NFL Analysis


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4 NFL Trades That Should Happen Before 2024 Draft

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) is blocked by Washington Commanders guard Andrew Wylie (71) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL offseason is in the midst of a slow period before the 2024 NFL Draft begins next month. The third wave of free agency won't bring a lot of headline-worthy deals. Instead, we see one-year signings that could prove quite shrewd this fall.

The trade market should heat up with rosters closer to settling into their final core of veterans. The draft is often the last chance to extract immediate value for anyone on the roster's fringe count or an unhappy soldier. We've compiled four NFL trades that should happen before the draft to make sure these teams and players have some clarity before summer arrives.

4 NFL Trades That Should Happen

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) is pressured in the pocket by Cleveland Browns defensive end Za'Darius Smith (99) in the second half at NRG Stadium. (Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports)

Denver Broncos Trade for Davis Mills

Broncos Receive: QB Davis Mills

Texans Receive: conditional 2025 fourth-round pick

This has been a busy offseason for the backup quarterback market. Recently drafted quarterbacks who have been traded over the past few weeks include Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder. Having a good backup is essential, but teams haven't valued the position in terms of spending major money or draft picks.

There aren't many backup quarterback left on the market. Would the Houston Texans be willing to move Davis Mills to stock its draft pick cupboard further? The 26-year-old is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Denver Broncos are the only team in the league without a somewhat viable passer on the roster.

Mills has been a below-average but respectable presence in 34 games. He doesn't create high-end plays but avoids disastrous ones well enough. A conditional selection that maxes out as a fourth-round pick would allow Denver to be somewhat functional, even if a rookie doesn't fall into their lap. 

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward (7) during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona Cardinals Trade for Tee Higgins

Cardinals Receive: WR Tee Higgins

Bengals Receive: No. 27 and 162 overall picks

The Arizona Cardinals have a bunch of holes on their roster and a ton of draft picks to address them. However, 11 rookies are unlikely to make the final 53-man roster. Moving a handful of picks in consolidation trades or a player swap is an easier way to boost the talent available for Jonathan Gannon's staff.

The best player possibly on the market is Tee Higgins. Arizona is rumored to be interested in a wide receiver at No. 4 overall but could also trade down. If general manager Monti Ossenfort wants to get creative, he could trade with Minnesota for its two first-round picks, No. 11 and 23, and then move one of his three firsts for Higgins.

We're not projecting all of those moves. A more minor trade down with the New York Giants would give Arizona their pick of a receiver or defensive player at No. 6 overall, plus an extra Day 2 selection. Then, Arizona could walk out of Thursday night with Higgins and either Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze around Kyler Murray.

The Cincinnati Bengals' case for moving Higgins is quite easy. If they're not planning on paying Higgins at least $23 million a year — and more than $40 million guaranteed — then moving him for a first-round pick makes the most sense. They could then use their own pick or Arizona's to take someone like Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell or Keon Coleman.

Detroit Lions Trade for Haason Reddick

Lions Receive: EDGE Haason Reddick

Eagles Receive: No. 61 and 164 overall

A trade between top NFC competitors would be unusual but not unheard of. The Philadelphia Eagles appear to be shopping Haason Reddick after they signed Bryce Huff. The team's pass-rushing depth would leave either Brandon Graham or Nolan Smith completely out of the rotation, and that's not ideal. 

Reddick is in the final year of his three-year, $45 million deal, so the Eagles can avoid guaranteeing him tens of millions of dollars for a player entering his 30s this fall. The best fit for Reddick just happens to be the Detroit Lions. Detroit still has more than $25 million in cap space and has spent the second-least amount of cash in 2024.

The Lions signed Marcus Davenport to an incentive-laden one-year deal, but his presence can't affect Detroit's mindset. Aidan Hutchinson needs a true star across from him. Reddick, who has produced at least 11 sacks in each of his past four seasons, is a perfect running mate.

The cost of the trade is tougher to predict. Would the Eagles need Detroit's 29th overall pick to get this done? I'd argue it'd be worth it, considering the lack of depth at the position in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings Trade Into the Top 5

Chargers Receive: No. 11 and 23 overall

Vikings Receive: No. 5 overall

The Minnesota Vikings surprised everyone by moving up into the second half of the first round in a swap with the Houston Texans. Minnesota moved its 42nd and 188th overall picks, plus a 2025 second-round pick, for the 23rd and 232nd overall picks. The writing is on the wall that another deal is coming so the Vikings can grab Michigan's J.J. McCarthy or North Carolina's Drake Maye.

However, where do they go? Arizona wants to trade down, but they'd possibly miss on the class' top three receivers, and they already have a vast array of picks. Now, under Jim Harbaugh and rebuilding a gutted offense, the Los Angeles Chargers could use the extra selection gained.

Los Angeles could use a receiver, a top-tier blocker, a corner and a defensive tackle. The Chargers have five picks within the first 110 selections, but one more in the top 25 sure doesn't hurt. Three of those needs could be filled by their 37th overall pick, if the Chargers play it right.