2024 NFL Draft: 4 teams that should trade back

2TAYM2J New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) speaks in the huddle during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

• The Patriots are in line to receive a massive trade haul if they play their cards right: New England could gain significant draft capital by trading back from No. 3, all while still drafting a quarterback later on.

• The Miami Dolphins could use more draft ammo: The Dolphins have just five 2024 picks, including just two before the fifth round.

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One of the great debates when it comes time to the NFL Draft is the overarching strategy of trades and the number of draft picks weighed against the position of those draft picks.

Do teams get aggressive, trade up for a player and sacrifice picks to do so? Or do they trade back, accumulate more lottery tickets and maximize their chances of coming away with good players?

Generally, the latter strategy is seen as playing the odds most efficiently, but it means passing up on higher-ranked players and essentially trusting that the process outweighs all of the work teams have done on evaluating the class.

In the 2024 NFL Draft, four teams have an obviously strong case to trade back and play that game.

New England Patriots

On the one hand, there is a pretty good chance that the third quarterback off the board is just as good as, if not better than, the second or even first selected. On the other hand, hoping a player who could well be your third choice is the new answer at the most important position in the game on a roster that needs significant work is not a comfortable position for the Patriots to be in.

Headed by a new regime for the first time in decades, this is a one-time opportunity for the Patriots to trade out of a very valuable draft spot and accumulate picks to rebuild the team, punting on a quarterback until either later in the draft or next year.

With several of the most quarterback-needy teams picking from Nos. 11-13 in the draft, the Patriots could potentially receive a massive haul for the third pick. A few years ago, San Francisco essentially traded three first-round picks to make the jump from No. 12 to No. 3 to select Trey Lance. The Minnesota Vikings are already positioned with two first-rounders this year if they want to make that move.

The Patriots could jump-start a rebuild with that kind of trade and set up the infrastructure for a new quarterback to step into next year, rather than hoping that the guy they select at No. 3 overall can transform things by himself.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals under general manager Monti Ossenfort have played the draft exceptionally well and already have 11 draft picks in 2024, including multiple first-rounders.

One way of taking advantage of a potential edge would be to trade into next year rather than simply trading down. The Cardinals have just their allocated picks in each round next season, having yet to add any future picks to the war chest.

They may have offers on the table for the No. 4 overall pick from quarterback-needy teams, and if that’s the case, next year’s first-round pick could well be part of any trade. Equally, they could use that selection themselves on a player like Marvin Harrison Jr., an elite receiver prospect, and try to parlay their second first-rounder into a future pick instead.

That pick seemed destined to be another extremely high selection a year ago, but Houston’s surprise success in 2023 means the Cardinals ended up with the 27th overall pick instead.

That pick could potentially be in a zone where a team wants to jump up from the second round to secure a player who has been sliding, and next year’s picks could help make that trade happen.

New York Giants

The Giants represent a real pivot point in the draft. Nobody seems entirely sure what they are going to do, and that’s even if they stay at No. 6 overall. They have also been floated as potential trade candidates to move either up or down.

If they move up, they are going aggressively after a quarterback to replace Daniel Jones, but you could argue a better strategy would be to trade back.

The mistake the Giants made was buying in to the team that made the playoffs and beat the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. That group was a product of positive variance, and the underlying strength of the team was always much worse than that. The Giants gave Daniel Jones a significant contract when the smart decision was to hedge with the franchise tag, and now they are paying for that misstep.

This is a team that needs to rebuild, and they need more than just a change at quarterback. New York currently sits with only six draft picks in this draft, and while the quarterback frenzy may have passed by the time No. 6 overall rolls around, there may well be teams that want to trade up for a receiver or the top tackle on the board — particularly as the Tennessee Titans one spot later are extremely likely to draft that tackle if they don’t.

The Giants could go in many directions, but the smartest thing they could do is trade back and try to fix this roster with more swings at bat.

Miami Dolphins

The temptation is clear for Miami to go all-in and try to get over the hump in the AFC, to go from playoff contenders to Super Bowl contenders.

It was a temptation that Buffalo succumbed to when they signed Von Miller and pushed more chips into the middle than they would normally have done, and this season they are likely correcting that with moves like trading away star wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Ultimately, no one move will beat the Chiefs in January. Rather, the strategy needs to be ensuring that you are there every January to try and get past them eventually.

Miami has only six picks in this draft, and just two of them are before the fifth round. At No. 21 overall, they’re likely not in a position to get a true blue-chip difference-maker, so the smartest thing they could do is to trade back and try to recoup some of the draft picks they traded away while trying to get over that hump.

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