Jump To Contracts

2022 Trade Deadline Examination

One of my least favorite NFL discourse routines is when observers concoct various trade scenarios approaching the regular season deadline. The discussion is entertaining, to say the least, but as is regularly demonstrated each season, the actual trades that happen are usually far less substantial. As such, I’ve been reluctant to add more fuel to the fire. But when someone as highly respected as Adam Schefter (as relayed by Andrew Mason) says that “he would be ‘surprised’ if the Broncos didn’t trade away at least one player before the trade deadline”, then I suppose there may be an obligation to comment.

I’ll just discuss a few players, in order of most to least likely to be traded.

Albert Okwuegbunam

Okwuegbunam is the one and perhaps only player that fits the profile of a midseason trade well. Suffice to say, he has been one of the biggest disappointments for the Broncos relative to his expectations. But those expectations established that he has been productive in the NFL before, and that he might be again under the correct circumstances. He is someone that would be highly considered for a trade regardless of the Broncos’ record.

More importantly, Okwuegbunam still has one and a half seasons on his rookie contract. Those are the type of contracts that provide more value to teams. That’s why Okwuegbunam could fetch more in a trade relative to his disappointing production this season. A comparable would be the Broncos getting a 5th round pick from the Falcons for Ty Sambrailo with a similar amount left on his rookie contract.

It would not surprise me if Denver has a standing offer from Okwuegbunam from other teams, but are waiting to see if injuries at tight end–either on the Broncos themselves that would warrant keeping Okwuegbunam, or leaguewide to increase demand–change the scenery.

As I proceed down the list, my guess is that Okwuegbunam is the only player that is more likely than not to be traded. Keep that in mind, as any further speculation should be heavily tempered.

Graham Glasgow

Glasgow was a popular name to mention for a preseason trade, given that he was not slated to start, yet could still be considered starting caliber. In hindsight, it was good that the Broncos did not trade him then, due to Quinn Meinerz being hobbled by injuries. In addition to that reason, the struggles of the Broncos’ offense likely has further obscured Glasgow as a trade target.

But the fundamentals for a trade still remain. Glasgow would only be due about $1.5 million this season for a team acquiring his contract. He’s also a player that’s likely not in Denver’s long term plans. If the Broncos are willing to gamble that Meinerz and the rest of the interior offensive line can stay healthy, and also don’t sharply need competition from Glasgow, he could make sense for a team that needs immediate help anywhere on the interior offensive line, be it to acute injuries or otherwise.

Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy’s career has also been a disappointment thus far. It’s certainly unfortunate that the Broncos drafted him over Justin Jefferson (though at least they didn’t pick Jalen Reagor–or more tragically, Henry Ruggs). But the combination of being a first round pick still only halfway through the maximum of his rookie contract, plus reasonable speculation that he has not been done any favors by the offensive talent and coaching around him in his first two and a half years, could have plenty of teams willing to give up significant enough draft capital.

But the question for the Broncos is whether that’s wise for their own depth chart. One could argue that at full health, the Broncos true top two receivers are Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, and thus Jeudy could be better suited as better than WR3 elsewhere. MarsLineman also observed that there could be limitations with Jeudy’s skillset in this scheme, limitations that to my eyes have unfortunately borne pretty true thus far. But on the other hand, wide receiver is a position teams always want to be deep at, and even if Jeudy cannot emerge beyond WR3, as long as his contract is inexpensive, it is not a serious problem.

Barring an offer that cannot be refused, I do not think that Jeudy will be traded. At the same time, I don’t think it’s wildly implausible.

Bradley Chubb

Trading Chubb would bring up natural comparables to the trade of Von Miller to the Rams from last season: an edge rusher on the last season of his contract going to a team looking for a minimum of a short term burst at the position to get over the hump toward a Super Bowl. So it’s fitting that Jourdan Rodrigue, who’s as sharp on covering the Rams as anyone out there, suggested a rhyming of history in this case.

But the big difference, of course, is that Miller is on the twilight of his career, one that thankfully earned him another ring with the Rams, and one can only hope for more success with the Bills. Chubb, on the other hand, should be in the prime of his career. These are the type of players teams should want to secure for the long term. The only way that I can see the Broncos trading Chubb is if they have absolutely certainty that they aren’t going to extend him, and given the high level of play he’s been at, I just don’t see that absolute certainty established.

Rodrigue observed that having Randy Gregory under a top tier veteran contract, along with plenty of young talent in Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper, and Nik Bonitto, could make Chubb more expendable. However, as I laid out both in examining a Chubb extension, as well as this followup, I think the odds are good that Gregory’s tenure in Denver may only last two seasons, despite the length of his contract. If Chubb were extended, however, he would be expected to last in Denver throughout the length of his contract, just like Miller almost did.

I see the smart play as continuing to plan for Chubb to be a foundational piece on the roster, whether that’s by an extension or via the franchise tag.

Melvin Gordon

Gordon’s name has been thrown out there in the speculation discourse frequently, partly stemming from discontent in lack of playing time against his former team, the Chargers. His contract would not be expensive to acquire by trade: nothing more than about a million. But given his declined production, and his age that at running back may mean that his career may not be much longer, and I find it highly unlikely that any team will give up draft capital for him.