I have to be honest; even just thinking about trading DK Metcalf makes me feel dirty.
And yet, I stand by what I wrote in Part Two of this series:
Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf are arguably one of the best QB-WR combos in the league. As a fan, I love them both and want them to retire as Seahawks.
But if I were John and Pete, neither would be on my roster in 2021. Russ is too expensive and DK is far too valuable to keep.
The only question is if I am shipping them somewhere together or splitting them up to maximize my return.
Before diving into the trade proposals that I would consider (if I were John and Pete), let’s look at some past trades involving productive wide receivers.
- 2000: The Jets trade Keyshawn Johnson to the Bucs for two 1st-round picks.
- 2000: Seattle sends Joey Galloway to the Dallas Cowboys for two 1st round picks.
- 2005: The Raiders send their 1st round pick (#7 overall), a 7th round pick, and LB Napoleon Harris to the Vikings for Randy Moss.
- 2010: Brandon Marshall goes from Denver to Miami in exchange for two 2nd round picks.
- 2013: Seattle sends a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick to Minnesota for Percy Harvin.
- 2020: Buffalo acquires Stefon Diggs (and a 7th round pick) by sending the Vikings a 1st round pick, a 5th round pick, and a 6th round pick in 2020, plus a 4th round pick in 2021.
How DK Metcalf compares to those six receivers after 2 seasons
Summary: In terms of production over their first 2 years in the league, only Randy Moss is consistently better than DK in all of the meaningful stats - catches (149 to 141), yards (2,726 to 2,203), yards per target, yards per catch, yards per game, and touchdowns (28 to 17).
How DK Metcalf compares to those six receivers in the 2 seasons prior to each one being traded
Summary: Looking at the two years immediately prior to each player being traded, it ends up being a closer contest: DK is 6th (out of 7) in targets and catches, 4th in yards and touchdowns, and 1st in yards per catch. But only Randy Moss is consistently better across the board.
It is worth noting that each of the receivers used in this analysis had either 4 or 5 years of experience when they were traded . . . except Randy Moss who had 7. And DK, of course, only has 2 at this point.
DK Metcalf vs. Megatron - Two comparisons
The last set of numbers that seem indicative of DK’s value are those of the player he is most often compared to: Calvin Johnson - aka “Megatron”.
First, we he have the head-to-head comparison of their first two seasons:
Summary: It is almost like looking in a mirror . . . DK started more games as a rookie and thus had more targets, more catches, more yards (900 to 756), and more touchdowns (7 to 4). In Year 2, Megatron edges DK in yards (1,331 to 1,303) and touchdowns (12 to 10) and also has more targets (150 to 129). DK has more catches in Year 2 though (83 to 78) and DK’s catch rate is higher both seasons.
Next, we have a 2-for-1 comparison of (a) Megatron’s total from his first 2 years compared to DK’s total; and (b) Megatron’s career vs. DK’s career (so far):
Summary: DK has the lead at the 2-year mark but obviously Megatron is way ahead in terms of the career numbers - helped in no small part by the NFL record 1,964 receiving yards he posted in 2012.
On a related note, CONGRATULATIONS TO MEGATRON for his recent election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If I were John and Pete, I would firmly believe that DK has the physical attributes, the talent, and the “want to” required for a record-setting, Hall of Fame career. I would also believe that it is within his reach to break Megatron’s NFL record and become the first receiver to record 2,000 yards in a single season.
For that to happen though, DK needs to be on a team whose offense is designed to feed him the ball over and over and over - nonstop. And if I were John and Pete, and I were being honest with myself, I would acknowledge that Seattle isn’t that team.
Which only leaves one question: What is the appropriate trade value for a franchise receiver of Metcalf’s stature and potential with 2 years left on a contract that will cost the acquiring team an average of about $1M per year?
If I were John and Pete, my answer would be somewhere in the 2,500 to 3,500 point range. AKA: The highest value ever extracted for a wide receiver in league history.
Would another team give up that much draft capital for DK Metcalf? Maybe, maybe not. But, given the data, why would Seattle accept anything less?
A note about trade methodology: The “value” of each proposed trade is calculated using the commonly accepted Trade Value Chart (link is for drafttek.com).
To keep it simple, no “discounts” are applied to past or future picks.
Alright . . . here goes!
TRADE PROPOSAL #1: DK to Detroit
- The #7 overall pick in the 2021 draft
- Detroit’s 3rd round pick this year (#72 overall)
- Detroit’s 1st round and 3rd round picks in 2022
Estimated Value of the package from Detroit: 1,730 points this year + the value of the 2 picks in 2022 (TBD).
Note: Anything above the 29th pick in 2022 would net Seattle over the minimum “target” of 2,500 total points of value.
The math: R1 #28 = 660 and R3 + 92 = 132. Thus, 660 + 132 = 792. And 1,730 (in 2021) + 792 (in 2022) = 2,522.
Why this trade makes sense for both teams:
Per the various draft gurus and talent evaluators, Detroit’s top needs are WR and CB. The best wide receivers in the draft are considered to be Ja’Marr Chase (LSU) and Devonta Smith (Alabama), but neither are expected to be available when the Lions pick at #7.
However, even if they were available, if you’re Detroit, would you rather have one of the rookies or DK-freaking-Metcalf?
That was a rhetorical question.
Sure, having 4 years on a rookie scale (instead of “only” 2) + the 5th year option is nice, but the COST for a receiver picked at #7 is considerably higher than what DK will cost you and there’s no guarantee that the rookie WR will be even 50% of the matchup nightmare that DK is.
If you’re Detroit, you do this deal without hesitation and you never second-guess it. Especially since you still have your 2nd round pick, #41 overall, to use on a cornerback (arguably Detroit’s #2 need).
From Seattle’s perspective, this trade meets the threshold. At a minimum, you net 2,436 points in trade value - and that’s if Detroit wins the Super Bowl in 2021 . . . which is unlikely.
(insert Jared Goff joke here)
FULL TRANSPARENCY: I was born in Michigan and the Lions are my 2nd-favorite NFL team. My fandom isn’t why I have Detroit listed as the #1 option for DK though. The Lions are #1 because of Calvin Johnson and the fact that it would a boon to the league if we all got to see DK chase Megatron’s legend where Megatron became a legend.
My money is on Detroit’s front office (and ownership) sharing that opinion.
TRADE PROPOSAL #2: DK to Miami
- OPTION 1: Both of Miami’s first round picks in this year’s draft (#3 and #18 overall)
- OPTION 2: Both of Miami’s second round picks in this year’s draft (#36 and #50 overall), plus Miami’s first round picks in 2022 and 2023
Estimated Value of the package from Miami: Option 1 = 3,100 points; Option 2 = 940 points this year + the value of the two future #1 picks (TBD).
Note: The range for Option 2 is from 2,120 points (if Miami has the league’s best record the next 2 seasons) to 6,940 points (if Miami has the worst record the next 2 seasons).
Odds are that Miami won’t finish first OR worst both years though, so . . .
If Miami’s pick both seasons was in the #11 to #22 range then the total value of this trade would hit Seattle’s “target” with a maximum of 3,440 points and a minimum of 2,500.
Why two options?:
In Part Three of this series, I proposed that Seattle send Russell Wilson to Miami for a package that includes both of their 1st-round picks in the 2021 draft. Naturally, Miami cannot use this year’s 1st-round picks for both trades.
Why this trade makes sense for both teams:
Unlike Detroit, Miami will have the option of taking any receiver they want if they keep the #3 pick. Thus, there is a legitimate question of whether they would prefer Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, or DK-freaking-Metcalf (with DK costing them #18 as well).
If they have already traded for Russell Wilson then it isn’t even a question: they bring Metcalf to Miami, pair him with his best bud, and rule the AFC East for the next decade.
For Seattle, Option 1 is the more appealing one because you know the value you’re getting. #3 is worth 2,200 points and #18 is worth 900 points. In theory, the #3 pick and either of Miami’s 2nd round picks nets Seattle more than 2,500 points, but if I were John and Pete, I would be insisting on the two #1s.
From Seattle’s end, Option 2 is far less appealing. Yes, you get more picks: two #2s this year + two future #1s, but with Wilson in Miami with DK, the value of the future #1s becomes somewhat “unstable”.
How colossal would the combined trade be?
Assuming, for the moment, that Seattle sent both Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf to the Miami Dolphins (in the same trade) and got back what has been proposed, Seattle would receive:
- Both of Miami’s 1st round picks this year, #3 and #18 overall;
- Both of this year’s 2nd round picks, #36 and #50 overall;
- Their 3rd round pick this year, #81 overall;
- Miami’s 1st round picks in 2022 and 2023; and
- QB Tua Tagovailoa
FOUR #1s, two #2s, a #3, and a QB.
Personally, that seems like a lot - while also seeming like not nearly enough.
Other teams that I would consider trading with:
- Atlanta: A package that included the #4 pick (R1), the #35 pick (R2), and the #68 pick (R3) would hit the target point range for Seattle, coming in at 2,600 points (1,800 + 550 + 250). From Atlanta’s perspective, the idea of pairing DK with Julio Jones might be incredibly tempting, but WR isn’t really an area of need for them.
- Philadelphia: Seattle nets 2,375 points of value if Philly sends their first 3 picks to the Pacific Northwest: #6 (R1) = 1,600; #37 (R2) = 530; and #69 (R3) = 245. But that isn’t enough. Technically, adding a 2022 R2 pick would do the trick, but I would ask for their 2021 and 2022 first round picks instead. On Philly’s end, dealing Wentz before trading for Metcalf might make this work. But the Eagles need a lot more than a single WR, no matter how good he is. Thus, I am skeptical about them biting.
- Tennessee: The Titans do NOT have the draft capital to acquire DK Metcalf - not even if they offered THREE #1s: #22 overall this year + their #1s in 2022 and 2023. They do, however, have a league-leading running back that Pete Carroll would certainly be interested in adding to his backfield. Unfortunately, the Titans wouldn’t sign off on Henry for Metcalf straight up - even if maybe they should.
On a personal note, when I texted the idea of Henry for Metcalf to my son, his response was: Holy shit! Tennessee as a pass-first team with AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Corey Davis, and Ryan Tannehill sounds completely unstoppable.
Teams that I would NOT EVEN CONSIDER sending DK to:
- Any team in the NFC West: ZERO interest in facing DK twice a year (and definitely don’t want to see him paired with George Kittle in the Bay area or DeAndre Hopkins in the dessert).
- Kansas City: DK + Mahomes + Kelce + Hill + Watson = just hand the AFC title to KC for the foreseeable future. No thanks. Not unless KC thinks DK is worth their next FIVE first round picks - and probably not even then.
- Tampa Bay: Teams don’t usually try to help make the Super Bowl Champions stronger. Especially when they’re from your conference.