On the Fifth Day of Draftmas Ash Thompson gave to thee,
All the Detroit Lions trade Back Options and likely returns.
The number seven pick has been talked about to death. All those months of conversation could be made even more irrelevant than they already are in a moment. With Justin Fields seemingly not viewed the same way by NFL teams as he is by the online draft community, there is a very real possibility that the Lions may trade back in the first round to hand some other team a quarterback. So, today, I am going to go over all of the possible trade back options for the Lions.
For the sake of this conversation, I am going to assume that the first four-six picks are as follows: Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, Trey Lance, Kyle Pitts, Jamar Chase, and Micah Parsons in that order. If this were the case, I believe the Lions would take Rashawn Slater if they stayed at 7.
Pick 8: The Carolina Panthers
The Panthers picked up Sam Darnold for a song earlier this month so they do have an option at quarterback. But Matt Rhule is a college coach, and hedging bets at all positions, particularly quarterback, is kind of how you build a college team. Sam Darnold is not guaranteed anything. If Rhule wants to move up for a quarterback, the drop for the Lions costs them absolutely nothing, and they still get the top non-QB on their board. The trade value chart says the Lions should net something like next year’s third and this year’s sixth round, or this year’s fourth and fifth-round picks from Carolina to make this deal. For a quarterback, the trade likely involves bumping each of those picks up by a round. My estimate is that the Lions could pull third-round picks this year and next without difficulty for a trade that effectively costs Detroit nothing.
Pick 9: The Denver Broncos
This is where things get interesting. If Denver, or any other team for that matter, wants the quarterback that’s left, they need to jump Carolina to do it. They also have the added pressure that if there are two quarterbacks they like still on the board, another team could jump Carolina, both could take a QB, and the Broncos could be left without their guy for at least another year. Because of that, the Broncos, if interested, have an impetus to bid significantly higher than Carolina would need to. Carolina may take the player that the Lions covet, so there is an actual cost to making this trade. The trade chart has the value of this move somewhere between Denver’s third and fourth-round pick, but because a quarterback is involved, My guess is that the Lions would net this year’s second and one of Denver’s three seventh-round picks. The risk is a chance that the number one guy on the Lions’ board is gone, but at this point in the draft, that’s the difference between Rashawn Slater, and Penei Sewell. There’s not really that much of a difference there.
Pick 15: The New England Patriots
The Patriots’ offense was cripplingly bad last season. Cam Newton is certainly not a long-term option, and Jared Stidham is not going to be the next Tom Brady. Bill Belichick had to watch Tom Brady pilot a ‘ship into Tampa Bay last year, and he is absolutely not going to stand still at the most important position on the field. The chart says New England’s First and second-round pick this year is an appropriate value. For a quarterback, however, this is the launch point to the trades that would likely net the Lions a 2022 first. To make New England’s overpay comparable to the others I have listed so far, the return to the Lions would be pick 15, a 2022 first, and pick 96 in this draft. The Lions absolutely would not get their top target in this draft, but at offensive tackle, Christian Darrisaw might be available, and many more defensive players become reasonable choices. receivers like Rashod Bateman or Kadarius Toney would be options. Kwitty Paye might be on the board to help out as a pass rusher. Some sites even have Patrick Surtain II, the best healthy cornerback in this draft on the board. Linebackers like Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah (if you want to call him a linebacker) or Zaven Collins become options. Safeties like Trevon Moehrig and Jevon Holland also enter the realm of possibility here. The Lions still get a very good player moving into this range. They add another contributor this year, and a third first-round pick next year.
Pick 19: The Washington Football Team
Washington has everything they need except the quarterback spot. Ron Rivera rode Cam Newton all the way to a Superbowl appearance and Justin Fields or Trey Lance could easily fill that same role if they were available. The Football team signed Fitzmagic to a one-year deal, likely with the plan of having a starter for the event they could not make this trade happen, but he does allow them to not throw three firsts at the Lions. Washington’s price to move up and the players available to the Lions would not be significantly different. Pick 19, a 2022 first, and pick 74 would be enough better than New England’s deal above to make this happen. Perhaps they would need to toss in one of their seventh-rounders.
Pick 20: The Chicago Bears
Andy Dalton is the Bears’ starting quarterback. That is likely not good enough to keep the current GM and head coach employed for long. The idea of handing the bears Justin Fields is an uncomfortable one, but the Bears would also have to overpay. If Ryan Pace believes that Justin Fields is the player who can save his job, he’s going to make this move with someone. It could be the Lions or perhaps he makes an offer the Dolphins can’t refuse. So when you say the Lions can’t make this trade in the division, imagine the Lions not making this trade, but the Bears still getting Justin Fields. I’ll take the two future firsts and pick 20 thanks rather than watching Miami take a slightly better deal than that. Those three players or the players the Lions were to trade those picks for could turn this franchise around. Pace is the first of these general managers who starts 2021 on the hot seat, and he has already shown disrespect for first-round picks.
Pick 24: The Pittsburgh Steelers
This one makes sense, but I am not sure I see the Steelers giving up enough future draft capital to make it happen. We are talking about multiple first-round picks from a team that never overpays for anything. I don’t think the Steelers would give up the same caliber of haul that the Bears might. If both were making offers, The Lions might have to choose between taking the division rival’s 2023 first and taking an AFC Team’s second-round pick this year. Picks 24, 55, the Steelers compensatory fourth-rounder, and their 2022 first puts them in the same area as the other deals on the chart.
Pick 28: The New Orleans Saints
The Saints need a quarterback, and they’re also in salary cap trouble for the 2021 season. This is a spot where a player rather than future picks might come into play. The connection between Lions head coach Dan Campbell and their defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to the Saints is pretty obvious, that is where they were working in 2020. They know that roster better than anyone. So the question becomes what players might the Saints be willing to part with and what are they equivalent to? This is a multiple first-round picks + level of trade up.
The first is Marshon Lattimore. He is a bonafide number one corner, and he’s in the final season of his rookie contract. He is about to get paid, and the Saints may not have the flexibility to add another big contract without actually having to dump real talent. Lattimore is equivalent to a first-round pick, because while he needs to be signed, the Lions have the option of franchise tagging him multiple times if those negotiations do not go well, and a complete lack of other impending free agents they might want to tag over the next few years. Lattimore would fill the role of a 2022 first for the purposes of this trade.
Another defensive back that the Lions would likely love to have is Marcus Williams, the safety who has been franchise tagged by the Saints for the 2021 season. As a safety rather than a corner, Williams is inherently less valuable. Since he is on the franchise tag, Williams would also have to agree to this deal. The Saints can not trade him unless he signs the franchise tender. Williams, due to his position and contract status likely fills the + part of two firsts +.
Right Tackle Ryan Ramczyk is the only other player the Saints have who would clear the team enough cap space to sign their rookies. Ramczyk would also answer the Lions’ right tackle question. Ramczyk would, like Lattimore fill the future first value of this potential trade. Like Lattimore and Williams he also needs to be signed to a new contract after the 2021 season, but at 27 years old, he will very likely play out the entirety of that contract. The other possibility is that the Lions take picks 28, 60, and next season’s first for a move to the back of the first round. Players like Gregory Rousseau, Greg Newsome, or Joe Tryon at the edge are options here. Offensive tackles Dillon Radunz and Liam Eichenberg are probably coming off the board in the late first. Wide receivers Rondale Moore and Elijah Moore will probably go in this range.
Pick 67: The Houston Texans
The Deshaun Watson situation needs to be taken out with a flamethrower. The Texans, however, do not have the draft capital in this year’s draft to make that happen. To me, an interesting scenario is the Texans giving up an incredible amount of future draft capital, with the possibility of recouping some of all of that draft capital in the event Watson’s extremely problematic legal issues go away. They need to get their quarterback either way. They have a solid offense in place, even if they horrifyingly overpaid to get it. They have Tyrod Taylor in place to mentor the young QB. Cutting bait on Watson makes sense as soon as they are able, but they do not have a first or second-round pick in this draft. This is obviously just a thought experiment. This is not happening. But what if it did?
This conversation clearly starts with pick 67, along with 2022 and 2023 first-round picks. That is not enough however, the Texans would need to sweeten the pot as well. The Texans do not have much in the way of salary cap space either so they can’t really offer the Lions a salary dump of say Trey Flowers or Halipoulivati Vaitai either. if anything the Texans would want to send salary over to the Lions, which the Lions could accommodate if it were for the right player. Unfortunately, the Texans do not have a lot of “right players” on their sister. Most that the Lions might want are locked into recently signed contracts with huge dead cap charges. The Texans have screwed up their salary cap situation to the point that for them the social construct has real consequences.
Would the Lions like a Laremy Tunsil level right tackle? They’re likely about to draft one they hope will be that good. Tunsil’s dead cap charge, however, is more than $10m more than his cap hit on the roster this year. Similar situations come up for Zach Cunningham, or Brandin Cooks, the marquee players that the Lions might actually want off the Texans roster. Jordan Aikins, Kevin Pierre-Lewis, or Lonnie Johnson might add some value, but probably not.
To make this trade happen, the Texans would very likely have to give up first-round picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024. That 2022 pick is certainly going to be in the top five, and it is difficult to imagine 2023 being all that much better. Pick 67 still would net the Lions a player with starting potential. Players like Amon Ra St Brown, Jamar Johnson, Richie Grant, Nico Collins, Milton Williams, Pete Werner, and Alex Leatherwood could be immediate contributors for the Lions that will likely go somewhere within 20 picks wither way of that spot. This isn’t great for 2021 on draft day, but what if the Lions were to acquire Odell Beckham jr. after the draft using one of those picks? Of course, the Texans would have to want to do this for it to even be a conversation, and they know as well as anyone that they’ll be in a good spot to go after a QB next year.
Those are the Lions’ possible trade backs as I see them. thanks for reading.
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