Why This Has Been the Year of the Blockbuster Trade in the NFL

From Odell Beckham to the Browns to Laremy Tunsil to the Texans

Why This Has Been the Year of the Blockbuster Trade in the NFL
Laremy Tunsil as traded to the Houston Texans before the season. (Tim Warner/Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / September 19, 2019 11:40 am

In the NBA, it’s not uncommon to see the game’s top players use leverage to get traded if they think being on a new team will put them in a better position to win and/or make more money.

That hasn’t traditionally been the case in the NFL, but a number of recent blockbuster trades seem to indicate that may have changed.

However, the reason blockbuster trades have increased in the NFL isn’t really because teams are giving in to players’ demands, but rather because clubs have recognized the value of parting with high draft picks for established players.

As examples, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer points out the Cowboys and Bears are both quite happy with surrendering late first-round picks (the 24th and 27th) to acquire Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, respectively, via trade. Had the picks been in the top 10, the feeling might be different, but since the Bears and Cowboys were both playoff teams with later picks, they feel the deals worked out in their favor.

“If the hit rate on a pick like the one the Cowboys gave up for Cooper or the first one the Bears yielded for Mack is closer to 50 percent than it is to 100, a lot of teams are thinking they simply have a better shot with the established star,” Breer writes.

The teams that traded for stars like Odell Beckham (Browns), Laremy Tunsil (Texans) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers) evidently feel the same way.

Despite all the big-name players that have changed hands recently, don’t expect New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to join the list.

There are myriad reasons for this, with the biggest one being Manning is unlikely to waive his no-trade clause and has pledged to support new Giants starter Daniel Jones.

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