If you like following sports news off the field (Let’s be real, you do), then blockbuster trades are the most interesting off the field news imaginable other than your quarterback beating Roger Goodell in a legal battle. In the NFL, however, we never get trades. General managers value their high draft picks more than their children, low draft picks aren’t enough to pry a productive player away from his team (unless you’re the Bears and you need a firesale to have a shot at competency in a few years), and player-for-player trades are hard in a league that is based so much on schemes and continuity.
Luckily, the NFL is about to embark on a period of some very interesting trades that involve quarterbacks. None of these ones are sure things to happen of course, but there’s a real chance that all of the guys below could be dealt as early as next offseason. I’ll count down in reverse order of the most intriguing QBs that could be dealt.
(Dis)honorable Mentions: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Josh McCown
These guys aren’t very interesting, and nobody is winning the Super Bowl with any of them. Mallett has the most promise because he’s the most unknown, but quarterbacks generally show whether or not they have the ability to be a star much earlier than people think and well before they get their final handful of chances to finally prove themselves.
5. Johnny Manziel – Cleveland Browns
I don’t know why the Browns wouldn’t give Manziel a shot to prove himself, but coach Mike Pettine doesn’t seem to love Manziel. You can understand where Pettine is coming from, given that Manziel’s rookie year would have made Pettine pull out his hair if he had any left, but the fact is that the Browns have nothing to gain by playing Josh McCown. Pettine may be counting down the days until his team can deal Johnny Football for absolutely anything.
In fact, maybe Pettine is being savvier than we realize. Manziel’s’ value is the highest it’s been since his horrendous first start last December, and if Pettine knows that Manziel can’t be any better, why not hold him back and allow Manziel’s value to build through mystery, a concept that is a drug to NFL GMs? If and when he does get traded, an NFC team is most likely, because they Browns don’t want to have to face Manziel any more than once every 4 years if he actually does blow up.
Best Possible Trade Destinations: Rams (especially if they move to LA and need a guy for all the billboards), Saints because Sean Payton might be able to use his talents, Bears, Raiders, Texans, Jets for the media circus that would be impossible not to watch.
4. Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
This one is the most inevitable… unless he gets released and not traded given the $16 million he’s due next year. Ultimately though, I see some team taking a flyer on Griffin if they have nothing else, and I actually understand it. While Griffin needs a specific situation and a ton of breaks to work out in his favor, a 1% chance at a good quarterback is better than a 0% chance for some teams in the basement, and a team can’t win much without a good QB.
Best possible Trade Destinations: Eagles if there actually is something to Chip Kelly’s sports injury science, Texans, Rams, Jets. Texans are the best bet, because RG3 needs smaller media markets, and the Redskins won’t trade him to the Rams given the debacle of a trade that got him to Washington D.C.
3. Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
I like Cutler more than the average NFL fan or talking head, and he could win in the right situation. Next year, $10 million of his $16 million salary is already guaranteed, and the Bears don’t have a shot at competing next year. I can’t see a reason for them not to trade him in Spring 2016. Otherwise, the Bears either eat $10 million next year or let him walk the following offseason and get nothing but a compensatory pick for him.
Best possible trade destinations: Jets to reunite him with Brandon Marshall yet again, and Cutler is confident enough with himself that the NY media won’t matter to him, Rams. Cutler needs a place that is at least good as every other facet of the game, requiring him to be merely good and not great.
2. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
Next year, Brees has a $30 million cap hit., and his dead contract number is $10 million. That dead money is nothing to sneeze at, but the Saints would be smart to save a million Andrew Jacksons and shp him somewhere else. They’ve already dealt Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, and their rough cap situation won’t get any better with Brees on the roster. He’s declining, so get what you can for him now and rebuild the team.
Best possible trade destinations: Jets, but they either won’t have the cap space or will have to get rid of other guys to get Brees, Rams, Texans.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo – New England Patriots
Yeah, that’s right.
Tell me why this shouldn’t happen. If you know anything about Tom Brady, you know that the way he takes care of his body is absolutely insane. He also said in his leaked emails that he had another 7 to 8 years left, and that was only last year.
Maybe most importantly, the Pats have to move one way or the other with Jimmy Garoppolo quicker than people realize. After this season in which Jimmy G is very unlikely to play anything more than garbage time, he’ll only have 2 years left on his rookie deal, and no quarterback who’s worth anything ever plays out their contract. That means that Belichick will have to make a decision on Garoppolo by Spring 2017 at the earliest, and I highly doubt that Tom Brady won’t be the QB of the Patriots in 2016.
At that point, what do you do if you’re Belichick? Let’s assume Brady plays well in 2016 but not as well as he’s shown during these first 3 games. Even if he’s 2012 Brady, let’s say, that’s still tremendous value at just $16 million. His contract does expire after 2017 just like Garoppolo’s, but if Brady is willing to continue to take discounts, what would you rather have? Tom Brady at $20 million of less, or Garoppolo at the $15 million that it’d probably take to keep him?
And Belichick will have to make the move in Spring 2017, likely without having seen Garoppolo start a game. Are you really gonna hitch your wagon to Jimmy G at that point, knowing that his price will shoot up the following offseason, or are you gonna go with Tom Brady at the hometown discount that he always gives the Patriots? And Belichick would get a king’s ransom for Garoppolo given that the NFL loves Tom Brady’s backups, even if they don’t actually turn out to do much besides Matt Cassel’s 1 good year in Kansas City.
Trade Jimmy G for a ton, have Brady play as long as he wants, and build his statue outside. Exactly what all Patriots fans want.
Best possible trade destinations: Everyone except the Packers, Colts, Seahawks, Panthers, and maybe the Titans and Buccaneers. Oh, and the Jets. No chance Belichick trades his best movable asset in a while to the team he hates the most. Unless Garoppolo sucks, in which case we should write his name in ink as the starter of the Jets in 2017.
In Bill We Trust