We’ll hit a small lull before the start of NFL training camp, and teams occasionally use this time to make some last-minute deals before the season gets underway. Some of those deals come during or even after training camp, but now that we’re through NFL free agency and the draft, the best way to add a starting-caliber player is through a trade.
Brad Gagnon with Bleacher Report recently wrote up a piece that breaks down one player from each NFL team who should be considered for a trade before the start of the 2021 season. There were some interesting names on the list, including Matt Ryan, Jordan Love and James Robinson.
One thing that stood out almost immediately to me was the potential talent available at off-ball linebacker. Not 3-4 outside linebackers, who are more pass rushers, but 4-3 linebackers and 3-4 inside linebackers. Overall, I counted six — and none of them would be terrible options for a linebacker-needy team.
- Jordan Hicks, Arizona Cardinals
- Mack Wilson, Cleveland Browns
- Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys
- Anthony Hitchens, Kansas City Chiefs
- C.J. Mosley, New York Jets
- Rashaan Evans, Tennessee Titans
From a cost perspective, some of those guys may be too expensive given potential production. Guys such as Smith, Hitchens, Mosley and even Hicks might not be a cost-savvy add, but there are options available if a team wants one.
Since Evans is playing on the final year of his rookie contract, he wouldn’t be overly expensive. It all depends on what the Titans would want for him after bringing back Jayon Brown on a one-year deal, still having David Long on the roster and drafting Georgia linebacker Monty Rice in the third round back in April.
Wilson — another former Alabama linebacker, coincidently — would be another cheap buy after the moves Cleveland has made at the position in the last couple years. But his play has been erratic, and his upside may not be enough to make up for it.
We’ll see how it plays out, but if a team wants a potential starting off-ball linebacker before the start of the season, there are a few phone calls that could be made.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.