As I wrote in the companion piece, most Draft Day trades are draft picks for draft picks, but sometimes they involve players. Look no further than last year’s draft when two veteran wideouts found new homes five picks apart:
Trade No. 1:
- The Philadelphia Eagles got WR A.J. Brown
- The Tennessee Titans got R1.18 and R3.101
Trade No. 2:
- The Arizona Cardinals got WR Marquise Brown and R3.100
- The Baltimore Ravens got R1.23
Could the 2023 NFL Draft see similar moves involving draft picks and players?
If so, PFF’s recent article, ‘5 NFL defensive players who could be traded during the draft’, offers us a handful of players to keep an eye on.
Sadly, none of them are Nose Tackles.
S Budda Baker (Arizona Cardinals)
After weeks of back-and-forth conversations between Baker and the new Cardinals regime, Baker has reportedly requested a trade from the team that drafted him in the second round in 2017 as he seeks an extension that would place him near the top of the safety market.
There is no question Baker deserves a bump in pay, at the very least, and perhaps he’ll have to find that elsewhere, with the Jacksonville Jaguars one team that stands out as an interesting landing spot.
Second verse, same as the first (at least when it comes to the idea of making a Draft Day trade for a Cardinals star) . . .
A division rival isn’t about to trade us one of their best players, and Baker’s contract (plus his expectation of a new deal) make it a virtual impossibility for the Seahawks anyway.
LB Devin White (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Buccaneers have stated they have no intention of trading White, but whether that’s true or not, they should be open to the idea.
Tampa Bay has $75 million in dead cap in 2023, more than $20 million clear of the next-highest team. Wide receiver Mike Evans is entering the final year of his contract, and Kyle Trask is set to be the only quarterback on the Buccaneers’ 2024 roster. Is now really a good time to extend an off-ball linebacker to a top-of-market deal?
The market rate for off-ball linebackers has hit the $20M mark and, as good as White is (PFF notes that his 88 QB pressures since 2020 are +30 over the next guy on the list), that puts him way out of the Seahawks’ price range.
EDGE Za’Darius Smith (Minnesota Vikings)
While Smith is up there in age and has a somewhat troubling injury history, the deal he signed with Minnesota looks like a bargain after he earned an 84.7 pass-rush grade with 78 total pressures in 2022. Smith is owed $12.5 million for this upcoming season, with $3 million of that total coming via per-game roster bonuses that would not be earned if he missed time. This could make him an attractive trade piece for other clubs as compared to more expensive options, although it is quite clear that he wants a raise.
Minnesota only has five picks in this year’s draft so I can see the appeal from their side of things. That said, I see at least four red flags in the part of PFF’s take that I copy-and-pasted (age, injuries, salary, raise), so . . . No thank you!
EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah (Miami Dolphins)
This is a name and situation no one is talking about that probably deserves more attention. Ogbah signed a four-year, $65.4 million extension just last offseason, and the Dolphins promptly traded for edge defender Bradley Chubb at this year’s deadline, agreeing to a five-year, $110 million extension shortly thereafter. 2021 first-rounder Jaelan Phillips is better than both players, and Ogbah is now a rather expensive third edge rusher.
New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will want some depth rushing the passer, so it’s not as if Ogbah’s presence is a bad thing, and the tricky part here will be finding a trade partner to take on his $15 million fully guaranteed salary.
If Miami agrees to retain salary, as we’ve seen with recent trades of wide receivers Allen Robinson II and Brandin Cooks, another team in need of pass-rush help may buy low on Ogbah. That’s a huge “if,” but it’s worth mentioning.
Ogbah is an interesting option . . .
On the one hand, he missed the last 8 games of the 2022 season (torn triceps) and only recorded 1 sack on the 224 pass-rush snaps he played last year - and only had 15 total pressures in 9 games.
On the other hand, Ogbah had a combined 21 sacks and 127 total pressures the previous two seasons (10, 66 in 2020, plus 11, 61 in 2021).
His salary is definitely a sticking point though . . .
- 2023: $15M base + $350k in per-game roster bonuses
- 2024: $14.925M base + $775k in per-game bonuses and $100k workout bonus
- 2025: $15.025M base + $1M roster bonus + the same per-game and workout bonuses as 2024
IF the Dolphins were willing to pay roughly 2/3rds of his 2023 salary and were reasonable in their trade demands, I could maybe see this as a move that might interest John Schneider and Pete Carroll.
EDGE Chase Young (Washington Commanders)
Washington has now extended interior defenders Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, and edge defender Montez Sweat is entering his fifth-year option season in 2023 coming off a season in which he earned a career-high 79.6 pass-rush grade with 62 total quarterback pressures, also a top mark of his young career. Chase Young arguably has a higher ceiling than Sweat once healthy, but is Washington comfortable with Sweat’s high floor and willing to be proactive in getting out ahead of potentially paying all four players?
If other teams are comfortable with Young’s medical situation after he missed considerable time with a knee injury, would they bring him aboard during the draft, exercise his fifth-year option and see what he offers in 2023 before entertaining an extension? Teams such as the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans, among many others, would have to at least consider it.
As the 2nd-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase Young is a “sexy” football player. Unfortunately, after a solid rookie season, Young has since failed to live up to expectations.
- 2020: 15 games, 834 defensive snaps, 498 pass-rush snaps, 6 sacks, 42 total pressures, 44 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 4 passes defensed, 82.3 coverage grade
- 2021: 9 games, 477 defensive snaps, 297 pass-rush snaps, 2 sacks, 24 total pressures, 26 combined tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 2 passes defensed, 33.8 coverage grade
- 2022: 3 games (2 starts), 114 defensive snaps, 63 pass-rush snaps, 0 sacks, 7 total pressures, 5 combined tackles, 0 tackles for loss, 0 forced fumbles, 1 pass defensed, 85.3 coverage grade (on 2 coverage snaps)
Here’s some context to the above stats: Chase Young suffered season-ending injuries (torn ACL, ruptured patellar tendon) in Week 10 of the 2021 season, missed more than a year, and returned for the final three games of the 2022 season.
In theory, Chase Young is a bargain in 2023 with a base salary $1.01M and a roster bonus of $4,313,219.
If the roster bonus has already been paid then Young is 5x the bargain - which is part of why I doubt that the Commanders are even considering letting him go - at least not for anything less than an R1 (and probably not less than an R1 in the top half of the round).
Note: If Seattle did trade for Chase Young, they would have to make a decision on his fully-guaranteed $17.452M fifth-year option by May 1st.