Many high-profile players have already been traded this offseason, and the 2019 NFL trade deadline isn’t until midseason. Here are 10 others who could find themselves on new teams this fall.
10. Karl Joseph, SS, Oakland Raiders
The 14th overall pick in 2016, Joseph was marginalized by head coach Jon Gruden last season, starting only eight of his 13 games played. He was involved in trade rumors for most of the season, and now the writing is on the wall for Joseph after the Raiders drafted Johnathan Abram in the first round this past April.
He played well in 2018, earning a solid 74.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. Joseph will earn under $4 million this year, after which he will be a free agent since the team declined his fifth-year option. It appears that Oakland has no interest in re-signing him, so it’s likely they’ll try to get at least something in return.
9. Trae Waynes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Waynes was the 11th pick in 2015 and has since been a solid No. 2 corner opposite of Xavier Rhodes. He shouldn’t be covering the Odell Beckhams or Julio Jones of the league, but he can hold his own against the majority of players.
The Vikings took Mike Hughes in the first round last year, and he was having a very good season until suffering an injury. Hughes is younger and significantly cheaper than Waynes, which could lead to the latter being dealt soon.
Waynes will earn a little over $9 million this season as he will play on his fifth-year option. A team could trade for him hoping to sign him long-term, or simply fortifying their secondary for a playoff run in 2019.
8. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
With 29.5 sacks and 70 QB hits over his first three seasons, Ngakoue has quickly established himself as one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, and he just turned 24 in March. Ngakoue knows his value, as he is currently holding out of training camp in hopes of a new deal.
His holdout is likely to end before August 9th, for if it doesn’t, Ngakoue’s 2019 season won’t count as his fourth accrued and he would not be eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason.
The problem is that Jacksonville can’t really afford to pay their star defender. Even after clearing cap space by cutting veterans like Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson, the Jaguars are still only $18 million under the salary cap. Ngakoue would want at minimum $16 million of that, and probably more.
The team still has to plan for Jalen Ramsey’s upcoming extension, which will in all certainty make him the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL. And, to make matters worse, Jacksonville has to save about $10 million just in case linebacker Telvin Smith decides to return. It’s possible that Jacksonville decides they’re going to let someone else spend the money on Ngakoue and recoup assets in hopes of finding another rusher.
7. Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
On paper, Cleveland has the best backfield in the NFL with Johnson, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. But, Hunt is suspended for the first eight games, and Johnson has requested a trade.
Johnson’s reasons for doing so are unclear. It couldn’t be due to his projected role; Hunt won’t play until the team’s ninth game, and last offseason, Johnson signed a three-year extension after the Browns had signed Carlos Hyde and drafted Chubb, at which point Johnson’s role was likely to be even smaller.
Still, he has fired his agent and hired Drew Rosenhaus, who is now in the process of finding a trade partner. General manager John Dorsey has reiterated multiple times that the team is not just going to give Johnson away, and the back has reported to all mandatory team activities to this point, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
6. Josh Jones, SS, Green Bay Packers
Jones has not progressed as Green Bay had hoped when they selected him in the second round in 2017, and the safety has asked for a trade. If he remains with the team, he’ll be a rotational player, as the Packers added Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage this offseason. Jones’ physical profile should be intriguing to plenty of teams, so Green Bay should have a partner if they want to move on.
5. Vernon Butler, DT, Carolina Panthers
Selected 30th overall in 2016, Butler is teetering on the brink of being labeled a bust. He has not started a single game during his three-year career, and has all of 45 tackles, two sacks, and 10 QB hits.
Playing time was already going to be difficult for him to find in 2019 with Kawann Short and Dontari Poe ahead of him on the depth chart, and then Carolina signed Gerald McCoy.
Butler is still young, so he could be a low-risk option for a team looking for depth on their defensive line, but he’s certainly no longer in the Panthers’ long-term plans.
4. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Detroit Lions
Robinson broke out in a big way in 2018, establishing himself as one of the league’s premier run-stoppers (an 89.9 PFF grade) and showing the ability to generate pressure inside. Along with Da’Shawn Hand and Damon Harrison, Robinson combined to form arguably the best interior defensive line unit in the NFL.
Detroit recently added former Packer Mike Daniels to further bolster their best position group, and this clouds Robinson’s future even more. He is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, and it was unlikely that the Lions were going to sign him long-term deal because of what they’re currently paying Harrison.
Even if it’s only for one season, Detroit could get a sizable return for Robinson, who could transform a team’s interior defensive line from average to very good instantly.
3. Solomon Thomas, DL, San Francisco 49ers
After a great 2016 season at Stanford punctuated by a dominant performance against North Carolina, Thomas was the third pick in 2017, but he has been a disappointment thus far. He has four sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and 17 QB hits over two seasons.
A big reason for this is he has been misused in San Francisco. He has played more EDGE and 4-3 DE than he should have, as his best fit is a 3-tech DT and 3-4 DE where he can rush from the inside, as he doesn’t have great explosion or bend off the edge and is undersized at 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds.
Since he was selected third overall, his cap hit will be higher than most others on this list. That could be a roadblock to a trade, but Thomas has the talent to be an excellent player, and if the 49ers won’t use him correctly, someone else will.
2. Case Keenum, QB, Washington Redskins
Since Alex Smith is still recovering from the gruesome leg injury he suffered last season, Keenum was brought in to lead the team until rookie Dwayne Haskins is ready to take over. Keenum will make just $3.5 million this season, which is a great deal whether he’s starting or holding a clipboard.
It may not be likely, but if Haskins shows he’s ready to play now, the Redskins could dangle Keenum to other teams looking for a solid backup for cheap.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, Houston Texans
Once of the league’s best all-around defenders, Clowney will play on the franchise tag this season for nearly $16 million. He and the Texans were unable to agree on a long-term deal, which means Clowney could very well be dealt at some point. He certainly wouldn’t come cheap, but he is a dominant run defender and a force against the pass, a true defensive game-changer.
Clowney could be the missing puzzle piece to put a team over the top, and if that team is willing to part with significant draft capital and wring out its wallet, Clowney’s time in Houston could be coming to an end.