This offseason, many former “franchise” quarterbacks have been separated from the teams they were destined to lead into the future. Deshaun Watson is likely leaving Houston, Matthew Stafford is out in Detroit, Carson Wentz is out in Philadelphia, Jimmy G seems to be out of San Francisco, Russ is trying to get out of Seattle, the Dolphins look to be uncomfortable with Tua, even Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers’ relationship seems shaky.
As the NFL starts to approach the NBA in terms of player empowerment, player satisfaction is going to become very important, making star players more likely to move around if their every need and desire is not catered to (this is exactly what is happening with Russel Wilson right now). Nothing is sacred anymore, and no team is safe.
This of course means that your team’s favorite player could very well leave the team you love and find a new one shortly. That includes the staple of the league. Tom Brady left New England in 2020, so we already see that framework happening.
This of course drove me to question what it would take for teams to trade the league staples. The Lamar Jackson, Aaron Donald, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Rodgers, Derrick Henry, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes of the league.
The best way to start this series is to start with the league’s new face and the rightful owner of the AFC, Patrick Mahomes.
Author’s Note: These are not Bill O’Brien style trades, so they need to make sense, which means they are going to cost an arm and a leg. Also, the Chiefs should absolutely never trade Patrick Mahomes, so this is not an endorsement of that idea. Also, this is written before the 2021 free agency and draft, so this will probably be aged by the end of the week.
What will it cost?
A 25-year-old star quarterback with an MVP award, Super Bowl MVP, experience under Andy Reid, an extremely successful charity, an insatiable competitive drive, and an undeniably bright future. What will it cost?
That is not hyperbolic either, any team that could convince the Chiefs to trade them Patrick Mahomes instantly becomes a Super Bowl contender, and you are going to pay properly for that. The Chiefs are probably going to go from contender to the outside looking in, so they deserve to be paid to take that L as well. Sure, they could try and get enough back to remain contenders (they do have Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, and Chris Jones still), but that is so uncertain that they should give it no value.
The first thing they need, obviously, is a quarterback. Patrick Mahomes upgrades 31 teams at that position, so thirty-one teams should be all in on the trade. However, if the Chiefs can be a little choosy, they are going to specifically want a young QB in exchange. This limits the field pretty narrow, with Arizona (Kyler Murray), Houston (Deshaun Watson), LA Chargers (Justin Herbert), Miami (Tua Tagovailoa), or Cincinnati (Joe Burrow). The Jets and Jaguars enter the running in this angle as well, since they have the first two draft picks that could be used to take a quarterback.
Further, the Chiefs are going to need draft picks compensation. They need at least three first-rounders, although if someone gave them five first-rounders in this exchange, it would make sense. That is technically every single team in the league, although I would argue that it takes the Texans out of the running since they do not have a first-round pick for a few years.
The Chiefs could take some players in exchange for the draft picks, but they would have to be star player that fills a need. We are talking Michael Thomas, Christian Mccaffrey, Mike Evans, Saquon Barkley, either of the Bosa brothers.
Some Potential Trades
The team that takes Patrick Mahomes instantly goes into win-now mode because they are going to have to give up the future. This means the teams that should be most aggressive should be the teams built to win right now.
That starts the conversation with a trade with the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns would send Kansas City: Baker Mayfield, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 first-round pick, Nick Chubb. This of course is in exchange for Patrick Mahomes.
Both teams win big in this scenario: The Chiefs get a quarterback and three first-round picks that can be used to build the offense (they could also use this opportunity to be more daring with their own first-round draft picks, like taking Kyle Trask in 2021), and one of the best running backs in the game, while the Browns get the best player in football without breaking up their great receiver core and strong defensive line. The Browns even get to keep Kareem Hunt in the backfield, who can carry the run game on his back. Both teams remain very competitive and the Chiefs secure the future of the team with those draft picks.
However, there is sadly a type of team that will try to trade for Mahomes just for the money it brings in. Get the jersey sales, media coverage, and ticket sales, but waste Mahomes career for a few years.
Hi, Jacksonville, almost did not see you there.
Jacksonville is gonna have to surrender the farm on this one because they lack players to give up, so they are giving up: 2021 1st, 2022 1st, 2023 1st, 2024 1st, and a 2025 1st. The Chiefs would send Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs lock up their future, with two first-round picks in the next five drafts, including the number one pick in the 2021 draft to grab Trevor Lawrence. The Jacksonville Jaguars are also terrible at keeping players happy and finding success, which means that their draft picks could be worth a ton shortly too. The Jaguars get to make money on the move, which seems to be the primary focus of ownership over there.
The Best One!
There is an obvious trade that I think creates two superpowers in the NFL, and it is between the Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are not sold on Tua, and that may have more to do with his head coach being defensive-minded, so giving him time under Andy Reid may be the most beneficial thing for him. The weakest part of the Dolphin’s team is their offense, so this would probably make them a Super Bowl contender.
In this trade, I have the Dolphins giving Kansas City: Tua Tagovailoa, both 2021 1sts (third via Houston, eighteenth) and 2021 second. That is all they would have to give.
The Chiefs can use the third overall pick to draft Devonta Smith (or Penei Sewell if they refuse to let Sammy Watkins walk), and then have the 18th and 31st pick to work on everything else (LB, DE, OT). This puts Tua Tagovailoa in maybe one of the most explosive offenses ever and arms the Chiefs to make it right back to the big game.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins put Patrick Mahomes at the helm of their offense, use a little money to sign Allen Robinson, and have a fairly vicious offense. Their defense is already stout, and I think between the two, this is an AFC championship-contending team.
This creates two teams that win championships and does not cost the Dolphins too much. This is my favorite trade in this experiment, even if I disagree fully on the Chiefs trading Mahomes.