NFL Trade Grades


Samuel Fung, Staff Writer

Trading happens in every aspect of life: when you get something in exchange for something else that is, hopefully, of the same or better value. In sports, trades constantly make the news and this NFL offseason’s trades are no exception. Here are my takes on those big trades, in the form of report card-like grades.


Seahawks, Broncos QB retool

Denver receives Russell Wilson, 2022 4th-round pick

Seattle receives 2022 1st, 2nd, and 5th-round picks, 2023 1st and 2nd-round picks, Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, Noah Fant

Ask anyone about rumored trades and they would have said that Aaron Rodgers would be a Denver Bronco. But, March 8th rolled around and something different happened.

Something much different.

Whilst Aaron Rodgers got a new $50 million per year contract, the Broncos traded several draft picks and three players to Seattle in exchange for a quarterback coming off a down year in which he missed a game for the first time in his decade-long career. But, that is a testament to Russell Wilson’s toughness and durability. Wilson is one of the biggest names in football, and he instantly makes the Broncos a contender. And Denver still got a fourth-round pick along with Wilson. 

Meanwhile, Seattle brought in a boatload of picks for what will either be a rebuild or a retool with youth at its center. Wilson’s shoes are massive shoes to fill, but Drew Lock could bridge the gap for at least a year, or be a solid backup to Malik Willis. Noah Fant was a player Seattle wanted to draft in 2019, but who was taken one pick before by Denver, causing Seattle to trade down. Fant will provide a solid safety blanket in the red zone. Shelby Harris is a solid defensive lineman renowned for batting down passes, and adds some quality to a defensive line in need of a lot of help. All in all, the compensation Seattle received was adequate, but trading away their all-time greatest player leaves a sting that will linger for as long as Seattle loses close games (Wilson won a ton of those games in his first decade in the NFL).

Broncos grade: A+

Seahawks grade: B


Chargers add front seven ammo, acquire Khalil Mack

LA Chargers receive Khalil Mack
Chicago receives 2022 2nd-round pick and 2023 6th-rounder

The Chargers saw the Broncos add an elite quarterback to go along with all the other elite quarterbacks in the AFC West, and swung and got Khalil Mack. Mack, coming off an injury-hit season, has been one of the best pass rushers in the league when healthy. Considering the Bears dumped two first-rounders to the Raiders to acquire him, this looks like a bargain for the Bolts. At least Chicago won’t have to pay him $60 million in salary over the next few years (this will be year 4/6 on a $141 million contract).

Bears grade: C+

Chargers grade: A


Raiders nab Derek Carr’s college mate in pirate-like steal

Las Vegas receives Davante Adams

Green Bay receives 2022 1st and 2nd-round picks

The best receiver in the league for this? Suddenly the Raiders lived up to their name and got a major steal, trading just two premium picks for Davante Adams. Adams is coming off a season where he set career-highs in receptions and receiving yards and got his fifth straight Pro Bowl nod and second-straight First-Team All-Pro selection. Add in the fact he reunites with college teammate Derek Carr, and you have a brilliant deal for Vegas. Adams is now the highest-paid receiver in football, and he deserves the honors.

Raiders grade: A+

Packers grade: C+


Watson’s lockout ends with the Browns
Cleveland receives Deshaun Watson and 2024 5th-round pick

Houston receives 2022 first, 2023 first and third, and 2024 first and fourth-round picks

One of the longest-running NFL sagas came to a shocking close. For background, Deshaun Watson requested a trade a year ago, but the Texans refused. Then, disturbing allegations arose and halted any trade. Watson sat out the whole 2021 season as a result. This offseason, the battle for Watson saw the Panthers, Saints, Browns, and Falcons make offers. Out of nowhere, when we all thought it would be New Orleans or Atlanta, the Browns swooped in with their offer, and Watson chose Cleveland. He may not play right away, but the long-term upside is there. As for Houston, they got the return they needed to continue their rebuild and their development of Davis Mills, who performed well at the end of the season.

Browns grade: A-

Texans grade: A+


Highway robberies by Cleveland, Tampa, and Tennessee

Cleveland receives Amari Cooper and a 2022 6th-round pick

Dallas receives 2022 5th and 6th-round picks

Here’s something that should show you how one-sided this trade looks. Make a fraction with the Cowboys’ outgoings in the numerator and the Browns’ outgoings in the denominator. Then, cancel out the 2022 6th-round picks (something divided by itself is one).

You will get a newly simplified fraction that basically says that the Cowboys traded away one of the best receivers in the league in Amari Cooper, a four-time Pro Bowler, for a 5th-round pick. Even with the salary, the return could have been a bit more had the Cowboys asked for it.

Browns grade: A

Cowboys grade: C-

In a similar fashion, the Titans traded a mere 2023 6th-round pick for Robert Woods. Despite an injury recently, Woods should have been worth more, since he is a solid number two receiver capable of thousand-yard seasons.

Rams grade: C-

Titans grade: A

And now for a non-receiver. The Patriots dumped Shaq Mason for a 2022 5th-round pick. The Bucs reunite Mason with Tom Brady and use him as Alex Cappa’s replacement, whilst the Patriots were able to keep Trent Brown after dumping Mason
Patriots grade: C+

Bucs grade: A-


Wentz returns to the East

Washington receives Carson Wentz, 2022 2nd-round pick, and 2022 7th-round pick
Indianapolis receives 2022 2nd and 3rd-rounders and 2023 conditional 3rd-round pick
It seems as though the large contract was biting Chris Ballard enough that he wanted him to go. The trade saves the Colts a load of money, whilst Washington gets a decent bridge quarterback who already seems to be past his best self. Both teams will certainly be targeting a quarterback in the draft (that’s what developmental prospects are for).

Commanders grade: B-

Colts grade: B


Player-for-player swap deal

Indianapolis receives Yannick Ngakoue

Las Vegas receives Rock Ya-Sin

In a rare player-for-player trade, the Raiders dumped a surplus but valuable commodity in exchange for an upgrade in the secondary. After signing Chandler Jones, Yannick Ngakoue was deemed expendable, and he was sent to Indy, who immediately will upgrade a defensive line featuring DeForest Buckner and a developing Kwity Paye. Rock Ya-Sin is a solid corner, and him going the other way is good for Vegas, who gets a solid cornerback that would likely be cheaper to renew than a veteran pass rusher like Ngakoue.

Colts grade: B+

Raiders grade: B+


This is just a part of this crazy offseason and free agency period, the latter of which has only been going on for a week. However, it does not take away from the fact that the trades above, in some way, are going to affect things in the league.