NFL trades are rarer than in other sports, but they happen more often nowadays. In recent years, we have seen franchise-changing trades go down, turning playoff-contending teams into Super Bowl–contending teams with just one move.
Tyreek Hill is at the top of the list of potential MVP candidates — he was acquired via trade. The Baltimore Ravens' defense ranks second in defensive EPA/play because of the play they are getting from Roquan Smith, who was acquired via trade.
The San Francisco 49ers have multiple trade pieces contributing to their loaded roster. They’re steamrolling the other top NFC teams on their way to the No. 1 seed.
The moral of the story is simple: “If you ain’t trading, you ain’t trying.”
Let’s look at some potential surprise trade candidates for the 2024 offseason.
Surprise 2024 Offseason Trade Candidates
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills, WR
Stefon Diggs’ name has been talked about extensively over the past few seasons as a potential trade candidate. Still, nobody really believed the Buffalo Bills would move him because he was the only real weapon for QB Josh Allen.
With Dalton Kincaid and Khalil Shakir progressing nicely and with a loaded wide receiver draft class coming up, the Bills could seriously look to move Diggs during the offseason.
The Bills-Diggs marriage has been somewhat weird for a few years. We likely look too much into Diggs’ social media responses and sideline interactions with Allen, but it does not seem like things are all fine and dandy between the Bills and Diggs.
Diggs is still one of the NFL’s most talented wide receivers, but the Bills are 6-6 and are currently out of the playoffs. We could see a brand-new Buffalo team in 2024 if its standing doesn’t improve.
Diggs is just two years into the five-year, $96-million contract extension he signed in 2022. So the team trading for Diggs would give up draft capital and take on a relatively big contract.
Evan Neal, OT, New York Giants
The Evan Neal experience for the New York Giants is off to a rough start. Drafted to be a premier right tackle on the other side of the line of All-Pro Andrew Thomas, Neal has been far from that. A position change or benching has been discussed multiple times throughout the 2023 season.
Despite his struggles, Neal is still a 23-year-old offensive lineman drafted out of Alabama. In recent memory, he possesses some of the most dominating traits we’ve seen from an offensive lineman.
The Giants could hold onto Neal and see if he can figure it out. However, for a team likely to rebuild in 2024, unloading Neal for additional draft capital could accelerate that rebuild.
The NFL has a lack of talented offensive linemen. Even though things have been ugly for Neal, a team with a blue-chip grade on Neal in the 2022 NFL Draft likely thinks it can get more out of him.
Trey Lance, QB, Dallas Cowboys
When the Dallas Cowboys traded for Trey Lance this offseason, questions regarding Dak Prescott were at the forefront of the conversation. Prescott has answered those questions with an MVP-caliber season. This offseason, he’s likely looking to receive his second big-money contract extension with the Cowboys.
That leaves Lance in an interesting spot. Since being traded to the Cowboys this offseason, Lance has seen zero snaps as the team's QB3 and is behind Prescott and Cooper Rush.
While Dallas could slide Lance into the QB2 role next season, Rush is under contract for just $2.87 million against the cap, according to Spotrac.
If the Cowboys stick with Rush at QB2, they could start calling quarterback-needy teams that missed out on Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Lance might raise the ceiling on Dallas’ QB2 spot, but the Cowboys could get a better return for Lance than what they paid from teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints or Seattle Seahawks. If those teams miss out on the top passers in the draft, they could see Lance as a viable option.
Joey Bosa, EDGE, Los Angeles Chargers
For years, Joey Bosa was viewed as one of the most feared edge rushers in football. While some injury struggles and a little regression have set in, Bosa is still a valuable player for a playoff team.
Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Chargers, they are not that. The Chargers are in an interesting spot this offseason. Their defense ranks 25th in EPA/play and 29th in success rate, but the team’s biggest concern is ranking 31st in projected salary cap space this offseason.
While offloading some aging veterans would improve that number, trading Bosa and his $36.6 million cap number in 2024 would add resources to a team that needs plenty of them. The move would improve their cap situation in 2025, too.
Bosa is still a good player, and while he doesn’t hold the value he once did, Los Angeles could likely get a nice return for the 28-year-old defensive end.
Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams’ name often popped up during this season’s trade deadline — he was clearly frustrated with the team in interviews around the trade deadline. It was reported that the New York Jets tried to acquire Adams and reunite him with Aaron Rodgers.
Along with Adams' frustrations with the organization, the Las Vegas Raiders are nowhere close to competing for a Super Bowl, and adding picks is more valuable for them right now.
The 30-year-old has three years remaining on his contract. More than anything, it sounds like he’s looking to win football games, something it’s tough to see the Raiders doing in the next few seasons.
Adams still has plenty of gas left in the tank. This season, even while playing with Jimmy Garoppolo and Aidan O’Connell, Adams has 814 yards and four touchdowns on 69 catches.
When Las Vegas acquired Adams from the Green Bay Packers, it made sense for both parties. Adams wanted to rejoin Derek Carr, and the Raiders were looking to compete in a loaded AFC.
However, after a disappointing 2022 season where the Raiders traded Carr and still have no real answer at quarterback, it’s tough to imagine Adams playing out the remainder of his contract in Las Vegas.
Adams can still play a massive role for a playoff-contending team and can move the needle for a team on the cusp of Super Bowl contention.