Last month, Acme Packing Company writers ranked the Green Bay Packers roster from 90-1. In a continuation from yesterday’s post in which the trade value of players ranked 6-10 was examined, we now take a look at players 1-5.
If each player was traded for draft picks on the open market, what would the Packers receive in return? Would their current value to the team outweigh the future incentive of auctioning them off in the first place?
After analyzing each individual, this writer believes the risk of trading any of these players right now to be far greater than the reward.
5. Jordy Nelson
What a second-round find Nelson has been for Green Bay over the past decade. Besides being a vertical threat on the outside, Nelson runs perhaps the crispest routes of any receiver on the Packers’ roster. Though a past ACL tear and fractured ribs have slowed Nelson the past couple seasons, the 2016 NFL Comeback Player of the Year still remains a viable threat in the Green Bay offense.
While Pro Bowl appearances don’t necessarily affect a player’s trade value in league circles, it’s worth noting that Nelson has only been to the all-star game once in his career after being snubbed again a year ago. Although his production has not declined, he is still 32 years old, coming off a major recent knee injury, and beginning to move into a slot receiver role.
There’s a sense that Nelson’s value could be quite similar to the 4th round value Randy Moss held in the trade between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots in 2007. Moss was nine years into his career at the time and coming off an up-and-down two-season stretch, including a career-low 2006 season. Similarly, Chad Johnson was dealt by the Cincinnati Bengals to New England for fifth and sixth round picks in 2011. Johnson was 10 years into his career, one that had seven 1,000-yard seasons. In age, production, and skill, Nelson rivals Moss and Johnson at the time of those trades.
Final Thought: 4th Round Pick
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
There is no doubt Green Bay got the better of the two safeties in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft when it chose Clinton-Dix over Calvin Pryor, who was traded by the New York Jets this offseason. Clinton-Dix, coming off his first Pro Bowl, has become reliable in both run support and coverage, intercepting five passes a season ago. It’s difficult to find young, instinctive safeties with size and speed and Clinton-Dix surely is one of them. He will be part of the Packers’ plans for years to come and finally has replaced the hole in the secondary that Nick Collins’ neck injury left in 2012.
It’s rare to see as young and productive a safety as Clinton-Dix traded. Perhaps the closest one was when the Jets traded Kerry Rhodes for fourth and seventh round picks in 2010. Rhodes was five seasons into his career, having played all 16 games each season and intercepted 15 passes. Clinton-Dix is in the prime of his career and holds more value now than Rhodes did at the time of the trade. There were rumors in the past two years that the Seattle Seahawks’ asking price for four-time Pro Bowler Kam Chancellor was a first round pick. Though established as one of the game’s best intimidators, Chancellor did not have any takers when placed on the trading block. Clinton-Dix, three years younger than Chancellor at that time, holds immense potential while roaming the secondary better than the heavy run-supporting Chancellor.
Final Thought: 1st Round Pick
3. David Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari was a snub on the recent Top 100 Countdown by NFL Network, and that was wrong in every sense of the word. The 25-year old is coming off of his first Pro Bowl selection and protects the blindside of Aaron Rodgers, which is no easy task with how long Rodgers keeps plays alive. After signing a long-term extension, Bakhtiari not only improved on his level of play from the past couple years, he became one of the top left tackles in the league. Pro Football Focus named him the Best Pass Protector in the NFL last season after giving up just four combined sacks and 20 pressures. All signs point to Bakhtiari continuing his elite level of play for the foreseeable future.
Franchise left tackles carry significant weight in the draft, free agency, and trades. At age 32, there were rumors of Joe Staley being shopped by the San Francisco 49ers for a first round pick. Although he’s an ultra-consistent, five-time Pro Bowler, Staley is well past the prime of his career as well as the 30-year mark that organizations like the Packers use to measure the market value of offensive linemen.
Maybe the most accurate comparison to Bakhtiari is Jason Peters, who was traded by the Buffalo Bills to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. Peters had completed six seasons by that point of his career and was arguably the best left tackle in football. In a trade, Peters commanded a hefty haul of first, fourth, and sixth round picks. Bakhtiari may not have even peaked yet and age is on his side in relation to Peters.
Final Thought: 1st and 3rd Round Picks
2. Mike Daniels
Like Bakhtiari, Daniels may be incredibly undervalued by the media, but offensive linemen surely know his name. Playing mostly on the line’s interior but able to split out to end, Daniels has accumulated an impressive 22 sacks over five seasons. He’s one of the team’s most outspoken leaders and the defense feasts off his energy. Tireless in pass rush and stout against the run, Daniels has become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
Daniels, somewhat of an end-tackle tweener on the defensive line, holds a value between tackle Shaun Rogers and end Richard Seymour at the time each were traded. Rogers had just capped off a seven-sack season, his best pass rushing season statistically, when he was traded in 2008 for a third round pick and cornerback Leigh Bodden. Always a 4-3 tackle, Rogers was dealt to Cleveland to become a 3-4 nose, which may have improved his stock despite having been suspended for substance abuse two seasons prior.
Seymour also had tied a career best with eight sacks in the 2008 season before he was traded, but had truly established himself alongside Julius Peppers as one of the most prolific all-around defensive ends in the league. Although he was certainly a seasoned veteran with eight seasons under his belt, the Patriots still received a first round pick in return.
While Daniels doesn’t play the same position as either of the two players above, he still has become a dynamic front seven player. At least two years younger than both and with high character, he would bring in a solid return.
Final Thought: 2nd Round Pick
1. Aaron Rodgers
One needs to look no further than the Jimmy Garoppolo hoopla this offseason to realize the high price placed on potential franchise quarterbacks. According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots were looking for first and fourth picks for their backup QB who has 94 career passing attempts. In addition to the Garoppolo buzz, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up in April’s draft to select Patrick Mahomes II, mortgaging their current first and third round picks and a future first rounder to find “the one.”
If that’s the case, imagine the package Green Bay would acquire if it traded Aaron Rodgers.
If not for the incredible success of Tom Brady, Rodgers would be the NFL’s undisputed top quarterback. The two-time MVP and six-time Pro Bowler seemingly has two or three plays a game that leave fans amazed, and even though he has reached 33 years of age, Rodgers shows no sign of athletic decline as a runner or thrower. In fact, he says he plans to play for another decade. Plain and simple, Green Bay is not a playoff team and Super Bowl contender without Rodgers under center.
With Rodgers’ experience and uncanny ability to scan defenses, it’s not far-fetched to say he could succeed in any offensive scheme; that only drives up his trade value. Jay Cutler was a young veteran quarterback on the rise when the Denver Broncos traded him to the Chicago Bears for a massive haul. The Bears received Cutler and a fifth round pick; the Broncos received first and third round picks in 2009, a first round pick in 2010, and Kyle Orton. Despite the considerable age difference between Rodgers and Cutler, it’s quite possible the Packers could receive even more. It required three first round picks and one second round pick for Washington to trade up and select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 draft. A team needing only a quarterback to contend for a Super Bowl may consider the risk to be worth the reward, even if the assets given up are enormous.
Final Thought: Three 1st Round Picks and One 2nd Round Pick