On Tuesday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler published a report about 2022 trade deadline buzz with potential sellers. In his commentary, he mentioned Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler’s effort to deal defensive end Clelin Ferrell and safety Johnathan Abram.
“Speaking of Ziegler, it’s no secret he has worked to shed players from the Mike Mayock regime. A few players to watch are a pair of 2019 first-rounders, defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell and safety Johnathan Abram. I’m told Vegas has had talks with teams on both players in recent months, with Abram’s name circulating a lot.”ESPN report on Las Vegas Raiders’ trade plans
After Fowler’s findings hit the rumor mill, a beat reporter close to the team disputed that the Raiders have shopped the former first-rounders, but a general manager’s job is to listen if a team calls or gauges interest in a player.
With that said, if you’ve paid attention to the Raiders over the past four seasons, you’d know that Ferrell has seen his playing time trend in a steady decline, and Abram has shown modest improvement.
Nonetheless, Ferrell has played well in a limited role under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham this season, logging five quarterback hurries while on the field for just 34% of the defensive snaps. Abram has displayed some versatility under Graham, lining up at both safety spots and in the slot. Take a look at Abram’s snap count via Pro Football Focus:
- Box: 101
- Free safety: 98
- Slot: 71
Neither Ferrell nor Abram have played up to their first-round potential, but Ziegler can sell some positives (Abram more than Ferrell) in conjunction with draft capital to draw in potential suitors.
Let’s go through five potential trade packages for the former 2019 first-round picks.
Las Vegas Raiders trade Johnathan Abram to the Vikings for Chris Reed and a 2022 fifth-round pick
The Raiders could pitch Abram to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for help at guard. Since Vegas has benched John Simpson, it should try to find an upgrade over Alex Bars.
In this scenario, Abram would reunite with his pro first defensive coordinator in Paul Guenther, who’s a senior defensive assistant on the Vikings’ coaching staff. In all likelihood, the former defensive play-caller had an influence on the Raiders’ decision to select Abram with the 27th overall pick in the 2019 draft.
With Guenther’s early connection to Abram, Ziegler shouldn’t have an issue with a proposal to the Vikings for a backup guard. Abram would likely replace Vikings starting safety Camryn Bynum, who’s allowed four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating (158.3) in coverage this season.
Despite Chris Reed’s status as a reserve, he could be a better option than Bars right now. Between 2020 and 2021, the former started in 20 out of 28 games. The latter has started in 14 games in four NFL seasons. Also, Reed has a little bit of experience as an inline tight end, which has become a valuable position for Vegas in its last two games.
This isn’t a splashy trade proposal, but the Raiders can do this to strengthen their offensive line.
Raiders trade Abram to Seahawks for Justin Coleman and a 2022 fifth-round pick
The most optimistic Raiders fans saw Abram as a more reckless version of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams—a box thumper who can make plays with the action in front of him not 15 yards downfield.
Well, Adams tore his quadriceps in the Seattle Seahawks’ season-opening win over the Denver Broncos. Though head coach Pete Carroll hasn’t ruled out the safety’s return this season, the 27-year-old is on injured reserve after he underwent surgery.
If the Seahawks see some similarities between Adams and Abram, they may have some interest in the latter as an in-season Band-Aid at safety.
Just like Adams, Abram has the ability to pressure the quarterback on designed blitzes and make run stops in the backfield. As the Raiders’ defensive coordinator, Graham has unleashed Abram in select spots with success.
Furthermore, Abram has cleaned up his technique while in pursuit, missing on just 5.9% of his tackles compared to 10.8% in 2021 and 13.1% in 2020.
As for the Raiders, they need some depth at cornerback with Nate Hobbs on injured reserve with a broken hand. He’s going to miss at least four games. Though the team signed former Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, it wouldn’t hurt to add a capable slot defender in Coleman, who has eight years of playing experience. Head coach Josh McDaniels and Graham are familiar with him from his two seasons in New England (2015-16).
Las Vegas Raiders trade Johnathan Abram to Lions for John Cominsky and a 2022 fifth-round pick
Headed into Week 7, the Detroit Lions have allowed the most points and yards league-wide, so they may not want to give up a player on defense.
However, the Raiders can potentially entice the Lions to make a deal, swapping a starter for a role player. Also, Detroit has a mess at the safety position.
In Week 3, Tracy Walker tore his Achilles, and he’s out for the season. Will Harris has lined up primarily at cornerback instead of his natural position at safety through the team’s first five games. Rookie third-rounder Kerby Joseph has had a rough start to the 2022 campaign, allowing two touchdowns and a 129.2 passer rating in coverage.
This past offseason, Ifeatu Melifonwu transitioned from cornerback to safety, but he’s only played five snaps in two games at his new position. Juju Hughes has yet to start in an NFL game. Primary starter DeShon Elliott has surrendered a staggering 20.7 yards per completion with a 128.6 passer rating in coverage.
Clearly, Detroit needs help at safety. Even though Abram can be a liability in pass defense, he’s allowing a 93.4 passer rating, which is his best mark in that coverage metric and an upgrade over Elliott.
The Raiders can use Cominsky’s ability to rush the passer on the interior. He’s second on the Lions in quarterback hurries (eight), per Pro Football Focus. Bilal Nichols, Johnathan Hankins and Andrew Billings have eight quarterback hurries combined.
Cominsky underwent hand surgery last month, but he could be back on the field soon. As a solid contributor in the Lions’ “NASCAR” package, he’s a valuable rotational player, though Detroit can fill his void with rookie second-rounder Josh Paschal, who’s recovering from sports hernia surgery.
Las Vegas Raiders trade Clelin Ferrell and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Browns for Greedy Williams and a seventh-round pick
Ziegler can aim a little higher in his trade pursuits if he attaches a middle-round draft pick to Ferrell and/or Abram. Let’s explore that possibility here.
As mentioned above, Vegas won’t have Hobbs for at least a month because he broke his hand in Week 5 while on the field against the Chiefs. Thus far this season, the second-year cover man has played 91% of the defensive snaps, so that’s a huge loss for a defense that’s allowed a 68.5% completion rate, 11 passing touchdowns (tied for third-most league-wide) and ranks 24th in yards allowed through the air.
Ziegler cannot take Hobbs’ absence lightly. He should address the cornerback position with Anthony Averett still on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on a broken thumb.
The Raiders can call the Cleveland Browns about Greedy Williams, who made his 2022 season debut last week. He’s probably the odd man out in the Browns secondary with Denzel Ward and rookie third-rounder Martin Emerson Jr. in starting boundary roles. Once Ward returns from a concussion, Williams would likely revert to a backup position.
With only one year left on his deal, Williams has extra motivation as he eyes free agency in 2023. In Vegas, he could line up on the perimeter opposite Rock Ya-Sin, and Hobbs can play mostly in the slot upon his return.
As for the Browns, Ferrell can play a decent role at defensive end in a four-man front, taking some of the load off Jadeveon Clowney, who’s missed three out of six games with ankle, elbow and knee injuries. Cleveland may be interested in some depth opposite of Myles Garrett as rookie third-rounder Alex Wright develops at the same position.
Raiders trade Ferrell, a 2022 third-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick to Commanders for William Jackson III
Here’s the biggest trade among the five packages.
Ziegler can swing for the fences in an attempt to acquire William Jackson III, who wants a “fresh start” elsewhere.
The Washington Commanders play a lot more zone coverage under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio than Jackson expected when he signed a three-year, $40.5 million deal with the team last offseason.
In case you didn’t know, Graham values cornerbacks who can cover man-to-man downfield:
With Hobbs out, Jackson makes sense for the Raiders, but they’ll have to compete with several suitors for a player at a premium position. Ziegler would have to ante up for a cornerback who’s allowed a completion rate of 60% or less every season between 2018 and 2021 and logged double-digit pass breakups in three out of six campaigns.
Aside from the future draft capital, Washington may want another defensive end opposite of Montez Sweat as Chase Young recovers from a torn ACL. The 2020 Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t taken a snap this season.
2022 draft picks tracked by Tankathon.com.
Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.