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#pounditSunday, January 23, 2022

5 teams most likely to make a trade in the NFL Draft

Bill Belichick

The NFL Draft is always full of surprises. From the picks themselves to the wildly unexpected trade deals, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will unfold in the draft. Of course, that’s what makes it so much fun for fans and analysts alike.

Every year, there seem to be a handful of trades no one saw coming. Teams either look to move up to acquire a specific talent or they look to trade down in hopes of landing additional picks.

The 2017 NFL Draft is not going to be any different in that regard, so the expectation should be that several deals will be made. But who is the most likely to be involved in such deals? Let’s take a look…

5. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears reportedly want to trade down from their spot at No. 3 overall, but find themselves in a tough position. They’ll have to compete with the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the No. 2 overall pick, and the New York Jets, who hold the No. 6 overall pick.

Given that the Jets are a few picks away, Chicago’s chief competition will come by way of the 49ers. Most teams looking to make that move up aren’t going to risk leaving a space between themselves and their desired pick.

That doesn’t mean the Bears are in an impossible situation, however. There are likely several teams targeting a top-five prospect who are willing to part with the necessary pieces. Of course, it’s the 49ers who will likely receive the better offers and the first calls.

If the Bears do ultimately make a trade, and assuming the 49ers also make one, their trade partner is more likely to be a team targeting a position other than quarterback.

4. New York Jets

There’s no secret as to why the Jets (picking No. 6 overall) appear on this list — they want to trade down and the entire NFL world knows it.

The Jets reportedly have eyes on both cornerbacks and quarterbacks heading into April’s draft, but aren’t entirely sold on what’s available and feel they can find quality value by trading down and subsequently adding more picks. But whether or not they can find a trade partner, with several other teams also rumored to be interested in trading down, remains to be seen.

Gang Green will likely compete in the trade market with the San Francisco 49ers, whom we’ll get to in a moment, and the aforementioned Chicago Bears.

If the Jets do trade down, there’s enough talented cornerbacks and quarterbacks to make the move worthwhile. They could get solid haul and still get a player at a position of need.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Like the Jets, the 49ers are another team that wants to trade down. But unlike the Jets, they have direct competition for that potential move by way of the Chicago Bears, who pick one spot behind them at No. 3 overall.

At picks No. 2 and No. 3, any potential trade partner is going to be extremely specific with whom they’re targeting. With the Jets at No. 6, they don’t offer the kind of bump a team would need to target players projected in the top three or five. So while the Jets will likely work to make a move themselves, the 49ers and Bears will be left to battle it out amongst themselves to make a deal with whatever team (or teams) it is looking to move up into the top three.

Knowing that, it gives the 49ers the advantage and that’s why the Bears are lower on this list. Although the cost may be higher, any team serious about a trade into the top three won’t risk moving into the No. 3 spot when the No. 2 spot is also being auctioned off.

2. New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have already done a little wheeling and dealing, sending wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for a first-round pick and a third-round pick. But they’re not likely done yet, and possibly not even with the Patriots.

There has been lingering speculation that the Patriots and Saints have had a side deal in place for safety Malcolm Butler, who signed his restricted free agent tender earlier this week. Whether or not that’s true is irrelevant; the Saints are interested in Butler, and a trade is very likely.

Will the two sides wait until draft day to get a deal done? That remains to be seen, but with time ticking away, it makes the Saints a likely mover and shaker come Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

Even if the Saints don’t make a trade with the Patriots for Butler, they may still look to move around a bit with the added ammunition from the Cooks trade. But in all likelihood, a draft day deal with New England will get done.

1. New England Patriots

Was there any other way for this list to be capped off? Of course Bill Belichick and the Patriots are likely to make a trade — either up or down. It’s just the nature of who they are and what they do. They’re draft-day trade magicians and it seems to define them on a yearly basis. In fact, as noted previously, they’ve already made a pre-draft trade with the Saints.

It seems fitting that the Patriots acquired Belichick in a trade with the Jets back in 2000, sending a first-round pick to New York in exchange for the right to hire the future Hall of Fame head coach. Since then, Belichick and the Patriots have continued that sort of success, making trades during nearly every single draft since. And even in years they didn’t make a trade, the butterfly effect from previous draft day trades yielded plentiful rewards.

This year they have seven picks entering the draft, including two in the third, fourth and fifth rounds (a full breakdown of their picks here). They could try to package a few to move up to the second, or maybe they’ll stockpile even more.

There are no substantial reports or rumors that the Patriots plan additional trades outside of Malcolm Butler, but who are we kidding? Of course they’re going to make a trade. Or two. Or five. Who knows? But one thing is for certain, at some point during the three days of the draft, Belichick will be sending something somewhere and likely benefiting greatly because of it.

The rich will only get richer.

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