The NFL’s top prospects will strut their stuff in front of decision-makers in the annual NFL Scouting Combine slated for February 26- March 4th at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This “invitation only” event is expected to give us not only a clear picture of how the 2019 NFL Draft is going to unfold, it will also give an idea of where some of the league’s most popular players could be headed. As you can see, no NFL offseason is free of trade rumors involving big names. But unlike the NBA where stars are usually traded for each other, the NFL is known to deal existing stars with future stars and that involves draft picks.
So here are some of the latest big names that are in the trade chatter and who could be on the move after next week’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Where To, Antonio Brown?
After several months of hinting, Antonio Brown finally made his trade request official earlier this month. The Steelers have also made it known that Brown is available for a trade. But while many of us have already made our guesses, Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert recently said that three teams have “touched base” with them. Three teams, really?
No doubt that Brown is the most productive wide receiver in the NFL this decade. The soon to be 31 year old has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times in his career. Brown has recorded six straight seasons with at least 100 receptions and 1200 receiving yards. But his bizarre behavior in recent months may have hurt his trade value.
Colbert didn’t disclose the three teams. A spokesman from the San Francisco 49ers refused to comment when asked if the Niners were one of the three teams mentioned. San Francisco is one of the favorites to land the disgruntled wide receiver. Brown followed the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Adrian Colbert and George Kittle on social media last month, fueling speculations. The 49ers have a need for a wide receiver. Remember that this is a team which traded for Jimmy G. and gave him a guaranteed $48.7M. So why not give him a big-time weapon to work with?
The Antonio Brown Trade talks are expected to heat up next week, after the NFL Scouting Combine when the teams’ decision-makers will have gauged the prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. Sources say Brown will likely be traded before March 17th, when he is eligible to receive a $2.5M roster bonus. With no one talking right now, everything is purely speculation. A couple of things are sure though. The Steelers won’t be trading Brown to the AFC, specifically their AFC North rivals and not especially the New England Patriots.
Are The Cardinals Bluffing?
With the NFL Draft barely two months away, the big storyline heading to D-Day is what the Arizona Cardinals are going to do with the #1 overall pick? The reason I asked is while there is a favorite in Ohio State defensive back Nick Bosa, it’s not a guarantee that Arizona is going to pick the best talent from the pool.
It’s not even because of Bosa’s health issues. Most questions will be answered at the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s because of a prospect named Kyler Murray. Last October, when current Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was still coaching Texas Tech, he was asked about Murray and he told reporters that he’d take Murray if he had the #1 pick in the draft. By some stroke of luck, the Arizona Cardinals ended up hiring Kingsbury last month and you bet the Kyler Murray stories have stuck like glue.
Sure, Kingsbury recently said that Josh Rosen will be the Cardinals’ quarterback but do you honestly believe him? Kingsbury is a disciple of the Air Raid offensive scheme, a style from which Lincoln Riley’s offense at Oklahoma probably morphed from. Both Kingsbury and Riley believe that a quarterback should be used as a multi-purpose weapon- one that can threaten defenses on the ground while also throwing the ball enough on a pass-heavy offense. That’s not Josh Rosen’s game though. So how could he have the “keys to the castle”?
Kingsbury doesn’t owe Rosen anything because he didn’t draft him. Kingsbury could end up drafting Murray, the quarterback his offense needs. And Rosen? He’s no flash in the pan either and deserves a team that needs his skill set. So Rosen could be on the move, for a lower first round pick perhaps which the Cardinals are going to use to pick a defensive player. And yes, some wild rumors of Rosen being traded for Antonio Brown are circulating. But who can blame them?
The NFL’s offseason would not be complete without the annual Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumors. Most of us thought that we will no longer be hearing those talks again after OBJ signed a five-year $90M contract with the New York Giants last August. But we were wrong. Despite Beckham finishing with an impressive 1,052 receiving yard season even if he missed four games, the trade rumors are still here.
The story here is that the Giants received several offers, some of which were “decent”, prior to last year’s trade deadline. But the G-Men rebuffed them. There are reports which say the New England Patriots pushed hard for an OBJ deal in 2018 and that the 49ers did the same and still are interested in trading for the wide receiver.
New England is a possible landing spot because OBJ fits the window perfectly with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman in their twilight years. The Pats also have a massive six picks in the Top 100 so the Patriots have the need and assets to make this work. But I think this is a longshot or even just a spectacular tale.
Another team in this story are the Green Bay Packers who have two first round picks but then again, it does look that Green Bay needs more help on defense than offense so this could be just imagination too. But yeah, who would have thought that five years ago, Joe Flacco and his $20M payroll would be dealt? But this is the new NFL. We’ve seen things stranger than fiction happen so who knows really?