New England Patriots Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: MIA, @SEA, LVR, @KC, DEN, BYE, SF, @BUF, @NYJ, BAL, @HOU, ARI, @LAC, @LAR, @MIA, BUF, NYJ

Additions: QB Cam Newton (FA), S Adrian Phillips (FA), DL Beau Allen (FA), LB Brandon Copeland (FA), DB Kyle Dugger (Draft), EDGE Josh Uche (Draft), EDGE/LB Anfernee Jennings (Draft), TE Devin Asiasi (Draft)

Losses: QB Tom Brady (FA), LB Kyle Van Noy (FA), LB Jamie Collins (FA), DT Danny Shelton (FA), OL Ted Karras (FA), WR Phillip Dorsett (FA), FB James Develin (Retired), S Duron Harmon (Trade), OL Marcus Cannon (Opt-out), S Patrick Chung (Opt-out), LB Dont’a Hightower (Opt-out), TE Matt Lacosse (Opt-out), RB Brandon Bolden (Opt-out), FB Danny Vitale (Opt-out)

Analysis:

As you can see, the “losses” section is a lot bigger and better than the “additions” section. Free agency beat the crap out of this team and COVID-19 kicked them while they were down. This might be the most talent one team has ever lost in one offseason.

A large draft class will get an opportunity to prove itself far earlier than anticipated. Besides the guys listed, kicker Justin Rohrwasser, LB Cassh Maluia, and TE/FB/H-back/football player Dalton Keene bring the total to seven rookies who could receive meaningful playing time or possibly even start. Needless to say, that’s less than ideal.

That’s what happens when you lose virtually half of your starting defense—many of whom had been staples of the unit for years. New England’s tight cap situation severely limited their ability to offset these losses, with the team instead having to rely on the draft. This year’s group will be a far cry from 2019’s dominant unit.

Even the vaunted secondary will take a step back. Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon might not be household names, but they were huge pieces of this defense for years. Even without those guys, this is still an elite secondary, though. Reigning DPOY Stephon Gilmore headlines one of the best cornerback rooms in the league and Adrian Phillips should slot in nicely next to Devin McCourty.

Danny Shelton was great last year and they’ll definitely miss him, but the defensive line isn’t where the Patriots will hurt the hardest, either. That would be linebacker. Knowing Bill Belichick, he would have found a couple Target employees to admirably fill the shoes of Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins after they signed big-money deals elsewhere. Dont’a Hightower opting-out changed everything, though.

He has been the lifeblood of this unit almost from the day he was drafted. The drop-off from those three to whatever trio New England can scramble together is almost unfathomable. Ja’Whaun Bentley, a guy with less than 200 career snaps is now expected to not only start, but hold the entire defense together. He won’t get much support from whichever young, unproven players line up beside him.

The only position with a comparable drop-off is the obvious one. For the first time in nearly two decades, Tom Brady will not enter the season as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. That honor now goes to Cam Newton. Superman is reportedly blowing out Jarrett Stidham in the quarterback competition, which should surprise absolutely no one. Newton remains an elite talent. The only worry about him is health. Sadly, that’s a huge worry. I’m at the point where I don’t expect a healthy Cam for 16 games. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Stidham has to play some this year.

No matter which player starts and for how many games, he won’t have a ton of support. Sony Michel hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in his career and is dealing with injuries right now. He’s poised to get the bulk of the workload, though James White will have his role and Damien Harris is getting some hype. Losing James Develin and his projected replacement could hurt the run game as well. Unless we see a different version of Michel or Harris breaks out, the backfield is closer to a weakness than a strength for the Patriots.

The same could be said about last year’s receivers. Hopefully it will be a different story this season. Julian Edelman was more inconsistent than usual last season while N’Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu struggled with injuries and learning a new offense, respectively. All three should be better this season, but unless Harry breaks out in a big way, the receivers will remain lackluster. At tight end, the Patriots are likely to receive minimal production once again after years of being spoiled with Gronk.

That leaves the offensive line. You’d think they would be in line for a huge bounce-back season given how banged-up they were last season. After all, David Andrews returns after missing all of last season with a perspective-putting health scare and Isaiah Wynn is back after missing eight games himself. But, this cruel, cruel year refused to have mercy on the six-time champs, as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon opted-out. The Patriots’ once-promising depth looks a lot shakier now that a backup will have to take his spot. They’ll be put to the test in the likely event of more injuries along the line.

Honestly, the only reason I have this team going 8-8 is the undying faith I have in Belichick and Co. Between their offseason losses and brutal schedule, this team should be even worse. I’ve learned better than to doubt New England, though. Feel free to do so at your own risk.

What’s your record prediction for the Patriots? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Miami Dolphins Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @NE, BUF, @JAX, SEA, @SF, @DEN, LAC, LAR, @ARI, NYJ, BYE, @NYJ, CIN, KC, NE, @LVR, @BUF

Additions: CB Byron Jones (FA), LB Kyle Van Noy (FA), EDGE Shaq Lawson (FA), EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah (FA), RB Jordan Howard (FA), C Ted Karras (FA), RB Matt Breida (Trade), QB Tua Tagovailoa (Draft), OL Austin Jackson (Draft), CB Noah Igbinoghene (Draft), OL Robert Hunt (Draft)

Losses: OL Evan Boehm (FA), EDGE Taco Charlton (FA), S Reshad Jones (Cut), WR Allen Hurns (Opt-out), WR Albert Wilson (Opt-out)

Analysis:

Let me just start by saying I’m sorry. I know a lot of people are going to be angry that I have Miami with the same number of wins as last year after all the moves they made this offseason. I expected to give them more wins, too. Just hear me out.

For starters, I don’t look at the 2019 Dolphins as a five-win team. Yes, I know they won that many games. But, those wins were as insignificant and fluky as you’ll see. These were the teams they beat and their records at the time: the 1-6 Jets, 5-3 Colts with Brian Hoyer starting, 5-6 Eagles, 1-13 Bengals, and 12-3 Patriots in the annual Miami Curse game. Some other teams they lost to: 0-5 Football Team, 2-4 Steelers, 4-6 Browns, 4-8 Jets, and 2-11 Giants.

They also had the worst point differential in the league. Even if you extrapolate the last 14 games over a full season (removing the first two epic blowouts), it still would’ve been fifth-worst. A good comparison to me is the 2017 Bills who made the playoffs despite a -57 point differential. Expected to build off that success, they finished 6-10 in 2018.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me be clear. I love the direction this team is heading. Brian Flores did an unbelievable coaching job last year—just like Sean McDermott in 2017. I’m excited to see what he can do with a roster of actual NFL players.

Miami’s quarterback situation will be a fun one to watch. Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of the most consistent seasons of his career in 2019. Given his track record, I’m a little weary of expecting a repeat. Then there’s the matter of his replacement, Tua Tagovailoa. As you’ll see, I’m not expecting a ton from rookies—quarterbacks especially—in this bizarro season. Fitzpatrick will likely start the season before being replaced somewhere around midseason. Regardless of who’s in, I don’t anticipate strong quarterback play overall.

The rest of the roster is where the improvements should really shine through, starting with the secondary. Clearly Flores learned the importance of cover guys during his time in New England. With Xavien Howard returning from injury and the additions of Byron Jones and Noah Igbinoghene, Miami has a corner trio rivaling the Patriots’ elite group. The safeties are no slouches either.

That’s the type of unit you can build a team around, and the Dolphins did a good job filling in the surrounding pieces. Kyle Van Noy did everything in his time in New England and his presence should improve every position group. And the Dolphins are going to need it to because there are some holes left over from last year’s atrocious defense.

Besides Van Noy, most of the front seven remains subpar. Adding guys like Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah along with development from Christian Wilkins should jump start a pass rush that finished with a league-worst 23 sacks last season. I don’t expect them to be great, though. Outside of the secondary, this is still an underwhelming defense.

Offensively, there was a similarly large overhaul. There’s a good chance all five starters from last year’s porous offensive line will be replaced. Also, there’s almost no chance Fitzpatrick will repeat as the team’s leading rusher now that Jordan Howard and Matt Breida are in the fold.

With that being said, I don’t know how much better off either of those groups really are. Rookie Austin Jackson and free agent signings Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers seem like locks to start along the o-line which leaves two spots up for grabs. The top candidates are two more rookies and Jesse Davis, last year’s starting right tackle.

Despite his rough past, Flowers revived his career at guard last season and is now the team’s most proven lineman. That’s not ideal. Karras comes from New England where he was primarily a great backup but a backup nonetheless. Then you have a holdover from a line Dolphins fans would love to forget and three first-year players. As I’ve said, I’m worried about rookies this year and offensive line is an especially hard transition, so I don’t expect drastic improvement from this bunch.

Same goes for running back. It would be almost impossible not to improve from last year, which is good because the new guys aren’t exactly superstar additions. If Howard is hit in the backfield, he’ll still fight his way for a 4-yard gain. If he has a massive hole ahead, he’ll still only get you 4 yards. Breida is the higher-ceiling option, but he’s never cemented himself as the guy.

That leaves the receivers as Miami’s most promising and stable group. Unfortunately, they took a hit as well, with Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson both opting-out. Both those players were expected to make the roster and contribute, so their depth will be tested. Mike Gesicki offers a little upside at tight end. Devante Parker is WR1 and balled out to end 2019. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep that form all season and how Preston Williams fares as his sidekick.

I know predicting only five wins makes me seem like a Dolphins hater, but I just don’t think this roster is that talented even after an excellent offseason. We’ve seen in the past that extreme overhauls often take a couple years to yield results, and I expect that to hold true here. One thing in Miami’s favor, though, is that they get the Jets (depending on how bad you feel they are) twice, the Bengals, and the Jaguars.

What’s your record prediction for the Dolphins? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Buffalo Bills Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: NYJ, @MIA, LAR, @LVR, @TEN, KC, @NYJ, NE, SEA, @ARI, BYE, LAC, @SF, PIT, @DEN, @NE, MIA

Additions: WR Stefon Diggs (Trade), EDGE Mario Addison (FA), DT Vernon Butler (FA), LB A.J. Klein (FA), DL Quinton Jefferson (FA), DL A.J. Epenesa (Draft), RB Zack Moss (Draft)

Losses: DL Star Lotulelei (Opt-out), DL Jordan Phillips (FA), EDGE Shaq Lawson (FA), RB Frank Gore (FA), G Jon Feliciano (Injury)

Analysis:

For the first time in 12 years, I expect someone other than New England to win the AFC East. That’s right. Tom Brady’s out and Josh Allen’s in. Well, more like the Patriots are out and the Bills are in, but Allen will certainly play a big role.

While everyone calls him an inaccurate bust, Allen is quietly one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in the league. Between his rushing ability and cannon for an arm, the big plays outweigh the lapses. His stats should improve this season, too.

With Zack Moss joining Devin Singletary in the backfield and Diggs now out wide, Buffalo’s offense should look a lot like last year’s Vikings. That’ll mean lost of carries for the young running back duo and lots of play-action deep shots from Allen to Diggs. Given that and some personal development entering year three, I expect Allen to be a less efficient version of 2019 Kirk Cousins with more value as a runner.

This gameplan will be a good fit for the offensive line as well. Like Minnesota, Buffalo’s linemen were better run blockers than pass protectors last season. Thankfully, 30+ carries a game does a comparable job of neutralizing pass rushes as an elite offensive line.

One worry, though, is the injury to Jon Feliciano. The 27-year-old started every game at right guard last season, but a torn pectoral muscle will cause him to miss the start of the season and potentially its entirety. Buffalo has some of the best depth in the league, though, and should be fine.

Overall, I expect the offense to be much improved next season—something I can’t say for the defense. Statistically, they were elite in both yards and points allowed while closer to average in big plays like sacks and turnovers. Their yardage (3rd) and scoring (2nd) rankings would be hard to repeat regardless and could be even harder with some uncertainty in the trenches.

To offset the loss of Jordan Phillips, the Bills signed defensive tackles Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson. Along with the incumbents, those additions were supposed to give Buffalo a deep and talented DT rotation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will turn out that way.

Star Lotulelei opted-out after starting every game in his two seasons with the team. Suddenly, the Bills’ rotation will likely look like this: Butler and Ed Oliver starting with Harrison Phillips and Jefferson subbing in. I have concerns about all of those guys.

From personal experience, Butler is not a guy you want starting. Oliver is the best piece with his elite potential, but this is only his second season after a shaky rookie year. Then there’s Phillips, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and Jefferson, who’s been banged up all camp and isn’t a true defensive tackle.

Besides that minor worry, this defense is fantastic. Mario Addison spices up the pass rush and Epenesa gives them more flexibility. His ability to play both on the edge and interior lessens my concern about the DT rotation. A.J. Klein is another signing with Carolina ties and should fit in nicely next to the underrated duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. They aren’t Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson-level, but Buffalo should feel good about its linebackers.

Backing them up is a superstar in Tre White and some great pieces surrounding him. Call me crazy, but I expect to see a revitalized Josh Norman this season. He’s back in a familiar scheme and should become the starter opposite White at some point this season. If not, the Bills have a reliable alternative in Levi Wallace. Like the team as a whole, safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are another duo who don’t get the respect they deserve. In a division full of them, this secondary is top-notch.

All these veteran additions mean high-salary incumbents like Trent Murphy are on cap casualty watch. They also mean that it’s hard not to see this team improving. Buffalo’s roster is the perfect mix of young cornerstones with room to grow and proven veterans. After going 10-6 last season—with one loss being a Week 17 resting—11-5 feels like a good, safe prediction given a pretty tough schedule.

What’s your record prediction for the Bills? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Panthers-Bills Kelvin Benjamin Trade?

The History

Part of the famous 2014 receiver class, Benjamin exploded onto the scene. His 1,008 yards tied Greg Olsen for the team lead. After such a successful rookie campaign, expectations were through the roof for his second year.

Then, an ACL injury brought the hype train to a screeching halt. Faced with the adversity of losing his top receiver, Cam Newton responded with an MVP season and 17-2 record (with one of those losses unfortunately coming in the Super Bowl). Still, the Panthers had just completed one of the best seasons in league history without their stud receiver, so morale remained high.

Benjamin nearly posted 1,000 yards again in 2016, but the team failed to recapture its magic and stumbled to a 6-10 record. Midway through a weight-watching 2017 season, Carolina made the choice to move on from its recent first-round pick.

Buffalo was the perfect trade partner. After poaching their head coach and general manager from the Panthers earlier that year, this was an opportunity to potentially snag a star from the same organization. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane had experience with Benjamin from their Carolina days and valued him enough to pull the trigger

Buffalo Post Trade

Photo by Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Expectations were almost non-existent in McDermott’s first year, but his team was a feisty 5-2 when they traded for Benjamin. Three days after the trade, the Bills lost to the Jets with Benjamin unavailable.

From there, Buffalo fell back to Earth. Including the Jets loss, they went just 4-5 the rest of the way. It’s tough to put too much blame on Benjamin, though, as the Bills were far worse than their record and fortunate to finish 9-7.

Still, Benjamin was a massive disappointment, even by the most generous standards. His best game for Buffalo that season was 5 catches for 70 yards in a blowout loss to the Patriots. Every other time out, he posted 42 yards or less. On top of that, a knee injury cost him two games.

Overall, it was a dud first season for Benjamin. He was acquired to bolster a lackluster receiving corps and catapult the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 18 years. And while the team accomplished the latter (before promptly losing to Jacksonville in one of the worst quarterback matchups in postseason history), Benjamin doesn’t deserve much credit for that. Not only was his production underwhelming, but it came with these receivers stealing targets from him.

Even so, Benjamin’s fifth-year option—accepted by Carolina before the trade—gave him an opportunity to redeem himself.

Unfortunately, year two in Buffalo wasn’t any better. In fact, it was pretty much a mirror image of the year before. His best game (4 catches for 71 yards) came in a blowout loss while his next-highest yardage output was 45.

With a 4-8 record and little return on their investment, Buffalo chose to cut their losses by releasing Benjamin. Kansas City quickly snapped him up, but even Patrick Mahomes couldn’t save Benjamin. His two catches with the Chiefs proved to be his last in the NFL, as he looks to be de facto retired.

Benjamin showed as a rookie that he had the tools to be a successful receiver, but his ACL injury brought effort and attitude concerns to the surface. Not long after, those concerns swallowed up his career.

To make matters worse, Benjamin trashed Newton instead of taking responsibility for his failures. This is a guy who had more memes made about his weight than catches outside of Carolina and yet he thought people would take his side over Cam’s.

While this move didn’t work out, the Panthers North experiment has been successful overall. Much of their roster has Carolina ties or was drafted with the same philosophy in mind. The prices of some of those signings have been questionable and Josh Allen has his doubters, but the Bills are the favorites to win their division and threats to make a deep playoff run.

Even though the team is in a good place now, this was still a terrible trade. It’s not an issue of overcompensation—third and seventh-round picks certainly don’t break the bank—Benjamin was just that bad in Buffalo. Between his poor production and locker room presence, he hurt the team more than helped it.

Carolina Post Trade

Photo by Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

Carolina was a good team both before this trade and after it. 5-3 with Benjamin, they finished 11-5 and playoff bound. The slightly improved record doesn’t conclusively show they improved after the trade, but there’s a case to be made.

For as productive as Benjamin was, his impact didn’t match the numbers. From 2014-17, Carolina’s regular season was 18-21-1 with him and 21-3 without him. Without his go-to target, Newton worked through his reads more and the offense was more dangerous as a result.

Benjamin’s departure opened the door for Devin Funchess to take over as WR1. The third-year man responded immediately with 17 catches for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns over the first 3 games post trade. But, as has become a theme of his career, the flashes didn’t sustain for Funch. After spotty production to end the season, he flopped as top dog in 2018.

As a team, Carolina imploded after a hot start. A 6-2 record was followed by 7 straight losses before a season-ending win over the Saints’ reserves. Funchess’ year was a similar story—minus the hot start. With just 549 yards on the season, his most memorable game was a dropfest in his Detroit homecoming.

Thankfully for the Panthers, they didn’t put all their eggs in Funchess’ basket. Amid the since-departed receiver’s struggles, first-round pick D.J. Moore showed the future was bright. Explosive with the ball in his hands, Moore doubled down on his promising rookie season with the ninth-most receiving yards in the league last year.

Moore may be an improvement over Benjamin, but it’s been a rough couple seasons in Carolina. The draft picks they received have done nothing to help right the ship, either.

Gaulden, the selection with Buffalo’s third-rounder, was a questionable decision on draft night and an unquestionably poor one now. He rarely saw the field before getting cut midway through last season. A little over two years after being drafted, he is not on a roster.

Carolina’s other pick could end up with a better career than Gaulden despite being taken 150 picks later. That doesn’t say much, though, and Smith too has struggled to find snaps on defense. But unlike Gaulden, he’s carved out a role as something of a special teams ace. Decade-long careers can be built upon that, so Smith could stick around for a while.

Even if Smith becomes the Panthers’ next Colin Jones, it’s tough to call this a good deal for the team. Realistically, the best thing they got was removing the temptation to re-sign Benjamin. His numbers warranted a continued stay, but he clearly would have been a ticking time bomb had that came true.

Knowing it could have ended even worse is the best way for Panthers fans to look back on the Benjamin era fondly.

Final Verdict: Panthers Win

If there was ever a lose-lose trade, this might be it. Benjamin might not have been a great receiver for the Panthers, but he was at least productive, and they got almost nothing in return for him. Calling them winners is more by default than anything, as Buffalo failed even harder.

Who do you think won the trade? What deal should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Eagles-Vikings Sam Bradford Trade?

The History

Less than two weeks before its 2016 season opener, Minnesota’s 23-year-old starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, suffered a gruesome and season-ending injury. Given their 11-5 record the year before, the Vikings were hesitant chalk it up as a lost season.

As a result, general manager Rick Spielman began to scour the trade block for a veteran quarterback. One name stood out, and Spielman got his guy.

This move was surprising at the time, and without Bridgewater’s injury, Bradford likely would have played out the year in midnight green. After all, Doug Pederson’s message all offseason was that Bradford would start while rookie Carson Wentz rode the bench.

But, every player has a price, and the Vikings met Bradford’s. After being acquired in 2015, Bradford impressed enough to earn a two-year contract, but simultaneously disappointed enough for the team to draft his replacement.

Minnesota Post Trade

Photo by Andy Clayton-King/The Associated Press

Minnesota chose to start Shaun Hill week one due to his experience in the system. That gave Bradford an extra week to study the playbook and a free mark in the win column. The Vikings added additional marks in each of their next four games as Bradford took over and posted six touchdowns with zero turnovers. It was early, but Minnesota and its shiny new acquisition were looking dangerous.

Then, the wheels started to fall off. Bradford turned the ball over three times in week six as the Eagles abused their former quarterback and gave Minnesota its first taste of defeat. It was the Vikings’ first loss on the season, but far from their last. Including the shellacking in Philadelphia, they lost 8 of 11 to secure couch seats for the playoffs.

At first glance, Bradford was far from the problem. He finished with a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio and would have gone over 4,000 yards if he played all 16 games. Most impressively, he broke Drew Brees’ record for highest single-season completion percentage (Brees has bested it every year since).

Look further in depth, though, and you’ll see why surface-level statistics are often misleading (and why I think completion percentage is extremely overrated). Bradford was the perfect example of an overly conservative game manager in 2016.

Instead of throwing it up and giving Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs the chance to make plays, he usually just checked it down. While that limits turnovers, it puts more pressure on the defense to be perfect. To their credit, the Vikings’ star-studded unit stepped up to the plate more often that not. Few defenses were better that season, but Minnesota’s putrid offense sunk them to mediocrity.

In Bradford’s defense, the offense was missing a key cog. Adrian Peterson only suited up in three games in what was ultimately a disappointing, injury-plagued end to his career in The Gopher State. No matter what stage of his career he was in, AD undoubtedly would have made Bradford’s job easier.

Also, this was generally an impossible situation. One of the primary reasons the NFL has so few trades compared to other leagues is how complex and unique each team’s playbook is. Learning a whole new offense in a matter of weeks is no small feat.

It’s also worth noting that Minnesota only paid $7 million of his $18 million 2016 salary. That helped lessen the dissatisfaction towards Bradford while inspiring hope for a strong second season.

But, in typical Bradford fashion, he went down week one. In his first game back, he suffered a season-ending injury. That ended his time with the Vikings, as he somehow convinced the Cardinals he was worth a $40 million contract. Three games into the season, Arizona benched him after what were likely his last snaps in the NFL. He was released the next November and has yet to sign with another team.

Hilariously, Bradford is the 17th-highest paid player of all time, slotting in right behind Brett Favre. He might not be the best quarterback, but he certainly knows how to pick an agent.

For Minnesota, their last-ditch effort to save the season didn’t really pan out. They finished 8-8 in 2016 and fared much better once Case Keenum took over for Bradford.

Even though Bradford was solid overall, there’s little doubt the Vikings would take a do-over for this deal. Those extra picks could have pushed Minnesota over the hump in 2017 or yielded replacements for some of the team’s aging stars. With Bradford’s stay being short and uneventful, just a chance at either of those would have been an improvement.

Philadelphia Post Trade

Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

As sad as Bridgewater’s injury was, it led to a perfect scenario for the Eagles. Without it, Bradford likely would have started as many games as he was healthy for and led the team to a similar record to the 7-9 one they finished with. Good on them for trading Bradford before he even played a single game played on his contract, too. Not all owners would sign off on that.

Dealing Bradford paved the way for Wentz to start as a rookie, something the team was initially against. With a difficult transition from the Missouri Valley Football Conference to the NFL ahead, Pederson wanted his young qb to learn from the bench. Instead, Ginger Jesus was unleashed.

Wentz’ first season featured the typical mix of amazing throws and boneheaded mistakes. Overall, it was about as good as anyone could have expected from an FCS rookie. Plus, the experience he gained proved to be invaluable.

Wentz came out the following year and set the league on fire. He was a near-lock to win MVP before he tore his ACL in week 14. We all know how that story ended, with Nick Foles coming out of nowhere to lead the team to the Super Bowl.

So, without even considering the picks they received, Philadelphia had already seen accelerated growth from its star quarterback and a championship parade within two years of the deal. Sounds pretty good to me.

With Minnesota’s 2017 first-rounder, the Eagles took Barnett, who was most famous for breaking Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee. That record led some to compare Barnett to The Minister of Defense before he even played a professional down. Others (rightfully) thought these comparisons were asinine and worried that his lackluster athleticism would cause him to struggle as a pro.

As a rookie, Barnett tallied five sacks in a rotational role and made a couple huge plays during the team’s playoff run. With a starting job the following year, Barnett was expected to take a huge step forward. But, a bum shoulder derailed the hype as he missed 10 games and the postseason. After a full offseason of recovery, the spotlight was back on Barnett in 2019. He was healthy for most of the year, but didn’t take the superstar leap Eagles fans hoped for.

Still, Barnett is a very good player, even if the White comparisons set him up for failure. His 6.5 sacks last year were underwhelming, but his 22 quarterback hits—tied for 16th-most in the league—are a better indicator of his value. For reference, Danielle Hunter, who also had 22 qb hits, finished with 14.5 sacks.

That’s not to say Barnett is on Hunter’s level, or even close to it, but it does suggest he was more disruptive than the sack total indicates. Sack numbers can be a little flukey, so Barnett could be due for some positive regression. Even if he hasn’t lived up to the hype, I don’t think he’s close to bust territory.

Philadelphia’s other pick is a similar story. Like Barnett, Sweat had large contingents of both fans expecting greatness and those calling him overrated. In his case, he was the top recruit in his high school class before suffering a brutal knee injury. Concerns over his body’s long-term sustainability dropped him to the bottom of the fourth round despite the talent and production of a much higher pick.

Between adjusting to a new scheme and needing to put on weight, Sweat played scarcely as a rookie. Then, in an increased role last year, he flashed. 2020 should bring another substantial bump in snaps for him, so we’ll get a better idea of how good he really is. Until then, it’s tough to judge the value of the selection.

Given how Wentz starting as a rookie was crucial to his growth and the Eagles’ championship, hindsight shows keeping Bradford would have hurt the team. Hell, without this trade, the 2017 Foles-Philly reunion probably never happens.

Netting potentially their starting defensive end duo of the future for a negative asset was well worth the $11 million signing bonus and $5.5 million in 2017 dead cap the Eagles ate. Howie Roseman killed this deal, just as he did countless times en route to the Super Bowl.

Final Verdict: Eagles Win

I understand Minnesota’s thinking behind this trade, and they were far from the only team to mistakenly put their faith in Bradford, but this is an Eagles win through-and-through.

Philadelphia has been a proponent of always having multiple capable quarterbacks for years, and it has proven to be genius every time, including this deal. Maybe we should all have a little more faith in the Jalen Hurts experiment.

Who do you think won the trade? What deal should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Texans-Browns Deshaun Watson Draft Trade?

The History

Cleveland had just finished 1-15 in Hue Jackson’s first season as head coach. They needed help at almost every position and had a bounty of draft picks to find that help. Part of that bounty was an additional first-round pick acquired by allowing Philadelphia to trade up for Carson Wentz in 2016.

Just as they did the year prior, the Browns chose to pass on drafting a quarterback and acquire more picks by trading back. This time, it was the Texans on the other end of the call.

Houston had won the AFC South in back-to-back years, but that’s about as meaningful as winning your family fantasy league back-to-back. The Texans knew that if they truly wanted to compete, they needed an upgrade at quarterback.

Their first attempt didn’t go so well. 12 months after they signed Brock Osweiler to a massive contract, they dealt him in one of the only pure salary dumps in NFL history.

Trading up with the Browns represented a second chance. Their guy was still on the board, and the price wouldn’t matter if he panned out.

Houston Post Trade

Photo by Eric Sauseda/Groovehouse Photography

Giving up a future first rounder is always tough because you never know just how high it will end up. Houston’s nightmare scenario came true as they finished 4-12 with the 4th-worst record in the league.

An already risky move to trade up for the third quarterback in the class was quickly teetering on disaster. Then, Watson started doing Deshaun Watson things.

Tom Savage was named the week one starter, but the combination of his awfulness and a dominant Jaguars defense opened the door for Watson to see immediate relief action. From that point on, he never looked back.

Now starting, Watson quickly showcased the elite potential Houston saw in him. He locked up a win in his first start with a highlight run against the Bengals then went toe-to-toe with Brady in Foxborough and humiliated the Titans.

Watson’s rookie season was electric, but unfortunately, it was also short-lived. After three more exciting starts, he tore his ACL during a non-contact practice drill. The Texans cratered without him, and Watson’s murky future along with their now top-five pick being shipped out caused the doubt surrounding this trade to resurface.

But, as we now know, doubting Watson is foolish. He grinded through rehab and was ready in time for week one. Despite his return, the Texans lost their first three games.

Then, they went on of the better mid-season turnarounds in NFL history, winning 9 straight games and finishing 11-5 with the division crown. A lot of the credit goes to Watson, who continued to make highlight plays while cutting down on his mistakes and playing behind a porous offensive line. Despite losing in the Wild Card Round, it was a great season for Houston.

I’ll admit, I doubted the Texans before 2018 and again after it. I thought they beat up on bad teams during their win streak and would fall back to earth. Instead, they won the division again and gave the eventual champion Chiefs a scare in the divisional round.

I’ve learned my lesson. My faith in Watson will never waver again. No matter what weakness is on the roster or what idiot is in the front office, he will put the team on his back.

I said in my review of the Rams’ trade up for Jared Goff that you can only really win one of these mortgage-the-future moves if you get one of the absolute best players in the league, which Watson surely is. It’s hard to deny his talent—he’s my fourth-best quarterback in the league—or accomplishments.

Houston would do this deal again in a heartbeat. Bill O’Brien, especially. Without Watson, he’d be out of a job. Though, to be fair, he seems content getting there on his own.

Cleveland Post Trade

Photo by David Richard/Associated Press

Purely based on the value of the draft picks, this was a win for Cleveland. Houston’s 2018 pick (4th overall) landed significantly higher than the 2017 first (12th) they traded away.

They didn’t draft complete busts (which says a lot for the Browns) with the selections, either.

With the 25th pick in 2017, Cleveland made a polarizing move by taking Peppers. Some expected his versatile and game-breaking college career to translate to a star pro career. Others thought he lacked a true position and might only stick as a gadget player in the NFL.

While Peppers has certainly been more than a gadget player, he has struggled to lock down a position. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams couldn’t find a consistent role or snaps for him in Cleveland.

As a result, Peppers was included in the package sent to New York for Odell Beckham Jr in 2019. The change of scenery was beneficial to Peppers, as he began to cement his role and earn the trust of coaches. To Cleveland, though, he was another failed first-round draft choice.

Thankfully, the Browns’ other pick from this deal has fared significantly better. Like Peppers, Ward faced concerns over how his college production would translate to the pros. In his case, the big worry was size.

Young corners notoriously struggle, so he’s certainly had his lumps. For the most part, though, the good has overshadowed the bad. Besides health concerns (seven games missed in two seasons) and inconsistency, he has shown the makings of a very good player for years to come.

As for team success, nothing changed after this deal. The Browns followed up a 1-win season by becoming the second 0-16 team in history. 2018 brought hope for the future as they finished 7-8-1, but that all came crashing down as a 6-10 finish in 2019 derailed Cleveland’s hype train.

Ward could become a star corner for Cleveland and Peppers might have been necessary to land OBJ, but let’s be real: hindsight shows this as a terrible trade for the Browns.

Watson developed into a superstar quarterback, which apparently Cleveland’s Moneyball-inspired front office wanted no part of. The best part is, they were only able to trade away the rights to this star quarterback because they traded away the rights to a star quarterback the year before.

Even if you’re a Baker Mayfield defender, it’s clear the Browns passed on two superior quarterbacks before eventually taking him. No amount of extra picks will make up for that, especially not with Cleveland making those picks.

Final Verdict: Texans Win

There’s been plenty of times where these expensive moves up in the draft don’t end up working out. This was not one of those. Watson is pretty much the only thing keeping Houston afloat, and missing out on him has to sting even more for a Browns front office that passed on Wentz the year before.

Who do you think won the trade? What deal should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Colts-Pats Jacoby Brissett Trade?

The History

To start 2016, Tom Brady was serving a four-game suspension as punishment for his role in Deflategate. Jimmy Garoppolo replaced him, but a week 2 injury led to Brissett taking the reins.

While his play was far from exceptional, it was still impressive for a third-round rookie thrown into the fire. He showed great rushing ability, although his passing was extremely inconsistent even with coddling from the play-calling.

Still, between his three games in 2016 and an excellent showing the following preseason, he displayed enough potential to become a valuable asset. So, the Patriots trading him days before the next season for an underwhelming return definitely came as a shock.

For an Indianapolis team expecting to be without Andrew Luck for the whole year, this was a no-brainer. New England’s asking price was only Dorsett, who had failed to live up to his draft day expectations. I picture Chris Ballard hanging up the first time he got this offer expecting it to have been a prank call.

Indianapolis Post Trade

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Brissett played as well for the Colts as anyone could have realistically expected. After Scott Tolzien embarrassed himself, the team, and all of America with his pitiful week one performance, Brissett started every game the rest of the way.

Statistically, it was ugly, but that doesn’t take into account just how bad Indianapolis was. In 2016, a healthy Luck was only able to will them to eight wins. Expecting Brissett to surpass or even meet that with less than a week of preparation would have been insane.

With the most sacks allowed in the league, his offensive line play was terrible. T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle were solid top targets, but it’s hard to get them the ball when you get drilled instantly every play. Old man Frank Gore didn’t move the needle in the backfield, either.

It was a terrible situation, and Brissett still managed to make the most out of it. Getting four wins was somewhat of an accomplishment, though it’s worth noting that those came against the 0-16 Browns, the 4-12 Texans (twice), and the 6-10 49ers before they acquired Garoppolo.

Whether by his own volition or the team’s game plan, Brissett didn’t take many risks. He barely topped 3,000 yards and sported a 13:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. While it was by no means perfect, just surviving that season was impressive.

In 2018, Brissett was relegated back to his natural role as a backup. Luck returned and led the team to 10 wins and another in the playoffs. The ensuing divisional round beatdown proved to be Luck’s final game, though, as he shockingly retired just weeks before the season opener.

Once again, Brissett was thrust into a starting role with little time to prepare, but this time he and the team handled it a lot better. Indianapolis showed faith in their new starter with a two-year extension. Eight weeks into the season, Brissett was making that investment look genius, playing the best ball of his career and captaining a 5-2 team.

Then, a knee injury sidelined him against the Steelers, and everything changed. After sitting out one game, he returned a much worse player. So bad, in fact, that the Colts signed Philip Rivers this offseason to start. Now, Brissett will collect a cool $15 million to likely warm the bench behind one of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history.

Even though he may have squandered his last starting opportunity in the league, Brissett was still a huge steal for Indy. They got 3 years and 30 starts of solid play. For a worse player at a significantly less valuable position, that’s a win any day.

New England Post Trade

Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports

To some degree, trading your third-string quarterback for a recent first-round pick is impressive. That’s about the only way you can like this trade for the Patriots, though.

Like I said before, Brissett’s play had already greatly surpassed his draft evaluation, so getting only Dorsett back was underwhelming. Interestingly, after New England traded away Garoppolo for a similarly disappointing return months later, theories began to emerge that this was Bill Belichick’s payback for Robert Kraft refusing to move on from Brady.

If true, that would explain the peculiar timing of and return for the Brissett trade, but it still wouldn’t justify it. Belichick is one of the most methodical and unemotional coaches in sports history, so sabotaging his own team out of spite certainly would come as a surprise.

To make matters worse, Dorsett did even less in New England than Indianapolis. At just 528 yards, 2016 remains his best season as a pro. In three years with the Patriots, he averaged just over half that. Even last season when the team’s receiving core was uncharacteristically awful, he failed to make his mark.

Even though he bombed this trade, Belichick deserves a smidgen of credit for declining Dorsett’s fifth-year option. Teams are often too stubborn to admit they were wrong about a player. That usually results in overly long leashes and undeserved contract extensions, so props to the Pats for cutting their losses.

Instead, the Pats resigned him to a cheap one-year deal for 2019. Now, he’s headed to Seattle where a roster spot isn’t guaranteed. 5 years after getting a call night one of the draft, he might have just received his final call for a contract.

Besides the terrible return, I can’t help but think New England would have been much better off keeping Brissett. The Garoppolo trade at least made sense in that he was due for a new contract, but Brissett had three years left on his rookie deal. He certainly could have been a trustworthy backup to Brady if not his future successor.

Belichick doesn’t miss often, but this one was undeniable. It was questionable then and looks even worse now.

Final Verdict: Colts Win

Outside of an inclination to give New England the benefit of the doubt, there was never a reason to like this trade for the Pats. They gave up a great backup quarterback for a bad receiver. In his first year as Colts GM, this was great move by Ballard in a short career full of them.

Who do you think won the trade? What deal should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Rams-Titans 2016 Draft Day Trade?

The History

With Jeff Fisher at the helm, the Rams unsurprisingly finished 7-9 in 2015. But, the team had grown tired of Fisher’s patented mediocrity. The Rams had just announced a massive move to Los Angeles after years of feuding with St. Louis about stadium funding. To capitalize on a flashy market like L.A., you need star power, which the Rams sorely lacked.

Two weeks before the 2016 draft, GM Les Snead took his shot to get a star. In a nearly unprecedented move, he traded all the way up from 15th to 1st overall, sending a bounty of picks in the process. Los Angeles’ target was Goff—a promising quarterback out of Cal—even though Fisher was reportedly not a fan.

Tennessee happily pounced on L.A.’s offer. Already armed with a young quarterback in Marcus Mariota, they had no use for Goff. Still, finishing with such a poor record in back-to-back years was unacceptable. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was canned, and his interim replacement, Mike Mularkey, was given the job full-time.

Tennessee Post Trade

Photo by AP Photo/James Kenney

Things started to turn around quickly in Tennessee. After winning five games combined the last two years, they won nine in 2016. In fact, the Titans have won nine games every year since this trade, with two playoff appearances to boot. Give credit to their haul from the Rams trade for their consistent above-averageness.

Tennessee received multiple players who played huge roles in their miracle AFC Championship run last season. It started at the 2016 draft, where instead of sitting back with the 15th pick, they traded up to 8th to select Conklin, who was a crucial piece from day one.

He started every game in his first two years and was a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie. But, in the divisional round game his second year, he suffered a torn ACL that held him out the first three weeks of 2018.

That season was brutal for Conklin. Between the ACL rehab, a concussion, and another knee injury, he couldn’t stay on the field. All the injury uncertainty pushed Tennessee to decline his fifth-year option, which turned out to be a colossal mistake.

Conklin returned to his old self in 2019 as the Titans’ mauling offensive line powered them down the stretch. Had Tennessee taken a leap of faith and believed in his recovery, they would’ve been able to keep their outstanding o-line together. Instead, Conklin will suit up for the Browns next season.

Losing Conklin could really hurt another player Tennessee acquired in this deal. Selected in the 2016 second round, Henry struggled early in his pro career. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner played second fiddle to DeMarco Murray his first two years.

But, the Titans had faith in his potential and handed him the reins in 2018. For most of the year, Henry was pedestrian. Then, one fateful Thursday, something changed. From that point on, he finally put his mesmerizing physical tools together to dominate. Games like that decimation of the Jaguars became commonplace as Henry became the centerpiece of an offense that routinely overpowered opponents.

Conklin and Henry were massive hits for the Titans, even though both could be gone by next season (Henry is on the franchise tag with reportedly no traction on a long-term deal). Those two alone make this deal a win for Tennessee, so anything from the rest of the haul is straight profit.

While it’s a high bar set, the other players Tennessee acquired aren’t close to matching it. They’ve merely been solid while the other guys are stars. Johnson encapsulates that perfectly: he was a good rotational piece, but could never win a starting job. Now, he’s headed to New York on a cheap deal with the Giants.

Davis hasn’t come close to matching the expectations of a top-five pick. 2016 was his best year, and even that was unspectacular. Seemingly every year there’s rumors he’s primed for a breakout, but it’s becoming clear he’s best suited as a number two or three receiver.

Smith is almost the opposite case of Davis. He came into the league with low expectations as Delanie Walker’s backup. All he had to do was block hard and make a few play action catches. Then, as injuries deteriorated Walker’s career, he was thrust into a starting role.

While there have been some exciting flashes and his usual strong blocking, his career high in yards is just last year’s 439. I feel like his hype has gotten out of control, with far more games he was invisible for than ones he took over. Still, with Walker now gone, Tennessee is relying on him to be their starter. As a late third-round pick, that’s a good return.

Given all the high picks they received, the Titans really just had to not tank the draft to come out ahead of the Rams. They did more than that, though. Not one player they took can be considered a complete bust and some of them are among the league’s best at their positions.

The team moving back in draft trades almost always wins, and Tennessee certainly did not buck that trend.

Los Angeles Post Trade

Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

Unlike the Titans, the Rams did not immediately improve from this deal. A 4-9 start to the second iteration of the L.A. Rams led to Fisher’s firing. The man he advised against drafting didn’t get off to a great start, either.

Case Keenum beat him out in training camp and when Goff finally got a chance to play, it was ugly. Virtually every stat (5 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, 0-7 record) paints a horrible image, and the eye test did nothing to change it. Sure, the team was terrible and Goff wasn’t considered a pro-ready prospect, but his rookie season was jarring.

Considering how bad they were and all the picks they traded away, the Rams seemed destined for a rough few years. To make matters worse, L.A. hired Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay to replace Fisher. While he was renowned as an offensive genius, more focus was paid to how young he was. At just 30 years old, McVay was younger than a player he was poised to coach. Given the non-existent track record of success for coaches that age, the reasons to doubt the Rams were piling up.

But, McVay proved everyone wrong almost instantly. In week one, L.A. dominated in their home opener. Next thing you knew, the Rams were 7-2 and riding one of the best offenses in the league. Shortly after that, they locked up their first playoff birth in 13 years.

Seemingly overnight, McVay transformed L.A. from a team with one of the bleakest futures in the league to a team with one of the brightest. The following year, they made the Super Bowl in a losing effort to the Patriots.

Just as he did with the team, McVay completely changed the perception around Goff. It can’t be understated the difference between McVay’s creative offense and Fisher’s beyond outdated one.

After his 5:7 ratio as a rookie, Goff threw 28 touchdowns to 7 interceptions his second year. During the Rams’ Super Bowl run, he posted stellar numbers once again. Suddenly, the bust talk turned into top-10 quarterback discussion. As a reward for his drastic improvement, Goff received a 4-year, $134 million contract.

After a horrible start to his career, everything was going Goff’s way, but 2019 was a different story. His numbers took a huge hit and a light started to shine on his phantom improvement. I thought Goff was overrated even during the Super Bowl year, and last year showed exactly why. With a weaker supporting class and a down year from McVay, he was unable to carry the team himself—something the true best quarterbacks in the league do frequently.

For the Rams to have had any chance at winning this deal, Goff would’ve needed to become one of the absolute best quarterbacks in the league. That simply hasn’t happened yet, and Goff would likely hang around the 20 range in my rankings.

Unsurprisingly, L.A. also didn’t get much out of the throw-in picks they received. Cooper looked like he might be something after he was the Pro Bowl return man in 2017. But, injuries caused the Rams to shockingly cut him the next year.

Outside of having an awesome name, Hemingway did nothing for the Rams. Thomas is in the same boat, even though he shares a name with one of the best players at his position.

While they handily lost this trade, the Rams would probably do it all over again. Goff might not be elite, but he is a franchise quarterback, and teams are willing to any price for those.

Final Verdict: Titans Win

This may be the biggest blowout I’ve looked at so far. Goff might be the most valuable player in this deal, but even that’s arguable, and the sheer volume of good pieces Tennessee received is insurmountable.

Who do you think won the trade? What deal should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Chiefs-Rams Marcus Peters Trade?

The History

Peters was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2015, and he quickly provided a return on the team’s investment. As a rookie, he was named to the All-Pro second team as a result of his league-leading eight interceptions. In years two and three, he added another 11 picks to his gaudy total. Peters had already vaulted himself to the upper echelon of cornerbacks and was arguably the league’s top ballhawk.

But, as happens with many players, Peters’ antics began to overshadow his play. Most notably, he was suspended for one game after throwing a flag into the crowd and getting into a heated argument with a coach. As Kansas City saw it, the headaches he caused opposing quarterbacks weren’t worth the headaches he caused them.

Shortly after losing in the 2017 playoffs, the Chiefs agreed to send the frustrating corner to Los Angeles. The Rams were coming off a surprising 11-5 finish in Sean McVay’s first year and looking to add pieces to cement their contender status. As their success was fueled by an elite offense, acquiring Peters to shore up the defense seemed like a perfect fit.

Los Angeles Post Trade

Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

This trade kicked off the Rams’ Dream Team phase, where they seemingly acquired every player with star-level name value possible. Out of everyone they brought in, Peters may have been the crown jewel. He and Aqib Talib were expected to form an impenetrable cornerback duo, which they did. Sometimes.

Some games, the Rams defense was diced up with no resistance. Others, they would terrorize opposing offenses. Unfortunately for L.A., the former games were more frequent occurrences than the latter.

The Rams’ defensive struggles became a major storyline during the regular season, especially as they got carved up on national television against fellow contenders like the Saints and Chiefs. Peters came under fire himself after a terrible showing against the Saints. Michael Thomas hung 200 yards and a touchdown on the Rams, with most of that coming against Peters.

While it wasn’t always perfect, Peters and the Rams made plays when it counted. Los Angeles finished tied for the best record in the league at 13-3 and won the NFC’s Super Bowl bid (albeit in questionable fashion). Defensively, they tightened up in the postseason.

Round two with the Saints was a vastly different story, with Thomas only totaling 36 yards (largely thanks to Talib). And the Rams’ championship meltdown was the offense’s doing—the defense only allowed 13 points.

Still, Peters’ 2018 was largely a disappointment. He posted the lowest interception total and worst advanced stats of his career. After extension talks went nowhere, Peters entered 2019 on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

An inconsistent start for both the player and team led to Peters being traded once again. This time, it was to Baltimore and for pennies. Los Angeles received a fifth-round pick and linebacker Kenny Young, who only saw playing time on special teams.

Peters rebounded with the Ravens, returning to his old form and earning himself a nice contract. Hours after dealing him, the Rams acquired a new star corner in Jalen Ramsey.

Luckily for us fans, we got to see a heated revenge game. In a matchup five weeks after the trade, Peters intercepted his old quarterback and got into it with his replacement as the Ravens romped the Rams.

As a whole, the assets exchanged in the Rams’ Peters experiment look like this: 1.5 years of Peters, a 2018 sixth-round pick, 2020 fifth-round pick, and Young for a 2019 second-round pick and 2018 fourth-round pick.

Both their incoming picks were moved as minor parts of packages that allowed the Rams to draft Allen (in competition to be their starting center) and dump Talib’s salary.

The only acquisition of significant value for L.A. was Peters. Despite that, he never lived up to his star billing and was probably an above-average corner overall in his time with the team.

Even though the picks they gave up weren’t extremely valuable, they are sorely missed by a team currently devoid of cap space and future draft picks.

I can’t really say the Rams won or lost this trade. It didn’t cost much to acquire Peters, but he didn’t make much of a positive impact on the team, either. In the end, I’d call it a wash for L.A.

Kansas City Post Trade

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As a team, the Chiefs haven’t missed Peters in the slightest. In two seasons since the trade, they’ve lost in the AFC Championship and won the Super Bowl.

As a cornerback room, it’s a bit of a different story. Kansas City’s defense was horrendous in 2018, partially due to their lackluster corners. Maybe keeping Peters would have moved the parade in Kansas City a year earlier.

That’s a big maybe, though, and the Chiefs solved both their corner and overall defensive issues the following season. Plus, they won the Super Bowl, so there’s no regrets on their side.

Also, Peters’ cap hit in 2019 would have been $7.3 million, or potentially even higher if he signed an extension. For a team as cap-strapped as the Chiefs, that probably means they don’t pull the trigger on Frank Clark, who was instrumental in their championship run.

Along with Clark, Thornhill was a big reason for Kansas City’s defensive resurgence. Drafted with the Rams’ second-round pick, he started all 16 games as a rookie before missing the playoff run with a torn ACL.

Watts, the Chiefs’ selection with the other Rams pick, hasn’t had nearly the impact his counterpart has. After playing scarcely in his first two years, Thornhill’s injury presented his best opportunity for meaningful playing time. Instead, Daniel Sorenson played almost every snap, leaving only scraps for Watts. There’s only so much you can expect from a fourth-round pick, but he’s done next to nothing.

Thornhill showed enough potential to make up for him, though. He had three interceptions last year and seems to have cemented his spot as the present and future starter next to Honey Badger. Considering how cheap he’ll be for the rest of his rookie deal, he might come close to matching the more expensive Peters’ value.

Obviously, the Super Bowl quashes any debates on whether or not they’re better without Peters, but this trade was more than just an ends-justify-the-means situation for the Chiefs. Thornhill is exactly the kind of cheap and promising player Kansas City needs now that Patrick Mahomes is making eleventy billion dollars a year. Dealing Peters kept them from being in an even more dire financial position, too.

Final Verdict: Chiefs Win

I don’t think Los Angeles bombed this trade by any means, but this was a pretty easy choice nonetheless. Kansas City saved money and got a nice young player while Peters’ time with the Rams was tumultuous and short-lived.

Who do you think won the Peters trade? What trade should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.