Let’s Make a Deal: Will Dolphins be able to trade down?

Let's Make a Deal: Will Dolphins be able to trade down?The Brandon Marshall stabbing this weekend is still grabbing most of the headlines related to the Dolphins on this Monday. But here at Phins Phoucs, this Monday means that draft week is finally here. There will be plenty of time to discuss the Brandon Marshall saga, but as far as I’m concerned, unless any damning evidence against him becomes known, he should be treated as strictly the victim in this case, which shouldn’t lead to the Dolphins cutting ties or the league using disciplinary action.

With that said, let’s put that discussion on hold and gear up for the most exciting week in the offseason of any sport. The Dolphins are one of the most difficult teams to put your finger on heading into Thursday’s first round. They are in such a difficult spot picking 15th overall because the players that they could take that would fill a pressing need don’t project to come off the board until later in the first, if not early in the second.

They could always take the best player available, which figures to be a defensive player or an offensive tackle, but we all know what their primary goal is. Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins desperately want to trade down in the first round and hopefully reacquire a second-round selection.

Some experts have claimed that it will be more difficult to trade down in this year’s draft because not having free agency will limit team’s flexibility. Others still remain optimistic, insisting that at least one defensive needy team will be willing to move up and snag a pass rusher.

Instead of speculating further on the matter, I decided to offer a few of the Bloguin sites that represent teams that select in the bottom half of the first round hypothetical trade request. Please welcome in Thomas Jackson from Eagles Eye and Ravens Football Machine, Andrew Judge from Saints Nation, Matthew Heuett from Seahawk Addicts, and Brett Solesky from Midway Illustrated to represent their respected teams in these trade down request. I asked the bloggers to either accept, decline, conditionally accept (name the player that must still be available at 15th overall), or offer a counter trade request.

Trade-down request A
Dolphins 15th overall pick for the Eagles 23rd (1st) and 54th (2nd) overall selections

Response: Counter Offer
The Eagles reject the original trade-down offer of Miami … i.e., giving up a first-rounder (#23 overall) and a 2nd-rounder (#54) to move up eight spots would be against Andy Reid’s classic value charts. Now change the offer to the Eagles’ 1st-Rounder and two 4th-round picks, and I think Reid would consider going for it…. A #23, #104, and #120… for a #15… would fall much more closely in the neighborhood of Andy’s draft value charts. Otherwise, I don’t think Andy goes for the deal… we all know how Reid loves those mid-round picks!

My Counter Offer response: Declined
I don’t think moving down eight slots would be worth it for two fourth-round picks. If I were to continue the negotiating process I would counter offer with the Dolphins’ 15th overall selection for the Eagles’ 1st, 3rd, and one of their 4th round picks. If the Eagles were to accept, I would accept that deal only if the Dolphins are unable to find another partner.

Trade-down request B
Dolphins 15th overall pick for the Saints 24th (1st) and 56th (2nd) overall selections

Response: Declined
I don’t think I’d do it. Although I know the Saints would be interested in Ingram.

My take: If the Saints have genuine interest in Mark Ingram, I doubt they would have to trade up to nab him. He will likely still be available at 24th overall. Maybe they feel they have to leapfrog the Patriots, who select 17th and are considered to be a possible landing spot for Ingram, but most feel that Ingram to New England is more likely with their 28th overall pick.

Trade-down request C
Dolphins 15th overall pick for the Seahawks 25th (1st) and 57th (2nd) overall selections

Response: Declined
Most likely, the Seahawks would decline that offer. The team’s new coaching staff and front office are still in rebuild mode (there are multiple holes to be filled on both offense and defense), and with free agency disrupted by the labor dispute the only sure way to add talent to the roster this year is through the draft. In a recent media conference, GM John Schneider stated that he wants to trade down from the #25 selection to recoup picks in later rounds.

That being said, if there’s a run on quarterbacks early in the draft I could possibly see Seattle entertaining a possible trade up to select one of the remaining big names. There’s some feeling out there that the Seahawks have more than a little interest in both Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker, and with Charlie Whitehurst the only QB the team currently has under contract (longtime starter Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and has noticeably lost velocity on his throws in the last year or two) the team is going to be hard pressed to pass up on an opportunity to land a potential franchise quarterback.

Trade-down request D
Dolphins’ 15th overall pick for the Ravens’ 26th (1st), 58th (2nd), and 186th (6th) overall selections

Response: Accepted
The Ravens like the offer of Miami’s #15 in the 1st Round for the Ravens #26 in the 1st Round, and also their 2nd and 6th round picks… the reason being, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is on record as saying the 2011 Draft will the first time ever he drafts for “need” instead of BPA (best player available)… since due to the lockout on free agency, the Ravens need a rookie who can contribute immediately to improving the Ravens defense, specifically their pass rush. Moving up to #15 would bring several defensive candidates into play who could contribute immediately…candidates who would not be available at overall pick #26.

Trade-down request E
Dolphins 15th overall pick for the Bears 29th (1st), 62nd (2nd), and 195th (6th) overall selections

Response: Declined
Declined as I”m about 95% certain the Bears plan to trade down in the draft rather than up. I don’t see any plausible scenario in which they trade up. Jerry Angelo has already publicly talked about the Bears trading down out of the first round, and the hope that they’ll add four starters from the draft this year. Not four immediate starters mind you but four players that will start somewhere down the line in the next three to five years.

My analysis: As you can see, it’s not exactly going to be easy for the Dolphins to trade down in the first round. But just about all of these explanations include theories where the teams could potentially be tempted enough to move up. I do think the lack of free agency hurts the Dolphins chances some because teams have more needs to fill than in previous drafts. But I think teams will realize that free agency will eventually open up, and just because it hasn’t happened yet, their normal draft philosophy shouldn’t be shifted much.

I stand by my prediction that the Dolphins will find a trade-down partner somewhere in the latter part of the first round. Maybe they won’t be able to gain back the second-round pick they lost in the Brandon Marshall trade, but they should at least acquire an extra third-round selection to work with.

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