Expert Analysis


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9 Players Who Should Get Traded During the 2024 NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) celebrates after a play against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Jan. 7, 2024. (Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL draft is always an active time to complete significant trades. They can involve swaps of draft picks for teams to move up or down or of veteran players moving for other players or draft picks.

Here are nine players who could be on the trade block and sent to new teams during next week’s 2024 NFL Draft. In most cases, it will take a strong offer to get teams to part with these players.

9 Trade Candidates During 2024 NFL Draft


Buffalo's Leonard Floyd sacks Jets quarterback Zach Wilson
Buffalo Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd (56) sacks New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) during the first half at Highmark Stadium on Nov. 19, 2023. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets

It’s time for the New York Jets to send their lightning-rod young quarterback packing. Perhaps the 24-year-old former second-overall pick will have a career renaissance with another team, but as of now, Zach Wilson stands as one of the all-time draft busts.

The difficulty in trading Wilson is his guaranteed $5.45 million salary for this year. But the Jets could pick up part of that and add a later-round draft pick to entice a new team like the Denver Broncos, where Sean Payton could try to make a quality quarterback — or at least a decent backup — out of Wilson.

Or perhaps the San Francisco 49ers would be open to a trade, with Kyle Shanahan trying to coach Wilson up as a potential No. 2 quarterback. 

Jets general manager Joe Douglas said the team permitted Wilson to seek a trade. With only $1.9 million of cap room, New York will take any relief it can get from Wilson’s contract. After signing Tyrod Taylor to back up Aaron Rodgers, there’s no future for Wilson with the Jets, who will not exercise the fifth-year option on a quarterback with maturity questions and a career record of 12-21. Wilson also has more career interceptions (25) than touchdowns (23), along with a dismal 73.2 passer rating.

Get whatever you can, and let Wilson move on.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball while defended by New York Giants defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (93) during the first half at Caesars Superdome on Dec. 17, 2023. (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints paid Alvin Kamara a $1 million roster bonus on March 13 to keep him. But that doesn’t preclude the Saints from trading their soon-to-be 29-year-old running back if they can find a team willing to take on a big salary for an often-injured player.

Kamara was New Orleans’ third-round pick in 2017. When healthy, Kamara is a dynamic, five-time Pro Bowl player who is a dual-purpose threat. He missed four games last season and 10 games in the past three seasons. He had the worst season of his seven-year career in 2023, with 694 rushing yards, 466 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Kamara is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $75 million extension signed in 2020. He is scheduled to earn $11.8 million this year, and the Saints can gain only $339,000 in cap savings by trading him. More importantly, cap-strapped New Orleans can gain $19 million in 2025 if he is off the roster. 

The Saints likely will have to pick up part of his salary to entice another team, but that would be the best course for them. New Orleans could draft a younger running back to pair with Jamaal Williams or could give last year’s third-rounder, Kendre Miller, a bigger role.

Brandon AiYuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

There have been rumblings that Brandon Aiyuk or the San Francisco 49ers’ other starting wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, could be traded. If Samuel is traded, it would cost them more than $14 million in additional cap space due to a huge dead money, so that doesn’t make sense.

That brings us to Aiyuk, who is having difficulty getting an extension done and could be forced to play under the fifth-year option at $14.124 million.

Aiyuk, 26, was the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2020. He is coming off his best season, with 75 catches for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns, his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season.

San Francisco has only $7 million of cap room and will need more cap space to sign its draft picks and when all players count against the cap after the final cut in September (instead of only the top 51 counting now). This is a strong draft for wide receivers, so the 49ers should trade Aiyuk if they get a solid offer and then draft a much cheaper receiver.

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals say Tee Higgins is not a trade candidate after he was hit with the $21.816 million franchise tag. But he’ll be on the move if the team gets an offer it can’t refuse.

Higgins, 25, is an excellent receiver and a big target for Joe Burrow. The Bengals’ 2020 second-round pick had 100-plus receptions in his first three years before missing five games last season due to rib and hamstring injuries. He dropped to 42 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns.

Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase form one of the league’s top-receiving duos, and Chase is eligible for an extension that should be worth $30 million-plus per year.

Chase will be the priority, and it’s doubtful Higgins will stay with the team once Chase’s extension hits the books in the next couple of years, especially as Burrow’s contract also gets pricey in the coming seasons. 

Higgins is a potential free agent in 2025, so the Bengals would be wise to trade him during this year's draft for a first-round pick and then draft a starting receiver to pair with Chase.

Baltimore Ravens receiver Rashod Bateman runs after a catch
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) runs with the ball in front of New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during a game at Gillette Stadium. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman, 24, was the Baltimore Ravens’ first-round pick in 2021, but he has not flourished in his first three seasons. He has only four career touchdown receptions, and last season he had 32 catches for 367 yards (ranking sixth on the team in those categories) and one touchdown.

Baltimore's first-round pick last year, Zay Flowers, is clearly the team’s top wide receiver. Pro Bowl TE Mark Andrews is also targeted much more than Bateman, who has had issues with drops. He missed 12 games in 2022 due to a foot injury.

It's unlikely the Ravens will exercise Bateman's fifth-year option. A draft weekend trade that brings a mid-round pick from a team that valued Bateman highly back in his draft year is best for both the team and the player.

That would give Bateman the fresh start he needs, and Baltimore would get a pick now rather than losing him next March. The Ravens can also replace Bateman with one of their early-round picks from a strong receiver class and save $2.35 million on this year’s cap; Baltimore could use the room because it only has $9.1 million available.

Tennessee Titans receiver Treylon Burks outruns a Texans defender
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) runs the ball while evading Houston Texans safety Jimmie Ward (1) during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 17, 2023. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/USA TODAY-Sports)

Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans

Like Bateman, Treylon Burks is an underachieving first-round wide receiver. However, he was drafted more recently (2022) by the Tennessee Titans. He’s had difficulty staying healthy, missing 13 games in his first two seasons.

Burks, 24, had only 16 catches for 221 yards and no touchdowns last season. The presence of Calvin Ridley, DeAndre Hopkins and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine means Tennessee should trade Burks if it can get a reasonable offer from a team that rated him highly entering the 2022 draft.

The Titans would have to absorb an additional cap hit of $4.6 million by trading Burks, but the team has $31.7 million of cap room, so it can afford it. The Titans would then save $2 million in salary and roster bonuses on a player who has not been a good fit.  

Defensive Players

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) gets ready to play against the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium on Oct. 9, 2022. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Budda Baker, S, Arizona Cardinals

Budda Baker has been a contract headache for the Arizona Cardinals during the past several years. After signing a four-year, $59 million extension in 2020, he became dissatisfied and sought another extension. He was unsuccessful in that pursuit and requested a trade last offseason before agreeing to a revised contract with a pay raise for 2023 and 2024.

Baker has four seasons with 100-plus tackles and had 87 tackles in 12 games last season. He made his sixth Pro Bowl despite spending five games on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. He has seven career interceptions but is still without a long-term deal and is headed to free agency next March.

The Cardinals can pick up $15.1 million in cap space by trading their 2017 second-round pick, but they have $29.7 million of room, so that shouldn’t be a big motivating factor. This should be more about trading a player who is still productive when healthy, has value with age not being a big issue (he's 28) and is likely to depart when he hits free agency.

Pat Surtain breaks up an endzone pass
Denver Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II (2) breaks up a pass intended for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during a game at Allegiant Stadium. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

While on the surface, it seems unlikely the Denver Broncos would trade Patrick Surtain II, a 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler and 2022 first-team All-Pro, quarterback-needy teams often make drastic moves. 

Jarrett Stidham is penciled in as the team's starter, so Denver should trade Surtain as part of a move-up to a top-four draft pick and select a quarterback from this talented class; Payton said it’s “realistic” for the team to trade up to draft a quarterback. 

Surtain was the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2021. He has seven interceptions, 36 passes defended and 187 tackles in his three-year career. 

The Broncos are facing cap challenges due to Russell Wilson’s massive dead money hit after being traded. Surtain’s $6.67 million cap hit this year will remain whether he’s traded or not due to dead money if he’s moved. The cap benefit will come in 2025 when Surtain would have a projected $19.8 million fifth-year option that would be eliminated. 

Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II breaks up a pass
Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II (0) breaks up a pass intended for Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III during a game at NRG Stadium on Dec. 24, 2023. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

Greg Newsome II, 23, was the Cleveland Browns’ first-round pick in 2021. He’s a quality cornerback at a position of strength for the team. The Browns have Pro Bowler Denzel Ward and 2022 third-rounder Martin Emerson as fine corners and should trade Newsome during this draft for an early-round pick. 

The Browns are projected to be $52 million over the cap in 2025, per Spotrac. Newsome’s $4.1 million cap hit this year will remain whether he’s traded or not due to dead money. But Cleveland can save a projected $13.38 million on a fifth-year option for Newsome. 

Newsome has only two career interceptions, but he has 29 passes defensed. He’s missed 10 games due to injuries in the past three years. Now is the time to trade a player with value before he becomes too costly.