Absurd NFL Trade Offers for NFL's Most Untouchable Stars in 2023February 14, 2023
Absurd NFL Trade Offers for NFL's Most Untouchable Stars in 2023
With the Super Bowl in the rearview and the start of free agency still more than a month away, there's little else for football fans to do right now but dream up scenarios in which their favorite team can improve leading up to the 2023 campaign.
While there are plenty of minor and realistic moves each organization can make to bolster their ability to contend, let's instead swing for the fences and envision some pie-in-the-sky trades that would rock the NFL to its core if they went down.
Although these hypothetical deals are all but assured to never happen, it's a fun exercise to think "what if?" when considering them. With that in mind, here's a look at five absurd trade offers involving some of the league's most untouchable talents:
Justin Tucker to Dallas Cowboys
Baltimore Ravens Trade: K Justin Tucker
Dallas Cowboys Trade: 2023 First-Round Pick
Kickers generally don't receive much attention in the modern NFL unless they become famous for making clutch kicks or infamous for costly misses.
In this hypothetical deal, the Dallas Cowboys would find a solution to their kicking woes after incumbent place-kicker Brett Maher completely collapsed down the stretch. With Maher a candidate to be relieved of his duties this offseason, why not go after a replacement who has been the most consistent and clutch kicker of his generation.
Justin Tucker has been an invaluable piece of the Baltimore Ravens' special teams unit since he was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2012. He earned the starting job as a rookie and has gone on to make a myriad big-time kicks from absurd distances in high-pressure situations.
With a lifetime field-goal percentage of 90.5 on 401 attempts and an NFL-record 66-yard make under his belt, there is no doubting that Tucker is the class of the league when it comes to kickers. He has the record for most points in NFL history during his first 10 seasons and doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Clutch is part of Tucker's DNA, something the Cowboys could use if they hope to get back to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the mid-1990s. Prior to missing a 67-yard attempt at the end of Week 12 this past season, Tucker had connected on 65 consecutive makes in the fourth quarter or overtime. During that stretch he never missed in the final minute of the fourth quarter (17-of-17) or overtime (5-of-5).
Baltimore has recognized Tucker's value to the organization by making him the highest-paid kicker in league history. He inked a four-year $24 million extension last year that keeps him under contract through 2027.
The five-time All-Pro would instantly upgrade Dallas' kicking game after Maher finished the campaign having made just one of his last seven PAT tries. While the 33-year-old did convert a pair of field goals in the playoffs—his only two attempts between Dallas' regular-season finale and divisional-round exit to the San Francisco 49ers—the extra-point misses make him a major liability to retain going forward.
While Tucker would be a fantastic trade score, it's unlikely to happen given Dallas in $7.6 million over the projected cap for next season. It would be tough for the club to justify taking on his hefty salary with more pressing holes to fill at positions like cornerback, wide receiver and linebacker.
Kicker trades have been historically rare, but it would likely take an extremely strong offer to get Baltimore to move on from Tucker. If Dallas was willing to part with a first-rounder—it holds the No. 26 overall pick this year—it could get the Ravens to consider it given Tucker's age (33), but it's exceedingly unlikely the Cowboys would give up such a lofty selection for a special teamer, even if he is one of the greatest to ever play his position.
Tyreek Hill to Baltimore Ravens
Miami Dolphins Trade : WR Tyreek Hill
Baltimore Ravens Trade : 2023 First-Round Pick, 2024 Second-Round Pick, 2023 Third-Round Pick
The Miami Dolphins went all-in on improving their offense around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last spring. Although injuries took their toll on the young signal-caller and cost him a chance at his first career playoff start, the decision to trade multiple first-round picks and sign Tyreek Hill to a massive contract helped the young QB develop into a much better player and has Miami set up for success in the coming years.
Hill was an integral part of the Miami passing attack's resurgence, a transformation that rival teams should be envious of. The Baltimore Ravens are a fringe-contender that has struggled to get much going through the air in recent years and would benefit heavily from the same type of instant improvement in that area by adding a superstar pass-catcher into the mix.
Baltimore went into 2022 with one of the league's thinner receivers room after trading away top wideout Marquise Brown during the draft. While 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman seemed to be a decent replacement, he was sidelined for 11 games this season because of injury after missing five as a rookie.
While the Ravens still made the playoffs largely thanks to their relentless ground game—Baltimore averaged the second-most yards per game on the ground, ranking in the top three for the fifth consecutive year—the lack of viable wideouts is starting to hold this organization back.
Star quarterback Lamar Jackson has finished each of the last two seasons with injuries, missing 10 games in that span that have cost Baltimore a real chance at making deep playoff runs. The Ravens are 45-16 in games that Jackson has started and just 8-13 without him in the lineup, making his health the team's utmost priority once both parties agree on a long-term extension.
One way to accomplish that would be to reduce Jackson's rushing workload. He's racked up a league-leading 727 totes during his first five years in the league, 181 more than second-ranked Josh Allen has in that same span.
While Jackson has been effective on those carries—piling up 4,437 yards and 24 touchdowns—it's certainly not helping him stay healthy and available late in campaigns when his club needs him most.
Adding a game-changing wideout like Hill would allow Jackson to focus more on staying in the pocket and throwing, a playstyle change that could greatly lengthen his career and balance out Baltimore's offense.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, Miami would likely demand a massive return for Hill after he notched 1,710 yards and seven touchdowns on 119 catches in his first season with the club.
It might take more compensation than the 28-year-old cost the 'Phins to acquire, which was five draft picks—including first- and second-round selections this past year—in addition to $120 million over four years with his contract extension.
With Baltimore only possessing two picks in the first three rounds of this draft and needing to keep a load of cap space open for Jackson's extension, it's likely the franchise will have to settle for a lesser talent if it is going to upgrade the wideout position.
Joe Burrow to Indianapolis Colts
Cincinnati Bengals Trade : QB Joe Burrow
Indianapolis Colts Trade : Four First-Round Picks (2023-2026), Four Second-Round Picks (2023-2026), OG Quenton Nelson, LB Shaquille Leonard
The Cincinnati Bengals struck gold with their selection of Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall three years ago. He shook off a season-ending ACL tear as a rookie to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his second season and brought them back to the AFC Championship Game this year. The future is exceedingly bright for the Bengals because of Burrow's presence, a player nearly every team in the league would benefit from having.
Few squads would be as desperate for Burrow as the Indianapolis Colts, however. The team has churned through seven starting quarterbacks since Andrew Luck's abrupt 2019 retirement. While Philip Rivers managed to guide Indianapolis to the playoffs before his own retirement in 2020, other veteran castoffs such as Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan haven't panned out for this organization.
With no viable signal-caller currently on the roster, it's likely the Colts will use the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft to try to unearth Luck's long-term successor. There's a lot of risk in tapping a rookie to save a franchise, though, which is why Indianapolis would likely pounce on any semblance of a chance to secure an established superstar.
The Colts have a long history of employing some of the game's great quarterbacks, starting in the 1950s with Johnny Unitas and moving through the late 1990s and 2000s with Peyton Manning and Luck. Burrow would be the ideal continuation of that storied line, although his services wouldn't come anywhere close to cheap.
The compensation Cincinnati would require would be downright enormous. Their first-rounders in the next four drafts would probably be a non-negotiable starting point, and it's likely the team would need to include a bevy of high-end talent—guys like Shaquille Leonard, Jonathan Taylor and Quenton Nelson come to mind—and/or make some separate moves to acquire more Day 1 selections.
Burrow is also due for a blockbuster extension as he prepares for his fourth NFL season. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler found that the 26-year-old's next contract is expected to surpass Aaron Rodgers' record-setting per-year salary, which rang up at $50.3 million a season after signing a three-year extension last March.
Even with the Colts having to give up the farm and offer a historic contract, Burrow would be worth it all for an organization that hasn't been able to contend because of its lack of talent under center in recent years.
Micah Parsons to Chicago Bears
Dallas Cowboys Trade: LB Micah Parsons
Chicago Bears Trade: 2023 First-Round Pick, 2023 Second-Round Pick, 2023 Third-Round Pick
The Chicago Bears hold the top overall pick in the 2023 draft, but unlike many of their contemporaries selecting early on the first day, they do not have a strong need for a quarterback. While the Bears do have some other options to explore at No. 1—such as drafting Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr., the two top prospects on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's latest big board —there is a decent chance they trade down.
While many expect a team like the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts or Carolina Panthers will jump to the top of the round in order to land their coveted quarterback prospect, the Dallas Cowboys would be an intriguing trade partner if they were willing to discuss moving superstar defender Micah Parsons to the Windy City.
Parsons entered the league as Dallas' No. 12 overall pick two years ago and has more than lived up to the hype. The 23-year-old has made it abundantly clear he can do a bit of everything at the professional level and is dominating regardless of where the Cowboys line him up.
The 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Pro has already recorded an eye-popping 26.5 sacks to go along with 149 tackles and six forced fumbles in his first 33 career games. He's a game-changing weapon on the defensive side of the ball, the type of player the Bears direly need if they wish to become a serious contender.
Chicago has parted ways with many of its best defensive players in recent seasons. The organization traded star linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens in late October and shipped elite edge-rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers early in the 2022 offseason.
The loss of established talent was a key reason why the Bears ranked as the league's worst scoring defense and fourth-worst total defense this past season. No team had fewer than the 20 sacks the Bears tallied on the year.
Adding a talent like Parsons would instantly elevate Chicago's defensive capabilities. The Penn State product helped transform Dallas' defense from one that allowed 29.6 points per game in 2020 to one that gave up a much more respectable 21.1 points per game the following season.
Unfortunately for the Bears, it will likely take much more than the No. 1 overall pick to convince the Cowboys to move Parsons. He's arguably the most cost-effective defender in the league and isn't eligible for an extension until 2024, a contract that is allowing the Cowboys to splurge on other pieces before his inevitable payday.
Given the massive impact he's had on the Cowboys since being drafted, he's one of, if not the most untouchable defender in the NFL right now.
Patrick Mahomes to Houston Texans
Kansas City Chiefs Trade : QB Patrick Mahomes
Houston Texans Trade : Two 2023 First-Round Picks, Two 2024 First-Round Picks, 2025 First-Round Pick, 2026 First-Round Pick, Four Second-Round Picks (2023-2026)
Fresh off winning the NFL award for the second time in the last half decade and a Super Bowl title for the second time in the last four years, Patrick Mahomes has established himself as the league's top quarterback. His value to the Kansas City Chiefs is almost impossible to quantify, as the organization had hung just a single Super Bowl banner prior to drafting the signal-caller, having last claimed a championship prior to the merger in 1969.
With Kansas City coming off a historic run to five consecutive AFC Championship Games and primed to continue dominating the league for the foreseeable future largely thanks to Mahomes' presence, it's tough to imagine a scenario in which the organization would even consider the possibility of trading the 27-year-old megastar.
If any franchise could be desperate enough to scrape together the type of assets it would take to land Mahomes, it might be the Houston Texans.
The Texans have been mired in mediocrity for most of the club's history. Since entering the league in 2002 the organization has made six playoff appearances but has never even reached an AFC Championship Game. Houston has lacked a star quarterback since Deshaun Watson was traded last year and is coming off a league-worst three-year stretch in which it has won just 11 games.
With arguably the worst roster in the league and tons of holes to fill, it would take nearly everything the Texans could conceivably muster to get Kansas City to the negotiating table to discuss a Mahomes deal.
Houston does have two early first-rounders this year (No. 2 and No. 12), but it will take quite a bit more than that to pry the two-time Super Bowl winner away.
The Texans would likely need to cough up as many future firsts as the league will allow, which includes picks through the 2026 draft this year. As it stands, that would total up the six Houston currently has—two this year, two in 2024, one in 2025 and one in 2026—but it's hard to envision a scenario in which the Chiefs would even entertain the idea for those selections alone.
Perhaps if Houston is able to acquire a few more Day 1 picks—and that won't be easy given the lackluster talent it could use as trade bait—while adding a slew of Day 2 selections into the mix, it maybe be able to get Kansas City's brass on the line to consider the idea for a few moments before declining.