Training camp is just around the corner. But some teams could still have some major changes up their sleeves ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Most blockbuster moves are in the rear view, but that doesn't mean clubs aren't making calls for emergency scenarios, or putting out feelers for some of the biggest names still perceived to be available.
With that in mind, here are nine of the most notable surprise camp trade candidates as we dive deeper into the summer:
It's clear as day that Rodgers, as it stands, is not happy in Green Bay. Some are convinced that he's convinced his Packers days are over. But even if that's totally true, the team will almost assuredly play hardball in any future trade talks, perhaps to the point of letting Rodgers sit at home while the season kicks off. In other words, even if a deal goes down, it probably won't be during -- and especially not early in -- training camp. The Rodgers rumors are good drama, but because of his legacy in green and yellow, a trade would still be a surprise, not to mention an instant financial boon for the Packers, saving the club an instant $22.85 million.
The former Chargers back got decent money (two years, $16M) to headline Denver's backfield in 2020 and fared relatively well, but the Broncos are under new management and just spent a second-rounder on Javonte Williams. New general manager George Paton also added Mike Boone, an ex-Vikings reserve he helped bring to Minnesota, and could save $6.9M by dealing Gordon.
The current regime used its franchise tag on A-Rob partly because 2021 is a critical year, and without him, the Bears would be devoid of any proven No. 1 pass catcher. But that doesn't change the fact these two sides have been "talking" about a new deal for ages without resolution. Robinson has no guarantees in regards to if/when the Bears will turn the keys over to new quarterback Justin Fields, and with extension negotiations tabled once more, it's not inconceivable that his representation could quietly request permission to seek a move elsewhere. Chicago wouldn't budge easily, but at least GM Ryan Pace could sell a potential deal -- which would free up almost $18M -- as a move to go all in on a post-2021 roster.
GM Joe Douglas is all about building from the trenches first, and with new QB Zach Wilson in tow, keeping the pocket clean is of the utmost importance. He also just gave the ex-Broncos veteran a three-year, $27M deal in 2020. This offseason, however, he invested a ton in Alijah Vera-Tucker, who has center experience; and added guard Dan Feeney for over $4M. By trading McGovern ahead of a make-or-break year, Douglas could recoup $8M immediately.
Bears OLB Robert Quinn
It was just a year ago that Chicago rewarded Quinn's Cowboys breakout with a five-year, $70M deal. Yes, you read that right. The Bears would be decimating their pass-rushing depth by dealing Quinn, 31, but would assuredly also welcome any chance to walk back their cap-crunching commitment. A trade this summer would net them $11.6M right off the bat. They currently have less than $6M free.
Like Rodgers, he's been the subject of plenty of trade speculation, and yet his team isn't necessarily likely to pull the trigger on a move. Entering his age-31 season, Gilmore doesn't seem in a rush to leave New England; he just wants a raise. The Pats will likely try to appease the perennial Pro Bowler before even fielding calls, but if/when the two sides don't strike a new deal, suitors will be there. New England would save $7.7M by dealing their No. 1 cover man, and Bill Belichick has shown a willingness to part with big names too soon rather than too late, but he'll want to be darn sure Gilmore wants/needs out before granting that request.
Houston just extended the 29-year-old former Broncos standout with a three-year, $36M deal in 2020, and rightfully so. He's still a starting-caliber cover man on an otherwise porous roster. But the Texans need all the cap relief and additional assets they can get. The new front office may very well be restarting at QB -- and every other position, to be frank -- by 2022, if not this year, and Roby would still look appealing to contenders. Even though he's suspended for the opener, he'd likely net a decent return, not to mention save the team almost $9.2M this year.
Jets S Marcus Maye
Does Joe Douglas prefer to deal Maye? Probably not. But he also didn't prefer to deal Jamal Adams. And both standout safeties failed to strike a long-term deal with the GM before exploring other options. The fact of the matter is Douglas doesn't prioritize lucrative paydays for the position. He'd save an instant $10.6M by dealing the young defensive back to a more financially flexible secondary.
He's still a big name with a big role, but with 2022 free agency on the horizon, Peppers could be dangled for the chance to gain $6.8M in cap savings for a team with just $2.4M in current space. It's not as if New York hasn't invested in alternatives at the position, paying up to retain Logan Ryan, recently spending a high pick on Xavier McKinney and finding snaps for the versatile Julian Love.