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Tension will be a constant part of the 2022 NFL draft, but that drama will go beyond the rookie selections. Throughout the night of April 28, teams will be considering any number of trade offers.
As usual, most trade conversations will focus on draft picks themselves. NFL teams regularly package a few of their choices to move up and grab a specific prospect.
While less likely, current NFL players will also be the subject of other discussions. These trades tend to happen in the week leading up to the event, but the possibility of a big-name player getting dealt on draft day nonetheless deserves consideration.
The list is subjective but factors in the latest rumors, along with each team’s current needs and draft capital.
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On paper, it’s a perfect match.
After sending Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Green Bay Packers lack a No. 1 receiver. They acquired a first- and-second round pick in that trade, creating the possibility of using any of four top-64 selections to land an established receiver.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks seem to be pivoting toward Pete Carroll’s preferred run-first style. Russell Wilson is now a member of the Denver Broncos. Between this philosophical shift and Tyler Lockett having his own big-money contract, it’s tough to believe Seattle wants to pony up for DK Metcalf’s looming extension. Why be a run-first offense yet have two high-end receivers and no franchise QB?
But if the Packers are open to extension talks, they have both a need for Metcalf and the draft capital to make it happen.
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Following a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, the New Orleans Saints are making some rival executives think a little harder about the initial round of the 2022 draft.
And the Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly one of those teams.
Pittsburgh signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, but it’s unlikely he’ll be the long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. It’s more likely the Steelers are planning for Trubisky or Mason Rudolph to serve as a stop-gap option for someone else.
New Orleans—which also needs a QB—now possesses the 16th and 19th overall picks. If the Steelers didn’t already suspect the Saints plan to draft a signal-caller, it certainly feels inevitable now.
Pittsburgh should be a strong candidate to swing a deal with either the Minnesota Vikings (12th) or Houston Texans (13th).
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For excellent reason, the New York Jets’ pair of top-10 picks has commanded most of the attention. They’re in a terrific spot to draft an elite prospect and acquire a few more selections if they trade back from either the fourth or 10th overall choices.
Don’t forget about Round 2, either.
Thanks to last year’s Sam Darnold trade, the Jets hold the No. 35 pick and the Carolina Panthers’ No. 38 slot. They’re in prime position to alter the latter portion of the opening night, too.
Should an earlier deal for a top-10 position net an extra third-rounder (or possibly fourth), New York could package that selection—one it didn’t have at the beginning of the draft anyway—with either No. 35 or 38 to get back into the first round.
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It’s already been a busy offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs, and they might be approaching another major move.
Kansas City dealt star wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, who sent the San Francisco 49ers’ No. 29 pick to the Chiefs as part of the blockbuster deal. That put Kansas City, which owned the No. 30 selection already, in back-to-back slots.
And that’s merely the start.
Thanks to the Hill trade and a third-round compensatory pick, the Chiefs hold two draft choices in four straight rounds to begin the 2022 draft. Kansas City has more than enough firepower to target a top-20 overall spot and keep either No. 29 or 30.
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New Orleans is among the most intriguing teams in the 2022 draft.
While the need for a quarterback was obvious, the Saints weren’t in prime QB territory at No. 18. Simply holding the 16th pick doesn’t change that perception dramatically, but having a pair of first-round selections does.
Given that it came at the expense of a 2023 first-rounder and 2024 second-rounder, the Saints are focused on winning now in an NFC that has an unimpressive middle tier. Expecting a major trade up seems foolish, though inching a bit higher for the right immediate-impact player is still a possibility.
Questioning what New Orleans has done is entirely fair, considering the roster isn’t viewed as a real NFC contender.
Right or wrong, however, the Saints are going for it. And they might not be finished yet.
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When rebuilding, take advantage of the draft.
That statement may appear self-evident, but it’s not solely about selecting the right prospects. The value of a to-be-used draft pick is always higher than a replacement-level player on the roster.
Yes, any pick is ultimately like a lottery ticket. However, the Houston Texans aren’t in position to win much in 2022. They can afford to spend an offseason loading up on rookies in hopes of finding a few players who become core pieces of the future.
Keeping the No. 3 choice to add a foundational piece is perfectly sound, but fielding the best offer for the No. 13 selection is both a wise and likely strategy for the Texans.
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Like their MetLife Stadium coinhabitants, the New York Giants have a couple of top-10 selections in the first round.
As we covered recently, it’s an optimal situation for the G-Men with the fifth and seventh picks. Maybe the Falcons (eighth) or Seahawks (ninth) want to jump the Panthers (sixth) for a QB. Perhaps a different team is eyeing a spot ahead of Atlanta or Seattle. Those are just two of many trade-down scenarios.
But the Giants also own an additional slot in the third and fifth rounds. As a mid-level NFC squad at best, they’re nearing the 2022 draft with the ability to prioritize future flexibility.
Thanks to the extra capital, the Giants can trade down in any of the opening three rounds, still have valuable picks this year and boost what’s available to them next April.
Besides, if Daniel Jones doesn’t make serious improvements in 2022, the Giants may need the 2023 draft ammo anyway.