The NFL offseason truly gets rolling when free agency opens in the middle of March, but teams often agree to terms on trades well before the start of the new league year.
With that in mind, here are five potential deals that would make a lot of sense this winter/spring:
Los Angeles Chargers acquire quarterback Cam Newton from Carolina Panthers
The Panthers, who are basically rebuilding after an exodus and won’t likely be competitive in the final year of Newton’s current contract, should just look for a fresh start at the quarterback position. By trading him now, they’ll get something for him and free up nearly $20 million in salary-cap space.
Meanwhile, he’d come relatively cheap and with a short-term commitment for a Chargers team that desperately needs to replace the departed Philip Rivers with an exciting new player. The Bolts are joining the more popular and successful Rams at the brand-new SoFi Stadium this year, and it’s important that they’re competitive and compelling. Newton, who is one of the most uniquely talented players in the league and one of the NFL’s best-known brands off the field, would be a perfect fit for Los Angeles.
Dallas Cowboys acquire safety Jamal Adams from New York Jets
The relationship between Adams and the Jets already appears to be frayed, and this regime didn’t draft him anyway. The star 24-year-old is already expecting a new contract, and Gang Green might figure it is better off getting a big return from the Cowboys.
Dallas, meanwhile, badly needs a game-changing safety after swinging and missing on Earl Thomas last offseason. A trade now would probably satisfy Adams for at least the final year of his rookie contract, as he’d be joining a popular contender. Plus, it could be a way for Jerry Jones to soften the blow associated with the potential loss of Amari Cooper in free agency.
New England Patriots acquire tight end O.J. Howard from Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs already have Cameron Brate on the roster, and it became clear in 2019 that new head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t value Howard very much. The 2017 first-round pick was targeted on just eight red-zone passes all season, scoring just one touchdown. Might as well get something for him now.
And the Patriots make so much sense as they continue to seek a suitable replacement for the retire Rob Gronkowski. Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo didn’t get the job done last year, and Ben Watson is like 80 years old. I’d imagine Bill Belichick would figure he could turn Howard into an extremely productive weapon for whoever quarterbacks the Pats in 2020.
Atlanta Falcons acquire edge defender Von Miller from Denver Broncos
The soon-to-be 31-year-old Miller is in decline and extremely expensive for a Denver team that isn’t likely to contend in 2020. The Broncos already have Bradley Chubb on the roster, and they can save $13.8 million by trading him to a contender that is in desperate need of a high-impact pass-rusher for 2020.
A team like the Falcons, who ranked in the bottom three last season in terms of sacks and pressure rate. Atlanta’s Super Bowl window remains open with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but it needs a defensive playmaker. It won’t be easy to get that at a reasonable rate on the open market, but John Elway would probably be happy to get Miller off his books and out of his conference.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquire cornerback A.J. Bouye from Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags are in salary-cap hell and should essentially be rebuilding the defense. They can save more than $11 million by dealing Bouye, who is fading as he approaches his age-29 season.
Meanwhile, the cap-rich Bucs can easily afford Bouye, who could immediately help a team that might be positioned to take a huge step forward after a promising finish to 2019. Tampa Bay badly needs another outside corner to work with Carlton Davis, and Bouye would make a lot of sense for a couple years before his mega-contract expires in 2022.