Grades for each of the recent blockbuster trades in the NFL

Image of NFL blockbuster trades

The 2022 NFL offseason is about to kick into high gear with the legal tampering window set to open in free agency on Monday, but there have already been several NFL trades involving superstar players across the league.

Before we dive headfirst into all of the free agency news that will soon be upon us, let’s revisit those trades and give each team a grade for their effort.

Russell Wilson trade

The Russell Wilson trade involved the most assets changing teams. The Broncos sent the Seahawks QB Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a fifth-round pick. Seattle sent Denver Russell Wilson and a fifth-rounder.

Sure, that’s a significant haul for the Seahawks, but unless they use one of those draft picks on a quarterback who turns into a franchise player, they’re the loser in this deal. We won’t have a ‘real’ verdict until after the 2023 NFL draft when we can evaluate which prospects Seattle landed as a result of the trade, but for now, Denver wins this deal and it isn’t particularly close.

The Broncos will have little trouble replacing Noah Fant’s average production at tight end. And while it’s true they gave up two first-rounders, in reality, Wilson serves as their first-round pick in 2022. Landing a potential Hall-of-Fame quarterback with the ninth overall pick is nothing short of a grand slam.

The addition of Wilson puts the Broncos in the mix to be the best team in the AFC next season. They already have a top-tier defense and the offense is overflowing with skill players. All Denver was missing was a quarterback. Now, they not only have one, but they have one of the NFL’s best. And that’s an absolute win in one of the biggest NFL trades in recent memory.

Seattle Seahawks grade: D-

Denver Broncos grade: A+

Carson Wentz trade

The incredible twists and turns of Carson Wentz’s career added another chapter with the Colts’ decision to trade him one year after giving up significant draft capital to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire him. Specifically, Indianapolis sent Philadelphia their third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and their first-rounder this year for Wentz only to discard him after one forgettable season.

I guess you could say that the fact they managed to get anything for Wentz this offseason is a win. The Commanders traded their third-round pick this year and a conditional third-rounder in 2023 (that can become a second-rounder) with the hopes that Wentz will finally solve their quarterback problem. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think he will.

Both teams come out of this deal looking like desperate clubs with no plan behind center. The Colts get an ‘F’ because of how terrible their trade for Wentz was and the fact they gave up on him for pennies on the dollar. The Commanders barely earn a passing grade because, well, Wentz is an upgrade over the other quarterbacks on their roster and they still have the 11th overall pick to possibly land a prospect like Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett.

This was an all-around ugly NFL trade for two teams that appear completely lost.

Indianapolis Colts grade: F

Washington Commanders grade: D

Khalil Mack trade

Finally, a trade that makes sense for both teams. The Bears traded Khalil Mack to the Chargers for a second-round pick in 2022 and a sixth-rounder in 2023. It may appear on paper like Chicago didn’t receive fair value for a pass-rusher who’s universally recognized as one of the NFL’s best, but his play has been on the decline over the last few years and the market rate for a deal like this was set by the Broncos last season. Denver traded Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams for a second- and third-round pick.

As a result of this trade, the Bears will be among the teams with the most salary-cap space next offseason and can strike on their plan to build around quarterback Justin Fields. Plus, the pick they got back — No. 48 overall — will be a starting-quality prospect.

The Chargers, meanwhile, earn high marks for this deal too. Los Angeles is primed for a deep playoff run next season but the only way they’ll get there is if they can stop Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson in the AFC West. Now, with Mack and Joey Bosa as the leauge’s most-feared pass-rush duo, they’re set up to do just that.

Los Angeles still has their first-round pick — No. 11 overall — which they can use on another high-end player for their defense.

Believe it or not, this trade was a win-win for both teams.

Chicago Bears grade: B+

Los Angeles Chargers grade: A-

Amari Cooper trade

The Dallas Cowboys made it known that they were ready to part ways with Amari Cooper this offseason. The speculation was that they’d outright release him, but it was always hard imagining a player as talented as Cooper would ever hit the open market. The Browns swooped in and stole the perennial 1,000-yard receiver and a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft for a fifth- and sixth-rounder this year.

This is the kind of player acquisition that can finally help the Browns reach their potential. Sure, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. looked like a superstar duo on paper, but it never worked out on the field. Cooper is a consummate professional who can beat any kind of coverage with his top-tier traits. And with one of the NFL’s top running games taking pressure off of the passing offense, Cooper will have a chance to make plays downfield with regularity.

The Cowboys can’t be totally crushed for this trade considering their wide receiver depth chart still boasts CeeDee Lamb and, presumably, Michael Gallup. But this trade still feels like a massive undersell on Dallas’ part.

The Cowboys freed up cap space and may look to add another young pass-catcher in the 2022 NFL Draft, but moving away from Cooper at this point feels like a miscalculation.

Dallas Cowboys grade: D

Cleveland Browns grade: A

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL