Trade Bait: One Player From Every AFC Team That Will Be Traded
Note: Most of these players won’t be traded at any point this season but it is important to keep these names in mind as the season develops. Many of these players become free agents at the end of this season or next season so even if they aren’t traded, they will be available for the rest of the league unless they are extended.
New England Patriots
Dont’a Hightower: Hightower has been one of the integral pieces of the Patriots defense since being drafted in 2012. Hightower may be a hard player to trade in midseason because of his position and it’s hard to see him being shopped before the season starts since the Patriots are going to be competitive early on. If the Patriots are underperforming, Hightower can give many defenses a rare game-changing linebacker while the Patriots can still get a good haul in return for Hightower who is over 30 and a pending free agent.
Honorable Mention(s): The Patriots defensive line has many players that are free agents at the end of the season.
Jerry Hughes: It’s hard to see the Bills selling at any point this season with many seeing them as the favorites to win the AFC East. If the Bills flop this season, Hughes would be one of the more likely to go. A two-year rental at age 34 can be intriguing since Hughes is a pass-rusher and wouldn’t be a high price. If a team sees this season as their Super Bowl window, they may trade a third or fourth round pick for a pass rusher like Hughes.
Honorable Mention: John Brown is also a free agent in 2022 and is an explosive receiver that many teams would want to add depth to the receiving unit.
New York Jets
Jamal Adams: Adams has been linked to trades since the fallout during this past season. Adams was given the fifth-year option but looks likely to leave when his rookie deal is up with the Jets. Adams has been one of the best defenders since entering the league and will have a high asking price, teams will definitely be willing to trade a first-round pick and then some in exchange for Adams if the Jets can’t convince Jamal to stay in New York.
Albert Wilson: Wilson has been inconsistent the past few seasons posting fewer than 400 yards in each of his last two seasons in Miami. Wilson has shown that with a good quarterback, he can be a viable receiver, not a number one target but still a valuable wideout. Wilson wouldn’t give a strong return in a trade but with his contract up at the end of the season, Wilson would be a player worth trading if the Dolphins aren’t in the playoff mix by mid-season.
Honorable Mention: Allen Hurns can also be a solid wide receiver in the right system and his contract is up in 2022.
Gus Edwards: The Ravens aren’t going to be making a trade as sellers. The Ravens are competing for the Super Bowl and will probably make a deal to create space on the roster and trade expendable players. Gus Edwards can be a starting running back in the NFL but with Mark Ingram as the lead back in Baltimore and the team drafting JK Dobbins, Edwards is clearly expendable. Gus Edwards also becomes a free agent at the end of the season so the Ravens have all the more reason to trade him.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Smith is also a free agent at years end and the Ravens have one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL.
AJ Green: AJ Green has been on the trading block for a few years now. The more the Bengals delay trading Green, the less they will get in return. The Bengals want to keep Green around to help rookie quarterback and number one pick Joe Burrow but the receiver can be shopped like Emmanuel Sanders was sent to the 49ers this past season.
Odell Beckham: Odell Beckham has been linked to trade rumors from before he arrived in Cleveland. Despite having more than 1000 yards last season, many saw Beckham as underachieving and wanting to get out of Cleveland. The Browns might wait until mid-season to see what to do with Odell, if the Browns are disappointing once again, expect them to be actively shopping the star wideout.
Juju Smith-Schuster: Smith-Schuster has not been extended and is a free agent at the end of the season. The Steelers have liked Juju’s performance but appear uncommitted to him long-term. The Steelers might want to get value for one of the best young wideouts in the game if they are having a bad season. Smith-Schuster can bring back a few draft picks and would force the team that trades for him into either renting or paying a high price for him come season’s end.
Will Fuller: The Texans have proven that anyone can be traded as they sent All-Pro wideout Deandre Hopkins to Arizona in March. Anyone on their roster can be a good trade candidate but Will Fuller is one of the more likely to be traded. Fuller has had recurring injuries and is a speed threat that has shown he can make the big play, ultimately Fuller is a high risk investment. Will Fuller is a free agent at the end of the year and might be worth the risk for a team looking for a deep threat to expand the attack. Fuller can bring a third or fourth round pick in return, which means Bill O'Brien will likely trade him for a fifth round pick.
Harold Landry: Landry has two years left on his rookie contract and if he continues to improve on the 9 sack season he just had, expect him to ask for a big pay day when he hits free agency. Like many pass rushers, Landry can be one that a team competing for the Super Bowl will be inclined to add to help the defense. A lot will depend on how Landry looks throughout the season but if Harold Landry continues to improve, teams will be interested in making a deal to acquire him.
Malik Hooker: I was surprised the Colts didn’t pick up Hookers fifth-year option. Malik Hooker has been an impact safety and was worth the first round selection the Colts made on him back in 2017. With the front office trading and signing Deforest Buckner and then drafting a safety (Julian Blackmon), it doesn’t look like they will sign Hooker to a long term deal. Malik Hooker can be traded before the season even begins and he can be the centerfield safety that many teams are looking for to bolster their secondary.
Leonard Fournette: Fournette’s tenure in Jacksonville has been a complete disaster. The team declined his fifth-year option and it’s clear he needs a change of scenery. It was shocking that the Jaguars didn’t trade Fournette on draft night and it would be more shocking if the Jaguars didn’t trade him before the season started. Fournette has proven he has the ability to be a star running back, it’s just not going to happen in Jacksonville, another team might want to take a chance on him and see if Leonard still has the promise he displayed at LSU.
Honorable Mention(s): The Jaguars have been clearing house over the past year or so and almost anyone with any value can be traded by a team that appears to be punting the season.
Garett Bolles: Like Fournette and Hooker, Bolles was declined the fifth-year option, hinting that the Broncos won’t resign him. Garett Bolles has started every game of his career thus far but hasn’t been an elite offensive tackle in his three seasons. Regardless, a team that is contending for the Super Bowl might want to add Bolles for offensive line depth and to see if he can do better under their scheme. Two teams that come to mind are the Titans and Ravens, both are run heavy teams and run different offenses that might suit Bolles better.
Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones: Chris Jones has been one of the best interior defensive lineman since joining the league. Jones was given the franchise tag this off-season but has yet to negotiate a deal with the Chiefs. Last year, the Chiefs franchise tagged Dee Ford and when they couldn’t come to an agreement on a deal they traded him before the draft even happened. Chris Jones might get similar treatment considering the Chiefs have to save cap space for a certain quarterback. Jones is one of the best defensive lineman in the league and it would come as no surprise if the Chiefs traded Jones for a second round (maybe even first round) pick to a team looking for a gamechanger on defense.
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr: This one is a reach. The Derek Carr saga has been an interesting one to say the least. Carr was an MVP candidate in 2016 before his season-ending injury, since then he hasn’t been the same with the constant turnover and weak supporting cast not helping. The Raiders might give Carr another year with the organization finally supplying him with offensive playmakers but with the team signing Marcus Mariota in the off-season, Derek Carr might be on a short leash. I don’t think many teams need quarterbacks at mid-season, with the right offer a team might make the trade if they see Carr as a possible answer at quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers
Joey Bosa: It wasn’t many years ago that Joey Bosa was having contract disputes with the Chargers and was holding out as a rookie. Between the holdout and the injury in 2018 that took him nine weeks to recover (when many thought it wasn’t a serious injury) it looks like Bosa is counting the days until he can leave the Chargers and receive a massive contract (this being his final year on his rookie deal). Joey Bosa can have a Khalil Mack type of trade before this season starts, Bosa is talented enough to be traded for two first round picks and a team might come in and make that trade. Joey Bosa has proven he can be one of the best pass rushers in the game, as mentioned before, teams that are thinking about the Super Bowl are also thinking of adding an extra pass rusher.
Honorable Mention: Melvin Ingram and Keenan Allen are also on the final year of their contracts. If the Chargers have another disappointing season, it would make sense for them to shop both for draft picks.