NFL combine 2019: Shopping players on fifth-year option a growing trend, plus more insider notes
Roughly half the 2015 first round has been shopped and it won't stop there, plus the latest on Odell Beckham and more
INDIANAPOLIS – There is a common denominator to many of the players who were shopped in trades during 2018 and who are being shopped around during this scouting combine. It's part of what has become a growing trend in this league, and something teams figure will continue for years to come.
There is no shortage of players on their fifth-year option who are being actively pushed on other clubs, or at least there is a strong perception that some of those players are available if you just happen to ask. Either way, the fifth-year option has become a trigger to trade talks in more than one instance. Those inflated fifth-year salaries are easy to execute as a paper transaction – it doesn't hit the payroll or cap when teams make the decision to pick up those options – but those salaries and cap ramifications become very real when the league year begins, and while they are guaranteed for injury, they carry no other triggers … until you have to actually have them on your roster in that fifth year.
Which brings us to the present for those first-round picks from the 2015 draft. And a group of good – but not great – players set to earn upwards of $10M in 2019. And now teams are looking to see what they can get to move those contracts elsewhere, rather than pay that compensation themselves for a player they do not intend to extend and would surely lose as free agents in 2020, anyway. The Vikings are trying to get something for Trae Waynes (11th overall) rather than pay him $9M for one more season, and league sources believe the Eagles would include Nelson Agholor (20th overall) and his $9M should they engage in trade talks for veteran players, for instance, continuing a trend for this draft class that began, really, before last season.
The fifth-year option has become a conduit to trade talks once the non-superstars from a first-round class complete their third season in the NFL. They are still young and cheap – but perhaps did not become who they were drafted to be – and they tend to comprise a bulk of players on the trade market. The Chiefs traded Marcus Peters (18th overall) last year, before he started to make big money (and the Rams may move on from him this year rather than pay out that fifth-year salary). The Packers dealt Damarious Randall (30th) before the 2018 season and the Raiders dealt Amari Cooper (fourth overall) before the deadline. The Jags were engaged in trade talks about Dante Fowler (third overall) during training camp, and eventually moved him before the trade deadline. Erick Flowers was moved by the Giants after failing to be their left tackle, and Danny Shelton (12th overall), Phillip Dorsett (29th overall) and Stephone Anthony (31st overall) had already been dealt
The Ravens tried to get something for Breshad Perriman (26th overall) before cutting him last summer, and the Broncos tried to deal Shane Raye (23rd overall) but couldn't get much; same with the Dolphins and DeVante Parker (14th overall). The bottom line is that was not an overwhelming draft class, and roughly half of the first round has either been shopped or dealt, with more movement likely to come. Thus far, only Todd Gurley has secured a long-term extension from this group (Byron Jones, Melvin Gordon and Brandon Scherff are certainly among those on deck), but the story of the 2015 class has been, in large part, trying to pawn of these players before they cash in on their contracts, and by the start of next season upwards of 20 members of this first-round class will not be playing for the teams that drafted them.
Chiefs looking to add ... offense
I continue to hear the Chiefs are, believe it or not, trying to do something big for an offensive skill player. Yes, despite all of the talent they have already amassed on that side of the ball, and despite their obvious issues on defense, they are sniffing around on trade options and some teams I spoke to wouldn't be shocked if they got in on Le'Veon Bell. Bottom line is don't be shocked if these guys come away with a big-time receiver or running back.
More notes and rumors from Indy
- Speaking of running backs, if the Jets don't push for Le'Veon Bell, I hear Tevin Coleman is very attractive to them and someone they believe can spark their run game.
- I do not get the sense C.J. Mosley is going to sign an extension before getting to test the market, and I don't expect the Ravens to tag him at this point, either. That's a lot of money for one year ($15M). There continues to be buzz at the combine about Bell and the Ravens – though team sources have denied they are interested in the back – and Ravens officials were spotted meeting with Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari. Of course, Bakari represents a bevy of NFL players, so that meeting may have had nothing to do with Bell, but it did get people talking here.
- Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams is going to get a massive payday. Teams are thinking he gets $12M a year, and maybe more.
- Nothing I have heard in Indy this week has made me think Alex Smith plays football again. Look for the Skins to add multiple quarterbacks this offseason.
- I have not heard Colin Kaepernick's name mentioned once this week by any NFL people. I remain skeptical anyone gives him a shot to work out, though I hope I am wrong.
- The Bucs are going to be active this offseason. Bruce Arians isn't interested in any three-year plans at this stage of his career and they have been very active meeting with agents in Indy.
- Things are starting to heat up a bit with interest in Antonio Brown. My man Pete Prisco – misguided soul that he is – keeps debating me on CBS HQ that Pittsburgh won't get more than a third-round pick for him. He is going to be wrong. Again.
- Would the Raiders trade one of their three first-round picks this year and a 2020 first-rounder for Odell Beckham? Executives with other clubs are certainly chatting about it. Personally, I would do it. And while the 49ers are telling the truth when they poo-poo any links to Antonio Brown, I continue to hear that Beckham would be very attractive to them and is very much on their radar.
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