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2021 NFL Draft: Predicting 5 blockbuster trades

Vincent Frank

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The 2021 NFL Draft has already featured multiple blockbuster trades even before the event is slated to start on Thursday. That includes the San Francisco 49ers moving up to the third pick and the Kansas City Chiefs pulling off a blockbuster trade for Baltimore Ravens star offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.

The expectation here is that multiple players will be dealt during the draft in Cleveland next week. Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is unhappy with the team and wants out of dodge after having the franchise tag placed on him. Meanwhile, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could be dealt depending on the quarterback they select at three.

These are among the five players that could very well be traded during the 2021 NFL Draft in less than a week.

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Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Chicago Bears

2021 NFL Draft trades: Allen Robinson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

As we noted above, Robinson is not happy about the Bears’ unwillingness to sign him to a long-term extension. It has led to speculation about a potential trade on a never-ending loop. Still only 27 years old, Robinson would net the Bears a huge bounty in return. Despite bad quarterback play over the past two seasons, the Pro Bowler has recorded a combined 200 receptions for nearly 2,400 yards.

The expectation here is that wide receiver needy teams will call up the Bears either late in Round 1 or early on Day 2 of the draft. Picking 27th and 31st overall following the Orlando Brown Jr. trade, the Baltimore Ravens could make a lot of sense as a trade partner. The same thing could be said about the New England Patriots even after they added multiple receivers in free agency.

2021 NFL Draft trade prediction: Bears move Allen Robinson to the Ravens for 27th pick and a third-round selection

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Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, Cleveland Browns

NFL Draft trades: Odell Beckham Jr. to the Indianapolis Colts?
Oct 25, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns continue to push back against the idea of trading Beckham Jr. away. Even then, reports just won’t die down relating to a potential blockbuster this offseason. Prior to going down with a torn ACL seven games into the 2020 season, OBJ just wasn’t finding a sweet spot with Baker Mayfield. Once the receiver went down, Mayfield actually performed better en route to leading the Browns to their best season since all the way back in 1994.

There are some complications when it comes to a potential Beckham Jr. trade. He’s set to count a combined $45.75 million against the cap over the next three seasons. That would likely create a situation in which the Browns have to take less in a potential trade. OBJ’s torn ACL adds another layer to this. Even then, teams will come calling. The aforementioned Ravens and Patriots make sense. Heck, the San Francisco 49ers were in on OBJ before he was dealt from the Giants to the Browns. Perhaps, they pull off another blockbuster.

2021 NFL Draft trade prediction: Browns send Odell Beckham Jr., to the Patriots for Stephon Gilmore and third-round pick

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Drew Lock, quarterback, Denver Broncos

NFL Draft trades: Drew Lock
Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to be all about what the Broncos do at nine. If they land one of the top-five quarterbacks with that selection or trade up, Drew Lock could very well find his way out of town. A second-round pick in 2019, Lock struggled big time as a sophomore. In fact, he tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead in interceptions with 15. That’s definitely not what Denver had in mind when it selected him.

With George Paton now running the show in Mile High City, there’s also no built-in relationship between Lock and the powers that be. Landing Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones would give Paton his own guy. In turn, the Broncos attempt to move Lock for more draft capital. The Washington Football Team and Chicago Bears could make sense given that they are unlikely to land a quarterback in Round 1.

2021 NFL Draft trade prediction: Broncos send Drew Lock to Washington for third-round pick in 2021 and future conditional mid-round pick

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Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, New Orleans Saints

NFL Draft trades: Marshon Lattimore
Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) reacts after making an interception in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Saints head coach Sean Payton has talked a lot recently about their salary cap situation. It took some major work from general manager Mickey Loomis to get under the cap ahead of the start of NFL free agency. Even then, the long-term prognosis in New Orleans is not great.

That’s where a potential Lattimore trade comes into play. The three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is set to count $10.24 million against the cap in 2021 and will cash out big time as a free agent next March. While a recent arrest on gun charges complicates things, Lattimore is still only 24 years old and remains one of the top cover guys in the NFL. Pretty much every team in the league would make sense as a potential trade partner.

2021 NFL Draft trade prediction: Saints trade Marshon Lattimore to the Jaguars for second-round pick in 2021 (33rd overall) and second-round pick in 2022

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Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers mock draft: Jimmy Garoppolo trade
Dec 8, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) reacts after a touchdown in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Should the 49ers land Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s a decent chance that general manager John Lynch will then trade Jimmy Garoppolo. Sure Kyle Shanahan’s offense is seen as complexed. But both are as pro-ready as any quarterback to enter the league in years. That will certainly play a role in trade talks.

As for a potential destination, the New England Patriots continue to show interest in bringing back Tom Brady’s former backup. It makes sense. Any objective observer would conclude that Garoppolo is an upgrade over Cam Newton. Barring a blockbuster trade up the board from 15, these Patriots are also unlikely to land one of the top-five quarterbacks in the draft. Rather, picking up this Super Bowl quarterback for a cheaper bounty than moving up could make sense.

2021 NFL Draft trade prediction: 49ers move Jimmy Garoppolo to the Patriots for second and third-round picks in 2021