Five NFL Players Likely to be Traded Next

Deshaun Watson, Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson, Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Matthew Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday in a blockbuster deal that shook the NFL. Many expected Stafford to be dealt, but the destination and return the Detroit Lions received were shocking. With that deal out of the way, and many more likely coming, here's a look at the five players most likely to be traded next.

Deshaun Watson

Regardless of whether the Houston Texans have any interest in trading Watson, a deal will happen. The 25-year-old is miserable in Houston and wants out after owner Cal McNair went back on his promises about the quarterback having a role in both the general manager and head coaching hires. McNair essentially ignored Watson's advice and moved on in his own direction, that spelled doom for the relationship.

Watson is the biggest target on the trade market, and while he wasn't the first starting quarterback traded, he will be the most important. He could set the market for what an elite starting signal-caller costs via trade in the future. It should be a blockbuster when he's finally moved and he should have countless suitors.

Sam Darnold

The New York Jets were leaking all the right things about Darnold a few weeks ago, but now it feels like the young quarterback is on the outside of the team's plans looking in. With the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets could take the best quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence, or use that pick (and other assets) to deal for a veteran -- Deshaun Watson, anyone? Either way it increasingly looks like Darnold could be on the move. Frankly, he probably needs a change of scenery anyway.

Darnold has a ton of talent and is still only 23, but he's raw after years of Adam Gase neglecting his development. In the right situation he could emerge as a legitimate NFL quarterback, though a team trading for him would need to exercise some patience. Several teams are fits, like the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints if they aren't sold on Taysom Hill long-term. This would be a high-risk, high-reward scenario for the team acquiring Darnold, but it might pay off.

Carson Wentz

Yep, another quarterback and this is another case of a guy who just needs new surroundings. Carson Wentz has a ton of talent and has looked like a legitimate franchise quarterback at times over the years, but he regressed tremendously in 2020. With Jalen Hurts on the roster under a cheap contract and Doug Pederson no longer the Eagles' head coach, It could be time for a parting of the ways here.

Wentz needs to rediscover his magic and to do that he'll need to be surrounded by a solid offensive line and a few weapons. Once again, the Colts look like a really good fit here, as do the 49ers. Both teams have quarterback-friendly coaches, good offensive lines and some really nice weapons. Other potential landing spots will emerge, but those two situations jump off the page as ideal.

David Njoku

When the Cleveland Browns signed Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million deal last offseason, incumbent tight end David Njoku was not happy. Then rookie Harrison Bryant emerged as a reliable target for Baker Mayfield as well. Njoku reportedly asked for a trade at one point, before denying that and rescinding his request. Still, the Browns now have three solid tight ends and not enough touches for them.

Njoku was a first-round pick during the 2017 NFL Draft as an athletic, game-breaking tight end out of Miami. He hasn't lived up to that billing in the league, but there's a lot to like about his raw ability. He's entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract and is set to make $6 million in 2021. He only caught 19 passes for 213 yards and two scores in 2020 after missing all but four games in 2019. The Browns don't need him but someone will surely be willing to gamble a mid-round pick on his upside.

J.J. Watt

Yes, another Texans great is likely to be on the move. Watt has essentially already said goodbye to Houston and a trade is inevitable at this point. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is entering the final season of his six-year, $100 million contract and is due $17.5 million in 2021. The Texans could release him and not face a cap hit, but it's far more likely they attempt to work out a trade to recoup some value for the greatest player in franchise history.

A reunion with his brother T.J. with the Pittsburgh Steelers would be fun, but there are a number of teams who could use Watt's on-field prowess and leadership in the locker room. He's not the dominant force he used to be but when healthy he can still be a productive player. A contender will almost certainly take a flier on him given the chance.