What qualifies as a blockbuster NFL trade? It’s an open question. However, we did see one recently between the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams involving two quarterbacks who were seen as franchise-type players just a couple years ago.
More often, an NFL trade will fly under the radar due to those involved being less-than household names. That doesn’t make said deal any less important. A total of 32 teams. Each team boasting a 53-man active roster.
Sometimes, those lesser-known players are involved in deals around the league. They have impacts beyond what would seem to be the case at first-glance. Below, we look at five potentially underrated NFL trade targets for the 2021 offseason.
Andrew Norwell, guard, Jacksonville Jaguars
Acquiring Norwell would not qualify as a huge NFL trade by any stretch of the imagination. However, the 29-year-old veteran guard has more than proven himself to be a consistent starting interior lineman in the NFL. Over the course of his seven-year career, Norwell has started 94 of a possible 95 games. He also earned an All-Pro appearance in his final season with the Panthers back in 2017.
While Norwell has not necessarily lived up to expectations in Jacksonville and is set to count $15 million against the cap in 2021, he could be a pretty interesting trade target. Jacksonville would have to eat $6 million of that cap hit. Meanwhile, Norwell would also likely have to restructure his contract. Given the importance of interior offensive line play in today’s NFL, he could be an underrated trade option.
Giovani Bernard, running back, Cincinnati Bengals
Gone are the days that running backs fill a specific role. As evidenced by the record-breaking extension Christian McCaffrey signed with the Carolina Panthers last offseason, having a dual-threat back is key in today’s NFL. To a lesser extent, Bernard has been that for Cincinnati since the team made him a second-round pick all the way back in 2013. In fact, the North Carolina product is averaging north of 40 receptions per season as a third-down player.
Still only 29, Bernard could offer receiving help out of the backfield for a team that values it. He’s also coming off a solid 2020 performance that saw the veteran tally nearly 800 total yards at a clip of 4.5 yards per touch. It also doesn’t hurt that any team acquiring Bernard would have to pay a mere $4.1 million cap hit while sending nothing more than a mid-to-late round pick to Cincinnati.
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Eric Kendricks, linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is in a horrible cap situation. Short of finding someone to trade for Kirk Cousins, this will mean releasing key veteran cogs such as Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith. The Vikings will also have to think long and hard about trading a veteran or two. This is where the 28-year-old Kendricks comes into play. He could be featured in an underrated NFL trade this offseason.
A product of UCLA, the linebacker missed five games due to injury last season. It helped impending free agent Eric Wilson earn a part-time starting job for Minnesota. He excelled in said role. With Kendricks having earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors back in 2019, any team acquiring him would be buying low here. That’s magnified by the fact that Minnesota is on the hook for a $12.47 million cap hit.
Michael Gallup, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
A former mid-round pick of the Cowboys back in 2018, Gallup has quickly morphed into a consistent receiving threat in Big D. The Colorado State product tallied north of 1,100 yards as a sophomore in 2019. While Gallup saw his numbers decrease this past season, that’s primarily because Dallas selected CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
At issue here of the Cowboys is that dreaded salary cap. They are going to have to either sign Dak Prescott to a long-term dal or place the franchise tag on him. Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper are getting paid big time. Gallup’s status as a mid-round pick means he will hit free agency following the 2021 season. The Cowboys would be smart to sell high on the talented receiver rather than risk losing him for nothing. Could another team jump at the possibility of landing him?
Derek Carr, quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders
This would be one heck of an NFL trade given all of the talk we’re hearing about better-known quarterbacks being dealt during the offseason. Recent rumors suggest that Las Vegas could look to move this three-time Pro Bowler as a way to potentially acquire an upgrade in that of Deshaun Watson.
If this is indeed the case, Carr would draw a significant amount of interest on the trade block. He’s slated to boast the 15th-highest cap hit among quarterbacks in 2021 — a pretty solid number for someone with his past success. Carr is also coming off a 2020 campaign that saw him pass for north of 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns against nine interceptions. If one of the many teams looking for an upgrade at quarterback fails to land someone like Watson, Carr would not be a bad backup option on the cheap.