should be able to help Cleveland's poor pass defense.
Kizer, meanwhile, was thrown into live action way too early. He wasn't ready to be a starter last year. He's still just 22 and possesses a great arm and mobility. If he's coached up extremely well, he might be able to become a viable starter one day. At the very least, he can eventually be a solid backup. The Packers needed a better No. 2 quarterback after what transpired with Brett Hundley last year, and that's exactly what they got in this trade.
Browns acquire QB Tyrod Taylor from Bills for 3rd-round pick (No. 65)
Cleveland has obtained Tyrod Taylor from the Bills for its own third-round pick (No. 65 overall). The Browns were rumored to be interested in A.J. McCarron, but it's now unlikely that McCarron will sign in Cleveland.
Also, this trade does not mean that Taylor will be starting for the Browns for all of 2018. In fact, Taylor may not start the season opener, depending on what transpires in training camp and the preseason. Taylor will be the starter heading into August, but there's a chance he could be beaten out by the first- or fourth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. If not, Taylor can provide a steady hand while the rookie signal-caller develops.
This isn't a great trade for the Browns, but it's not bad either. I think a fourth-rounder for Taylor would've been more correct, as that's the going rate for backup quarterbacks. Sure, Taylor is a bit more than a backup right now, but it'll be shocking if he's still starting after Halloween. That said, Taylor provides the Browns with some stability at the position, which is something they haven't had in a long time.
The Bills, meanwhile, are the clear winners of this deal. They didn't want Taylor anymore and had to find an alternative at the position. They could've easily cut Taylor loose, but they were able to net the opening choice in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, which is great value.
Panthers acquire WR Torrey Smith from Eagles for CB Daryl Worley
If I were an NFL general manager, I'd be terrified to make any sort of deal with Howie Roseman. The man is a wizard and somehow finds a way to win every trade. He just robbed the Seahawks, so did he do the same thing to Carolina?
Torrey Smith is the bigger name in the trade, but that doesn't mean the Panthers are the winners. Smith was great for the Ravens during their Super Bowl run in 2013, catching 65 passes for 1,128 yards. However, Smith hasn't topped 770 yards in a season since, and at 29, time is running out for him to rebound. Smith wasn't very productive this past season, hauling in 36 balls for 430 yards and two touchdowns. He made some clutch plays, but also was responsible for countless drops. Owed $5 million in 2018, Smith had to be let go, as the Eagles are over the salary cap. The fact that Philadelphia got anything for him is definitely a bonus.
The Eagles won this trade. They dealt an aging, pedestrian player for a young cornerback with promise, all while saving $4 million or so in cap space. Worley, a 2016 third-round pick, had a semi-decent rookie year, but struggled in 2017. However, Worley has a chance to play better in Philadelphia because the Eagles, unlike the Panthers, have a great pass rush, so he won't be exposed as much. Plus, Worley is just 23, so he has plenty of room for growth.
Rams acquire CB Aqib Talib from Broncos for 2018 5th-round picks
This trade pretty much mirror's yesterday's deal between the Eagles and Seahawks. Seattle was selling a 32-year-old defensive player without much leverage, and like Michael Bennett, Aqib Talib was expected to be released if his team couldn't trade him. This forced the Broncos into dealing him for just a fifth-round selection, which is pretty much what Seattle received for Bennett.
The Rams definitely won this transaction. Talib will rejoin Wade Phillips in Los Angeles, where he'll be a part of a terrific secondary. He'll start across from Marcus Peters, and they'll get great support from LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson at safety. The Rams will arguably have the best secondary in the NFL, perhaps rivaling what the Broncos had in 2015 when they won the Super Bowl. Sure, Talib is on the downside of his career at age 32, but for just a fifth-round pick, he's totally worth it.
The Broncos, meanwhile, can't get a good grade for this, but it's not a failure either. They had to deal Talib because of cap restraints, and this new money will allow them to obtain a quarterback. Still, they could've waited and maybe gotten a fourth from some other team. If you recall, the Seahawks could have received a better deal from the Patriots for Bennett had they waited a bit. Perhaps the Broncos were in the same situation.
Giants acquire LB Alec Ogletree, 2018 7th-round pick from Rams for 2018 4th- and 6th-round picks
Leave it to two teams in the northeast part of the country to conduct two major trades on the day of a crazy nor'easter. How are they doing this without any electricity? I'm barely functioning!
This trade isn't nearly as lopsided as the other one, as it makes sense for both teams. However, I'd say the Giants are the winners. They're getting a linebacker upgrade in Alec Ogletree, who has been an inconsistent player for the Rams, looking great at times, but missing too many tackles in other games. Still, he's young (27 in September) and much better than the options they've had in recent years, and it's not like New York gave up a lot to acquire him. It's basically just a fourth-rounder, since the two teams swapped sixth- and seventh-round choices. Ogletree isn't a steal at that price, but he definitely provides good value.
The Rams, meanwhile, are clearing more cap space once again. Ogletree wasn't a great fit in Wade Phillips' offense, so it makes sense that they would deal him in addition to Robert Quinn, who also didn't take well to Phillips' scheme.
Eagles acquire DE/DT Michael Bennett, 2018 7th-round pick from Seahawks for 2018 5th-round pick, WR Marcus Johnson
What in the world does Howie Roseman have over other NFL general managers? It's almost like he has nude photos of them and threatens to release them to the public if they don't allow him to absolutely rob them in trades. That's exactly what happened here, as the Eagles are the clear winners of this deal.
Bennett is a tremendous defensive lineman. He's terrific as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He accumulated 8.5 sacks in 2017, all while clamping down well against ground attacks. He can play on the edge or in the interior, as he's been a flexible player who has been able to move around a lot on the line of scrimmage. The only downside with him is that he'll turn 33 prior to Thanksgiving, but he played extremely well this past season. He's owed just $1.5 million in 2018, so he won't hurt Philadelphia's cap situation at the current moment.
This makes the Super Bowl champion Eagles even better, all for the price of swapping fifth- and seventh-round picks. This is an absolute victory for them. The Seahawks, meanwhile, should've gotten more for a talented player, but it was leaked out that they would be trading him. Seattle could be letting go of Richard Sherman as well - go here to see which teams could sign Richard Sherman - so it looks like the team will be rebuilding this offseason.
Dolphins acquire DE Robert Quinn from Rams for 2018 4th-round pick, swap of 6th-rounders
I really wanted to hate this trade for the Dolphins when I first heard it. Already $8 million over the cap, they had to cut numerous players to not only get into the black, but to also have enough room to sign their rookies. Yet, they made a move to acquire Robert Quinn, and now they're going to be $20 million in the red.
However, this is a great bargain for Quinn. Once I saw the compensation - a fourth-round pick and a swap of sixth-rounders - I was confused as to why the Rams hadn't gotten more. Sure, Quinn didn't look great in their 3-4 last season, but he still accumulated 8.5 sacks. It's not like he played terribly. Trading him was still the right decision, but it seems like they should've been able to obtain a second-round selection for an extremely talented edge rusher who turns 28 this offseason.
Going back to the Dolphins, I actually think they won this deal. Like I said, I wanted to hate this trade, but considering the lack of resources they surrendered, this was almost too good to pass up. They're going to cut a ton of players, but that was the idea anyway. They'll get rid of Ndamukong Suh, which will free up lots of money. Jarvis Landry, Ja'Wuan James and others will be gone as well. At the very least, Miami will have two talented edge rushers left over (Quinn and Charles Harris) to build around.
Rams acquire CB Marcus Peters, 2018 6th-rounder from Chiefs for 2018 4th-rounder, 2019 2nd-rounder
We finally have the details of the Marcus Peters trade. The Chiefs will be getting back a fourth-round pick this April and a 2019 second-round choice. They'll also be surrendering a sixth-rounder this year in addition to Peters.
I wrote that the Chiefs were likely getting back a second-day selection of some sort, but I thought it would be this year. I'm not sure why they have to wait until 2019 to get it. Peters is a terrific cornerback, and Kansas City should've been able to obtain more for him. However, teams were aware that the Chiefs were frustrated with Peters, so that killed his value. As a result, this is all Kansas City was able to obtain for him.
The Rams obviously won this swap. Peters will provide a great boost for their secondary, which will lose Trumaine Johnson to free agency. Giving up a second-round pick in 2019 is significant, but definitely worth it. They also have to move down two rounds this April, but that's not a big deal. The Chiefs, meanwhile, look bad, but they didn't want Peters around, and they acquired two talented corners (Kendall Fuller, David Amerson) to compensate for his loss, so I think they'll be fine. I just wish they could've gotten a bit more. Still, I don't think this trade is as bad as people are making it out to be. I still consider the Chiefs one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC.
Redskins acquire QB Alex Smith from Chiefs for CB Kendall Fuller, 2018 3rd-round pick
It's currently unknown what the Chiefs will be receiving for trading Alex Smith to the Redskins. Ian Rapoport is saying that this deal is for "picks and a player." Which picks and which player will obviously determine how good of a trade this is for both teams, but I can't imagine Kansas City being on the losing end of this trade.
The Chiefs had to move on from Smith. He's been a good quarterback for them, but never really a great one capable of leading a team deep into the playoffs. Smith turns 34 in May and will begin declining shortly. Kansas City spent last year's first-round pick on Patrick Mahomes, and by the way he played in Week 17 versus Denver's defense, it appears as though he's ready to be the starter. Thus, it's good that the Chiefs are going to move forward with him in 2018. The fact that they're getting resources for Smith is the cherry on top.
As for the Redskins, it's difficult to understand what they're doing. By acquiring Smith, it's basically official that Kirk Cousins won't be back next year. Cousins has been Washington's best quarterback since Joe Theismann, so why allow him to leave, especially if it's for a 34-year-old veteran quarterback with no track record of winning in the playoffs? This trade will be even worse for the Redskins if they surrendered significant resources. Stay tuned for a more definitive grade, plus a poll once we learn what the compensation was.
Update: The "picks and a player" turned out to be a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. The selection is a nice one, as the Chiefs don't have a first-rounder this year, so they need more resources to fix their defense. Fuller, meanwhile, is an excellent acquisition. He was terrific as Washington's slot cornerback last year. This fills a huge need for the Chiefs, whose secondary was awful last season outside of Marcus Peters.
The Chiefs are getting an A+ for this. For the Redskins, this is a disaster. They downgraded at quarterback, and to do so, they gave up a talented cornerback and a third-round pick. This is so dumb. When I heard "pick and a player," I assumed it was some backup and a sixth-round choice, or something. I never imagined the Redskins would give up so much to get older and worse at quarterback. I don't understand what the hell they are doing.
Grade for Redskins - STATE OF THE KIELBASA MILLEN
Grade for Chiefs - A+
Bills acquire WR Kelvin Benjamin from Panthers for 2018 3rd- and 7th-round picks
I didn't like the Jay Ajayi and Duane Brown trades for the Dolphins and Texans, respectively, but I could at least understand what those teams were thinking. This trade, however, makes absolutely no sense for the Panthers.
Marty Hurney is one of the worst general managers in the NFL, and it was irresponsible of the Panthers to allow him to be near a telephone on this day. Only he could make a ridiculously stupid move like this. He just traded away a very talented, young receiver for practically nothing, and for no reason.
Some Hurney loyalists might argue that the Panthers nearly won a Super Bowl without Benjamin in 2015, but the Panthers had the best defense in the conference that year. They also had Greg Olsen in his prime. Olsen is now 32 and coming off injury, so Carolina, now 5-3, doesn't have any viable downfield weapons for Cam Newton to work with. Why would the Panthers be sellers at 5-2? It makes no sense!
The Bills, meanwhile, won this trade very easily. It's an A+ deal, no questions asked. Benjamin can step in and become their new No. 1 receiver, which is something they sorely needed, and given the lack of receiving talent in the upcoming draft class - check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here - the Bills had to do something like this. Giving up just a third for Benjamin is a major steal.
Eagles acquire RB Jay Ajayi from Dolphins for 2018 4th-round pick
This isn't as shocking as the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, but it's up there. The Eagles, who didn't have very many weaknesses, just shored up one of them, fixing their running game by acquiring Jay Ajayi for a fourth-round pick.
You know this trade is good for the Eagles, given that Dolphin fans on Twitter are asking if Adam Gase is from Philadelphia. Ajayi rushed for 1,272 yards last year on 4.9 yards per carry. His numbers have plummeted this year - 465 yards on 3.4 YPC - but that's because Miami's offensive line is atrocious. Ajayi will strengthen Philadelphia's already-potent offense, and he'll make Carson Wentz more lethal because opposing defenses will now have to respect the running game. Better yet, Ajayi is just 24, and he doesn't even have 500 career carries under his belt, so it's not like he's a worn-out back, or anything. He's well worth this investment.
As for the Dolphins, they'll move forward with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake as their two backs. I don't mind them trading Ajayi, especially with a running back-rich 2018 NFL Draft class coming up (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here) as it was unlikely they'd make the playoffs this year, but they should've obtained more than a fourth-round pick for Ajayi. He's definitely worth more than that, and the paranoid Miami fans would agree.
Jets acquire CB Rashard Robinson from 49ers for 2018 5th-round pick
This is obviously a minor trade compared to the other blockbusters made during the trade deadline. The Jets acquired a depth player from the 49ers for a mid-round pick.
I'd say this makes sense for both teams. The Jets needed depth at corner, especially with Morris Claiborne now banged up. Rashard Robinson was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but has struggled thus far. However, he has some natural ability and could perform well in his new home.
As for the 49ers, their current regime didn't select Robinson, so it's logical that they would cut ties with someone who was struggling. Obtaining a fifth-round pick for a poor perfomer is a solid move.
49ers acquire QB Jimmy Garoppolo from Patriots for 2018 2nd-round pick
Wow!!! This is crazy. The Patriots were so stubborn about not trading Jimmy Garoppolo last offseason, so this is certainly a shocker. They've agreed to send Garoppolo to the 49ers, who may have finally found their quarterback of the future.
Given New England's stance on Garoppolo, it seemed as though the team believed it could have obtained more from the former second-round pick. And I think they could have. This doesn't seem like appropriate value for a potential franchise quarterback. I wouldn't say Garoppolo is certain to be one, but he appears to have the ability of such a player. I like that the Patriots are acquiring a strong asset - this pick is certain to be in the 33-36 range - but they should have gotten more, even if it was just a 2019 third-rounder, or something, to sweeten the deal.
As for the 49ers, they are the clear winners. The upside of Garoppolo is tremendous. He could be their franchise quarterback for the next 10-12 years. And even if he fails, all they surrendered was a second-round selection. San Francisco can now focus on selecting Saquon Barkley, which is what I have happening in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
Seahawks acquire OT Duane Brown and 2018 5th-round pick from Texans for 2018 3rd-round pick, 2019 2nd-round pick
Duane Brown made it clear that he wanted out of Houston. He was vocal about Bob McNair's comments, and he held out for the first seven games of the year. With the Texans unwilling to give him a pay raise, the two sides were at a standstill, so it makes sense that he was traded.
Brown is 32, and he didn't play all that well in his return to the field against the Seahawks. Still, he's light years better than Seattle's previous left tackle, Rees Odhiambo, who probably shouldn't even be in the NFL. Besides, Brown will work his way into shape, so he'll perform better down the stretch and in the playoffs. Obtaining him is a huge boon for the Seahawks, who have endured major blocking issues. The offensive line will still be a problem, but Seattle now has two talented linemen in Brown and center Justin Britt.
As for the Texans, they lost this trade because they gave away the best commodity. However, I don't think this is a bad deal for them by any means. Jeremy Lane has struggled, but if he can get healthy, he can provide an upgrade in the secondary. A second-round pick will also help. Most importantly, Brown being off the books will allow them to add to Deshaun Watson's supporting cast next offseason.
Update: Jeremy Lane is no longer part of the trade because he failed his physical. So, instead of Lane, the Seahawks and Texans are swapping third- and fifth-round picks, which seems fair. My grades will remain as they were originally.
Jaguars acquire DT Marcell Dareus from Bills for conditional 6th-round draft pick
The great Bills fire sale of 2017 continues! This time, it was Marcell Dareus, who was dealt to the Jaguars in what effectively is a salary dump. Buffalo will save some money this year and next with Dareus no longer on the roster.
That said, it's still odd that the Bills are giving Dareus away for effectively nothing. Dareus hasn't played up to his ability this year, but he was still a solid player for the Bills after missing some action in September. Dareus clashed with the coaching staff, but you would think that's something that could've been worked out.
The Jaguars are the obvious winners of this deal. They're surrendering nothing but cap space to add an extremely talented player to their already-stacked defensive line. Dareus is still young as well - just 27 - so he'll be able to play on a high level for at least four more years. Also, there won't be an adjustment period for Dareus, given that Doug Marrone coached him in Buffalo several years ago.
Bears acquire WR Dontrelle Inman from Chargers for conditional 7th-round draft pick
Dontrelle Inman caught 58 passes for 810 yards and four touchdowns last year, but with Keenan Allen returning from injury and Mike Williams now on the roster, Inman was rotting on the Chargers' bench. He recorded just two catches in four games, so it's not a surprise that Los Angeles was willing to trade him.
The Bears need Inman much more than the Chargers do, obviously. They have nothing at receiver because of the Cameron Meredith and Kevin White injuries. Inman can step in and become a reliable target for Mitchell Trubisky once he learns the offense.
I like this move for the Bears, as Inman is a big target (6-3, 205) with solid ability. Chicago won't be able to get away with throwing just seven passes, so giving Trubisky a viable receiver to throw to was a nice decision. As for the Chargers, they weren't using Inman anyway, so it made sense to deal him.
Cardinals acquire RB Adrian Peterson from Saints for conditional draft pick
I'm surprised any team wanted Adrian Peterson at this point, but I guess the Cardinals were desperate enough to pull the trigger. Chris Johnson was starting for them, after all, and Peterson can't possibly be worse.
That said, Peterson is not going to be a substantial upgrade. He's averaged three yards per carry behind a New Orleans offensive line that is superior to Arizona's. Peterson has also had the luxury of playing with Drew Brees. Opposing defenses actually had to respect Brees. They aren't doing that with Palmer, who is decrepit.
Whatever the Cardinals gave up for Peterson, it's not worth it. They are horrible and won't compete for a playoff spot anyway. Their offensive line is atrocious and won't be able to open any holes for Peterson. The Saints, meanwhile, won this trade, even if they don't get anything. Letting Peterson go is addition by subtraction, as it'll allow Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to be on the field more often.
Dolphins acquire LB Stephone Anthony from Saints for undisclosed draft pick
Assuming that this undisclosed draft pick is a conditional late-rounder, I like what the Dolphins did with this trade. They're desperate for a linebacker in the wake of Raekwon McMillan's injury and Lawrence Timmons' personal problems, so why not acquire Anthony? He was a first-round pick in 2015, after all. Sure, he hasn't done much in the NFL, but he has potential. Plus, the Saints have a poor coaching staff, so perhaps that's the reason why Anthony hasn't been able to develop. It'll be interesting to see if the Dolphins can make something out of him.
Either way, the Dolphins aren't taking a risk, so I like the move. The Saints, meanwhile, are getting something for a player they haven't been using, so I guess that's a positive as well.
Cowboys acquire DE Jayrone Elliott from Packers for conditional 7th-round pick
The Cowboys need defensive depth for sure, and Jayrone Elliott can provide that. Elliott has logged four sacks over the past two years for the Packers. Plus, he improves special teams, as that will be his primary role.
I think this makes sense for Dallas, as a conditional seventh-round pick is effectively nothing. I'd say the Cowboys won this trade, as I think the Packers were better off keeping Elliott if they're just getting a conditional seventh in return. Dealing him, however, is not a big deal.
Steelers acquire S J.J. Wilcox, 2019 7th-round pick from Buccaneers for 2018 6th-round pick
This seems like a decent deal for both teams, though I'd say Pittsburgh is the clear winner. The Steelers needed a safety to upgrade the spot next to Michael Mitchell. Sean Davis is a young player with upside, but he struggled last year. J.J. Wilcox is coming off a career year after a mediocre start. He's only 26, so he should have a bright future ahead of him, though he still has a lot to prove.
As for the Buccaneers, they just signed T.J. Ward away from the Broncos, so they could afford to deal Wilcox. They're not getting much, moving up a round in the draft across two years. However, it's better than getting nothing and keeping Wilcox on the bench.
Patriots acquire DE Cassius Marsh from Seahawks for 5th- and 7th-round picks
Cassius Marsh was chosen in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he has recorded only three sacks in his career, all of which came in 2016. He has only been a rotational player, as he happens to be a liability against the run.
The Patriots were in desperate need of edge-rushing help, especially after losing Derek Rivers to a season-ending injury and then letting go of Kony Ealy. Marsh should help a bit, but he'll be more impactful on special teams. Getting him for two third-day selections seems like a fine move, but I would've liked it more if it were for sixth- and seventh-rounders.
I think the Seahawks won this deal by a bit. They didn't need Marsh anymore after bolstering their front with Sheldon Richardson, so getting a viable asset in a fifth-round pick for Marsh is a nice transaction.
Patriots acquire WR Phillip Dorsett from Colts for QB Jacoby Brissett
Phillip Dorsett had been viewed as a colossal bust prior to this preseason. Chosen in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Dorsett logged 18 and 33 receptions in his two NFL seasons. He hasn't been able to take advantage of opportunities when players ahead of him on the depth chart suffered injuries. This happened against the Chiefs in Week 8, yet all Dorsett did was log five receptions for 33 yards.
However, Dorsett looked functional in Indianapolis' preseason games, which enhanced his trade value. He's only a 24-year-old, third-year player, so perhaps he's just a late bloomer. If so, the Patriots could be obtaining a potential, legitimate offensive threat for the future.
As for Jacoby Brissett, he looked good in one of his two starts last year when he and the Patriots shut out the Texans. He also thrived in Thursday's preseason game against the Giants. However, we've seen a history of Bill Belichick and his staff getting the most out of quarterbacks. Then, once those signal-callers go elsewhere, they accomplish nothing. Matt Cassel and Ryan Mallett come to mind, so Brissett could be next.
Still, I don't mind the Colts making this move. Andrew Luck could miss a chunk of the 2017 season, and Indianapolis needs a better plan than Scott Tolzien. Brissett should be better than Tolzien once he learns the offense.
Rams acquire TE Derek Carrier from Redskins for 2018 7th-round pick
This deal makes sense for both sides. Derek Carrier played for Rams head coach Sean McVay in the past, so he can just slide in with his new team without having to learn the offense at all. Carrier won't contribute as a receiver, but the Rams won't need him to do that because of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Instead, he'll serve as a decent blocker.
The Redskins, meanwhile, didn't need another tight end with Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul and Jeremy Sprinkle on the roster. They were likely to cut Carrier, so getting a seventh-round pick is nice.
Cowboys acquire CB Bene Benwikere from Bengals for conditional late-round draft pick
Bene Benwikere once seemed like he would develop into a solid starter in the NFL. As a fifth-round rookie in 2014, he played well for the Panthers. It's unclear what happened to him, however, as he was frequently torched the past couple of years. The Panthers cut him during the 2016 campaign, and he's been on numerous teams since. His latest stop will be Dallas, as the Cowboys acquired him from Cincinnati for a conditional late-round selection.
It's possible that the Cowboys could get Benwikere back to playing at a steady level, and if so, this will turn out to be a major steal. If Dallas can't, which is the most likely scenario, the team probably won't surrender anything for Benwikere, so this seems like a good deal. The Cowboys needed to do something like this, given their issues in the secondary.
Browns acquire WR Sammie Coates, 2019 7th-round pick from Steelers for 2018 6th-round pick
Sammie Coates is an explosive athlete who was seen as a boom-or-bust prospect coming out of Auburn. The Steelers took a shot on him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but he hasn't lived up to his potential. Coates caught 22 passes in two years, as he dropped numerous passes and missed 12 games in that span because of injury. He appears to be a bust.
That said, I don't dislike this trade for the Browns. They need talent, and Coates has plenty of it. He's only 24, so he still has a lot of time to live up to his ability. For the price of exchanging late-round selections, I'd say it's worth it. This also makes sense for the Steelers, who had a log jam at wideout. This seems like an even deal for both teams.
Patriots acquire DE/DT ST Johnson Bademosi from Lions for 2019 6th-round pick
There have been several minor trades made today, so let's go through them quickly. Johnson Bademosi is a terrific special-teams player. He's also just 27, so it's not like he's going to become worse in that regard anytime soon.
This is a nice move by the Patriots to strengthen their special teams. The Lions are getting a 2019 sixth-rounder in return, but it doesn't seem worth it to deal Bademosi because he's very good at what he does. Getting compensation is nice, but the Lions just made themselves worse for 2017 in exchange for something that won't improve the roster until at least 2019.
Seahawks acquire DE/DT Sheldon Richardson from Jets for WR Jermaine Kearse and a 2nd-round pick
If I worked for an NFC West team not named the Seahawks, I would be extremely furious that Seattle was able to trade with the tanking Jets. The Seahawks have improved markedly as a result of this deal.
Sheldon Richardson is an extremely talented defensive lineman. He's also young, too, as he's just 26. Richardson has been playing out of position in recent years because of the presence of Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, but he's three years removed from registering eight sacks, a high number for a player at his position. He also happens to be terrific versus the run. This is a huge acquisition for the Seahawks, as their front seven is now packed with numerous Pro Bowl-caliber players. The only way this would've been better is if Seattle were able to obtain an equally talented offensive lineman, but the fans can't complain, as Richardson still improves the roster.
As for the Jets, it really depends on what this undisclosed draft compensation is. If it's a second- or third-round pick, as speculated, it's not a bad deal for them because they're rebuilding. Having an extra second-day selection in a terrific draft class - check my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here - is a huge boon for the future. They also needed a receiver, and while Jermaine Kearse isn't anything special, he's a steady guy who won't embarrass himself.
The Jets lost this trade, but given their situation, pulling the trigger on this was a logical decision.
Update: The Jets are definitely getting a second-round pick (plus, they're swapping sevenths), so I feel comfortable bumping this up from a B- to a "B" for the Jets. I still think the Seahawks deserve an "A" for this, however.
Titans acquire DE David King from Chiefs for conditional 7th-round pick
Unlike some of the trades made today, this deal won't have any sort of impact on the win and loss totals in the NFL. David King is a fringe NFL player who has barely played since being chosen in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
This deal makes sense for depth, as the Titans obtained a rotational player. He may not even play. I assume snaps have to do with the conditional part of this trade, so Tennessee may not have to give anything up. It's an even, meaningless trade as a result.
Vikings acquire CB Tramaine Brock from Seahawks for 7th-round pick
I gave the Seahawks an "A" grade for signing Tramaine Brock. It was a good deal; he was released earlier in the offseason because of domestic violence charges. Brock has since been cleared, so there aren't any ramifications for having him on the roster.
Brock provided great value as a signing, so it's strange that they'd just give him away for a seventh-round pick. The Seahawks appear to love both Shaq Griffin and Pierre Desir. That's the only thing that would explain it, but keeping Brock on the roster seems like it would have been the better move.
I'd easily give the Vikings the win for this trade. Trae Waynes has struggled, so Brock can challenge him and replace the departed Captain Munnerlyn. Getting Brock for just a seventh-round choice is a steal.
Seahawks acquire CB Justin Coleman from Patriots for late-round pick
Here's what Charlie Campbell wrote about Justin Coleman ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft: "Late in the process, a lot of teams have shown interest in Coleman. He is a sleeper who could end up being a third-day gem. Coleman was a 4-year contributor for the Volunteers who broke into the starting lineup as a freshman."
It's not a surprise that the Seahawks wanted to acquire Coleman, as he has some talent. He's been better as a tackler than a cover man thus far in his career, but he has some potential. It's a decent move to obtain him for a late-round pick. I also don't fault the Patriots for dealing Coleman, as they have lots of talent at the position. This is a deal that makes sense for both sides.
Falcons acquire OT/G Ty Sambrailo from Broncos for 5th-round pick
And yet another early-round offensive lineman has been dealt. Ty Sambrailo wasn't a first-round pick like Greg Robinson, Cameron Erving or Laken Tomlinson, but he was chosen in the second frame of the 2015 NFL Draft. Sambrailo has been an utter failure thus far, failing to see the field very often for the Broncos, who have endured major offensive tackle issues over the past couple of seasons. When Sambrailo has played, he's been worse than a turnstile.
I don't have much hope for Sambrailo succeeding in Atlanta. The Falcons have a strong blocking unit, save for right guard. Perhaps Sambrailo can be coached up and inserted into that spot. I don't think it's out of the question that he could provide the team with an upgrade there, though it's highly unlikely.
Though the Falcons are just taking a shot on a former second-round pick by only giving up a selection in the fifth frame, I think the Broncos won this deal. Sambrailo was so useless that he was unlikely to make the final roster, so it's great that John Elway was able to obtain something for him.
49ers acquire G Laken Tomlinson from Lions for 2019 5th-round pick
We've seen several first-round offensive linemen traded this offseason, and Laken Tomlinson is the latest player to join that exclusive club. Tomlinson, chosen in the opening frame of the 2015 NFL Draft, has been an utter failure thus far. In fact, he was projected not to survive final cuts.
The fact that the Lions obtained something for a player they had no intention of keeping makes them the winners of this deal. They effective obtained a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for free, which was a good move by their front office.
As for the 49ers, they're desperate for offensive line help, so I can understand why they would make this trade. However, we've just seen the Lions revitalize Greg Robinson's career. If the Lions could transform Robinson from a colossal bust to a decent blocker, doesn't it speak volumes that they couldn't get anything out of Tomlinson? We'll see if Tomlinson can turn his career around, but I have my doubts.
Chiefs acquire OT/C Cameron Erving from Browns for 5th-round pick
The Chiefs weren't one of the teams I highlighted that could trade for Cameron Erving, as they didn't have a need at center or right tackle. However, Erving was acquired to serve as a versatile backup. He can play four of the five positions up front. He can't play those positions well, but he can at least be penciled into the lineup at four spots.
Erving has been a complete failure thus far as a former first-round pick, routinely whiffing on blocks and getting called for penalties. However, he does have talent, so motivation has been an issue. Perhaps being with a winning organization will help him make something out of his career. We've seen it with Greg Robinson, who has improved in Detroit after floundering with the Rams. For a fifth-round pick, why not take a chance on him?
As for the Browns, it's nice that they got at least something for Erving. I get the sense that they were going to dump Erving during final cuts, so it's great that they received a fifth-round pick for him.
Steelers acquire TE Vance McDonald, 5th-round pick from 49ers for 4th-round pick
The Steelers seemed like they had their answer at tight end when Ladarius Green dominated the Giants during a regular-season victory last year. Unfortunately, Green had major concussion issues he couldn't overcome, and once all three first-round tight ends - O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, David Njoku - were off the board by the time Pittsburgh was on the clock during the 2017 NFL Draft, it was apparent that the Steelers had to trade for someone if they wanted to improve upon Jesse James in the passing game.
Vance McDonald turned out to be the answer. San Francisco's old regime gave McDonald a 5-year, $35 million contract based on his potential, but he never lived up to it. However, McDonald, a 2013 second-round pick, has never played with a competent quarterback. Now, he'll have a future Hall of Famer throwing the ball to him, and I have to think Ben Roethlisberger will make good use of McDonald's talents. Better yet, the Steelers are surrendering next to nothing for McDonald. Pittsburgh will be selecting at the end of the fourth round, while San Francisco will be picking atop the next frame. Thus, the difference between the two selections will be a 3-5 choices, plus however many compensatory picks there are the end of Round 4.
The Steelers definitely won this trade. As for the 49ers, it didn't sound like they wanted to keep McDonald around at his price, so he likely was going to be a final cut. Moving up 6-12 spots in the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft is better than nothing.
Patriots acquire LB Marquis Flowers from Bengals for conditional 7th-round pick
This is a minor trade that seems to make sense for both teams. The Patriots like to collect mix-and-match linebackers they can use depending on the weekly matchup, so Marquis Flowers will provide depth and an option in that regard. He'll primarily serve as a boost on special teams. For a conditional seventh-round pick, he seems worth it.
As for the Bengals, they're deep at linebacker, so they probably figured they weren't going to have Flowers make the final 53-man roster. So, getting something for Flowers is a solid move.
Saints acquire LS Jon Dorenbos from Eagles for 7th-round pick
Jon Dorenbos has been a professional long-snapper in Philadelphia since 2006. He's also a magician, as he reached the finals of America's Got Talent a year ago. Now, general manager Howie Roseman can say that he's a magician as well, as he obtained a draft pick for a long-snapper.
There are two ways to look at this trade. On one hand, Dorenbos has been with the Eagles forever. Not only has he been terrific at his job, but he's also served as a great guy in the locker room for a long time. To trade him for a seventh-round pick seems callous. Is a seventh-round pick really worth getting rid of someone who has provided so many great years of service? On the other hand, getting any sort of compensation for a long-snapper has to be considered a win. The Eagles must have faith in replacement Rick Lovato to pull the trigger on this, so from a pure value perspective, the Eagles have won this trade.
As for the Saints, I don't know if it's worth giving up an asset, even if it's a seventh-rounder, for a 37-year-old long-snapper. I don't think it's a horrible trade, however, as they do improve at the position.
Chiefs acquire ILB Reggie Ragland from Bills for 2019 4th-round pick
The Bills continue to dump players acquired by the previous regime. This time, Reggie Ragland was dealt to the Chiefs. Ragland was chosen in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but never played a single down for Buffalo because of a torn ACL.
I think this trade makes sense for both sides. The Bills are tanking, and acquiring as many picks as possible in the next couple of drafts. While it would normally be logical to keep a young player around for the rebuilding process - Ragland turns 24 in September - he just wasn't a good fit for Sean McDermott's scheme. Ragland wasn't practicing or playing with the starters. In fact, he was demoted to the third-team defense in August.
However, he seems like he'd be a better fit for Kansas City's 3-4 scheme. The Chiefs also need linebacker help, as Derrick Johnson is coming off a torn Achilles. It's unclear if Ragland is over his own injury, but Kansas City will at least have a possible successor for Johnson whom defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can develop.
Jets acquire S Terrence Brooks from Eagles for CB Dexter McDougle
Everyone, stop your fantasy drafts right now! A big trade has been made, so you might want to restart all of your drafts!
This trade obviously isn't a big deal at all. Terrence Brooks is a pedestrian special-teams player, while Dexter McDougle is an oft-injured cornerback. McDougle has enjoyed a solid training camp, so the Eagles could get something out of him, depth-wise. I think Philadelphia won this deal, as I'd rather have the upside than a mediocre special-teamer. Still, this trade probably won't matter at all, as the most likely scenario is that neither player will do much for his team.
Seahawks acquire T/G Matt Tobin, 7th-round pick from Eagles for 5th-round pick
As a Hall of Fame running back once said, desperate times call for desperate measurements. The Seahawks measured the talent on their offensive line in the wake of George Fant's injury and determined that they had to be in desperation mode. Thus, they acquired Matt Tobin from the Eagles for a swap of third-day picks.
Tobin is not any sort of viable solution. He has never played well in his career. He's still somewhat young (27) and could be coached up, but his glaring lack of pass-protection skills would make it difficult for him to keep a plastic bag blowing in the wind from reaching the backfield. I feel like the Seahawks should've been able to do something better, even though I won't punish them too much because they aren't giving up a substantial amount.
The Eagles, however, won this trade quite easily. I don't know if Tobin would've even made their 53-man roster, so dealing a practice squad-caliber player to be able to move up two rounds is a terrific move.
Bills acquire WR Jordan Matthews, 3rd-round pick from Eagles for CB Ronald Darby
When I saw that Sammy Watkins was traded, I tweeted out a link to the NFL Free Agent Wide Receiver Rankings for a potential replacement. Little did I know that Buffalo also dealt for Jordan Matthews.
Matthews is not an adequate replacement for Watkins. The latter is a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the NFL when healthy. Matthews is an above-average No. 2 and a solid slot option. He's definitely not a bad player to have in an offense, but he's the Bills' top wideout right now unless Zay Jones explodes as a rookie. As the Eagles learned last year, Matthews cannot be a No. 1.
That said, the Bills did not lose this trade by nearly as much as they did in the Watkins swap. Acquiring a third-round pick and Matthews for Ronald Darby isn't a bad deal. The 2018 NFL Draft class is loaded - check out the 2018 NFL Mock Draft - so it's nice that Buffalo has two selections in each of the first three rounds.
I still think the Eagles won this trade, however. They were going to get rid of Matthews one way or another, so effectively trading a third-round pick for Ronald Darby is a great move. Darby, a 2015 second-round pick, had an excellent rookie campaign. He struggled last year because of a lingering hamstring injury, but he has the talent to rebound. The Eagles were desperate for a cornerback, and Darby provides a major upgrade. With Sidney Jones coming back in 2018, Philadelphia could have an excellent cornerback duo next year.
Rams acquire WR Sammy Watkins, 6th-round pick from Bills for CB E.J. Gaines, 2nd-round pick
Wow, where did this come from!? Jordan Matthews was rumored to be available via trade, but not Sammy Watkins. Buffalo's star receiver was outstanding in last night's preseason game versus the Vikings, appearing healthy for the first time in a while. The Bills apparently didn't care, dealing him to the Rams for an exchange of draft picks and cornerback E.J. Gaines.
I suppose this is a sign that the Bills are tanking. Aside from LeSean McCoy, Watkins was the only proven play-maker they had on offense. Zay Jones is a mere rookie, while Anquan Boldin is on his last legs. They acquired Jordan Matthews, but he's a mediocre talent. Watkins, when healthy, gave the Bills a legitimate downfield threat, but they don't have that anymore unless Jones proves himself as a rookie.
I can't give the Bills a good grade for this trade. Gaines has some promise, but he struggled immensely last year because he was injured. He could rebound - he was halfway decent as a rookie in 2014, but then missed all of 2015 - but that's not something the Bills can count on. Getting a second-round pick for their sixth isn't enough. This is a solid move if the Bills plan to tank, but if that's the case, why did they re-sign Tyrod Taylor?
As for the Rams, this was an outstanding move for them. They lacked a No. 1 wideout - Robert Woods and Tavon Austin were battling for that distinction - but now Jared Goof has a lethal target at his disposal. Sure, Watkins has injury concerns, but he's absolutely worth it based on what the Rams gave up for him. Going from a second to a sixth and trading Gaines is not a big deal if it means adding a Pro Bowl talent. The Rams won this trade by a long shot.
Chiefs acquire LB Kevin Pierre-Louis from Seahawks for LB D.J. Alexander
I initially wasn't going to grade this trade, but I received multiple requests for it, so here I am. The reason I was reluctant to grade this deal is because both teams are receiving equal, yet partly insignificant assets.
When I say that Kevin Pierre-Louis and D.J. Alexander are the same player, I'm not exaggerating. Neither is a factor defensively, yet both are stellar on special teams. They're both 25, and they both earn somewhere between $600,000 and $700,000. I'm not even sure why the Chiefs and Seahawks made this deal. It's like when two owners in your fantasy league trade a running back for another running back, and you wonder, "Why the hell are they doing this deal?"
Chargers acquire QB Cardale Jones from Bills for conditional 7th-round pick
A couple of days ago, I commended the Chargers for working out Robert Griffin, a young quarterback who could, at the very minimum, serve as an upgrade over pedestrian No. 2 quarterback Kellen Clemens. The upside was developing Griffin to be the quarterback of the future. Perhaps that was far-fetched, but it was a possibility at the very least.
This trade is similar to the Griffin signing, except the Chargers are going younger for more upside but less certainty this year. It's unclear if Jones can unseat Clemens this year, but he's only 24, and with some great coaching, perhaps he can compete to be Philip Rivers' successor in a few years. It probably won't work that way, but the Chargers aren't really taking a risk by giving up just a seventh-round pick.
As for the Bills, this trade isn't surprising, given that they selected Nathan Peterman in the middle rounds this past April. Buffalo should've gotten a bit more for Jones; he was a fourth-round choice in 2016 and flashed a bit in the preseason. However, he was part of the old regime, so dealing him made sense.
Broncos acquire G Allen Barbre from Eagles for conditional 2019 late-round pick
It was initially reported that the Eagles released Allen Barbre, but the Broncos weren't willing to risk losing him to another team on the open market. They ponied up by offering a conditional late-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft to acquire the 33-year-old guard.
This seems like a great move for Denver. The team spent a first-round choice on tackle Garett Bolles and signed Ronald Leary, but still had a major hole at left guard. Barbre, who was once a journeyman blocker, has worked hard and evolved into a capable starter. He'll be a definite upgrade for the Broncos, so it was a terrific decision by John Elway to acquire him, surrendering just a late-round conditional selection.
As for the Eagles, it's nice that they were able to obtain something for Barbre, considering that they were willing to release him. However, I still disagree with the decision to part ways with Barbre, so Denver is the clear winner of this trade.
Lions acquire OT Greg Robinson from Rams for 6th-round pick
It's amazing to think that Greg Robinson was once the second-overall pick in the NFL Draft. Robinson was seen as raw, but incredibly talented coming out of Auburn. Unfortunately, he has never developed. He's been awful in every facet for the Rams. They gave him numerous chances, and he has failed every time. He was recently beaten out at right tackle by someone named Jamon Brown, and there was some speculation that he would be released. Instead, he was dealt to the Lions.
There's a good chance Robinson won't make Detroit's final roster, so the front office may have just flushed a sixth-round pick down the toilet. However, I can't exactly blame the Lions for taking a shot on Robinson either. They won't have stud left tackle Taylor Decker for most, if not the entire year. They need to find a capable replacement. Robinson is highly unlikely to be capable in any sense of the word, but he at least has potential.
I won't give the Lions a poor grade for this deal because I understand where they're coming from. They're using a sixth-round pick in order to hit a home run. Unfortunately, this home run would be like a AAA player facing Roger Clemens in his prime, considering how horrendous Robinson has been in his career thus far. The Rams, meanwhile, deserve the higher grade, as they're at least getting something for a terrible player they were going to cut.
Browns acquire S Calvin Pryor from Jets for LB Demario Davis
The Browns and Jets have made a one-for-one swap on Thursday, exchanging defensive players. Both Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis have been disappointments in their careers, but this trade makes sense for both teams.
Cleveland needed a safety to start next to Jabrill Peppers. Pryor may not beat out the other safeties on the roster, but he'll have a shot. He was a first-round pick in 2014, so he at least has potential, despite the horrible start to his career. Davis, meanwhile, is back with the Jets after spending one season with the Browns. The Jets needed depth behind David Harris and Darron Lee, and Davis seems like he could be a passable third inside linebacker.
This trade seems about even, but I'm going to give the Browns a slight edge. Pryor is younger and has more potential than Davis. He's been terrible as a pro thus far, but he could turn things around and become a solid player in the NFL. It probably won't happen, but I can envision a scenario in which it does.
Raiders acquire RB Marshawn Lynch, 2018 6th-rounder from Seahawks for 2018 5th-round pick
Beast Mode is headed for Oakland. The Raiders acquired Marshawn Lynch for a swap of third-day selections in 2018, effectively giving up almost nothing to acquire the former Seattle runner.
If you're surprised that the Seahawks are receiving so little for Lynch, don't be. They weren't expected to really obtain anything of substance, as this trade was just a formality. Lynch was still under contract with Seattle and wasn't going to play for them, so the Seahawks did well just to receive anything.
As for the Raiders, it's unknown what they're getting with Lynch. He sat out all of 2016 after struggling the year before, failing to even average four yards per carry. Lynch looked done and worn out. Perhaps his sabbatical will give him fresh legs, and the Raiders were apparently fine with his conditioning; otherwise, they wouldn't have signed him. Lynch could do well in Oakland, as the Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Then again, he turned 31 this week, so no one should be surprised if we don't see the Beast Mode of old in 2017.
Overall, I like this move for Oakland. The Raiders needed a running back, and they're at least taking a chance on someone who was one of the best players at his position a few years ago. If Lynch struggles, the Raiders haven't really lost anything, so this is all upside.
Update: Having seen Lynch's contract, I'm downgrading this deal from an A- to a "B." Lynch could work out very well for the Raiders, but paying him $4.5 million per season seems like a lot for a 31-year-old running back who missed all of 2016 and struggled mightily the season prior to that. The Raiders overpaid, but not egregiously, so I have to drop their grade.
Patriots acquire RB Mike Gillislee from Bills for 5th-round pick
This isn't technically a trade, as the Patriots signed restricted free agent Mike Gillislee to a 2-year, $6.4 million offer sheet a week ago. The Bills had five days to match, but opted not to do so. Gillislee, as a result, is now a Patriot. New England, in turn, had to surrender a fifth-round pick to Buffalo.
I like this move for the Patriots. They wanted another running back despite signing Rex Burkhead, and Gillislee is likely better than anyone they could get in the fifth round. Gillislee is just 26, and he averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts in 2016, scoring nine touchdowns in the process. Gillislee can take LeGarrette Blount's role, as Blount apparently was asking for more money than New England was willing to pay him. It shouldn't surprise anyone if Gillislee reaches the end zone 10-plus times in 2017.
As for the Bills, this all could've been avoided had they given Gillislee a second-round tender. Instead, they'll likely be punished for this move in their games versus New England. Sure, they're getting a fifth-rounder (No. 163 overall) back in return, but odds are that they won't be able to land a player who makes the roster with that selection.
Eagles acquire DT Timmy Jernigan, third-round pick (No. 99) from Ravens for third-round pick (No. 74)
Timmy Jernigan played extremely well as a second-round rookie in 2014. His play has regressed each year since, but wasn't a bad player by any means this past season. Jernigan notched five sacks and performed well when trying to stop the run. Still, the Ravens were frustrated by his declining performance, and Jernigan was upset about his reduced snaps, prompting this trade.
I love this move for the Eagles. They're moving down 25 spots in the third round, which isn't a huge deal considering that some of the players they're targeting in that particular round could be there at 99. Philadelphia needed defensive tackle help in the wake of Bennie Logan's departure, and Jernigan figures to fit in nicely. Jernigan is just 24, so he could turn things around and develop into a major asset for the Eagles.
The Ravens probably shouldn't have given up on Jernigan. He still has so much potential, so moving up 25 spots in the third round doesn't seem all that exciting. It's at least something though, so if Baltimore was considering cutting Jernigan, at least it got something for him.
49ers acquire C Jeremy Zuttah, 6th-rounder from Ravens for 6th-round pick
It was initially reported that the Ravens were going to cut Jeremy Zuttah, but the 49ers called in right away and asked if they could trade for him. Something like this happened earlier in the offseason when the Jaguars and Dolphins orchestrated a trade involving Branden Albert, so this sort of action is definitely not unheard of.
I like this trade for both teams. The 49ers couldn't count on courting Zuttah, so they've opted to slide down 12 spots in the sixth round to make sure they can obtain the 31-year-old. Despite being in his 30s, Zuttah is still performing on a high level. Centers typically play well into their mid-30s, so the 49ers don't need to worry about any sort of regression. He'll be a big upgrade over Daniel Kilgore, providing a much-needed boost for San Francisco's poor offensive line. That all sounds great, especially considering the price tag. Twelve spots in the sixth round is irrelevant.
As for the Ravens, they were going to release Zuttah anyway, so why not obtain something for him? Even if that something is moving up 12 spots in the sixth frame, it's at least something.
Patriots acquire WR Brandin Cooks, 4th-rounder from Saints for 1st- and 3rd-round picks
My apologies for being slow with these grades Friday evening. I just got home from a wedding rehearsal dinner (my fiancee's sister is getting married tomorrow), and I'll get to all of the grades shortly.
I have to say that despite it being speculated for days now, I'm still shocked that this deal went through. It's kind of crazy that the Patriots will have Brandin Cooks in their offense. I didn't even think they'd be in the market for a receiver because they had Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and maybe Michael Floyd on the roster (plus Rob Gronkowski), but Bill Belichick apparently thought differently.
It's going to be fun to watch Tom Brady have a new weapon like Cooks. He hasn't had a dynamic, downfield threat like Cooks since Randy Moss. It might be instinctive to point out that Cooks could decline because he won't be playing with Drew Brees anymore, until you remember that he'll now be paired with Brady, and there theoretically shouldn't be a drop-off. The price is a bit steep for my blood, but at least New England didn't have to surrender Malcolm Butler.
I like the move for the Patriots, but I think the Saints are the winners of this deal. Cooks made it known that he didn't want to be on the roster anymore, and the Saints have two strong receivers without him in Michael Thomas and Willie Snead. New Orleans now has two first-round selections in a very deep draft, so they can use those picks to improve their woeful defense.
Patriots acquire DE Kony Ealy, 3rd-rounder from Panthers for 2nd-round pick
The Patriots are involved in their second blockbuster trade of the offseason. They acquired Dwayne Allen from the Colts a few days ago, and now they've obtained a promising player on the other side of the ball.
Kony Ealy had a tremendous performance in the Super Bowl loss against the Broncos, and he was expected to have a huge 2016 campaign. That didn't happen, however. He recorded five sacks and happened to be a liability in run support. The Panthers were apparently so disappointed with him that they were willing to deal him to New England for a swap of second-day selections.
That said, there's definitely upside for the Patriots. Ealy was a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he won't turn 26 until December. We've seen him play lights out on the biggest stage in football, so he's definitely capable of thriving in the NFL. Perhaps he'll do that under Bill Belichick's excellent tutelage. If so, Ealy would fill a huge need at defensive end, replacing Chris Long. If not, then New England sacrificed only eight draft spots, which is probably meaningless.
For the Panthers, it's a bit odd that they're giving up on Ealy so quickly. They're moving up from the beginning of the third round to the bottom of the second frame, which just doesn't seem worth it. Why not give Ealy another shot?
Dolphins acquire DE William Hayes, 7th-rounder from Rams for 6th-round pick
I don't understand what the Rams are doing. They spent countless millions on Robert Woods on Thursday, and then they sent William Hayes packing to Miami for almost nothing Friday morning. The Rams were apparently going to cut Hayes, so they at least got something for him. That part is at least logical. What doesn't make sense is why they'd want to release Hayes in the first place.
Hayes is a solid rotational defensive end. He can play about half the snaps and do everything pretty decently. He has recorded 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons and hasn't been a liability in run support. He's a nice player to have on the defensive line, so I don't understand why the Rams were so desperate to get rid of him.
I'm sure the Dolphins don't get it either, since, you know, they traded for him. As mentioned, the Dolphins are giving up almost nothing. They're moving down from the sixth to the seventh round, which is almost meaningless. They seem like the clear-cut winners of this trade.
Browns acquire QB Brock Osweiler, 2018 2nd-round pick, 2017 6th-round pick for 2017 4th-round pick
Wow, I don't ever recall seeing anything like this in the NFL. It happens all the time in the NBA, where one team sends a highly paid player and a draft pick to another franchise for cap relief, but this doesn't happen in football. It's prevalent in basketball because of guaranteed contracts, but the Texans effectively had to pay $16 million to Osweiler no matter what. Well, not anymore. They're completely off the hook.
I actually think this is a fantastic trade for both teams. For the Texans, they now have the cap space to either sign or trade for Tony Romo. Osweiler was a complete failure, and they already admitted that they made a mistake by benching him in favor of Tom Savage. I like that they're getting rid of him and just admitting that he's a sunk cost. That's the smart thing to do rather than to stubbornly keep him around. Sure, it has cost them a second-round pick in 2018, but if that means getting Romo and competing for the Super Bowl this year, then it's worth it.
As for the Browns, they had the most cap space in the NFL entering free agency, so they can afford to have Osweiler hang out for a year for $16 million. And for a second-round pick in a loaded 2018 draft class? Why not? On top of that, perhaps the Browns will be able to develop Osweiler. He was once considered a promising quarterback, and he's only 26. Perhaps he'll amount to something. And if not, well, the Browns can just cut him next spring and not worry about it.
Patriots acquire TE Dwayne Allen, 6th-round pick from Colts for 4th-round pick
I have no idea what's going on with the free-agency tight end market. It makes absolutely no sense. The Redskins are giving Vernon Davis $5 million per year. The Colts have paid Jack Doyle more than $6 million per year. And the Cardinals handed the pedestrian Jermaine Gresham $7 million per year. These contracts would be awful in a vacuum, and that's not even taking into account the incredible 2017 NFL Draft Tight End Prospects in this class. With so many great tight ends available, there's absolutely no reason for any team to overpay for sub-par talents like Gresham, Doyle and Davis.
While smart teams that need a tight end will draft one, the Patriots did something equally intelligent. They sent what's reported to be a late-round pick to the Colts for Dwayne Allen. Indianapolis signed Allen to a $29.4 million contract a year ago, but New England will only be on the hook for $2.5 million in 2017 and $4.5 million in 2018. Yes, Allen will be earning less than the three aforementioned tight ends, and it could be argued that he's better than all of them!
The one concern with Allen is that he's injury-prone. That'll keep New England from earning an "A" grade, but I still think they won this trade if all they're giving up is a late-round selection. They needed a replacement for Martellus Bennett, who will be set to earn a ton of money based on the other tight end contracts. The Colts, meanwhile, can't be graded harshly for getting a selection for Allen, given that they just overpaid for Doyle. It makes sense for them to get rid of Allen because of that contract, but this could've been avoided had they not overpaid Doyle.
Update: The compensation is Allen and a sixth for a fourth-round pick. That's not bad at all for the Patriots, as they obviously have a late selection in the fourth frame, so moving down a round-and-a-half for a decent tight end is pretty solid. The Colts, meanwhile, will save $3 million in cap space, but that's not important because they were in the top 10 in cap space entering this week.
Dolphins acquire TE Julius Thomas from Jaguars for 2017 late-round pick
So, why couldn't the Dolphins and Jaguars just make one trade that involved sending Julius Thomas in exchange for Branden Albert? Why construct two separate deals? Do they love paperwork, or something?
This trade is pretty much like the other swap, as one team is acquiring an overpaid underachiever for almost no compensation. The only difference in this situation is that Julius Thomas is still young - he's 28, while Albert is 32 - so he has a better chance of panning out in his new home.
That said, it'll take some work. Thomas has good talent, but he's never been productive without Peyton Manning. He's also very injury-prone. He's never played a full season, missing seven of 32 possible games as a Jaguar. He potentially fills a big need for the Dolphins, but he could very easily flop.
I'm willing to grade the Dolphins slightly better than I did the Jaguars, as Thomas has more potential. Plus, Miami didn't surrender much and had $42.4 million in cap space to pay Thomas, so I won't be giving its front office a bad grade for this trade.
Jaguars acquire OT Branden Albert from Dolphins for conditional 2018 late-round pick
It was reported last week that the Dolphins were going to cut Branden Albert. They then rescinded that transaction once they learned that a team was interested in trading for him. Of course, that was the Jaguars, who were rumored to be willing to deal Julius Thomas for him. Thomas wasn't involved in this transaction, however, as Jacksonville surrendered a conditional late-round pick in 2018 for Albert.
The Dolphins have to be considered the winners of this trade at the moment. They were going to release Albert for nothing, yet the Jaguars were willing to give them compensation for him. A 2018 late-rounder isn't much, but at least it's something.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, is getting a left tackle, which it sorely needs. The team just cut Kelvin Beachum, who was damaged goods. The problem is that Albert is damaged goods as well. Albert hasn't played a full season since 2011, missing 13 games in the past three years. Albert struggled mightily in 2016, as he was never healthy. He could rebound next season, but he's now 32 and may never be the same as he once was.
The Jaguars now have to pay Albert's contract, as he counts $7.2 million against the cap. Jacksonville had more than $67.2 million in cap space, so that's not an issue. My problem is the Jaguars not really changing anything. They couldn't count on Beachum, and they now are in the same exact situation with Albert. The only thing that's different is that they possibly don't have a late-round pick in 2018. That's not the worst thing to surrender, and I'm not going to grade the Jaguars too harshly, but it's difficult to understand the thought process, given that the Dolphins were so willing to cut ties with the player Jacksonville just acquired.