Other than 2004, Bill Belichick has made draft weekend deals every year he’s been in charge of the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
With draft weekend approaching, which teams will be the most inclined to make some moves? From our viewpoint, in no particular order here are the five teams most likely to deal, as well as a couple of scenarios thrown in for good measure. (On this same topic, make sure you read this excellent piece from Andrew Healy at Football Outsiders on draft trade value. The biggest buyer of draft value since 2000 has been New England. The biggest seller? Washington.)
New England and Philadelphia — basically, football BFF’s Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly: Provided they stay in their current positions, these two will likely be trade partners for a very long time. Belichick was a semi-regular draft weekend trade partner with the Eagles when Andy Reid was in Philly, and given his background with Kelly, there’s certainly reason to think that there will be at least one swap this weekend between the Patriots and Eagles. For what it’s worth, since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).
Atlanta: Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has been known to make a big splash from time to time — remember wide receiver Julio Jones? — and given the fact that Atlanta holds the eighth overall pick in the draft (and has a desperate need for a pass rusher), they could be one of those teams looking to potentially move up to take Vic Beasley or Dante Fowler, Jr., two individuals who may not make it out of the top 5.
Cleveland: In our chat with him on “NFL Sunday,” draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network pointed to the Browns and Ravens as two of the teams who might be more inclined to pull off a draft weekend deal. Cleveland has Nos. 12 and 19 in the first round — the Browns are one of two teams with two first-round selections. And based on what we saw last year with the big deal with the Bills, they certainly wouldn’t shy away from trying to swing a big first-round deal to try and move up. Cleveland certainly has some needs across the board, and will have a real chance to address those issues come Thursday.
Baltimore: Like Belichick, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is a big fan of compensatory picks, and while those can’t be dealt away, the three comp selections that Baltimore acquired this offseason — in addition to the fourth and fifth rounders Newsome got from Detroit in exchange for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata — certainly gives Newsome the sort of potential draft capital he might need if he wants to try and climb the board. One thing that Patriots fans might want to keep in mind here is that Newsome and Belichick are very tight (Belichick has made five draft weekend deals with the Ravens). If the Patriots see a potential target sliding down the board and could put together a package for Baltimore’s 26th overall pick, that certainly remains a possibility.
San Diego sends Chargers QB Philip Rivers to Tennessee for the No. 2 overall pick: This sounds like an interesting deal, but it apparently stalled out over the weekend. It would be a fascinating swap that would fundamentally be a Rivers-for-Mariota deal between San Diego and Tennessee, with multiple picks presumably going in both directions. While that would appear to mean the Chargers would be hitting the reset button with a rookie quarterback as opposed to the 33-year-old Rivers, as Jeremiah reminded us in our Sunday conversation with him, while the front office has changed in San Diego, the Chargers have never been shy about making big draft weekend deals. Individuals like Rivers (2004) and LaDanian Tomlinson (2001) landed in San Diego after draft swaps.