In an absolutely wild flurry of moves the Miami Dolphins triggered an early run of draft day trades that would normally be reserved for April. Miami traded down from number 3 to 12 and then jumped back up to number 6 in what essentially is a three way trade between the Dolphins, Eagles, and 49ers. So here are some thoughts on each of the teams moves here.
The Dolphins will give up the 3rd and 123rd picks this year as well as their first round pick in 2022 and will acquire pick 6, 102, and 156 from this season as well as the 49ers 1st round picks in 2022 and 2023. Using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger chart
|Pick||Value Gained||Pick||Value Lost|
The difference is basically like gaining the 11th overall pick in the draft. Now some may apply discounts to the draft picks, which I don’t like doing because teams are not always playing for the present and there is no real evidence that teams can predict what is or is not a good draft, nor a good or bad team. Just because I am trading for a 2023 first this year doesn’t make it worth a 3rd round pick. It will always going to be a number 1 and if your time horizon is two or three years that is how I look at it.
I love this for Miami. Clearly, they had no designs of picking a QB this year because if they did they would not have made this trade. Just based on the discussions they had with the 49ers and Eagles they also now know more about the draft. The Jaguars are taking a QB(we all know that) and they must know the Jets are taking one now because the Jets would have done this trade if they were sticking with Darnold. Now they know San Francisco will take a QB. That gets into the second part of the trade.
With the top 3 picks going QB-QB-QB that meant that the Eagles pick at 6 is a lock that they can pick one of the top receivers/tight end since there are three players in the mix there. If that position is what they were picking at 3, they will now get it at 6 and save a few dollars on the contract while also picking up all those extra 1s. Basically as long as they have three players in mind at any position they are now a lock to get one of those players. It also puts them in a spot where maybe they can even move back with Carolina when draft day hits if Carolina gets wild for a QB and is in a panic that they will lose out at number 8. It gives Miami so many possibilities by doing the trade now. This is a fantastic move.
As their trade with the Texans has shown there are no certainties in the NFL. Those future 1s could be incredibly valuable like the Houston one was. If the QB flops they may have the assets needed to move back up. If San Francisco is a dud, and in two of the last three years they have finished with no more than 6 wins, they may just get their own access to a top player. As you can tell I just love this for the Dolphins.
The Eagles will give up the 6th and 156th picks in the draft and in return get the 12th and 123rd picks as well as the Dolphins 2022 first round pick. Here is our value on this one.
|Pick||Value Gained||Pick||Value Lost|
The return on this is the 25th pick in the draft. Like above the value will fluctuate based on what that 2022 1st round pick is but in any event they will come out ahead on the trade by quite a bit.
The Eagles decision matrix here seemed to be different than the other two teams. Philadelphia initially wanted to trade up for a QB but seemingly wanted to approach this as a traditional trade. Per various reports Philadelphia only had one QB in mind which meant if the Jets selected a QB they would not pull the trigger on a trade with Miami. That would not work for the Dolphins who found the trade partner in San Francisco who would take a blind shot at a QB which left the Eagles with no access to the position they probably wanted.
So they will drop down 6 slots and save about $1.8 million in cap room on that pick this year. They were likely pretty indifferent to players at 6 if they were not married to a receiver which made this a solid trade. The first round pick in 2022 can give them a better chance to find a QB if Jalen Hurts flops and at the least gives them access to another first rounder. Considering the Eagles cap situation and aging roster gaining that first round pick is a big pickup for them.
I’m not as crazy about this trade as the Dolphins one but it is certainly a good move.
The 49ers will gain the 3rd pick in the draft and give up the 12th and 102nd pick in the draft as well as their first rounders in both 2022 and 2023. Here is the value on this.
|Pick||Value Gained||Pick||Value Lost|
This is a massive amount to give up for the 3rd ranked QB in the draft. This is basically the closest that you will ever get to the Rams/Washington trade where Washington gave up the 6th overall pick, two future first rounders, and a second rounder for the 2nd ranked QB (Robert Griffin III). This trade gives up 3,144 points while that one was at 3,776. The value for this is right around what the Eagles paid to move to get Carson Wentz in 2016. Wentz was also the 2nd ranked QB that year. Basically this is like giving up the top overall pick plus more in the draft to get number 3.
The last time a team traded for the 3rd valued QB it was the Jets who gave up pick 6 and three second round picks. This turned into the 2nd ranked QB when the Giants selected a running back with the 2nd pick in the draft. That was about a 2,900 point differential and pretty close to being like giving up the top pick in the draft for the pick.
A few things here. While I valued the picks above the same way I did for Miami and Philadelphia here we really should discount them. Why? You have a coach and front office that has had a losing record in two of the last three years and their time horizon is now not two and three years from now. That makes this move a little closer to reasonable and probably is more like giving up a mid 1st for the access to a QB.
Teams get desperate in the NFL because of this position. The team made a questionable decision when they made the move on a big contract for Jimmy Garoppolo a few years ago and it has not worked out. They struck out in a bid to sign Tom Brady last year and probably also realized there was no chance to get Matt Ryan this year or next after the Falcons reworked his contract for cap relief. This is basically the only option and only way they can get better at the position.
From a cap perspective this makes sense. Garoppolo is one of the most overpaid players in the NFL and this should open things up for a pay reduction. The starting jobs and most of the backup jobs are gone now and their job is to sell him on playoff incentives if he starts this year and is successful. They have big money tied up in Trent Williams and Arik Armstead and will likely end up with a monster extension for Nick Bosa after 2022. That is a team built for a rookie QB on a cheap deal not an overpriced veteran QB.
Still it is a lot to give up for the 49ers. They must have been worried that someone else would jump ahead of them to make this trade similar to the Jets move years ago. This is a trade that you really can only evaluate after the pick is made. If whomever they pick plays like Sam Darnold, who the Jets selected, it will be an absolute disaster for the 49ers. They need this pick to be a player who earns a legit high end QB contract three or four years from now. Anything else and it is a failure.
I’m not enough of a draft person to know if this is or is not worth it for any of the top 3 QBs, but I will say just like when the Jets made their move that you have to take risks at this position. You cant survive in the NFL playing the free agency game and going year to year with Ryan Fitzpatrick or finding mid grade starters and convincing yourself they can be great if you pay them well the way the 49ers did with Garoppolo.
This move gives them a chance to get their salary cap in order, to be able to make more moves in free agency, and most importantly give them a chance to upgrade the most important position in football for the next decade. Could they have tried to wait this out a little longer? Maybe, but if you like a player you may as well just go for broke rather than watching the Panthers or Eagles pass you by leaving you with nothing but replacement level play at QB for the next few years.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.