NFL players likely to be traded in 2023

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NFL players likely to be traded in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Who will be the next big name to get traded in the NFL?

While the 2022 trade deadline saw Christian McCaffrey go to the San Francisco 49ers and Bradley Chubb take his talents to South Beach, very few shake-ups transpired beyond that.

It’s not entirely clear what the 2023 offseason could bring, but as the 2022 season winds down, more and more of the league’s best talent may start emerging in the rumor mill.

Let’s take a look at five potential NFL trade candidates in 2023:

* All contract data via Spotrac

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Let’s start this off with a colossal one. The past few seasons has seen star quarterbacks on underperforming teams move on to a new one: Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson are just a few who come to mind. 

Could Aaron Rodgers, possibly the most marquee name in his position on a struggling Packers side, be next? Of course, his 39-year-old status and average salary of over $50 million until 2026 could be deterrents, but there’s no denying his quality when playing alongside elite receivers. He just hasn’t said that in recent years, most notably in 2022 that has seen him throw double-digit interceptions in a season for the first time since 2010. 

If the Packers and Rodgers continue their story together, then maybe 24-year-old backup Jordan Love gets a crack at a starting gig elsewhere. The 2020 first-round pick doesn’t have a whole lot of NFL tape to go off of, but Rodgers was also getting weary of being Brett Favre’s backup before getting handed the reigns. 

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

Brandin Cooks has been traded three times throughout his nine-year career, but someone of his talent should not be buried under the rug while playing for one of the league’s worst teams in recent years.

The 29-year-old wideout has been in Houston since 2020. In his first season, he logged 81 catches for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. The Texans went 4-12. In 2021, he hauled in 90 receptions for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. The Texans went 4-13.

It’s only gotten worse in 2022. In 12 games played, he has 52 catches, 593 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans are 2-13-1. Davis Mills is just not the quarterback who will optimize anyone, and Cook’s reasonably priced contract that sees him locked down until 2025 could get a contender in need of more weapons to come calling. 

Defensive end Jerry Hughes, 34, is another possibility here given his production (eight sacks in 2022) and cheap contract

Cam Jordan, New Orleans Saints

The mediocrity of the NFC South is allowing four non-playoff-quality teams to stay in the hunt. From that group, defensive end Cameron Jordan stands out given the Saints’ financial issues.  

Jordan, 33, is carrying a heavy load of the Saints’ financial cap that could entice the franchise to move on for potential draft picks. Next season, he will have a dead cap of over $23 million. How much do the Saints want to keep him around given their inability to contend for titles in present time?

The last few seasons have seen big names like Von Miller, Robert Quinn and the aforementioned Chubb find new homes to help title contenders. Maybe Jordan, who logged 12.5 sacks last season and has 8.5 in 2022, is next in line.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

It’s absurd to think a quarterback drafted No. 2 overall in 2021 might never see his career peak – but Zach Wilson may be treading down that path.

The New York Jets QB is hitting new lows every week in 2022, and it might already be time for a change-of-scenery arc to see if there’s still untapped potential in the 23-year-old. After posting nine passing touchdowns and 11 picks as a rookie, little has changed a year later with six passing touchdowns to pair with seven interceptions. 

If there was an organization out there willing to make something happen, he’s on a relatively cheap and team-friendly deal that sees him enter free agency in 2026 if the fifth-year option in 2025 is exercised.

Fellow Jets teammate Denzel Mims, 25, is another potential candidate at wide receiver.

Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Remember when Bailey Zappe’s purple patch had Patriots and NFL fans saying Mac Jones could be expendable? Zappe may not be #him, but that train of thought may still have some wheels. 

Jones may not have the strongest weapons in Foxborough, but he has regressed massively thus far in his second year. That could just be considered a sophomore slump considering his solid rookie season, but there’s just not too much evidence in his statistics and playstyle to believe he’ll bounce back and hit star status.

Like Wilson, Jones is also on an affordable deal given he signed it as the No. 15 overall pick last year. And given that the Pats have the third-most cap space going into the offseason, it could persuade head coach Bill Belichick to pursue a blockbuster upgrade *stares at Aaron Rodgers*.