- DeAndre Hopkins‘ best fit is with the Carolina Panthers: The star receiver would be an excellent No. 1 option for whichever quarterback the Panthers select at first overall.
- Jonah Williams fits well with New York Jets: Williams has the ability to bring quality tackle play back to New York.
- Derrick Henry could thrive with Chicago Bears: Henry's hard-running style would fit well with Justin Fields in Chicago's backfield.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
NFL free agency‘s most intense period is in the books, so attention has turned to the NFL draft in late April, but nothing throws a wrench into teams' draft preparation more than a blockbuster trade, and those can manifest themselves at a moment’s notice.
With teams looking to shed contracts or free up space on the depth chart for rookies, there are several notable names on the market for the right deal. Here are potential landing spots for some of the most obvious.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
Possible Landing Spots: Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, New England Patriots
Hopkins has been the biggest name on the trading block all offseason, and in a year where elite receivers are hard to come by, he is still an option that must be tempting for several teams, even with his contract. That contract, long seen as an outlier by the rest of the NFL, is significantly more palatable now than it was when he first received it, which could tempt some teams into parting with a draft pick to secure a No. 1 option. Hopkins has gained over 2.0 yards per route run for his entire career despite having a rough quarterback situation for much of that time. He caught over 50% of contested catches last season and at 30 years old, he still likely has multiple seasons at the top before decline sets in.
Best Fit: Carolina Panthers
RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Possible Landing Spots: Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders, Cincinnati Bengals
Ekeler may find the market for his services a weak one even if he is an underpaid asset on the Chargers. Potential landing spots have been signing running backs over the last several days, leaving obvious destinations thin on the ground. Any team that does make the move will be getting one of the most dynamic pass-catching backs in the league who can carry his weight rushing as well. Ekeler has recorded over 100 targets twice in his career and more than 50 for the last five seasons. He has gained 1.9 yards per route run over his entire career and is an excellent all-around back for today’s NFL.
Best Fit: Cincinnati Bengals
OT Jonah Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
Possible Landing Spots: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets
Williams is coming off his worst NFL season, as he gave up 12 sacks to tie for the league lead. He also battled through multiple knee injuries and represents a departure from his previous career baseline, which had been solid-if-unspectacular. Williams can step onto a team that needs capable left tackle play, even if that team will then need to decide whether to commit to him long-term. Evidently, he does not want to play right tackle, which may reduce his market.
Best Fit: New York Jets
S Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
Possible Landing Spots: New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles
Byard may be a casualty of a rebuild that the Tennessee Titans seem very close to pulling the trigger on. He has been one of the best safeties in the league since he came into the NFL and is particularly adept in coverage. With a significant contract, he may not have a red-hot market, but if a deal can be done to minimize his cap hit to a new team, Byard could transform a secondary in an instant. He is still on the right side of 30 years old, though this will be the last offseason where that is true.
Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles
RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Possible Landing Spots: Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills
Trying to find willing trade partners for a 28-year-old running back with almost 2,000 career carries and a salary cap number in excess of $16 million this season is a major challenge, but there are teams out there that could see it as the kind of move that puts them over the top. Henry is the kind of unicorn at the position that changes the rules of everything we know about running the football in the modern NFL, which could well extend to the kind of career lifespan he will have as a running back. In today’s arms race of elite teams looking to win a Super Bowl, there may be a side willing to do what would seem reckless in the past to get over the hump. Henry has averaged 3.7 yards per carry after contact for his entire career.
Best Fit: Chicago Bears
WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Possible Landing Spots: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions
Rumors have been swirling all offseason that basically the entire Denver receiving corps is on the trading block for the right offer as Sean Payton looks to change tack and craft an offense that Russell Wilson can succeed within. Sutton has looked like the most obvious odd man out from the beginning. Last season, he averaged just 1.55 yards per route run and registered six drops. At 6-foot-4 and over 210 pounds, Sutton has the skill set to be a true X-receiver, something that this free agency class and draft are light on. There are teams that have yet to find that player, or actively lost one, that could be interested.
Best Fit: New Carolina Panthers
WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
Possible Landing Spots: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans
Jeudy has been an elite separator in the NFL, excelling against man coverage, but has yet to fully realize his potential within a struggling offense. He may be limited to a No. 2 type of role in the NFL, but he can be an exceptionally effective receiver as part of a receiving corps in a more functional passing offense. Several teams would love to have him as a complement to their already established No. 1 option.
Best Fit: New England Patriots
WR K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos
Possible Landing Spots: Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals
Hamler is a prototypical vertical slot receiver — a player who can threaten deep at any time with a free release off the line. He may not be the most well-rounded receiver, but there are several teams in the league crying out for either the injection of speed, the threat deep downfield, or a slot option. His average depth of target was 24.9 yards downfield last season, and he had a career-low in yards per route run (1.06), as he was aligned out wide more often.