As the days roll into weeks, memories of Euro 2020 begin to slide down the minds of soccer fans in the US. From its kickoff right down to the final seconds of Italy’s triumphant victory in the finals, the tournament was thrilling. So what’s next on the cards for US soccer fans? Drum roll? In a few weeks, the biggest competitions in international soccer will resume for the 2021/2022 season.
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The 2021 NFL regular season is fast approaching, and with so much news swirling about potential trades, contract negotiations, and roster cuts, it can be hard to keep track of what’s happening.
With the start of training camp only days away, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the top trade candidates before the start of the official 2021 NFL season.
Aaron Rodgers –
The 2021 saga with Aaron Rodgers has become one of the biggest storylines in sports, with the 2020 NFL MVP seemingly wanting out of Green Bay for good. When the news first broke that Rodgers was unhappy, many simply thought it was a ‘money-motivated’ conversation but would get figured out before the new season. However, the Packer’s QB reportedly turned down a two-year deal this off-season that would have made him the highest-paid player in the NFL over the next 5 seasons (via NFL analyst Adam Schefter). So, either Rodgers has officially moved on from the NFL and is on to greener pastures, or he’s holding out for a trade. Wishful thinking has us assuming it’s the latter.
Prediction: Denver Broncos
When it was first announced that Rodgers wants out, the first two teams that emerged were the San Franciso 49ers and the Denver Broncos. However, since the 49ers invested in Trey Lance with their 3rd overall pick, the only logical choice would be the Broncos. John Elway and new GM George Paton have already made it known that they want an upgrade over Drew Lock. And even though they brought in Teddy Bridgewater, their offense still feels somewhat lackluster compared to their divisional counterparts. To acquire Rodgers, the Broncos would likely need to part with two-three 1st round picks and one of their young prospects (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Drew Lock). But if Rodgers does get traded, it will most likely be to Denver.
Allen Robinson –
The Chicago Bears, Illinois, and Allen Robinson were unable to agree on a new multi-year extension this offseason. Now that we’re past the July 15th deadline, Robinson is now franchise-tagged going into next season. Robinson is coming off a remarkable year in which he came down with 102 catches while racking up 1250 yards and 6 touchdowns as the Bears’ lead option. While he is a key part of this Chicago team, he’s also about to turn 29-years old and is asking for somewhere around $20 million per year going forward. Further, these two sides have been discussing a new contract for ages. Allen Robinson could very well be on the move soon.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Both Allen Robinson and the Dolphins stud CB, Xavien Howard, have had extensive contract negotiations that don’t seem to be escalating any time soon. A perfect trade scenario would see the Bears acquire Howard to replace Kyle Fuller (who was lost in free agency) in exchange for Allen Robinson. The Phins’ have $55 million in cap space going into next season. They could afford to give Robinson a large contract, especially if they believe that adding Robinson will boost Tagolailoa’s development. Robinson would line up beautifully alongside DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Jaylen Waddle, forming one of the league’s deadliest receiving cores. At the same time, Howard would only carry a $12.5 million cap hit and could quickly negotiate a new contract with Chicago.
Xavien Howard –
The superstar cornerback from Miami has been one of the top talents in the NFL over the past few seasons. Although, the standoff between the All-Pro corner and the Dolphins front office has officially reached a breaking point. Howard currently holds the league’s 4th richest salary amongst cornerbacks (5-year, $75 million), which he believes makes him ‘underpaid’ due to his exceptional performance in 2020 (10 interceptions – 51 tackles). His dissatisfaction has led to the Miami cornerback skipping out on the team’s mandatory minicamp, and now he’s holding out entirely until he gets a new deal. The NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported “a lot of trade chatter” surrounding Howard, with several teams seemingly honed in on the situation in Miami. The Phins’ have been adamant that they want (at least) a 1st-round pick in exchange for Xavien Howard, but given his world-class talent, this seems like a fair asking price. Expect a deal to get done before the end of training camp.
Prediction: Chicago Bears
As mentioned previously, this scenario is most likely because both teams have contractual issues with their star players, and both players are open to playing elsewhere. Howard would be a welcome addition to an already dangerous defensive unit. The Bears would have more than enough space to sign him long-term after dropping Robinson’s $17.9 million franchise tag. Howard for Robinson seems like the trade that needs to happen.
Zach Ertz –
News revolving around Ertz’s departure from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been going on since the end of the veteran’s down year in 2020. He recorded just 36 catches, 355 yards, and a single touchdown. Ertz would count against $13 million of Philadelphia’s cap if he were to stay and would most likely play “second fiddle” to the ascending Dallas Goedert regardless. And even though the star tight end is expected to show up for training camp, he would have been fined $40,000 per session missed. So, we don’t expect this to change his trade outlook as we approach the start of the 2021 campaign.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
According to league sources, the Bills have been heavily in on Zach Ertz for months now, and things are starting to heat up. Not only would the Bills have just enough cap space to bring him on board ($9.5 million), but he’d also slot in perfectly for a team on the rise. Ertz has won a Super Bowl, and his bigger frame makes him better at run blocking than the Bills’ current tight ends (an area that’s become problematic for the team the past couple of seasons). He also has the skills to get to the edge, allowing him to take on bigger rushers and creates a reliable (and experienced) safety blanket for Buffalo’s lead man, Josh Allen.
N’keal Harry –
N’keal Harry voiced his displeasure with the Patriots organization just a few weeks ago and still is yet to be dealt with. He carries elite-level size and athleticism but hasn’t been fully utilized in New England’s offense since entering the NFL. Since the young receiver is so disgruntled and still holds some trade value, it would make sense for New England to move on from the former 1st-round pick. Plus, the team has already brought in brand-new targets for Cam Newton (or Mac Jones) like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Kendrick Bourne. So, they haven’t shown any real commitment to N’keal Harry throughout the process anyway.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons need some receivers to help out their aging superstar, Matt Ryan, and N’Keal Harry likely isn’t worth anything more than a late-round pick. Outside of the reliable Calvin Ridley (and their 1st round lottery pick Kyle Pitts), Russell Gage and Tajae Sharpe are the top receiving options. Realistically, numerous teams would benefit from bringing on the 6’4” receiver (Colts, Lions, Ravens, etc.), but the Falcons are the most likely actually to pull the trigger. If Harry is not moved before the start of the season, it’s because they’ve decided to move on from their superstar cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, instead.
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