By: Kai Brewer
With the recent spike in trade activity in the NFL, including the Colts and Jets trade, speculation is running rampant with what teams will do next. Even after moving down to the number six overall pick, Indianapolis still has motivation to move down once again. Their roster didn’t improve much, if at all, via free agency, and they could use more picks to add depth and starters. The Bills have made fascinating moves, trading away their starting quarterback and blindside protector to stockpile draft picks. Many believe this is in anticipation of a jump up for a rookie passer to rebuild around. To pull that off, they’ll first need a trade partner picking high, who will be willing to swap with them. Enter Chris Ballard, rebuilding a roster with poor talent outside of their franchise signal-caller, Andrew Luck. Before someone else trades and turns the league on its head once again, let’s take a look at what a trade between Buffalo and the Indianapolis Colts might look like.
Setting the Stage
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the possible trade details, there are a few areas we should touch on first. It is very rare that a trade like this happens before draft night other than for the number one overall pick, so this will likely be something than happens when Indy is on the clock if it does.
Five things would need to happen in order, all of which are very possible, before this trade is worth it for both sides:
First, the Browns draft Sam Darnold (QB) at #1. Cleveland has been without a franchise QB for 20 years now, and Hue Jackson and others will likely lose their jobs if it doesn’t work out this time.
Second, the Giants draft Bradley Chubb (DE) or Quentin Nelson (G) at #2. The G-Men are the first logical trade candidate for the Bills. It would take significantly more to get up to the Giants pick than the Colts, but it would ensure Buffalo gets their pick of the QBs not named Darnold. If the Giants take a passer though, it will decrease the chances that one is there for the Bills to select at #6.
Third, the Jets draft the QB the Broncos prefer. This will take a potential target for Buffalo off the board, but it could prevent the Broncos from taking one with the fifth pick. Whether it be Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, if the only player the Broncos would prefer over Case Keenum is gone, John Elway will take a stud another position and give his QB room another year to develop.
Fourth, the Browns can’t resist Saquon Barkley (RB). Signing Carlos Hyde (RB) is one thing, but perhaps Cleveland can’t resist adding a potentially generation-defining back to their team. This is another trade candidate, and maybe Buffalo will make it all the way up to #4. If not, we have one more pick to go.
Fifth, Denver takes whoever the Giants didn’t at #5. Chubb or Nelson would both be great players to add to, let’s face it, a rebuilding Broncos team. Once this happens, it leaves half of the top four QBs still in play, and all three of the Colts top targets will be gone. The Colts should be looking to bail at that point, and the Bills could be itching to take their preferred option at QB before he gets scooped up by the Dolphins or Cardinals.
Now that the circumstances are ripe for a trade, we can play out a few scenarios.
The Most Fair
Colts trade: 6th and 49th overall picks
Bills trade: 12th, 22nd and 158th overall picks
This would send over the first round pick Buffalo received for Cordy Glenn, their fifth round pick and the pick the Chiefs sent them in the Pat Mahomes trade last year. It comes within 2.2 points on the traditional NFL trade chart and gives the Colts what they want, namely another early pick to draft a young starter or trade back again at 22 to pick up more draft ammo.
The Most Fun
Colts trade: 6th overall pick
Bills trade: WR Kelvin Benjamin with the 12th and 96th overall picks
Benjamin didn’t exactly live up to his trade value last season with just 16 receptions for 217 yards and just one score in his six active games for Buffalo. With Donte Moncrief out the door in Indy and just former Redskin Ryan Grant added in free agency, Benjamin could, at worst, be a significant red zone weapon for Frank Reich’s new offense. On the high end, Benjamin could be the best running mate for TY Hilton since Reggie Wayne’s retirement. Playing out his fifth year option contract, Benjamin could provide some cap relief for Buffalo with a top six QB salary and signing bonus incoming.
The Most Realistic
Colts trade: 6th and 37th overall pick
Bills trade: 12th overall pick and a 2019 first rounder
After their trade with the Jets, the Colts hold three second round picks including two back-to-back. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll take players in all of those slots. This would be a great way for the Colts to improve their stock for next season, and for the Bills to get their future QB without mortgaging the rest of this year’s draft.
Any of these trades would be an exciting addition to draft night for fans of these teams and the NFL as a whole. As with every year, quarterbacks drive the draft and especially when it comes to trading. The teams that have a franchise passer in sight will give up several assets to make sure they get their guy. It’s a very real possibility Indianapolis could get a phone call from Buffalo on April 26th.
Kai Brewer is a contributor on NFLUpdate.co covering the Indianapolis Colts. You can follow him on twitter @Kaisquared