As we continue to ramp up to Super Bowl LVI, it’s worth keeping an eye on the looming NFL offseason. The new league year begins on March 16, and the free-agent and trade markets are going to be feature plenty of big names.
A number of fantastic players, including Davante Adams, Von Miller, Chris Godwin and J.C. Jackson, are scheduled to hit the open market. Even with a strong free-agent class, though, teams are going to supplement their roster-building with trades.
We saw several high-profile players traded a year ago, including Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater. While not every big deal yielded on-field success, the Los Angeles Rams’ acquisition of Stafford has helped them reach the Super Bowl.
Might a team parlay a 2022 trade into a deep playoff run? It’s entirely possible, and with that in mind, we’re going to examine some blockbuster trades we’d love to see this offseason.
We’re swinging big with these hypothetical trades, but we’ll keep them within the realm of possibility. The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t trading Patrick Mahomes. The New Orleans Saints—with a projected $76.2 million cap deficit—probably aren’t trading for Aaron Rodgers.
Factors like team needs, contract statuses, cap space and any relevant recent buzz will be considered here.
Cincinnati Bengals Trade for Xavien Howard
Cincinnati Bengals receive: CB Xavien Howard
Miami Dolphins receive: 2022 first-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick
The Cincinnati Bengals are already headed to Super Bowl LVI and may not look to be aggressive in the offseason trade market. However, we’d love to see them make some bold moves and try to turn a feel-good story into a dynasty.
Cincinnati’s already-strong roster could afford to upgrade a pass defense that is ranked in 26th in yards allowed. Trading for Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard could help change things dramatically.
Howard was a first-team All-Pro in 2020, has been named to the Pro Bowl in three of the past four years and allowed an opposing passer rating of only 72.6 in 2021. Over the past two years, he has logged 15 interceptions and 36 passes defended.
While it’s worth noting that a new head coach could change the situation, Howard sought a trade during the offseason before getting a restructured contract out of the deal. Last month, Howard posted a cryptic goodbye tweet that could indicate he still wants out, though it could also simply be him saying goodbye for the season.
Either way, Howard would be in a great situation with the Bengals, and with $56.5 million in projected cap space, Cincinnati should have no trouble adding Howard and giving him the extension he’s been seeking.
Cleveland Browns Trade for Russell Wilson
Cleveland Browns receive: QB Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks receive: QB Baker Mayfield, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, 2024 second-round pick
The Cleveland Browns want to be where the Bengals are, and we’d love to see Cleveland make a run at its first NFL title since 1964. Adding a top-tier quarterback like Russell Wilson just might make that happen.
The Browns finished the 2021 season ranked fifth in total defense but only 20th in scoring offense. Poor quarterback play—perhaps a result of the torn labrum Baker Mayfield suffered in Week 2—was a big factor. Cleveland is set to give Mayfield another (healthy) season to prove himself in 2022, but Wilson is a future Hall of Famer and a clear upgrade over what Cleveland had this past season.
Though hampered by a finger injury that briefly landed him on injured reserve, Wilson still made the Pro Bowl (as an alternate) and posted a passer rating of 103.1 this past season. Cleveland passers posted a collective 84.6 rating.
While Wilson isn’t clamoring for a trade, he is reportedly considering his options.
“Russ wants to know his options. I’m not saying he’s definitely going to go, but he wants to look around and see,” NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said on the Pat McAfee Show.
Wilson has a no-trade clause, so this hypothetical deal would only happen if the 33-year-old believes he can win more championships in Cleveland. He would have his hands full with teams like Cincinnati, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills in the AFC, but we’d love to see Wilson help bring Cleveland to the ranks of the elite.
Cleveland Browns Trade for Calvin Ridley
Cleveland Browns receive: WR Calvin Ridley
Atlanta Falcons receive: Conditional 2023 second-round pick
If the Browns don’t upgrade at quarterback and decide to run it back with Mayfield, they’ll need to add a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
Mayfield’s injury, which required surgery in the offseason, had a big impact on his performance in 2021. A lackluster receiving corps didn’t help, either. Odell Beckham Jr. never meshed with Kevin Stefanski’s offense and was released following the trade deadline.
Donovan Peoples-Jones led Cleveland with a mere 597 receiving yards.