September 29, 2022

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An early look at 2022 NFL trade candidates: Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson among 10 big names who could be dealt

All eyes are on the NFL playoff picture as the 2021 regular season winds down. But a handful of teams are already — if not admittedly, privately — looking forward to the 2022 offseason. And if last winter and spring are any indication, we could be in for yet another flurry of high-profile moves, starting at the quarterback position.

With that in mind, here’s an early look at 10 big names who could very well find themselves on the trade market in 2022:

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We’re including him out of necessity, not because anything points to an ugly split between Rodgers and the Packers right now. With a third straight 13-win season and NFC title run very much in the cards, why wouldn’t they work toward an extended marriage, even if it means punting on the Jordan Love succession plan? But let’s say Rodgers still opts to control his own destiny post-2021; the Packers can instantly save $19-plus million — and assuredly collect multiple first-rounders — by sending him elsewhere. They’d absorb a big dead-cap hit ($26.8M) by doing so, but the Eagles and Rams proved in 2021 that massive financial pills can, in fact, be swallowed in the name of drama-free QB situations.

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Will Pete Carroll and Co. be eager to reset the QB spot? Not necessarily. But a rebuild could certainly be on the way, and Russ had no qualms about teasing a relocation even before Seattle tumbled to the bottom of the NFC West. Maybe the price tag is slightly lower after his 2021 finger surgery, but he’s still just 33 with plans to play another decade. Seattle would absorb a $26M dead-cap hit by dealing No. 3, but the team would still save a net of $11M, freeing up space for a roster in dire need of reinforcements.

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The Mike Zimmer era could soon be coming to a close in Minnesota, where the Vikings — like Cousins — have never fully bottomed out but never fully bloomed. That might actually seem like good news for Kirk, whose underrated big-play arm has at times run counter to Zimmer’s old-school approach. But a total rebuild could be just as likely, especially considering Cousins’ massive 2022 cap hit ($45M). Plenty of teams would take a flyer on his proven top-12ish arm (especially if Minnesota eats some of his salary), and the Vikings would save up to $35M by dealing him ahead of his contract year.

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Carr deserves a lot of credit for gutting it out with the Raiders, faring much better and for a lot longer than most anticipated. But he’s had several hot starts fizzle out down the stretch, and now Mark Davis could be motivated to reboot everything after all that occurred in 2021. Carr could have plenty of football left at 30, but Vegas still feels several key pieces short of a real run. Dealing him ahead of his contract year would save the Raiders an instant $19.9M — which is also the bargain price for the acquiring team.

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The 49ers have been unofficially broadcasting their desire to deal Garoppolo since before drafting Trey Lance No. 3 overall in 2021. They’re content riding him to a wild card run this winter, but they’ve reached their ceiling with him as the figurehead of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The question is, will anyone bite on a mid-tier veteran with injury concerns? The 49ers hope so, because they’d save $25.6M by sending him elsewhere (or just cutting him if/when the market fails to materialize).

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Before 2021 began, the Browns could’ve easily convinced themselves Mayfield warranted something in the ballpark of $35M per year. Since then, he’s limped his way through an uneven performance for a middling team. With a nearly four-year sample size, Mayfield has looked serviceable more than anything, which could be enough to justify one more audition season. But if Kevin Stefanski is confident he can win with someone else, Cleveland could save nearly $19M — with no dead-cap hit — by dealing him.

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Barkley will only be 25 in 2022, and fully healthy, he remains one of the most imposing playmakers at his position. The problem is, he hasn’t been or looked in mint condition for at least two years. And he plays one of the most replaceable roles in the NFL. If he can rest up and get in shape after the season, maybe someone would be enticed by making him a reclamation project. The Giants, meanwhile, primed to rebuild again post-Dave Gettleman, would save $7.2 million by saying farewell.

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He’s been the life of the Texans’ offense even with two backups throwing him passes this year, and Houston probably prefers to retain him as a safety valve for its next quarterback. But he’d welcome another change of scenery, and not just because he’s already been traded three times in his career. An acquiring team would be paying a lot for, ideally, a No. 2 wideout considering Cooks is due $16.2M in 2022, but the Texans could be willing to eat some of that money since they’d save $8.7M in a deal.

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The Ravens are down so many bodies in their secondary that they’d pay to have Peters back for their hopeful playoff run. But the veteran is due $15.5M in 2022, the last year on his current deal, and Baltimore has other contracts to address. Potential suitors would have to consider that he’s coming off a torn ACL and fast approaching his age-30 season, but he can still serve as a No. 1 for a contender. The Ravens would save $10M by shipping him elsewhere.

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One of the surprise stars of 2020, Bradberry has settled down after starting slow in his second season with the Giants. The former Panthers No. 1 could still fit into New York’s long-term plans on defense. But how many other positions will need reinforcements when Big Blue inevitably rebuilds in 2022? He’s due a whopping $21.9M in the final year of his deal, and New York could save more than $12M by auctioning him off.


https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/an-early-look-at-2022-nfl-trade-candidates-kirk-cousins-russell-wilson-among-10-big-names-who-could-be-dealt/