The NFL is undergoing a bit of a makeover in 2020. This offseason, a new collective bargaining agreement and several high-profile quarterbacks hitting free agency could change a lot about how the league looks before we even get to the NFL Draft.
There’s one other way teams can make major moves: trades. In recent years, the NFL has been more active on the trade market around free agency time. Last season, we saw a few surprises. The Browns landed Odell Beckham, Jr., the Dolphins sent Ryan Tannehill to the Titans, and the Steelers offloaded Antonio Brown to the Raiders (the less said about that one, the better).
What could this year bring? There are already some rumors swirling about which players could be dealt. Let’s take a look at the latest talk and what we’d like to see happen.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Jets
Latest rumor: Ian Rapoport reported that the Jets “have never slammed the door” on trading Bell, who rushed for a career-low 3.2 yards per carry in his first season with the Jets.
Where we’d like him to end up: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ run game was severely lacking in 2019, especially after they traded Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals midway through the season. In fact, 37-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was Miami’s leading rusher! The Dolphins, who have the most cap space in the NFL, wouldn’t be scared off by Bell’s $13.5 million salary either. The Jets, however, would have to eat some of that.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
Where we’d like him to end up: New England Patriots
If the Raiders move on from Carr, it’s likely because they signed another quarterback — like, say, Tom Brady. That would leave the Patriots without a starting quarterback. Carr is efficient and would flourish on a team with a bit more stability, and Jon Gruden has never seemed completely sold on him. Granted, part of our motivation for wanting this trade is to see how Raiders fans react when Carr wins games in New England, but let’s call that a bonus.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Latest rumor: It’s no secret the Bengals will draft quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, though they are reportedly willing to work with Dalton on a trade.
Where we’d like him to end up: Tennessee Titans
Recently, Dalton hasn’t looked like the same quarterback who led the Bengals to the playoff five times in his career. But Tennessee could be the perfect way for Dalton to prove he can be that guy again. The Titans will probably stick with Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback, either with the franchise tag or on a short-term deal. If Tannehill can show his 2019 season wasn’t a fluke, Dalton would be a competent backup for him. And if not, Dalton could have some redemption of his own in Tennessee.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings
Where’d we’d like him to end up: New England Patriots
What better way to convince Tom Brady to return to the only NFL home he’s ever known than by giving him one of the league’s most explosive players. Diggs’ 12 yards per target last season were second-best in the NFL. He could be the deep threat that allows Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu to thrive underneath, all while giving second-year wideout N’Keal Harry a little more space along the other sideline.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
Latest rumor: Rapoport said head coach Sean McVay will sit down with Gurley to discuss their options, though any trade would have to come before Gurley is due a roster bonus on March 20.
Where we’d like to see him end up: Buffalo Bills
Gurley is coming off of a career-low 857 yards rushing, and there are obvious questions surrounding the health of his left knee. But an experienced back like Gurley could complement Devin Singletary, who had 775 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in Buffalo. A consistent running game under Gurley would also be huge for Josh Allen. It could take the pressure off of the young quarterback to run the ball so often.
Alshon Jeffery WR, Eagles
Where we’d like him to end up: New York Jets
The Jets’ receiving corps could use an upgrade, especially with Robby Anderson set to test free agency. They should still draft a younger wideout, but a healthy Jeffery could still be a reliable target for Sam Darnold — and give the 30-year-old receiver a fresh start away from Carson Wentz.
David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
Where we’d like him to end up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians told reporters last summer that even though Tampa Bay doesn’t have “a David Johnson or a Todd Gurley” that’s OK, because he doesn’t believe in paying much for the position. Perhaps the Bucs rushing for just 3.7 yards per attempt in 2019 (28th in the NFL) changed his mind a bit. If the Cardinals eat some of the salary, the Buccaneers could easily afford to reunite Johnson with the coach who made him a fantasy football superstar in 2016.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Where we’d like him to end up: Carolina Panthers
Newton missed most of the 2019 season due to a foot injury. Now that the Panthers have a new head coach, it makes sense they’d want a fresh start at quarterback. However, the best place for Newton would be for him to remain with the Panthers. He’s the winningest quarterback in franchise history, and backups Kyle Allen and Will Grier didn’t exactly prove they’re Carolina’s future.
Darius Slay, CB, Lions
Where’d we’d like him to end up: Houston Texans
Houston’s weakness for the last couple seasons has been its secondary. It finished 2019 ranked 29th in the league in pass yards allowed. Adding Slay could help change that. Slay has accounted for 19 interceptions and 104 passes defended in his career. He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and has been named to three straight Pro Bowls.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Latest rumor: WDIV in Detroit reported there have been trade talks between Stafford and the Lions; however, Lions general manager Bob Quinn has denied they’re shopping their longtime quarterback.
Where’d we’d like him to end up: Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers need someone to replace Philip Rivers, and Stafford could step right in. Last season, Stafford became the fastest QB to reach 40,000 career passing yards and was having his best year yet until a back injury sidelined him. At 32 years old, Stafford should have plenty left in the tank. Did we mention Stafford’s wife, Kelly, posted on her Instagram stories that she’d be happy to go to California?