Deal or More Deals?
Les Snead traded away seven draft picks last year just in three deals for players alone (Matthew Stafford, Sony Michel, Von Miller) but that could only make it more likely—not less likely—that the Rams general manager will be active in the swap market once again in 2022.
The New York Giants have a new general manager, Joe Schoen, and they sound ready to rebuild from the ground up with first-year head coach Brian Daboll. That means that the Giants are willing to part with players who could help NFL teams more in the short-term than the long-term, and two names that immediately jump out are cornerback James Bradberry and running back Saquon Barkley.
The Athletic’s Dan Duggan reported on Thursday that Schoen is looking for a third round pick for Barkley and a fourth round pick for Bradberry.
Surveying sources in Indy, the consensus trade value for James Bradberry is a third-round pick and Saquon Barkley is a fourth-round pick. I'm skeptical that the Giants will pull the trigger on a Saquon trade.— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) March 3, 2022
The 28-year-old Bradberry turned into one of the few free agency success stories of 2020, making the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Giants after having spent four years with the Carolina Panthers. Bradberry has intercepted seven passes in the last two seasons, recording 35 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
At the end of 2020, PFF reported that Bradberry allowed the lowest passer rating in the NFL in zone coverage, two spots ahead of Jalen Ramsey and three spots ahead of Darious Williams.
Lowest passer rating allowed in zone coverage:— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2020
1. James Bradberry - 40.5
2. Steven Nelson - 53.6
3. Jalen Ramsey - 57.6
4. Darious Williams - 63.4 pic.twitter.com/2eHY6cy7WX
He reportedly didn’t have the same quality impact in 2021, but the Giants were one of the worst teams in the league from top to bottom and soon to be undergoing another regime change. Perhaps playing for the defending Super Bowl champions would help.
A team trading for Bradberry would owe his $13.4 million base salary in 2022, the final year of the three-year, $43.5 million contract he signed with New York.
Could Snead fit that into the budget? Yes, probably.
The Rams don’t have any cap space right now, but the retirement of Andrew Whitworth (if it happens) and restructuring several contracts could make it possible to fit in Bradberry. If they also want to extend Bradberry, that would lower his 2022 salary cap hit too; Los Angeles shouldn’t have to worry about the budget nearly as much in 2023 and 2024 anyway.
Darious Williams is a free agent this year, so the Rams could be on the look out for a starting cornerback opposite of Ramsey. Unless they strongly believe in Robert Rochell or David Long, Jr., names outside of the organization must come into play—as they always do with Snead. This is the same GM who traded Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib so he could add Ramsey in the middle of a season.
Do the Rams have any third round picks to sacrifice? Technically, Snead could offer this year’s third round compensatory selection. If necessary, LA also has most of their 2023 draft pick class, minus a first for Stafford and a fourth for Michel; he also has an additional sixth rounder in there too. The Rams should expect that they will once again gain an advantage in 2023 compensatory picks with Williams probable to sign a decent-sized deal in free agency, as well as Von Miller, Odell Beckham, Jr., Austin Corbett, Brian Allen, Michel, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Noteboom potentially leaving as well.
By trading for a starting cornerback rather than signing one to replace Williams, Snead doesn’t have to worry about offsetting the compensatory pick that would come with losing Williams or another player in free agency. That’s one way to “beat the system” but it does come at the cost of a draft pick—but it is also a draft pick that the Rams could potentially receive if Bradberry leaves in free agency in 2023.
And so the cycle continues.
Of course, people also want to know about Saquon Barkley. Would L.A. consider Barkley as a complement to Cam Akers over Darrell Henderson? Barkley is making $7.2 million on his fifth-year option, making him too expensive at the running back position for most teams. Especially the Rams. That’s a much bigger barrier to entry than giving up a fourth round pick.
Should the Rams make a deal for James Bradberry?