The 2022 NFL offseason was highlighted by a number of high-profile trades, with the wide receiver position playing a starring role.
Three of the most explosive playmakers in football — Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown — were moved in just over a month’s time last spring. Interesting that two of those trades involved the teams that would go on to face off in Super Bowl LVII. The third? Well, Adams’ relocation from Green Bay to Las Vegas didn’t exactly work out as planned for either squad, as the Packers and Raiders both missed the playoffs. But hey, maybe those two teams will strike another deal this offseason, with Aaron Rodgers following in Davante’s footsteps!
At the moment, though, with Rodgers currently contemplating life in a den of darkness, who knows what’s next on that front? In the meantime, I’d like to spotlight five other notable players who should be dealt this offseason. And what do you know? I have two WRs right off the bat — prime candidates to continue the trend from last offseason.
The Cardinals have a new general manager and a new head coach, but when will Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon actually get to see their $230.5 million quarterback back on the field of play? That’s unclear, with Kyler Murray currently recovering from a torn ACL suffered in December.
“My understanding is he is going to take his time and make sure this thing is 100 percent right,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport recently reported. “He is young. He’s got a long career. He’s not going to rush, so do not be surprised if we don’t see him to start the season or maybe even by the midway point. This injury has to heal perfectly.”
Long story short: This is a franchise undergoing great change, with no real sense of urgency in 2023. Doesn’t feel like the best fit for Hopkins, who turns 31 this summer and is set to make nearly $20 million next season. Arizona can clear up cap space by dealing a five-time Pro Bowler who should still be in high demand in this pass-happy league, with the Cardinals receiving some valuable draft currency for the rebuild. It’d make sense for Arizona. It’d make sense for a trade partner looking to really compete in ’23. And it’d make sense for Hopkins, who’s too good a player to wind down his prime years on a team in transition.
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I’ve seen trade chatter pop up around Tee Higgins, but the Bengals should re-up the young stud, not move him. D.J. Moore and Jerry Jeudy were two other wide receivers who crossed my mind, but no: Evans is the right guy for this slot.
In the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement, I’m not sure how close the Buccaneers are to being competitive. Even if they were to nab an accomplished veteran signal-caller — like, say, Derek Carr — I’m not sure how high the ceiling is. Winning a watered-down NFC South again? Alright, yeah, maybe. But actually competing for a title? Hard to see. Thus, moving on from the 29-year-old Evans in the last year of his contract makes too much sense.
A lot of people might think I’m just saying this because I want him to go to Chicago. (NEWS FLASH: I’m a Bears fan.) OK, those people would be right. But Evans actually would be a great acquisition for a number of teams, including some seriously looking to make a Super Bowl run. Like the Dallas Cowboys, who are desperate to venture beyond the Divisional Round for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first term. Turns out Jerry Jones and Co. probably made a mistake dealing Amari Cooper last year. Dak Prescott needs more juice out wide, and I imagine Evans — a Texas native who starred at Texas A&M — wouldn’t mind playing for the ‘Boys. If the Rams wanted to make another go at it, there’s another option. How about the Chiefs? Would that even be fair??
This is an interesting case. The former first-round pick just made his first Pro Bowl, piling up 11.5 sacks and five passes defensed. But now his rookie contract is up. So what’s next?
Just letting Payne walk in free agency would be tough. He’s still just 25 years old and is fresh off a season where he displayed the kind of interior disruption everyone wants. But Washington has already sunk so much dough and draft currency into the defensive line … Is a long-term megadeal with Payne really feasible? Let’s open up Door No. 3: The tag and trade!
It’s not the easiest thing to pull off — as the player has to sign the franchise tag in the first place — but it’s not without precedent, particularly among defensive linemen. Frank Clark, Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue were all tagged and traded within the last four offseasons. And Clark and Ford immediately signed long-term extensions with their new teams post-trade. Washington could find a suitor with cap space and a need for DT pressure, right?
Sorry, I know run-stuffing D-linemen aren’t exactly buzz factories, but I’m trying to find realistic candidates here. Also, yes, I still have a soft spot for this former Bear. And it’d make a lot of sense for him to play somewhere else in 2023.
The Jaguars spent a whole lot of money last offseason. Now, the waiter just dropped off the check at the table. Currently deep in the red when it comes to cap space, Jacksonville is going to have to move on from some players. Robertson-Harris isn’t a “STOP THE PRESSES!” type of trade chip, but he’s the kind of low-key acquisition that a smart front office grabs to help out the defensive line. Especially one that needs to get better against the ground game.
OK, back to the buzzworthy suggestions! Honestly, though, I’m a little torn on this one.
Unless the injury bug ravages Los Angeles once again in 2023, this roster still has plenty of pieces in place to compete. And it’s hard to imagine Sean McVay returned to his gig for a rebuilding project. That said, it might be time for the “Eff them picks” Rams to actually acquire some picks. I won’t pretend to know what Ramsey could possibly bring back in a trade, but it has to be relatively substantial, considering he just made his sixth straight Pro Bowl. L.A. needs to kind of spread the wealth a little bit, rebuild some depth.
As tough as it would be to see Ramsey leave Los Angeles, it’d make plenty of sense. In fact, my NFL Network colleague Bridget Condon just asked Rams COO Kevin Demoff about Ramsey’s future, and judging by his non-answer response, it definitely seems possible the cornerback could change addresses this offseason. Ramsey in Cincinnati would be a lot of fun, no?
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