With another draft in the books, I thought it’d be interesting to take a retrospective look at some of the more complicated trades over recent seasons, and the domino effect of those trades, so I’ve picked out six that I think are more complicated and wide reaching, or involved big names in trades to see what sort of return they netted in the end. I’ve avoided some of the bigger seeming trades where minimal picks were involved (the TY Hilton trade for example) as they essentially come down to player valuation at the time, and focused on pick heavy trades – particularly where they involved further trading down the line. I’ve ranked them very unscientifically in order of blockbusteriness and interestingness.
- DynaForOne Firebirds – 2016 3.02 & 5.02 and 2017 Round 5 Pick
- Dynasty of Sadness – 2016 2.02
Two teams that will turn up pretty often in these trades in are the Sadness and the Firebirds, but I like this trade because while there’s a lot of multi-pick trades where team A moves up a few places in a high round at the cost of moving down more places in a later round this is a much simpler decision to pay to move up. So what does the trade value chart make of this? 2.02 is worth 1200 points while 3.02 (780) and 5.02 (480) combine to more points without the additional 5th rounder in 2017 (based on 6.05 this is worth 350). In total the Firebirds paid 1610 points, the equivalent of 1.06 in order to get this pick. Or should I say, get this pick back. Since he’d previously traded it to the Sadness in exchange for Markus Wheaton about a month before. So… Firebirds ended up giving up three picks, of decent value, in order to get back a pick he spent on Markus Wheaton (who’s scored a whopping 13.1 points for him since the trade), which seemed a reach for a guy who was only around the 40th best receiver the season before (although he did finish the previous season hot).
So what did the Firebirds end up with, aside from Wheaton, for this treasure trove – CJ Prosise. A handcuff to the Thomas Rawls, acquired in an earlier trade (1.09 spent on Devontae Booker and 2.05 which was traded on again and eventually spent on Kenyan Drake, and neither of which Neil originally started with, as I’ll cover later). Prosise looked reasonably good in limited action before his injury, and getting the handcuff to Rawls seems smart in retrospect given how much he’s struggled with injuries when he’s played and how unconvinced by him Seattle seemed to be last year. Sadly that might not be enough with Lacy now in town, the expensively acquired Prosise and Rawls could both be out of the picture, unless they get smart, team up and open a burger joint near CitiLink Field.
That’s just looking at the Firebirds side of the trade though, what happened to the picks the Sadness acquired. 3.02 was spent on Mike Thomas, sadly not the one in New Orleans. LA Rams receiver Mike Thomas has been considerably worse, with a total of only 6.2 points as a rookie. He may yet turn into a good receiver, but the Rams passing offence doesn’t seem any better than last year’s putrid edition, the Rams invested in more weapons for Goff that might see Thomas fall down the depth chart all together and right now he’s probably a candidate for the chop, only one year in. And speaking of the putrid Rams offence, 5.02 was spent on the source of the terrible smell – Jared Goff. I think we all know how that’s turned out so far. As for the 2017 5th rounder (5.04) – it’s turned into Ishmael Zamora, the dog-beater. There’s really no way to know how that pick turns out at this point, but unless the plan is to dress Thomas and Goff as dogs then I’m not sure Zamora will really end up being the important part of rescuing this trade for the Sadness.
I don’t think we can pick winners or losers on a lot of these, but if we were, I’d probably shade this one to Neil right now. It also highlights an interesting point – trading down and getting good value for a premium pick is a solid strategy, but you have to spend the picks wisely when you do, not on the Rams passing offence.
- Tamworth Two – Snead, Willie NOS WR, 2016 Round 1 Pick and 2017 Round 2 Pick
- DynaForOne Firebirds – Thomas, Demaryius DEN WR
So here’s a different sort of trade to the first – a player swap, with picks to make up the difference. This pick took place in season, so the final value of both picks wasn’t known at the point of trade, but one was for the current season and it was done at the deadline with T2 in the thick of the playoff battle, so I’d call it the 1.08 pick on average, rather than the usual 1.05 average that I’d use for a future pick, but the total value of the picks still comes to close to the 3rd overall pick. That’s a lot of value, but Thomas was a stud receiver at the time, number three overall in 2014 but struggling a little in 2015 – mostly because of Peyton Manning falling off a cliff and being unable to complete a pass over 10 yards. Those sorts of talents are generally going for double firsts, which suggests Snead – not unreasonably as he’d end up putting up nearly 1,000 yards as a rookie over only 9 games, a record for an undrafted player’s rookie season – was either valued at a first himself, or maybe that the Firebirds gave Thomas up slightly cheap.
In actual fact though this is a really savvy deal, Thomas’ struggles continued in 2016 and it’s hard to remember a receiver coming back from the sort of extended dip he’s struggled through and T2 have been left with a top six salary for a player who couldn’t crack the top 20 in 2016. Between the IRL big contract and the continued problems at QB for Denver it’s not unreasonable to suggest the struggles aren’t going away. As for Snead, he followed up his 984 yards and 3 TDs with 895 yards and 4 TDs, but over 16 games. That’s probably because of the emergence of Michael Thomas in the second half of the year and the presence of Cooks, with Cooks gone Snead could break out in a bigger role in 2017. And if nothing else, he’s been so much cheaper than Thomas for similar production, and is younger, so without the picks I’d be tempted to call Neil a winner here – despite Thomas having a proven ceiling considerably higher. However, put that aside, because the pick value removes any doubt. Even with the worst picks in the world Neil’s value on this trade is off the chart. Which is probably good as Neil spent the first rounder he received as part of the Rawls trade (along with 2.05 which ended up traded around until it became Kenyan Drake – told you it would come up again), which has worked out OK, but hasn’t produced the top ten stud RB he would have hoped given the price. The 2.05 pick that the 2017 pick also ended up traded, to the Sadness along with 2.04 (and was spent on James Conner), to get the 9th overall pick which was spent on Alvin Kamara. Given that the pick traded for Rawls ended up the same pick that then subsequently got traded in 2017 the best way to look at this is probably that it’s Thomas for Snead and Rawls. Even with Rawls disappointing 2016 and unconvincing position for 2017, I’d call Neil a clear winner on this one simply because I’m not convinced Thomas has a path back to being an elite receiver right now. A pattern is emerging, don’t fuck with Neil when it comes to trades.
- Dynasty of Sadness – Tate, Golden DET WR and 2016 Picks 3.01 & 5.01
- Champions of the Sun – 2016 Picks 1.06 & 3.10
It wouldn’t be a trade review if these two didn’t show up in it somewhere trading picks. While a lot of their trades are the sort of up in one round down in another sort of trades I mentioned in the first trade I highlighted, this one is a little more straight-forward. This is a chunk of stuff given up by one team to get a high pick off the other. I picked this one here as it involves a player as a makeweight to trade up, unlike number six which was purely about picks or number five which was mostly about trading for a star.
Let’s start with the pick valuation and see what it values Tate as in terms of a pick. Champions are giving up 2220 points of value, while Sadness give up 1290, a difference of 930 which equates to somewhere roughly in the middle of 2.07 and 2.08. Given the valuations we’ve seen of Thomas, Snead and Landry, this is probably on the low side for Tate, who was coming off something of a breakout first year in Detroit and looking at a potentially bigger role with Megatron retiring. Even with him not being as young as any of those mentioned, it’s still less than was paid for Wheaton who was considerably less productive and with far greater downside. Initially then this looks like being advantage Champions.
Fortunately for the Sadness, they played a blinder with the big pick, nabbing Michael Thomas at 1.06 – a top receiver in his rookie season, and a big part (along with Elliot) of why the Sadness made a playoff run. With Cooks gone, he has an opportunity to take on an even bigger role in the next couple of seasons. The 3.10 pick was spent on Jordan Payton who’s delivered the square root of fuck all so far in Cleveland, but there’s time for that to change. Similarly the two picks given up by Sadness have gone on QB development prospect Paxton Lynch who’s shown little to nothing so far (though was not expected to deliver anything in 2016), and Washington RB non-event Keith Marshall as the Champions correctly didn’t trust Matt Jones, but wrongly pegged Marshall rather than Fat Rob Kelley as the solution.
Right now this trade essentially boils down to Tate for Thomas, and that’s a clear win for the Dynasty of Sadness.
- Dynasty of Sadness – Bryant, Dez DAL WR and 2017 Round 5 Pick
- Dyna Hard – Morris, Alfred DAL RB and Diggs, Stefon MIN WR and 2016 Pick 1.08 and 2017 Round 1 Pick
OK, so as a one-off trade goes, this is probably the blockbusteriest trade so far in the Dynabowl, two firsts, Stefon Diggs and Alfred Morris for Dez Bryant and a make-weight future 5th. It’s like the Thomas trade, only with sprinkles on top (Morris, two firsts instead of a first and a second). Only here’s the thing, much like Thomas, Bryant comes with a huge price tag and was coming off a disappointing year – injuries rather than Peyton Manning being the limiting factor as he produced only 57 points. And much like Thomas, he failed to deliver in 2016 as well, an injury hit start hurting his total points and putting him out of the top twenty, but even his point per game return wouldn’t have been enough for a top ten finish. As for Diggs – he wasn’t as electric as Snead in his rookie year, but he showed flashes and attracted interest off the taxi squad. Much like Snead, he’s not a better player than the one he’s been traded for… yet. But he’s in a position to succeed, as a key part of his offence, and you’d rather be buying stock in Snead/Diggs right now than in Bryant or Thomas (though I’d favour Bryant over Thomas as a comeback candidate, because the Cowboys are better at QB right now and because Bryant’s been hurt rather than just bad).
Morris is mostly irrelevant to this trade, but he had a relatively unfriendly salary for a handcuff to the Sadness’ presumptive number one Elliot, so it was a worthwhile addition with cap space spare.
As for the picks – the 2016 1.08 was used on Kenneth Dixon, who’s sometimes looked good, but failed to really cement himself as the Baltimore lead running back as yet, unless he does this seems like a lost pick. The 2017 pick was traded back twice, to 1.08 with the Brees, then 2.01 with the Dungeoneers, netting a fifth rounder (subsequently traded down to move up from 2.04 to 2.02) and to move up 5 places in the 4th. The final landing spot at 2.01 was used on Kareem Hunt. Hunt has talent and if either he or Dixon end up as a number one back and a good RB1/2 to complement Elliot as the Sadness’ stud then they’re clear winners here. Similarly if Diggs develops into a good receiver at a WR2 sort of level, while Bryant fails to become a clear WR1 again, then you’d have to call the Sadness winners here, however if Dixon and Hunt end up in RBBC situations, and Diggs never really breaks out of the WR3/Flex level he was in his second year, then it’s probably going to favour Dyna Hard as I just don’t think Bryant is done yet, and even as an overpaid WR2 he still offers more than three at-best flex level players. All in all there’s a lot of ifs around this, and it could easily go either way still, so I think it’s fair to move on without declaring a clear winner.
- Dynasore Losers – 2016 1.04 to Firebirds; 2016 3.04 and 2017 Round 1 Pick to Tamworth Two
- DynaForOne Firebirds – 2016 4.02 and 2017 Round 1 Pick
- Tamworth Two – Landry, Jarvis MIA WR and 2016 3.09
There’s two different trades here, but ultimately the two go together as the Losers deal with the Firebirds was an attempt to recoup the 2017 first rounder lost in the deal for Landry as the 2017 draft seemed a lot stronger than the 2016 one did. So how did this all shake out?
The Firebirds gave up a pick valued in advance at 1.05, but which ultimately became 1.04, the same pick given up to get Landry, while the 2017 first became 1.02. As such the Losers didn’t lose spots in the draft as they ended up trading away their 2016 1.04 for what became the 2017 1.04, but because they ended up losing their own 1.02 and gaining the Firebirds 1.04 they did actually lose two spots. Still following? Good.
The Firebirds pick became Corey Coleman. So far he’s been better than Doctson and Treadwell, taken ahead of him, but worse than Shepherd and Michael Thomas who were taken after him. With only 60 points in his rookie season he’s a long way from being worth the first rounder given up to get him yet, but receivers do sometimes take time, and the Browns have a terrifyingly bad QB situation, so there’s still hope for him as that potentially improves.
The two picks the Firebirds gave up to get Coleman became Christian McCaffrey and Deion Jones. Right now there’s no two ways about this, Jones looks like a stud, scoring nearly 80 more points than Coleman in his rookie year as the top point scorer among (drafted) defensive rookies, and the 4th highest (drafted) rookie scorer (non-QB) in his class. Obviously, that’s only one season, but that’s all we have for both players so far.
As for the second half of the trade, the first given up on Landry was spent on Corey Davis. This worked out pretty well for both sides, with the Losers getting McCaffrey at #4 from their own trade into 2017 (who they would have taken at #2 anyway, given the need at RB) and T2 moving ahead of the Brees who had hoped to snag Davis at #3. It’s impossible to evaluate this up front, as Davis has yet to appear in an NFL game, but who wins that trade in the long run comes down to whether Landry or Davis ends up being the better receiver. As for the exchange of thirds… Rashard Higgins has produced little to nothing so far for T2, but does have great hair and plenty of time to come good (hopefully not a sign of things to come from Davis for them) while the 3.09 pick that went the other way was used in a package with Charles Sims to nab two picks from the Brees which were spent on DeAndre Washington and Adolphus Washington, if DeAndre Washington ends up a starter in Oakland then this part of the deal certainly favours the Losers, but that’s a big if with Beast Mode coming home to Oakland and looking to be the feature back for them. Adolphus may or may not do anything in the long run, it’s simply too early to say. If none of these three develop into viable fantasy options, then it will literally come down to the two receivers. While that’s certainly true when it comes to the long-term evaluation of the trade, it’s also fair to say that just on a fundamental level it’s almost always going to be better in a trade to get a young receiver with proven production rather than trading for a pick to draft one, no matter how highly they’re regarded – especially when that trade is for an unknown draft pick in the subsequent year’s draft.
The net of this three way trade is that the Losers bagged Christian McCaffrey, Deion Jones, Jarvis Landry and DeAndre Washington. T2 netted Corey Davis and Rashard Higgins while the Firebirds got Corey Coleman. A lot depends on how Coleman and Davis do over the next two or three years, but it’s fair to say that if McCaffrey is a bust the Losers have at worst got a pair of quality starters and for either T2 or the Firebirds to feel happy about their parts in this deal they’ll need their own high pick receivers to out-perform Landry at a minimum. It seems fair to say at this point though that the big loser looks to be the Firebirds, who’s Jedi trade tricks fail to work a third time as McCaffrey and Jones for Coleman seems heavily weighted in favour of the Losers, regardless of how Landry for Davis works out.
- Here Comes The Brees – 2016 Picks 1.05 & 1.06 to Champions of the Sun; Donald, Aaron STL DT to Dynablaster Bombermen
- Champions of the Sun – Robinson, Allen JAC WR
- Dynablaster Bombermen – 2016 Round 1 & 4 Draft Picks and 2017 Round 1 Pick
Much like the previous example this is a three way trade essentially, but this with the Brees at the centre of it. In one sense the Brees gave up Donald to get Robinson, and got a 4th out of it but it’s a touch more complicated than that. Basically the Brees picked up a pair of firsts, spending the first of them, along with their own 2016 pick to get Allen Robinson. That’s not out of line with the prices paid for Bryant and Thomas, without giving up a young receiver in return. However that wrongly puts Thomas and Bryant (established studs with better seasons) on a par with Robinson who had one good season off the back of a high number of TD scores. Where Thomas and Bryant struggled to recapture their best form, which is probably what put them on the market, Robinson’s 2016 fall feels more like gravity pulling him back down (although he dropped further than I would have expected and should bounce back some in 2017). There’s arguments both ways on this as Robinson is also younger, had a decent seeming offence in place and had a season on the cheap before a massive extension would be due, however it was a massive pay rise as he jumped into the top tier of receivers, unlike Landry (who also commanded a first plus trade price) who finished just shy of a top tier extension cost. Ultimately, double firsts (and better ones than were paid for Bryant / Thomas) seems an slight overpay, just because Thomas and Landry didn’t quite stretch to double firsts, and I just don’t think he was established as a top tier player like Bryant and Thomas were, but it’s certainly not an indefensible one.
Meanwhile, Champions spent the 1.05 on Sterling Shepherd and traded away the 1.06 in the previously discussed Tate / Michael Thomas trade. So instead of picking Thomas and Shepherd and being clear winners in this trade they’ve ended up trading away a potential stud for a pair of at-best WR2s. That seems like a push at the moment, and will most likely come down to whether or not Robinson delivers WR1 value. If he doesn’t, his extension cost will mean the value pairing of Tate and Shepherd win out, but Shepherd’s ceiling is low with an in-decline Eli and a much-better Odell Beckham limiting his value to somewhere in the region of a WR3 and Tate looked poor for most of last year as Detroit struggled offensively so there’s plenty of scope for both sides to come away feeling unhappy about this, especially with what could have been for the Champions with Thomas.
And that brings us to the other side of this deal. While the Brees co-managers sit there wondering if they’re going to be stuck with a massively overpaid disappointment in Robinson, the Bombermen get Aaron Donald – outscoring all receivers and all other defensive players in both 2015 and 2016. I call that a win at almost any price. The two firsts the Bombermen gave up – 1.05 in 2016 and 1.08 in 2017 have gone on receivers, partly on Robinson as discussed and on Jon Ross (via a small trade up from 8 to 7), but realistically unless you end up with two WR1s out of that, then it’s hard to call it anything other than a loss, especially considering the massive salary differential between top tier receivers and a top DT (even after the Suh deal this summer). There is a light at the end of this tunnel though, and it might not even be a train. The Rams might be changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme with Jeff Fisher and Greg Williams being shown the door. If Donald ends up moved from DT to DE his point-scoring will drop significantly (just look at Kerry Hyder’s points in 2016’s league and in 2017’s following re-classification, they’ve virtually halved), and his extension cost will sky-rocket, if that happens then what looked like a rock solid win for the Bombermen becomes much, much more debatable. Ultimately it’ll still come down to how Robinson bounces back, and whether Ross is any sort of success, but they go from needing to find two top five receivers to maybe one top 10 receiver and a solid WR2. The 4th round pick in this trade I’ve mostly ignored so far, but for posterity’s sake it was spent on Braxton Miller, so it deserved to be ignored.
As a result then I’d say that while the Champions / Brees part of the trade is fairly even (with the Brees having the better potential to come out on top), the Brees are very much on the downside of the overall trade, swapping a defensive player who out-performs even the top receivers (for less money) for a player who isn’t a top receiver. While keeping to the cap doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Brees management as yet and maybe ameliorates some of that downside, it does still limit their ability to compete for the top free agents, or extend some useful players. It’s also fair to say that both the Brees and Champions GMs should feel more than a little bit rueful, as in both cases they had a chance to get both Shepherd and Thomas with those 1.05 and 1.06 picks and both teams would be in a better position if they’d just stopped after the first trade and used the picks they’d garnered.
Addendum There’s two teams not included in this write-up at all. That’s nothing against those teams, it’s just that I mostly found their trades fell into the ‘player-heavy’ category or the two picks for two picks category. The Dungeoneers did get a mention in one of the write-ups and pulled off some nice business, fleecing the Firebirds into giving up anything for Ryan Tannehill, the Bombermen into giving up good players for bad ones in the Carlos Hyde trade and getting the 1.02 pick for fat Eddie Lacy which they used on Amari Cooper (then wasted their own 1.03 on Kevin White, so that feels like a push to me). While that seems like a list of wins, they also overpaid the Brees for Keenan Allen’s one game a year and got absolutely destroyed by Kelkowski (the other team not mentioned) when they traded away Doug Baldwin for Stevie Johnson (oops). Kelkowski’s trades are mostly terribly dull and involve buying or selling expiring contracts at the trade deadline for 6th and 7th round picks.