8 NFL Trades We Want To See Before the Beginning of 2023 NFL Free Agency

8 NFL Trades We Want To See Before the Beginning of 2023 NFL Free Agency

NFL teams will have to find a way to get underneath the salary cap by March 16, before the beginning of the 2023 free agency period. To that end, teams are parting ways with players through cuts, waivers, and trades.

Given the number of players rumored to be on the trade block or who have requested releases, there are some real opportunities for teams to get a lot better before they begin signing players outright.

8 NFL Trades We Want To See Before the Beginning of 2023 NFL Free Agency

1) WR Brandin Cooks to the Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs, who are losing three receivers in free agency, might want to once again invest in the position. Last time, they resolved their need using a patchwork method of low-cost, high-potential receivers that could help with gadget plays. Now, they can invest in a player who fits the mold of receiver they typically look for while remaining productive in the most unusual of quarterback circumstances.

Brandin Cooks might be one of the most traded players in NFL history, but it’s not because he’s a problem or because he’s untalented. He could do a lot for a Kansas City offense once again looking to complement Travis Kelce.

2) QB Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets

There are possibly better options for Aaron Rodgers than the New York Jets, given how tough that division and conference would be, but the waiting around is getting frustrating, and the pieces are there for the Jets to make a serious run.

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Frankly, very few teams are built to take on a quarterback and immediately start winning without serious investments elsewhere. The Raiders might be the closest, but that situation would be even worse for Rodgers than the AFC East. Figure it out, get it done, and let the rest of the NFL world stop waiting.

3) CB Jalen Ramsey to the Detroit Lions

There are a couple of potential locations for Jalen Ramsey, including the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. But the Lions not only have the cap space to absorb any potential extension for Ramsey, but they might also be more aggressive about getting a player that can fit their style of football.

For however well-lauded Ramsey’s coverage skills are — and deservedly so — he’s been a physical and excellent run defender throughout his career, too. He’d fit into a Lions defense full of physical players and should get along well with a big personality like Dan Campbell.

4) WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Baltimore Ravens

The Cardinals have reportedly put DeAndre Hopkins on the trade block, and the receiver still has a lot left in the tank. Any trade would have to include somewhat hefty compensation, as the Cardinals would still be taking on over $20 million in dead money — unless they work out a new deal before they trade him away.

Given the projected price of a potential second-round pick, it would make a lot of sense for the Ravens, who have yet to figure out the position. This might also help smooth out things with Lamar Jackson, which would be a nice side benefit.

There are other receivers in free agency that might represent better value and cost less, but Hopkins can cover up for throwing mistakes and has a tendency to make every quarterback look accurate. Jackson is a gifted thrower but has been inconsistent with ball placement.

With Hopkins, who averaged just under 80 yards a game after coming back to the field with Kyler Murray, that wouldn’t matter.

5) EDGE Za’Darius Smith to the Los Angeles Rams

Za’Darius Smith requested his release from the Vikings, but Minnesota denied it. That makes a lot of sense, given how much value he holds — even if he’s not going to see the field for Minnesota next year, it would be foolish to give him up for nothing.

They wouldn’t take much in the way of a cap loss doing so, but it’s better to find picks, especially given how the Vikings don’t have a lot of them in this year’s draft.

The Rams just released Leonard Floyd and intend to be competitive this year. They also seem to loathe Day 1 and Day 2 picks. What better way to resolve this issue than to trade, once again, for a veteran that might be able to put them back in contention?

6) RB Derrick Henry to the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins don’t mind trading for or otherwise investing in running backs. Mike McDaniel loves the position, and finding ways to add speed onto the field from the RB position has been a priority for him. With the rumors that the Tennessee Titans may be looking to cut costs and shop Henry to teams willing to listen, McDaniel can once again put speed on the field from the backfield.

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While we generally tend to think of Henry as a power back best fit for gap schemes, what makes him special is his ability to be a power back with scatback speed. He’s excelled in wide-zone style schemes, and his ability to plant and cut upfield at a moment’s notice should be a perfect fit with McDaniel, who has experience catering run schemes to the strengths of his offensive line and backfield talent.

7) RB Dalvin Cook to the Denver Broncos

Like the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos do not have a solid answer at running back, with a number leaving in free agency and some others with lingering injury questions.

General manager George Paton was in Minnesota when they drafted Dalvin Cook and could be interested in bringing him to Denver, where Sean Payton — who knows the value of a versatile back — could find a way to pair him with Russell Wilson and jumpstart the offense.

Cook underperformed in Minnesota this past year, but the real issue is the $14 million cap hit. Managing that is tough, and they may not have the wherewithal to cut him outright if he can still maintain some value.

8) CB Darius Slay to the Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings just released cornerback Cameron Dantzler, meaning their cornerback room consists of second-year players Andrew Booth Jr., Akayleb Evans, and Duke Shelley. That’s it. Not only do they need bodies and talent, but they also need experience in that room.

Slay is slated to take up an enormous cap hit for the Philadelphia Eagles at $26 million and would only free up $3 million with a trade. Most likely, Slay would work out a sign-and-trade where the Eagles take on less of a cap hit while still allowing the Vikings to manage a thin 2023 cap environment.

As a bonus, this would mean that Slay could stop terrorizing Kirk Cousins.