The NFL's new year begins Wednesday - an avenue for every team to drastically improve its roster in a single afternoon.
We've seen a flurry of trade activity in recent years, and this spring has already proven to be more of the same, with the league trending in a more aggressive direction across the board. While there have been a host of trades agreed upon already, the beginning of the new league year usually brings a few unexpected, high-profile surprises.
Without further ado, here are five surprising potential trade candidates.
Ingram is coming off the best season of his career, earning his second Pro Bowl selection after rushing for a career-best 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. In a vacuum, Ingram's production would be highly coveted by the Saints. But they unearthed standout rookie Alvin Kamara in 2017, who also earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors, with his rookie year serving as an endless highlight reel. The running back is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, and though he's shown little sign of slowing down, the Saints may as well try to get an asset for Ingram, with Kamara slated to dominate for the next half-decade.
Graham cemented himself in Eagles lore forever, stripping Tom Brady of the ball with just over a minute remaining in Super Bowl LII, helping secure the victory. Unfair as it may be, Graham is now the odd man out as the Eagles have already fortified their elite defensive line by adding Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. Graham carries an $8-million cap hit for the 2018 season and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. For the Eagles, it's a difficult position, having invested so much into their defensive line. But for 31 other teams, it could be the bargain of a lifetime.
Hightower was sorely missed for the vast majority of the 2017 season, with the Patriots defense wildly fluctuating throughout the year. Although New England is short on defensive talent, Hightower's $8.5-million cap hit is likely not sitting well with Bill Belichick. Belichick has previously jettisoned defensive stars Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins in their peaks and won't hesitate to move Hightower, especially if the team believes he won't be able to return to Pro Bowl form. Thanks for the memories, and the two Super Bowl victories.
Tannehill doesn't appear to be in the Dolphins' long-term plans to begin with, and it wouldn't be much of a shock if they used their first-round pick on a quarterback to succeed him. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase gave Tannehill an assurance that he'd remain the starter but there has to be an element of uncertainty as he returns from a torn ACL. Miami appears to be restructuring its offense entirely and can take its final step by shipping the 29-year-old.
The Vikings are going all-in for a Super Bowl in 2018 with an outstanding defense and starting-caliber quarterback in Kirk Cousins. To afford this roster, Barr will become expendable, carrying a $12.3-million cap hit for the 2018 season. At his best, Barr is a game-changing talent who can cover, hit, and excel against the run. There will be a robust market for his services if the Vikings make the three-time Pro Bowler available Wednesday, a player who will turn 26 on Sunday.
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