Over the coming days and weeks, NFL teams will largely finalize the meat of their 2022 rosters – importing fresh talent from the draft while waiting to see how the annual “Player Selection Meeting” impacts veterans throughout the league, some certain to shake free or become available as potential replacements are listed and depth charts modified.
However despite the myriad major trades – especially those for quarterbacks – that have already shaped this offseason, an additional one involving disgruntled Cardinals Pro Bowler Kyler Murray won’t be forthcoming. Arizona GM Steve Keim let the league know as much this week, declaring there’s “zero chance” his biggest star will be on the block, which echoed the sentiment of owner Michael Bidwill.
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But that doesn’t mean other prominent vets won’t be moved in the near term or even on draft night itself. Major developments could also unfold following the draft, once teams are able to reassess the landscape – which could facilitate belated transactions, whether trades or outright releases.
Here are 12 players whose situations should be closely monitored:
Titans WR AJ Brown, Commanders WR Terry McLaurin, Seahawks WR DK Metcalf and 49ers WR Deebo Samuel
This quartet has much in common, so let’s lump them together. All were Day 2 picks in the 2019 draft – meaning each is entering the final year of a rookie contract – and have since blossomed into NFL stars. All but Metcalf are skipping voluntary offseason training as they angle for new deals, and Samuel has already requested a trade from San Francisco. None of their teams seems inclined to accommodate a swap, but given the skyrocketing price tags on wide receivers, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one or more opts to trade a player on the verge of getting paid in order to draft a stud from a deep and talented group of pass catchers who will be compensated far more modestly over the next few years.
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New England Patriots wide receiver
The Pats’ recent acquisition of DeVante Parker gives them four No. 2-caliber wideouts, including Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers. Bill Belichick would doubtless love it if N’Keal Harry – a first-rounder in 2019, regrettably picked before Brown, McLaurin, Metcalf and Samuel – would produce at the level of a WR2. Regardless, hard to see all five sticking on this roster. Parker is presumably safe, but one of the others would make sense as a component of a trade package given the certainty Belichick and Co. will engage in their typical draft day dealings, whether it be targeting a No. 1 receiver, another position or simply stockpiling future picks. We know this much: the Patriots, who are likely to continue featuring double-tight end formations, aren’t going five wide this season.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey
Given the recent restructuring of his contract – that landmark, four-year, $64 million extension takes effect this year – plus the fact “CMc” has missed 23 games over the past two seasons, it’s far less likely he gets dealt this year than it might have seemed a few weeks ago. The injury cloud would also likely force Carolina to take 50 cents on the dollar. But you never say never in the NFL, especially if, for example, a Super Bowl-caliber team like the Bills comes calling with a compelling bid. And given the issues on this roster, notably at quarterback and on the offensive line – and the dearth of draft picks GM Scott Fitterer has at his disposal this year (no selection in Round 2 or 3) – he’d have to consider any proposal that included at least a first-rounder in exchange.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley
For contenders eyeing game-breaking backs, the No. 2 pick of the 2018 draft is probably a far more palatable target than McCaffrey. Injuries have cost Barkley 18 of his past 33 games. Over the past two seasons, he’s averaged 3.5 yards per carry and has just 950 yards from scrimmage. Of course, that’s partially due to health reasons and partially the quality of New York’s offense. But with a new regime coming in and Barkley entering the final season of his rookie contract – he’ll make $7.2 million this year – there’s probably a deal to be had for the former Pro Bowler that might not even require a first- or second- round payoff.
Giants CB James Bradberry
A Pro Bowler in 2020, but he’s more a CB2 for the balance of his six-year career. Solid player but apparently not part of New York’s future as new GM Joe Schoen considers offers that would get Bradberry’s $13.4 million salary for 2022 (or at least a good chunk of it) off of his books.
Eagles OT Andre Dillard
Since being a first-rounder in 2019, one Philadelphia traded up for, he’s been hampered by inexperience and injuries, making just nine career starts. With Jordan Mailata now entrenched at left tackle, it would make little sense for GM Howie Roseman to pick up Dillard’s $12.6 million fifth-year option for 2023. It would be more logical to export him to a tackle-needy team willing to bet on Dillard’s potential – maybe to the tune of a mid-round pick – rather than letting him ride out his final year in Philly as a swing tackle.
Falcons DL Grady Jarrett
Heading into the last year of his pact, he’s a really good, durable player on what’s likely to be a really bad team. One of the NFL’s better interior disruptors over most of his seven seasons, Jarrett probably isn’t in Atlanta’s long-term plans and – like WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan before him – the Falcons probably should have tried to trade him much sooner. With Jarrett coming off a down season (career-low one sack) and due $16.5 million in 2022, GM Terry Fontenot might have to eat part of his contract in any deal, but it might be worth it given any kind of return provides a boost for a team in the midst of a teardown.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Browns QB Baker Mayfield
Basically the last of the veteran quarterback dominoes yet to fall in this offseason cycle, Garoppolo (owed $25.6 million in 2022) and Mayfield ($18.9 million guaranteed) are both going into a walk year. Each theoretically has value to his current team given San Francisco’s Trey Lance hasn’t yet proven he’s a franchise QB, while new Cleveland starter Deshaun Watson is likely facing a suspension. But Mayfield clearly believes his relationship with the Browns is irrevocably ruptured and wants a fresh opportunity to prove himself. Meanwhile, Garoppolo is rehabbing from surgery on his shoulder and may not be ready to throw until training camp – not to mention he’s probably more a good soldier bridge option at this point than a candidate to lead an organization into the future. Lots to consider for interested teams, including the possibility Cleveland might wind up just giving Mayfield his release. Still, if either is traded, the hours following the draft’s first round on April 28 might be a sweet spot once everyone has a sharpened picture of the quarterback landscape for 2022.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL draft 2022: 12 veterans who could be traded include Baker Mayfield