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Trader Joe’s? Recent NFL trend presents opportunity for NY Jets

Joe Douglas
Joe Douglas, Getty Images

Could Joe Douglas have another big move in store?

Trades are happening with rapidly increasing frequency in the NFL. Star players have been on the move like never before.

This is most evident at wide receiver. Here are some notable players traded in the last two years alone:

  • Tyreek Hill
  • Davante Adams
  • Stefon Diggs
  • A.J. Brown
  • Keenan Allen
  • D.J. Moore
  • Calvin Ridley
  • Amari Cooper
  • Diontae Johnson
  • Jerry Jeudy

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas seems to be aware of the talent available via trade. This offseason, he’s already traded for tackle Morgan Moses and defensive end Haason Reddick. In exchange, the Jets gave up a 2024 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2026 third-round pick (they also swapped fourth-rounders with the Ravens, moving down 22 slots in the round).

So, the Jets acquired a starting tackle and the fourth-place finisher in the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year race for a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder. Under Douglas, the best players he’s drafted in those rounds are Ashtyn Davis, Carter Warren, and Brandin Echols. Seems like an easy choice for the Jets.

Trades like this are happening more and more across the NFL. While each situation is unique, the acquiring team consistently appears to win the trades. Proven veteran talent can be acquired for low-value draft picks that have a low hit rate.

The NFL Trade Market is Unbalanced

With all new trends, there’s an initial imbalance.

Teams must decide which is more valuable to them: The player they’re trading or the draft pick and cap space they get by moving them.

Teams don’t always have the luxury of choosing. The Los Angeles Chargers had to cut and trade their top two wide receivers due to poor cap management. Other teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs, trade star players early to avoid paying them and facing a similar situation.

For whatever reason, the last few years have seen an unprecedented number of trades. Here are several notable players traded this offseason so far.

  • QB Justin Fields for a conditional 2025 6th-round pick
  • WR Stefon Diggs, a 2024 5th, and a 2025 6th for a 2025 2nd-round pick
  • WR Keenan Allen for 2024 4th-round pick
  • WR Diontae Johnson and a 2024 7th for CB Donte Jackson and a 2024 6th-round pick
  • WR Jerry Jeudy for 2024 5th and 6th-round picks
  • OT Morgan Moses and a 2024 4th for 2024 4th and 6th-round picks
  • DE Brian Burns for a 2024 2nd and two 5th-round picks
  • DE Haason Reddick for a 2026 conditional 3rd-round pick
  • CB L’Jarius Sneed and a 2024 7th for a 2025 3rd and 2024 7th-round pick
  • CB Carlton Davis, a 2024 6th, and a 2025 6th for a 2024 3rd-round pick

Allen, Johnson, and Jeudy, who had over 2,700 combined receiving yards in 2023, were traded for the equivalent value of an early third-round pick. On the defensive side, premier players were traded for a collection of day two picks.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Every player traded was available for a reason. Sneed and Burns couldn’t agree to long-term deals and were subsequently tagged and traded. Other players were seen as replaceable and moved to open up cap space.

It’s important to note that the teams acquiring the player don’t only give up draft picks. Following the trade, the teams frequently need to extend the player or risk losing them after one or two years. These new contracts are generally lucrative as front offices have already invested in the player. Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill reset the wide receiver market in 2022 after being traded to new teams for example.

A new contract isn’t a given, however. It has been speculated the Jets could let Reddick walk after the season in hopes of receiving a comp pick to replace the one used in the trade. And while lucrative deals follow several trades, quality players don’t always receive big contracts after being moved. Morgan Moses and Shaq Mason are examples of veteran starters on fair contracts traded for day-three picks.

It feels like the teams trading for the player win most of the trades. Teams have been able to acquire plenty of proven talent – whether they are on an affordable short-term contract or if they’re secured long-term – for draft picks that don’t always pan out.

The blockbuster trades get the headlines, but the trade market is also a great way for teams to bolster their depth with veterans instead of taking a late-round flyer. This is where the Jets must focus their attention over the remainder of this offseason.

The Jets must continue to take advantage of the NFL trade market to fill out their depth chart

The NFL trade market currently provides the most effective way to improve a team. Teams can acquire proven players and avoid the uncertainty of the draft or a bidding war in free agency. With teams abusing the ability to push dead money to future years, this will continue even as the cap rises.

The Jets must continue taking advantage of this trend, as the sheer talent presents too much opportunity. After the 2024 NFL draft, players across the league will be replaced by rookies, opening up more possible trade candidates.

While the Jets have most of their starters in place, several have injury concerns and are not under contract with the team beyond 2024. The Jets can use their five picks in rounds four through seven to acquire competent depth and/or potential long-term solutions. Veteran players acquired via trade would provide more reliable depth in 2024 than a rookie drafted on Day 3, which is appealing for a win-now team.

Whether it’s at wide receiver, safety, running back, tight end, or the offensive line, there are many positions on the Jets’ roster where the back end of the depth chart could use strengthening. Trading late-round picks for veterans would be a smart way to fill these holes.

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Charlie Winner
Charlie Winner
1 month ago

Couldn’t disagree more. Trading for older players on one year deals weakens the long term prospects for teams. I know that the Jets are in “win now” mode, but if injuries, decrease in effectiveness due to age, and lack of cohesion by throwing a mixture of different playing styles hurts the team rather than helps it.

This reflects the gambling dynamic that has hit sports. Nobody cares about the sport, only the spread or the fantasy points you get for individual performance……. team loyalty is passe. Those crazies in the stands are amusing and help the TV money, but are not the major reason any more. As a matter of fact, TV revenue and gambling advertisement are now the heat and soul of sports.

1 month ago
Reply to  Charlie Winner

You make 2 points in your response, both of which I agree. Point 1: This is the perfect time for the Jets to try and move back to pick up another quality young player or two who, IF they had to play SOME this year could hold their own. It would also be part of their “development process” to get some real game snaps without having to totally rely on them for their entire rookie season (at least we hope). I think Joe has done a nice job of filling out the roster with FA’s, yes they are risky, but that’s what free agents are…risky. Now, he’s got an opportunity to continue to build so when these free agents move on there are guys ready to step in, maybe they add another vet or 2 but no need to stock up on them.

Point 2 about the gambling, specifically the fantasy is spot on, and there is very little team loyalty. We are at a point now that a player’s ability is judged based on his fantasy value, and the gambling props etc. Mix all of that gambling with the never ending flow of beer, that begins hours before kickoff and it turns most “fans in stands” into raving lunatics. It’s to the point I refuse to go to a live game anymore, people think because they paid $200 for their ticket they now have the right to act like the biggest a**ho*e on the planet. I attribute that to all the fantasy and gambling.

Gone are the days of team spirit and living and dying with your team. Just look at the uniforms, EVERYBODY needs a “black alternate” because wearing the “team colors with pride” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It doesn’t fit the number one goal of the NFL…to print money.

verge tibbs
verge tibbs
1 month ago
Reply to  Jets71

Yeah, speaking of gambling, whats alarming to me is how immediately gambling companies have seemingly taken over. The ads are non stop. Its too easy for anybody to get swallowed in, its too acceptable. This isnt gonna end well. We’re gonna start seeing a lot of stories of people losing everything, suicide, and problems in high schools and probably even younger. Not trying to be an alarmist, but its kind of common sense.

1 month ago
Reply to  verge tibbs

You’re right, it’s not going to end well, although I don’t see this becoming a huge problem in High Schools (no data, just personal opinion). Since gambling is now online and not with bookies, you can’t bet on the finger anymore so I don’t see a TON of HS students with the type of cash to get into huge trouble. It’s not as easy to access as some of the drugs they can get today in terms of price.

But, this is seeping to players, refs, and we’ll see it in timekeepers etc, who have “slow or quick fingers” based on their over/under bet. Look at baseball, this thing with Ohtani was moved quickly under the rug (thanks in part to ESPNquirer’s take, of “oh poor Shohei”) but if it were a player they didn’t like, or built up, there would still be stories today. It’s only a matter of time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jets71
1 month ago

Good article. You definitely have to use a word like “notable” to include Judy in that list.