Understanding the trade process during NFL draft

Peter King explains to Mike Florio what it was like being in a team’s war room during the 2023 NFL Draft, specifically providing insight on the formalities of the trade process.

Video Transcript

- A little peek inside the machinations that resulted in the Giants trading up with the Rams to get Tennessee receiver, Jalen Hyatt. The one thing they left out there, the one key piece in all of that, it isn't as quick as Joe Schoen, the GM of the Giants, saying to the Rams, yeah, we'll take that, and the next thing you hear is the Rams have traded their pick.

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The key is-- it's like the two keys on the missile launch. Both teams have to independently communicate the trade to the league. If both teams fail to independently communicate, the trade doesn't happen. We've seen that before. There was an issue with the Bears and the Raven several years ago where I think the Ravens ended up really upset at the Bears. I think that's what it was. But if you don't get both phone calls through, Peter, the trade doesn't happen.

- I remember, I was in the Raiders drafting room this year in the first round, and the Raiders were in-- this sounds weird to say-- but in kind of a low energy way we're trying to trade up to the last three picks, one of the last three picks of the first round. I think it was New Orleans, Philly, and Kansas City in order to take Michael Mayer, the tight end, from Notre Dame.

And the reason that it was low energy is that they knew it was going to take a significant pick to move up to late in the first round to get their guy, and they were going to have to move up like seven spots. So this was not like trading a seven. They were going to have to trade a three, or whatever.

And for them to think of trading away the pick they got for, let's say, Darren Waller with the Giants, the low third round pick, that was just going to be a non-starter for them. But anyway, what is interesting is you talk about the machinations, Mike, the Las Vegas Raiders have a board in the back of their draft room.


And whenever a team calls, the offer that the team has made is put up, and then the alternatives immediately are put up. These are things that have been done beforehand that have all been figured out beforehand. OK, these are the counters that we should make that would be advantageous to us, and they started making those counters, and then they realized that they weren't in the ballpark with any of those three teams.

So you just hung up the phone and say, well, good luck to us tomorrow. We're going to try to make it happen tomorrow and get Michael Mayer. They ended up doing it. I think they moved up three spots with Indianapolis, and they ended up getting him. But a lot of times, teams are more desperate than that.

So at the last minute they'll say we're only going to offer a four, and then the team the trading team would say it's going to take your three to get this done. And maybe a couple of quick words back and forth, coach, GM, do it. We need this guy. But in general, I have found teams when I'm in the draft room, Mike, I found them to be more disciplined than you think, going right back to Jerry Jones and Paxton Lynch in 2016.

You remember the Dallas Cowboys entered that draft, they had already taken Ezekiel Elliott in the top 10, top five. And then later in the first round, they were trying to move up to get Paxton Lynch. And Stephen Jones called 19 teams, and he couldn't get it done with what they were offering.


And the next day, Jerry Jones was furious because they didn't get him. And he made this point to me that every deal I've ever made in my life that I have really loved years later, that I've really benefited from, I've paid too much, just like the Dallas Cowboys.

But, in retrospect, that is the reason why in Dallas, for instance, there are guardrails in place. The personnel staff, Stephen Jones, there are guardrails in place to stop Jerry from doing something that three days before the draft he never would have done, but he gets excited and he wants his guy, and I think that has served the Cowboys well in the last few drafts.