Sean Pendergast

Who Could Be Involved in a Surprise Trade Before NFL Draft?

Christian McCaffrey has a big contract and an even bigger injury history.
Christian McCaffrey has a big contract and an even bigger injury history. Photo by Jack Gorman
Yesterday, we talked about shocking things that Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio could do either leading up to the draft this week, or on draft night. One scenario we crossed off the list was Caserio making a trade for Niners wide receiver Deebo Samuel, whose trade request is still open, as of Tuesday morning.

However, we all know that Caserio is singing off of a different sheet of music than most other NFL teams. The Texans are in about as massive a rebuild as any team in recent history, and to steal an analogy from Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, if the Texans' rebuild were a baby, it would barely be crawling. A large majority of the NFL, though, is open for business when it comes to wheeling and dealing for veteran star players.

If we were coming up with a list of players who have at least a tiny percentage chance of being moved this week, I would submit these seven names:

1. DEEBO SAMUEL, WR, San Francisco 49ers
This would be, by far, the least surprising one on this list, as Samuel has made his desire for a trade very public. Reportedly, this is less about money, and more about Samuel not wanting to be used as a wide receiver-running back hybrid anymore, but ultimately, everything gets traced back to the almighty dollar. Whoever trades for Samuel will have to pay him big money on his next contract. The most likely suitors here are the Chiefs, Packers, and Jets.

2. KYLER MURRAY, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Murray has been agitating for a new contract since the start of the offseason, highlighted by his agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeting out a strongly worded graphic pressuring the Cardinals to extend his client. The most recent report on extension negotiations, from Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, is that there are no negotiations going on right now. For what it's worth, Cardinals GM Steve Keim said last week there is "no chance" the Cardinals are trading Murray, but Nick Caserio once said the same thing about Deshaun Watson.

3. A.J. BROWN, WR, Tennessee Titans
4. D.K. METCALF, WR,  Seattle Seahawks
I'm grouping these two together. Like Samuel, both Brown and Metcalf are 2019 second round picks that are  headed into the last year of their rookie deals. Unlike Samuel, neither has requested a trade, although Brown has been somewhat public about wanting to get paid. After seeing Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill traded last month, I wouldn't rule anything out in this wide receiver market.

5. SAQUON BARKLEY, RB, New York Giants
6. CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY, RB, Carolina Panthers
I'll go ahead and group these two together, as well, since both are former high draft picks at a position where teams just don't normally draft players all that high. McCaffrey signed a monster extension two years ago, and has since missed 23 of 33 games. Barkley is in the fifth year option year of his rookie deal, and is looking for a big 2022 season so he can get paid. Neither of their employers has intimated that these players are on the market, but maybe some teams come in this week and make offers.

7. GRADY JARRETT, DT, Atlanta Falcons
This last one is a bit of a shot in the dark, but it's based mostly on my feeling that Atlanta is in tank mode, and could be the worst team in football this season. Jarrett is in the final year of a big contract he signed a few years ago, and set to make $16.5 million in base salary, which for his position, defensive tackle, is a very expensive luxury item for a team that might win five games this year, at most.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast