ORCHARD PARK – First there was Browns general manager John Dorsey, followed by fellow GMs Dave Gettleman of the Giants, John Elway of the Broncos, and Chris Ballard of the Colts, all making the claim at the NFL Scouting Combine that their iPhones will be fully charged, ready to talk trade with whomever calls.
“My door is wide open if somebody wants to come up and talk to me about a trade,” said Dorsey. “I’m willing to trade. Any good GM wants to field phone calls from all his peers. Why wouldn’t I? So, that’s why I say … just give me a call and see what’s up.”
Brandon Beane, Bills GM, you’ve been forewarned.
The Browns hold the first and fourth picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants have No. 2, the Colts No. 3, and the Broncos No. 5, and only the Colts aren’t in need of a franchise quarterback. “Do we think we’re in a pretty good spot? Yes,” Ballard said.
Thus, based on what happens in the month and a half between the start of free agency and the draft, when we’ll see where some of the better veteran free-agent quarterbacks land, all of these teams could become trade partners for Buffalo if it wants to trade up to pick a potential franchise quarterback.
Dorsey figures to be very busy because there’s one school of thought where he’ll use the No. 1 pick on whichever quarterback he falls in love with — be it Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield — and then put that fourth pick in play to acquire more draft capital.
And that wouldn’t be out of character because if you recall, Dorsey did business with the Bills last year when, as the Chiefs GM, he and Andy Reid executed a trade up to Buffalo’s first-round slot at No. 10 so they could choose quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Does Dorsey think Beane, or any other GM, should make a deal, even at the hefty price-tag Dorsey will place on his coveted fourth pick?
“Well, I think when you make strategic decisions like that, I think first you have to understand the whole draft process in terms of what the other 31 teams are thinking,” said Dorsey. “Then, you have to strategically think about who do you think needs certain positions if it’s the same position that you’re willing to go up for. Once you’ve identified those teams that are willing to go up, then you have to put yourself in the position and be willing to give up a little bit of currency to go get the player who you think can change your team.”
At No. 2, the Giants may choose to stay put and either draft the replacement for Eli Manning, or one of the other top-ranked players, perhaps running back Saquon Barkley or pass rusher Bradley Chubb. Or, maybe not.
“If someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, would I move back? It depends upon who’s there, if there is a guy worthy of being the second pick of a draft,” said Gettleman. “And what we’re basically saying, if we answer that question in the affirmative, is that you think you’re drafting a Hall-of-Fame player. So, you can’t get too cute about the whole thing.”
The Broncos are considered one of the favorites to sign Kirk Cousins, and if not him, maybe Case Keenum. If either were to happen, Elway said the trade-down option certainly comes into play. “We’re open,” Elway said. “Everything is going to come in order, and obviously ... free agency is first. We’ll be open for business on the fifth pick depending on how things fall.”
With the Bills trading Tyrod Taylor, they’re a long way from making their final determination on which, if any, of the top four draft prospects are worth making a trade for.
I asked Beane point blank if it makes him cringe thinking about the draft picks he’d have to relinquish to make such a move and he smiled and said, “I do like my picks, you nailed that. It's one of those things where if you're gonna move up, especially in round one, it takes a lot. The higher you go, it exponentially increases. So, you have to feel good about what you're doing. You can't just go up there, hey, we need a quarterback, we're going to mortgage everything to go up there. We've got to know that we feel this guy is the guy and is worth the ransom, or whatever you want to call it, that it would take to move wherever you have to move to get a guy you think fits your long-term plan.”
I caught up with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to get their thoughts on Buffalo’s quarterback conundrum, and both agreed the price to trade up will be tough to swallow.
“It all depends on whether they love one of the quarterbacks,” said King. “According to the draft value trade chart, it would take both (first-round) picks, and something more to get into the four and five range. What’s important is they have to have a conviction on a guy, and if they don’t, they ought to take Mason Rudolph where they are (at 21 and 22), or Lamar Jackson, or whoever it might be.”
Said Florio: “The question becomes how much more beyond the 21st and 22nd pick is it going to take get up into the top five? And, are they viewed as can’t miss? Are they viewed as future superstars?”
If so, Florio thinks the Bills need to bite the bullet and do it because until they get a true franchise quarterback, they’re going nowhere.
“When the Bills benched Tyrod Taylor in the middle of the season,” Florio said, “I think the message was, ‘We know we need a franchise quarterback, we know he’s not it, we know we have the two first-round picks, and we’re going to go get a guy who becomes our next Jim Kelly, the guy who makes us relevant and competitive every year so we don’t have to rely on a fluke play from Andy Dalton to get us into the playoffs.’ I think they are exasperated as an organization with the revolving door guy who’s just good enough to maybe make you, once every five years, be in contention for a playoff berth.”
King has spoken to several of the draft gurus, and his impression is that there is no consensus on whether any of the top prospects are worth relinquishing so many draft assets to acquire.
“Everybody is so all over the board with these quarterbacks right now, I wouldn’t have any idea if one of these guys is someone you mortgage the future on,” King said. “Everybody’s got zits. It’s a beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder draft. I would be shocked if, on May 1, you gave Brandon Beane sodium pentothal and he said, ‘Yep, back on March 1 I knew we were going to trade up and get Baker Mayfield.’ These guys are all in fact-finding mode right now.”