Over the last three years, more than one hundred trades have taken place involving only draft picks. Some of those have been fairly straightforward. For example, in 2018 the Detroit Lions traded a future third-rounder for “current” fourth-round pick held by the New England Patriots; that pick, which would end up being traded to the Bears in 2019 so that they could select David Montgomery, was valued at the standard price when future picks are traded. Likewise, when the Eagles wanted to move up three spots this year, they gave the Ravens #25 in exchange for #22, but they were still a little short on value. They added #127 and #197 to the deal, and so they up 99.64% of cost. That’s basically as close to an even deal as will be found on most days. However, even just looking at the 40 trades or so that involve 2019 picks in some way, there are also some pretty dramatic bargains and price gouging to be found.
The Los Angeles Rams wanted Greg Gaines (picked #134) badly enough that they handed over #162 and #167 to New England. Even with the Patriots throwing in a late 7th-rounder as change, that meant that the Rams gave up 128% the traditional value of the pick they wanted in order to get their guy. To give a sense of how dramatic that is in terms of overpay, let’s compare it to one of the most extreme examples of pick inflation in recent years--the deal the Jets made to secure the #3 overall pick in 2018.
Last year, the Jets made a move from #6 to #3 in order to get a quarterback (it turned out to be Sam Darnold). The package they gave up was worth 124% the normal value of #3. That means that the Rams’ efforts to get Gaines actually came at a higher percentage markup, even if it does not match the overall extra value paid (in fact, by traditional terms the Jets overpaid by 530 points, or a high second-round pick). Given how accurate the charts tend to be, and that most of the outliers involve late-round picks where the prices are exceptionally flat, that’s remarkable.
The Seattle Seahawks love trading down, and when there are trade partners out there like the Carolina Panthers, that makes a lot of sense. The Seahawks gave up the 37th pick in the draft and agreed to move down 10 spots to 47th. In exchange for this delay, the Panthers gave them #77 in the draft. The conventional value of the Seahawks pick was 530 points. The Panthers paid them 635.
Of course, if Greg Little turns out to be a ten-year answer at tackle, it will be worth it. At this point, though, I’m wondering if Gregs are the most over-valued position in the the NFL. Of course, last year the Panthers also overpaid the Rams by nearly 20% to trade up to #136 in a move that gained them Marquis Haynes.
The Broncos Win(free)
On the other end of the equation, the Broncos should definitely feel good about some of the bargains they found, like when they moved up to get Juwann Winfree. They picked up a 6th-rounder (#187) in exchange for a pair of 7th rounders. They paid less than half of the conventional cost to make this move, essentially buying 25 spots of draft position with one of the last picks in the draft (#237); yes, the Panthers were involved.
The Broncos’ move actually beats the next-best deal found involving a 2019 pick, the Bears’ trade with the Patriots to select Anthony Miller. In that move, Ryan Pace basically paid 70 cents on the dollar. That move is roughly twice as economical (depending on how you want to calculate things) as another 2019 move, where the Minnesota Vikings let their division rivals the Detroit Lions move up seven spots from 88 to 81; they only charged the Lions the #204 pick, essentially selling a pick for 86% of its sticker price.
The New England Patriots traded down a total of five times in this draft (six counting the trade for Miller in 2018, which for them was a move “down” in 2019). They also traded up three times. They never paid full market value when they moved up, but they also accepted a lot less than normal in almost every trade down they made (the exception being the move with the Rams noted above). The Vikings also moved down five times, even if they traded up less often. They, likewise, usually moved down at a discount. Add in the Seahawks, and almost half of all trades involving 2019 involved the three teams most likely to move around. Time will tell how valuable these moves actually turn out to be.
Chicago, of course, only moved one direction in 2019, and that was up. Both moves involved the Patriots (one was their move that essentially accelerated a 2019 pick by a year and the other was the move to snag Montgomery). Miller already seems like a good move, and fans can only hope that Montgomery will make the Lions wish they had never given that future pick to New England.