The NFL offseason has been a flurry of big moves. Even after many thought it had died down, we just saw Brandin Cooks traded to the Rams. Teams are still looking to make changes and the draft hype is continuing to build. Blockbuster trades are in the near future, but only if NFL GMs can be aggressive. Explained below are 3 trades that should be immediately pursued. Keep in mind, thought, that these 3 trade suggestions are not based off of each other’s success or attempt. Instead, imagine them each in a vacuum, as you are part of that team’s management. Upon review of the advanced stats, metics, and analytics profiles, if I were a GM of the Browns, Cowboys, or Giants, I would put these offers out immediately to secure the talent of Odell Beckham Jr, Amari Cooper, Teddy Bridewater, and Quincy Enunwa.
Odell Beckham Jr. Becomes a Brown
The first trade involves the Browns pursuing Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants. Wherever medium you get your football news, you have undoubtedly heard the rumors surrounding Beckham. The team reportedly is listening to offers and the price on Beckham is 2 1st round picks. The reasons: money and public appearance. The possibility of Beckham sitting until he has reached an extension, most likely in the Antonio Brown range of income, is high. Speaking of high, there was a video that surfaced of Beckham holding something resembling a brown cigarette, while a woman lines a white powder on the bed beside a pepperoni pizza. People have presumed that he is holding a Black & Mild and the woman he was laying beside has come out and said it was “a piece of pizza.” Do we know either way? No. Can we prove it was anything else from this source? Nope. So it’s not enough to suspend him or claim his future is a big risk.
But it is enough to tip the Giants management into a trade. Over the years we have seen coaches and NFL GM’s sign with a new team and try to change the locker room atmosphere. From the media reports, Odell Beckham Jr. is being painted as risky, a distraction, and a diva. All of that ignores his on field performance. In 43 games played thus far, he has 313 receptions for 4,424 yards and 38 touchdowns. He is an elite wide receiver and deserves to be on a team that will pay him, secure him to a long contract, and have the people skills to deal with his “behavior”. I can’t guarantee that the Browns coaching/management are a better landing spot for him than the Giants. However they can provide him with many other benefits.
Cleveland has $74 million dollars in cap room, while the New York Giants currently have just under 5 million. That’s a massive difference. The Browns can offer Odell Beckham exactly what he wants monetarily. They can also reunite him with Jarvis Landry. Beckham already wanted the Giants to sign his “brother”, so this offers him some emotional upside. In addition, Beckham has the chance (if the Browns draft Baker Mayfield) to be tethered to an elite quarterback for years to come.
Mayfield > Eli. Remembering that the Giants reportedly want 2 1st round picks for Odell Beckham, what should the Browns offer? They should offer them just the 4th overall pick. Nothing more. First off, the Giants just lost one of their biggest speculative suitors for Beckham when the Rams traded for Brandin Cooks yesterday. In addition to that lost opportunity, we also know that all draft picks are not created equally. A top 5 draft pick is coveted in the NFL. In 2016, Philadelphia traded picks 8, 77, 100 in addition to a 2017 1st and a 2018 2nd for pick 2 and a 2017 4th from the Browns. This was already after Philadelphia traded up from 13 to 8. Last year, we also saw Kansas City traded picks 27, 91, and a 2018 1st to move to slot 10. That top pick has huge value. Especially when you throw that out during April and the NFL draft hype. Names like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen (#neverjoshallen), Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley, and Bradley Chubb are being thrown around as generational game changers. If you give New York the 4th overall pick to add to their 2nd overall pick, it gives them the option of drafting a combination or the 2nd QB, Chubb, and Barkley. Just the idea of being able to add a player like Barkley with the intangibles, clean background, and character could be enough to win over the Giants in this trade. If Beckham was available at 4th overall this year, knowing what we know about his talent, I would pull the trigger. Also keeping in mind that a wide receiver with Brandin Cook’s skills was traded last year for pick 32 and this year to the Rams for pick 23, the value of the number 4 pick should be enough to satisfy New York. Therefore it makes sense to trade the 4th overall to him.
Trade Inefficiency for Inefficiency: Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper
The next wide receiver that should be traded is Dez Bryant. I am not advocating that any team trade for Bryant, but instead that the Cowboys should actively try and trade him away. Beat reporters and analysts around the team, Marcus Mosher included, have explained that the Bryant is on the cut block if they can’t restructure his deal. If they cut Bryant, they are able to save $8.5 million, but also have $8 million dollars in dead money. All the while, they still would have to sign or draft an additional pass catching option for Dak Prescott. That’s not the most conducive or economical way to go about things. This is why the Cowboys need to trade Bryant to another team.
Although the analytics crowd may be under the assumption that Dez Bryant‘s inefficiency and contract are not worth trading for, we must remember that each NFL organization is different. Each NFL team evaluates players and contracts in distinctive ways. For this reason, we turn our eyes to the new (and also 1998 old school) Raiders. Oakland already has an inefficient star wide receiver on their team. And at first glance on PlayerProfiler, Bryant’s 2017 campaign is strikingly similar to Amari Cooper’s.
Adding to the similarities would be injury. Dez Bryant re-aggravated his knee injury, while Amari Cooper suffered an ankle sprain that caused him to miss 2 games. If you check the recent news section on the bottom of Cooper’s PlayerProfiler page, you’ll also notice a report that he “Struggled with Injuries in 2017.” Could both players have been plagued by injuries last year that caused their inefficiency? Perhaps. Again, that is up to each team to decide for themselves. What can determine, however, is that both players had comparable seasons in 2017.
Given that Amari Cooper and Dez Bryant have had similar recent play, at least based off of a sample of counting stats and metrics, why would the Raiders want to pay up for an older and more expensive receiver? The answer to that question lies with Jon Gruden’s preferences. Since he has taken over as head coach, we have seen the Raiders add or re-sign 8 players that will be in their 30’s before the 2018 season begins. Cooper is young. Young receivers take time to develop and get into their prime. But Bryant has 8 seasons in the NFL, most playing as the number 1 passing option. Experience matters to Gruden. He wants players that veteran presence.
After signing Jordy Nelson, Jon Gruden explained that “He brings a lot of ‘it’ factor we need.” As Scott Bair of Yahoo Sports reports, Jon continued with, “We’re not playing fantasy football.” “We know his production fell off. So did (the production of) Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. So did the Packers offense when Aaron Rodgers went down.”
Moreover, let’s look at some of his brother Jay Gruden’s quotes on Dez Bryant reported last October in an article by SportsDay.
“What people are mistaking nowadays in pro football, I think, fantasy football numbers and stats…”
“What matters is getting the ball in the endzone. That’s what Dez’s forte is. He’s still as good and maybe one of the top redzone targets in the league. Scoring in the redzone is the most important part of pro football…”
“But once you get in the redzone you got to have the ability to score. Nobody better the last five or six years than Dez at making those plays…”
All in all, these 2 interviews can help us draw some conclusions. If Jon Gruden views Jordy Nelson as having the “It” factor and Jay Gruden still views Dez Bryant as a top receiver in the league, there is a chance that Jon also believes in Bryant as elite. It would make sense if red zone potential and scoring touchdowns is your main concern. In 2017, Bryant was No. 8 in red zone receptions, No. 4 in red zone target share, and No. 4 in end zone target share. These past years have been his worst, yet he still produced 8 and 6 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017. It also must be remembered that Bryant had one of the best career starts of any wide receiver. His first 5 years gave touchdown totals of 6 (not counting 2 punt return touchdowns), 9, 12, 13, and 16. At his prime, he was a touchdown machine. It’s quite possible that Gruden would still view him as such and ignore the price of his contract.
As has been noted, Jon Gruden and the Raiders value players, stats, and analytics differently than other teams. That is why the Cowboys should capitalize by trading Dez Bryant for Amari Cooper. Even with a down year, Cooper had a +4.4 Production Premium (No. 38 in the league) and a Target Separation of 1.49 when compared to Bryant’s 1.17. And Dak Prescott is going into his third year in the league. The Cowboys need to surround him with young talent. Cooper is only 23 years old. Bryant is 29. Give Cooper time to develop a connection with Prescott, while offloading Bryant and his expensive contract to the Raiders. As we have seen time and time again in our own fantasy leagues, some teams are crazy enough to click accept on trade offers you would think had only the smallest of chances. For this reason, the Cowboys organization need to press the Raiders to get Cooper.
Giants Aggressively Trade Down
The last trade involves the Giants, Jets, and Bills, with the Giants acting as the trade aggressors. New York has a very perplexing situation. They seem to think that Eli Manning should still be their starting quarterback. Reports are coming out suggesting that they are not going to draft a quarterback at pick 2, but instead a defensive or offensive lineman. If they do in fact believe that Manning is their guy this year, I suggest that they trade down. Most people would probably offer up the idea of trading down. That seems like an obvious move for them. Albeit, I believe that they have the potential to get a treasure of value for their number 2 pick, while still giving Manning a shot and building their roster. The method requires an unconventional two-part trade down.
Let’s consider the following truth: quarterback needy teams make ridiculous moves every year. Remembering the trades discussed earlier, let’s also remember that the Bears basically paid Mike Glennon $18.5 million to play 4 games and only win 1 of them, Houston signed Brock Osweiler to a 4-year $72 million contract, and the Rams traded the Titans 4 of their higher 2016 draft picks (15, 43, 45, and 76) in addition to a 2017 1st and 3rd for the Titans number 1 overall, a 4th round, and a 6th round pick. When teams don’t have a franchise quarterback, they tend to get desperate.
Under those circumstances, the Giants should prey upon 2 of the current quarterback void teams: The New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. The Jets already proved, or at least it can be assumed, that they are commiting to drafting a quarterback. Moving from pick 6 to pick 3, the Jets also sent picks 37, 49, and a 2019 second rounder. Yet they still are set to draft behind the Browns and the Giants. We should also examine the Jets current quarterback situation. They recently re-signed Josh McCown to a one-year, $10 million contract with $5 million guaranteed and signed Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year, $6 million contract with $500k guaranteed and $9 million in incentives. Before the trade up, it seemed as if the Jets were willing to give Bridgewater a shot with a failsafe in McCown. But, knowing now that the Jets have committed more monetarily to McCown and they will commit more draft capital to drafting a QB, Bridgewater is turning out to be a 3rd string quarterback.
With that understood, the Giants should make the trade down from 2 to 3 while securing Teddy Bridgewater and an incentive heavy contract. Why not take a shot on a quarterback that already proved he was at least a competent starter, and at most an ascending talent? Bridgewater has a 96th-percentile Breakout Age, 87th-percentile college QBR, and is a former 1st round pick. Teams rarely have the ability to sign a former 1st round pick that didn’t bust for such a cheap deal. In fact, even former 1st round busts have garnered more money than Bridgewater. But Bridgewater wasn’t a bust. He has a 64.9-percent career completion percentage, was an excellent college prospect, and had mild success behind a sub-par offensive line and offense that was schemed around Adrian Peterson. The 2014 Vikings were 20th in pass percentage and the 2015 Vikings were 30th in pass percentage. His opportunities as a passer were low.
Again, let’s go over Teddy Bridgewater’s contract. He has a one-year, $6 million dollar contract that only has $500k guaranteed. He then has the following incentives:
*$250k for 2,500 yards passing, $500k for 2,751 yards passing, and $1.25 million for 3,001 yards passing
*$250k for 10 TDs, $500k for 16 TDs, and $1.25 million for 21 TDs
*$2.5 million for 50-percent of snaps AND playoffs
All in all, this is an extremely low risk contract for a team to take on. The biggest risk we have for Teddy Bridgewater is his knee. It is an unknown if he can return to his previous form. With that being said, the Giants are not looking for an immediate starter. Instead, if they can secure Bridgewater, they can spend the entire 2018 season evaluating him. This would allow the Giants to potentially cut Eli Manning in 2019 for $17 million in cap savings. All of this for a contract priced around Nick Foles, Chase Daniels, AJ McCarron, and Matt Schaub.
Because of the Jets current quarterbacks and draft desires, the Giants should attempt to trade the 2nd overall pick to the Jets for the 3rd overall pick and Teddy Bridgewater. If they are feeling confident in their negotiations and the feel the Jets are highly motivated to get the 2nd pick, they should also attempt to acquire Quincy Enunwa in the trade. Eli Manning had the 31st ranked supporting cast last season. Enunwa has an 84th-percentile College Dominator Rating and a 96th-percentile Speed Score. He also had a breakout 3rd season securing 58 receptions for 857 yards and 4 touchdowns. But after breaking into the top 50 of points per game in 2016, Enunwa suffered a pre-season neck injury that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season. The New York Jets recently signed Terrelle Pryor to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in addition to currently retaining Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson. It is possible that the lost season has hidden Enunwa’s value to the team and he could be a throw in from a quarterback desperate team. If the Giants could secure Bridgewater and Enunwa for going down 1 pick in the draft, they should do that without hesitation.
After they secure the number 3 pick in the 2018 draft, the Giants can’t stop there because there are still multiple quarterback needy teams willing to trade up. There are currently 4 consensus top quarterbacks based on media coverage: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen (#neverjoshallen). Hearing all of the buzz about each of them being franchise quarterbacks, the Giants should allow that hype to drive the Buffalo Bills into a trade up. Trade proposals by NFL analysts have the Browns trading the number 4 pick to the Bills for picks 12, 22, and 53. So it’s not absurd to trade pick 3 to the Bills for the 12, 22, 53, and a 2018 2nd.
The Giants have been feeling the pressure of poorly managed cap space, potentially trying to trade away a generational talent in Odell Beckham Jr. Because of this, they could very much enjoy moving down in the draft. Instead of paying $30+ million for the number 2 pick, they can instead sign 2 1st rounders for less than that combined. They could also secure both a top offensive lineman and a top defensive lineman. Reviewing, the Giants trade the number 2 pick overall and get back the 12, 22, 53, a 2018 2nd, Teddy Bridgewater, and Quincy Enunwa. Those would be the steals of the draft.
NFL GMs need to capitalize on draft hype/desperation, injury uncertainty, and undervalued players. Browns need to trade the 4th overall and get back Odell Beckham Jr. Cowboys need to swap Dez Bryant for Amari Cooper. Giants need to trade down to get a haul of picks and players at value.