This past year’s NFL off-season was one of the busiest in recent memory. Trades of top-name guys in skill positions more than usual. Now that we’re more than halfway through the season, how did these traded players work in each team’s favor?
Russell Wilson Traded To The Broncos
Let’s go over one of the most notable trades of the off-season when the Seahawks announced they were trading long-time quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. In exchange, the Seattle Seahawks received two first-round picks (the ninth overall pick in 2022 and a 2023 first-round pick that currently sits at third overall), two second-round picks in 2022, which was 40th overall, and a 2023 second-round pick. As well as defensive lineman Shelby Harris, tight end Noah Fant, and quarterback Drew Lock.
In hindsight, the trade for both franchises’ positions was even from their perspective. However, the truth would begin to reveal itself during the present. The Seattle Seahawks got the best deal in this trade. It turns out Russell Wilson was a great scheme fit for Seattle but has proven to be mediocre in the Broncos system. With everything the Broncos gave up, this trade could not have played out any worse for them.
The Broncos were under the assumption they had a very filled-out roster, and the last thing it was missing was a quarterback. So much so that they traded away multiple picks and gave up the future of this team to win now. Huge problem; the Denver Broncos are worse now than they were in 2022. As it sits, they are the third-worst team in the National Football League.
The Seattle Seahawks, however, couldn’t be in a better position. If the season ended today, the Seahawks would be in the playoffs with a seven seed. Along with being in the playoffs, they have a top-three pick from the Broncos and another first-round pick of their own. They would have a top-three pick in the second round as well.
Broncos Grade: D+
Seahawks Grade: A
Tyreek Hill Traded To The Dolphins
This trade was a shock to everyone that followed the NFL. When you dig into the why of this trade, it’s not complicated to unpack. Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for first-, second-, and fourth-round picks in 2022. Those picks amounted to the 29th, 50th, and 121st overall picks. They also received fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2022.
Let’s break down the “why” for the Kansas City Chiefs in the deal. Tyreek Hill was due for a contract extension after this year’s season; with the inflated value for wide receivers in the market, the Chiefs knew paying Hill was going to be a tough task.
The Chiefs already had $43 million in cap between Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce alone. They couldn’t afford to pay Tyreek Hill $30 million a year on top of that, which ultimately led the Chiefs to deal Hill so they could get something out of him instead of letting him walk for free.
Trades are meant to be a win/win for both teams in retrospect. In my opinion, this was the best win/win trade situation of any in the off-season. The Dolphins felt they had the team to win now, and they just needed one star catching the football. They went out and got the three-time pro bowler, and he has not disappointed.
A candidate for offensive player of the year, Hill has amassed 1,379 yards through the first 12 games of the season, proving to be worth every pick and every penny of this 4-year $120 million extension.
Chiefs Grade: A-
Davante Adams Traded To The Raiders
Another skill position off-season trade buzz was the Green Bay Packers trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, reuniting Adams with his college quarterback, Derek Carr. Green Bay, in return for Adams, received a first- and second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Green Bay was one of the teams in the off-season that punished for the wide receiver contract inflation. After the Packers put Adams on a franchise tag (that he reiterated he wouldn’t play under), it was clear that they were buying time to receive draft capital. Much like the Kansas City Chiefs, they wanted to receive some compensation for the elite talent instead of letting him walk for free.
In the draft, they would eventually get a great defensive player in Quay Walker, as well as the current league leader in rookie touchdown catches in Christian Watson. A total of nine touchdowns in ten games for Watson (two-rushing, five-receiving). They have struggled since Adams’ departure, which makes the grade take a hit; it seems that Davante was a huge part of the Packers’ offensive success.
The Las Vegas Raiders were looking to improve their offense for the newly acquired head coach, Josh McDaniels. They did indeed do that with All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams currently ranks fourth in yards for pass catchers with 1,176 yards and first in touchdown catches with 12 through 12 games this season. I think the Raiders got the biggest discount for the best value of the wide receiver position, showing to be worth both the first- and second-round pick the Raiders gave up.
Packers Grade: B-
A.J. Brown Traded To The Eagles
To wrap up the top off-season wide receiver trades, we have A.J. Brown getting traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles. Much like the Dolphins/Chiefs, this trade, in my opinion, was a win/win for both sides as well. In exchange for A.J. Brown, the Titans received first- and third-round selections in the 2022 draft.
The reason all of these wide receivers were dealt in trades is simple, much like the other two wide receivers, the Titans simply could not afford him with an upcoming contract extension. The Titans have been known as a run-first team under head coach Mike Vrabel, so it did not make much sense to pay a wide receiver to block in such an inflated market.
With the draft picks the Titans received, they made excellent decisions. Instead of paying top-dollar for a wide receiver, they drafted a wide receiver and are paying him a rookie contract. They selected Treylon Burks out of Arkansas, who has shown great flashes. Although he’s no A.J. Brown (yet), he is currently ranked third in rookie receiving yards per game.
The Eagles, of course, made out just as well as the Titans did. They got a stud of a wide receiver in A.J. Brown and really didn’t lose as much as the trade might indicate. Philadelphia had a total of ten picks in the 2022 NFL Draft; they could afford to squander a few picks for a top talent like A.J. Brown.
They went into the draft with five picks in the first three rounds (two in the first round, one in the second round, and two in the third round). They ended up having one of each in the first-, second-, and third-round draft picks as well as adding A.J. Brown who is currently seventh in receiving yards for the year. Brown also helps Jalen Hurts’ progression to become an elite quarterback talent.
Titans Grade: B-
Eagles Grade: A-
Khalil Mack Traded To The Chargers
Last but certainly not least is former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack getting traded to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bears would receive a second-round pick (No. 48) and a sixth-round pick in the 2023 draft.
The Bears, at their current state, were preparing for a rebuild. Having an aging Khalil Mack did not make sense in a time-consuming rebuild, which is why the trade was justifiable from the Bears’ point of view. Because of age, they didn’t seem to get as much draft capital as one might think from a former Defensive Player of the Year.
The Bears would draft Jaquan Brisker in the second round with that pick. It so far has proven to be a great pick; Brisker is fourth in tackles by rookies and also tied for second in sacks by rookies. Statically a great addition to this rebuilding Chicago Bears team.
By acquiring Khalil Mack, the Los Angeles Chargers wanted to make a stout defensive line. The idea was to make a spectacular one-two punch off the edge with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. That, unfortunately, has not come to fruition yet, with Bosa being out since Week Three due to a groin injury.
However, Mack has still produced; he has seven sacks on the season and two forced fumbles. While the vision for the Chargers is still up in the air until Joey Bosa comes back, the Chargers have gotten good production out of a 2022 second-round and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Bears Grade: B+
Chargers Grade: C+
The most exhilarating off-season I have witnessed in a while; of the ten teams that were mentioned, if the season ended today, half of the teams would make the playoffs. This shows that these deals had a great influence on team success. As more seasons develop, it will be interesting to see the new grades years down the line.