NFL Analysis


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3 Trades That Should Happen During 2024 NFL Draft

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy, left, and former coach Jim Harbaugh
Former Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, right, now with the Los Angeles Chargers, could have a say as to where his former quarterback, J.J. McCarthy (9), winds up during the NFL draft. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Trading in the NFL has become more popular during the past few years, with general managers being more aggressive than ever.

Because teams are more open to trading, the draft has become more exciting than ever. Teams are moving all around the board, and recently, there have been several draft-day trades involving big-time players (A.J. Brown, Marquise Brown, etc.). 

So, what trades should we expect to happen this year? Here are three trades that need to happen during the 2024 NFL Draft.

3 Must-See Trades During the NFL Draft

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold
The Minnesota Vikings signed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold as a free agent but must improve at the position in this year's draft. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Chargers Trade No. 5 Pick to Vikings for Nos. 11 and 23 

Minnesota Vikings Perspective

One of the most anticipated trades of the draft is the Minnesota Vikings moving up for a quarterback. The Vikings acquired an additional first-round pick from the Houston Texans this offseason, and the prevailing thought is they did so to move up from No. 11.

Minnesota could be interested in any of the top four passers, but J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) makes the most sense. But how far up will the Vikings need to go to acquire McCarthy?

The best bet is No. 5 with the Los Angeles Chargers, who just happened to be led by McCarthy's former coach, Jim Harbaugh. The Vikings would love to keep their 2025 first-round picks, and moving Nos. 11 and 23 for No. 5 should be enough.

At this point, Minnesota can't afford to leave the draft without a new franchise quarterback. The other three teams in the NFC North all have better situations (including the Chicago Bears with Caleb Williams), and the Vikings can't afford to be a distant fourth at the position.

McCarthy isn't the sexiest option for Minnesota, but he is an upgrade over Sam Darnold, and he is talented enough to build around for the next several years.

Los Angeles Chargers Perspective

The Chargers are in a fantastic position at No. 5.

No matter what, one of the top four quarterbacks or Marvin Harrison Jr. will be available when they are on the clock. That means they will have plenty of options to move back in the draft.

It is no secret Los Angeles wants to improve its offensive line under Harbaugh. His brand is built on having a strong offensive line and playing physical football. He can’t do that with his current offensive line, but there might not be a great fit for them at No. 5.

Wide receiver is also a huge need after trading away Keenan Allen and releasing Mike Williams. The team will have fantastic options at No. 5, but the idea of trading down will undoubtedly be appealing.

The Chargers need more picks, especially inside the top 50. Moving back to No. 11 and taking the best available offensive lineman has to appeal to Harbaugh. At that spot, Los Angeles could select Taliese Fuaga or JC Latham, both of whom project as high-end right tackles. Then, the Chargers could turn around at No. 23 and pick a receiver such as Adonai Mitchell or Xavier Worthy.

>>READ: Latest Mock Draft

At this point, it would be a slight shock if the Chargers didn't trade down in Round 1. The value will be too good to pass up, and they have too many needs to address. The idea of adding another first-round pick in a loaded draft class is a good one in Year 1 of the Harbaugh rebuild.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) warms up with tennis balls before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Bengals Trade WR Tee Higgins To Patriots For Pick No. 34

New England Patriots Perspective

The New England Patriots will likely come out of Round 1 with their next franchise quarterback. Whether that is Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, it would be a major shock if the Patriots didn't draft a quarterback at No. 3. The issue for New England is finding the right receiver for that quarterback to throw to next season.

Right now, the Patriots' top receivers are Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Pop Douglas. You can make a very strong case that the team has the NFL's worst wide receiver corps, ahead of only the Chargers. Whatever quarterback comes to New England will need additional targets next season.

The Patriots could wait until pick No. 34 to grab a pass catcher, but there is a good chance seven or eight receivers could be gone before that selection. Now, this is a really deep wide receiver class, but New England might not want to wait for a young receiver to develop while they are also trying to bring along a quarterback.

Tee Higgins would be a better option than any receiver available at No. 34, and he just turned 25. The problem with trading for Higgins is that he wants a long-term deal that pays him as one of the top-10 receivers in the league, but that shouldn't be an issue for the Patriots.

They have $46 million in cap space and are projected to have $159 million available in 2025, according to

The Patriots need to add talent, and Higgins is the best player on the market. They might have to overpay a little to get him, but he would instantly make their wide receiver corps better, and he would give their new franchise quarterback a No. 1 receiver to throw to.

If the Cincinnati Bengals make Higgins available, New England should be on the phone trying to make a deal.

Cincinnati Bengals Perspective

In a perfect world, the Bengals could keep Joe Burrow, JaMarr Chase and Higgins together for the next five years as they continue to make a run at a Super Bowl. But that just isn’t going to happen as Cincinnati tries to spread the money around elsewhere on its roster.

However, that doesn’t mean that the Bengals want to sacrifice the talent around Burrow. They just have to change out the talent. The Bengals could select TE Brock Bowers (Georgia) or WR Brian Thomas Jr. (LSU) at No. 18, opening the door for a possible Higgins trade. Even if they didn't draft a pass catcher in Round 1, Cincinnati might like the idea of adding a player such as Keon Coleman or Ladd McConkey early in Round 2 to replace Higgins.

The Bengals won't give Higgins away because he still has a lot of value to them, even on a one-year deal. The idea of keeping him through the 2024 season for another potential playoff run is appealing, and that's why they wouldn't settle for anything less than a second-round pick.

This is a trade that makes too much sense for both sides and one that could get solved sometime between the end of Round 1 and the start of Round 2.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerbacks James Bradberry, center, and Darius Slay, right
The Philadelphia Eagles have the oldest cornerback duo in the NFL in James Bradberry (24) and Darius Slay (2). They can make a move during the upcoming draft to improve at the position. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Eagles Trade No. 22 and No. 53 to Broncos For Pick No. 12

Philadelphia Eagles Perspective

The Philadelphia Eagles have done an excellent job of filling their biggest needs in free agency. They added a star running back in Saquon Barkley, signed Bryce Huff and brought back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

However, the Eagles' most significant need continues to be at cornerback. The front office decided to bring back the team's top three cornerbacks from last season. Philadelphia's two outside starters, Darius Slay and James Bradberry, are the oldest starting cornerback duo in the NFL.

The Eagles need to draft a cornerback early in the draft, but this isn’t a great cornerback class. There are only two clear-cut first-round picks this year: Terrion Arnold (Alabama) and Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo). Because there is a lack of depth at the position, the top two cornerbacks could come off the board very early.

>>READ: Top 15 Cornerback Prospects

The Las Vegas Raiders, at pick No. 13, desperately need cornerback help. The league expects them to take one (if the players are available) with their first pick, which is why a trade-up with the Denver Broncos at No. 12 makes so much sense.

Arnold or Mitchell would give Philadelphia a big boost in the cornerback room and a much-needed influx of athleticism. Plus, the Eagles have two second-round picks, making a trade-up a viable option. Expect Howie Roseman and the Eagles to be aggressive in targeting their next top cornerback. 

Denver Broncos Perspective 

It's no secret the Broncos have a massive need at quarterback. But sitting at No. 12, it is unlikely that any of the top four will be available. And without a 2024 second-round pick, a trade-up feels even more improbable. For that reason, a trade back in Round 1 makes sense for Denver.

Moving down from No. 12 to No. 22 would allow the Broncos to consider either Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) or Bo Nix (Oregon). That is a more appropriate spot for those two passers.

Plus, it would allow the Broncos to pick up another valuable pick on Day 2 to address another need area. Denver only has two picks inside the top 120 right now, and for a team in the middle of a rebuild, a trade back in Round 1 is almost a must. 

Look for several teams to be interested in acquiring the No. 12 pick, especially if one of the top three receivers or top two cornerbacks falls.