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Don’t Expect Big Names to be Traded Anytime Soon

Ethan Vassar
July 17, 2020

Alongside free agency, trades are one of the more exciting aspects of the NFL offseason. Teams can make moves that will make them instant contenders, accumulate picks to fuel a rebuild, or (Texans fans will be familiar with this one) make moves that leave fans scratching their heads. This offseason saw a lot of big names on the move; Deandre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Stefon Diggs, Darius Slay, and Calais Campbell were all shipped off to new squads. Hoping to join the list of stars traded this offseason are Jamal Adams, Yannick Ngakoue, David Njoku, and Raheem Mostert; each of whom have expressed interest in being traded from their current team. However, it's unlikely any of the four will be traded, as with all the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season thanks to the COVID19 pandemic and recent spike in cases in the United States, there is no telling what the 2020 season will look like.  

Trading for one of Adams, Ngakoue, Njoku, or Mostert would be a win-now move. Both defensive players - Adams and Ngakoue - would be instant starters on almost every team in the league and there's no doubt Njoku and Mostert can make an impact on offense. The question is, what does now look like? The coronavirus has already made a tremendous impact on the NFL and there hasn't been much headway made on how a full 16 game season can be played during the pandemic. So far, plans regarding fan attendance have been the most fleshed out. Ian Rapoport has reported that no fans will be allowed at training camp and the portion of fans allowed at regular-season games will be required to wear face coverings. In addition to these changes, the NFL has banned post-game interactions within six feet between players (why?). However, the schedule hasn't been amended, no games have been pushed back, the economics of the season have not yet been finalized, and according to 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, the league has yet to give specific guidelines or protocol for players to play safely and what happens if they happen to get COVID19. This is not only concerning for the health and safety of players, coaches, staff, and referees, but places a huge question mark over the 2020 season.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the season and so much still to be done for player safety, it's tough to imagine a team making a win-now move when they don't know what the now looks like. Making a trade for a player like Adams, Ngakoue, Njoku, or Mostert would be a huge gamble. Why give up a portion of your team's future in draft picks for an uncertain present? Furthermore, it has been known that Jamal Adams and Yannick Ngakoue have been wanting to be traded for a while, so why would a team be interested in making a move for them now? In the cases of Njoku and Mostert, if they were to be traded they would not only have to learn a new offense in a short amount of time, but also do so via Zoom or through socially distanced interactions with coaches and teammates. Granted, players like Tom Brady have been organizing their own workouts, but it would still be tough to learn a new offense without the help of all the resources the team's facility can grant.

There are only two ways I see any big trade going down: either a general manager gets a hold of Bill O'Brien's Kool-Aid or teams lower their asking price. Both are unlikely. At the trade deadline last Fall, the Jets were looking to get a first round pick and two seconds in exchange from Jamal Adams, and Ngakoue is reportedly being shopped for a first round pick and more. Njoku and Mostert would probably be valued at around a fourth or fifth round pick which is more doable, but is still giving up future assets for an unpredictable present. Both the Jets and Jaguars would have to lower their asking price significantly for a trade to get done.

I may be underestimating the bravado of league GMs, but until there is a concrete plan in place for how the NFL will have to adapt to playing during a pandemic, I don't see any big trades happening.

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