Extra-large NFL rosters are basically set for the summer, but there’s still room for lingering free agents to land jobs and trades to go down before training camps open at the end of July. Here are five transactions that probably should happen between now and the start of the 2017 season.
1. New England Patriots trade Malcolm Butler to the Carolina Panthers
The Pats flirted with trading Butler to the New Orleans Saints before the draft, but that ship has sailed now that New Orleans has used a first-round pick on Marshon Lattimore. Still, considering how much cash the Pats threw at veteran corner Stephon Gilmore, it’s likely they’ll try to get something for Butler before they lose him to free agency next offseason. The Panthers are still recovering from the loss of Josh Norman, and I think they’ll bite when they realize that second-year corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley probably aren’t good enough starters for a team in win-now mode.
2. New York Jets trade Sheldon Richardson to the Minnesota Vikings
The Jets are getting rid of all of their veterans as they rebuild, and they already have the talented Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams up front. That’s why everybody excepts them to deal Wilkerson, whose contract is expiring. He was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and a Pro Bowler in 2014, and the contending Vikings could become desperate with Sharrif Floyd continuing to deal with a nerve issue in his quad. Richardson is still only 26, and he’d be an upgrade over even a healthy Floyd. Eventually, the Vikes just might reach out to Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan.
3. Philadelphia Eagles trade Jason Kelce to the New Orleans Saints
NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks threw this out there, as did Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski. It just makes too much sense, considering that the Eagles have two starting-caliber centers in Kelce and Wisniewski, and that the Saints still aren’t sure when Max Unger will return from a foot injury. Parks suggested they could deal Kelce for Mark Ingram since the Saints have several strong backs including Adrian Peterson. But that won’t happen now that Philly has signed LeGarrette Blount to join its crowded backfield. I’d expect Philly to settle for a mid-round pick or two, instead.
4. Colin Kaepernick signs with the first team that loses its starting quarterback
Ultimately, winning trumps almost everything in the NFL. And all it should take now is a team losing a starting quarterback due to injury for Kaepernick to land a job. Nobody is interested in him as a backup because he’s such a unique player and he can’t exactly mimic most regular pocket passers, and backups aren’t worth the distraction. But it’s a different story if a team suddenly becomes desperate for a starter, which happens basically every year, usually before the regular season gets underway. That’ll eventually happen, and I’d expect the team that suffers that loss to sign Kaepernick.