With the start of the new NFL season inching closer, it’s time to look at the top NFL offseason trade candidates in 2023.
It’d be a mistake to focus too much on free-agency candidates because there are a lot of good trades candidates in the NFL right now. In fact, some of the boldest offseason predictions involve players switching teams via trade.
NFL offseason trade candidates 2023
Of course, the NFL players available for trade become available for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a player is in need of a change of scenery.
Other times a player is with a team that won’t give him an extension. There are also times when a team trades a player to help free up some salary cap space. Whatever the reason, let’s look at the 20 best NFL offseason trade candidates in 2023.
Before the start of the 2022 season, Denzel Mims requested a trade away from the Jets. He didn’t get it then, but he could get his wish granted this offseason. Mims has some ability, but he clearly doesn’t have a future in New York.
This past season, Mims had fewer receiving yards than running back Breece Hall, who played three fewer games than Mims. With Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, and Elijah Moore in the fold, the Jets clearly don’t need Mims, who looks like a safe bet to be with a new team by the start of the 2023 season.
A year later, Clark still figures to be on the trading block. On the one hand, Clark and Hamilton are clearly capable of co-existing. However, the Ravens will surely want Hamilton to have a bigger role in 2023. Plus, Clark’s trade value is perhaps even higher than it was a year ago, giving the Ravens a good reason to finally grant his trade request.
Derek Carr is already gone, and it looks like there could be other changes in Las Vegas this offseason. There are rumors that Renfrow could be on the chopping block after a lost 2022 season that came on the heels of the wide receiver signing a two-year extension.
It’s hard to lose faith in Renfrow completely despite an injury-plagued 2022 campaign. But that’s exactly why he would be a viable trade chip with the Raiders hoping to re-tool their roster. Las Vegas is hoping to find a new quarterback and has to re-sign key players on both sides of the ball, so the cap room they’d get from trading Renfrow could come in handy.
Perhaps two years is all it’s going to take for the Jets to move on from Zach Wilson. It seems like a given that somebody else will be playing quarterback for the Jets in 2023. Whether that’s a rookie or an established veteran like Derek Carr or Aaron Rodgers remains up in the air.
Either way, Wilson will be among the NFL players available for trade this offseason. The question is how much value Wilson would have on the trade market and who would want him. He hasn’t exactly lived up to the promise of the second-overall pick in the draft. But he’ll only be 24 at the start of next season, so perhaps a change of scenery is all he needs to turn things around.
It’s hard to find a good tight end, which is why Darren Waller is likely to attract a lot of attention with the Raiders reportedly looking to trade him. Waller signed a three-year, $51 million extension last September but didn’t perform like the NFL’s highest-paid tight end, even when he was healthy.
It’s not a sure thing that the Raiders will trade him, but between his contract and his subpar season in 2022, they will at least be willing to listen to offers on him.
It’s hard to blame Justin Fields for Chicago’s problems over the last two seasons. But that doesn’t mean the Bears won’t consider their other options at quarterback and it doesn’t mean other teams won’t be interested if Fields is made available.
Fields hasn’t received a ton of support during his first two seasons, so a trade and a change of scenery could help him. In all likelihood, Fields will probably stay with the Bears. However, there is bound to be a lot of movement with quarterbacks once the offseason begins, and it’s possible that Fields and the Bears will factor into the equation.
It’s been a rough couple of seasons for Kendrick Bourne since he signed with the Patriots. The 2022 campaign, in particular, didn’t go too well for him. He started just two games and only had 434 receiving yards.
Bourne has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to have a prominent role in the New England offense next season. However, despite rumors to the contrary, he’s not going to request a trade heading into the final year of his contract. But that doesn’t mean the Patriots can’t look to trade him anyway because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be a significant contributor in 2023.
The rumor mill is starting to pick up with regard to Mac Jones after he failed to take a step forward during his second season in the league. Of course, with Bill O’Brien joining New England’s staff, there is hope that Jones can turn things around in 2023.
But the Patriots may not have that much patience and could pursue other quarterback options. The caveat is that if Jones is available via trade, he’s not going to be high in the quarterback pecking order. It could be a team that gets loses the game of quarterback musical chairs this offseason that ends up trading for Jones if New England ends up moving on from him.
Following San Francisco’s run to the NFC Championship Game behind Brock Purdy, the narrative has been whether the 49ers will be inspired to trade Trey Lance and roll the dice with Purdy. But what about the other way around?
The 49ers invested a lot in Lance and might feel obligated to stick with him. Meanwhile, they used a throwaway pick at the end of last year’s draft to acquire Purdy, so they could cash-in on him by floating the possibility of trading him.
Even if they only get a mid-round pick, that’s good value compared to the pick they used to get him. After all, Purdy surely showed enough this season to make some teams think he can be a long-term starter. But if Lance is healthy, Purdy projects to be a backup again, so perhaps he’d be more valuable in a trade.
If the Titans keep Ryan Tannehill in 2023, it’s going to cost them a lot of money. Perhaps more importantly, there is almost no chance he lives up to that contract. But by trading him, Tennessee can free up some cap space and perhaps give Malik Willis a full season to show what he can do.
The question is what the market will look like for Tannehill. He doesn’t compare that favorably to some of the other veteran quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason. He’s also not exactly coming at a bargain price. However, after the quarterback shuffle starts to sort itself out this season, perhaps a team that’s left without an answer will call the Titans about Tannehill.
No, the Bills aren’t trading Josh Allen. However, Jacksonville’s Josh Allen could be considered one of the NFL’s offseason trade candidates in 2023.
The Jaguars were fielding calls on Allen before the trade deadline this past season, although they held on to him and he ended up finishing the season with seven sacks while helping the Jags make their improbable playoff push. The rumor mill has already brought up Allen’s name this offseason, especially since he’s heading into the final year of his rookie deal and the Jags are unlikely to give him an extension.
If a team is looking for a pass rusher, Allen would fit the bill one year before he hits free agency.
Given Tampa’s salary cap issues, Donovan Smith is an excellent candidate to be traded to help the Bucs get under the cap. With Tom Brady retiring, there is less reason for the Bucs to be in win-now mode.
One way or another, they’ll have to sort out their quarterback situation, which could involve adding money to the salary cap. That would require losing money from the cap in other areas. If the Buccaneers part ways with Smith, they can save close to $10 million. Of course, he’d be a big loss on the field, but financially, the Bucs almost have no choice but to trade Smith.
Let’s face it, the Cardinals don’t look like they’re going anywhere right now. They have a new head coach and won’t have Kyler Murray for the first chunk of the 2023 season. That potentially makes the aging but still productive DeAndre Hopkins one of the more intriguing NFL offseason trade candidates in 2023.
Despite not playing a full season since 2020, Hopkins is only 30 years old and could still be productive in the right situation. However, he doesn’t appear to be that useful to the Cardinals in the short term, especially considering his salary for the next two seasons. It appears Arizona might be willing to take a cap hit to move on from Hopkins this offseason.
After not finding a suitable deal for Brandin Cooks at the trade deadline in 2022, the Texans are bound to try again this offseason. Cooks has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be a part of Houston’s rebuilding process.
It’s also obvious that the Texans have a long way to go in that rebuilding process. Despite subpar numbers in 2022, Cooks will still be a valuable commodity on the trade market. In fact, he might be the safest bet to be moved this offseason out of all of the NFL players available for trade.
Among defensive players, Cameron Jordan is certainly among the best NFL offseason trade candidates in 2023. The defensive end is more than a decade deep into his career, so he’s a little past his prime.
But with 8.5 sacks last season, he can still be a factor as an edge rusher. If the Saints are entertaining the possibility of a rebuild, which seems like a good idea without stability at the quarterback position, Jordan would be an obvious trade chip. The Bengals, Broncos, Bears, and others have already been linked as possible fits for Jordan’s services if the Saints trade him.
The Bengals enter the offseason with a fair amount of cap space, although they also have a lot of key players on defense who will need to be re-signed or replaced. That could force Cincinnati to trade a player like Tee Higgins to create some flexibility.
While Higgins is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, he’s not necessarily essential to Cincinnati’s offense with Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd. To address other areas of need, the Bengals might need to trade from a position of strength, which is why Higgins is hearing his name spinning through the rumor mill.
After a disastrous title defense in 2022, it’s clear that the Rams aren’t moving in the right direction. They will also be looking to lose a big contract or two to create some payroll flexibility, putting Jalen Ramsey squarely on the trading block.
Ramsey is still one of the best defensive backs in the NFL, although he’s also one of the most expensive defensive players in the league as well.
But for teams with salary cap flexibility and a win-now mentality, Ramsey makes a lot of sense. The Rams will surely be eager to trade him and may not even require a first-round pick in return if it means clearing Ramsey’s contract, making it likely that Ramsey will be with a new team next season.
It looks like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are inching closer to the divorce that some have seen coming for a few years. If Rodgers wants to continue his career and keep going after a second Super Bowl ring, it likely won’t be in Green Bay.
The two sides worked out some of their differences last offseason, although that’s far from a sure thing this time around. After ditching Derek Carr, the Raiders might be the most likely destination for Rodgers, especially since Las Vegas has his old pal Davante Adams. But the Jets, Titans, Commanders, Buccaneers, and some others also make sense for Rodgers if the Packers end up trading him.
If the Ravens aren’t able to sign Lamar Jackson to a long-term extension, it opens the door for a trade. Baltimore will surely use the franchise tag on him if a long-term deal isn’t signed. But that would also make Jackson one of the top trade candidates in the NFL this offseason.
After all, if the Ravens and Jackson remain far apart on the terms of a new contract, the team will lose him to free agency at some point. The Jets, Dolphins, Commanders, and others have already been linked to Jackson in the rumor mill. If there is a team out there that’s willing to meet the contract demands that Baltimore isn’t willing to meet, it’s far from impossible for Jackson to be traded.
The Top Overall Pick
One of the biggest trades this offseason could end up involving the top overall pick in April’s draft. The Bears own the top pick, but unless they plan on moving on from Justin Fields, they aren’t going to use it on a quarterback. That could potentially create a bidding war among teams that want the top pick and most likely use it for Alabama’s Chase Young.
There could be as many as four quarterbacks selected in the top 10, so there are some quarterback-starved teams out there that could consider trading up. There are even a few teams outside of the top teams that might consider moving up in the draft. Even the Texans, who draft second overall, might be inspired to arrange a trade with Chicago to keep another team from leap-frogging them to get Young.
Of course, the Bears could just be happy to take Jalen Carter and stick with Fields at quarterback, but the possibility of a trade with the top overall pick is something worth monitoring as the draft gets closer.