The NFL must have gotten confused by all of the chaos that came with the NBA Trade Deadline on March 25, 2021, because three teams created a frenzy with rapid-fire deals a day later.
The first domino of the hectic Friday fell when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Miami Dolphins were trading back in the 2021 NFL Draft, sending the third overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers and jumping back nine picks in the process.
Shortly thereafter, the Philadelphia Eagles announced a deal of their own with the Dolphins, where they sent the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to Miami for the 12th overall pick that the Dolphins had just acquired from San Francisco.
All in all, here are the complete details of each swap:
- Dolphins trade the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the 49ers for the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, a 2021 third-round pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.
- Eagles trade the No. 6 and No. 156 overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Miami Dolphins for the No. 12 and No. 123 overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, and a first-round pick in 2022.
As a result, the:
- 49ers wind up with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- Dolphins wind up with the No. 6 and No. 156 overall picks in this year’s draft to go along with their pre-existing draft capital for 2021, and also land additional first-rounders for future years.
- Eagles wind up with the No. 12 and No. 123 overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, along with a first-round pick in 2022.
After everyone’s heads stopped spinning from the quick-hitting madness that the three teams created on a casual Friday in March, each franchise’s respective plans started to become more apparent.
For the 49ers, almost every option is on the table as they work to return to the Super Bowl following a defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of the 2019 season.
Their roster is built to win now, despite what their 2020 record may have indicated to both their own fanbase, and fans of other teams around the league.
Injuries plagued their stars as they dealt with the hangover that comes with winning a conference championship, and Kyle Shanahan’s bunch had to find ways to win without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, defensive end Nick Bosa, and more throughout the year.
Moving up in the draft gives them the chance to look at almost every player on the board in the 2021 NFL Draft class, and allows general manager John Lynch the opportunity to figure out which road he wants to take the 49ers down.
If there’s a top-tier quarterback that Lynch and company view as the team’s next star under center, they can go with one of two approaches: Draft a quarterback that’s ready to play in the NFL from the jump, or pick a quarterback that could benefit from a year under Garoppolo in the depth chart.
If Lynch rolls with the former, there will be plenty of suitors that would be willing to pay a premium for Garoppolo’s services, and the 49ers could land some extra draft capital on that front.
The New England Patriots stand out as the most obvious choice, given Garoppolo’s prior tenure in Foxborough and his ability to pick his next spot due to his no-trade clause. But, a team like the Carolina Panthers, or a top-tier-QB-needy franchise like the New Orleans Saints or Washington Football Team could jump at the chance, too.
Miami sent out a variety of messages with their moves as it relates to the 2021 NFL Draft, but all of them could not be more crystal-clear.
First, they showcased their commitment to second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, as if their investment in the University of Alabama product wasn’t already evident.
By moving out of the 2021 NFL Draft’s top five picks, the Dolphins showed that they believe in a future with Tagovailoa under center, and would rather utilize their pick to fill a hole elsewhere on the roster.
Second, their new placement in the draft order after the trade with the Eagles makes it pretty obvious as to what the five teams ahead of them are looking to do with their picks.
Four of those five teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, 49ers, Atlanta Falcons) all have clear needs at the quarterback position, while the Cincinnati Bengals, the team with the fifth overall pick, will likely want to improve their offensive line or defensive line.
While moving back to the sixth pick, the Dolphins must feel comfortable that they can draft the same player that they would’ve wanted with their initial third spot in the order, and profit in the process by getting first-round picks for the future of the franchise.
The Eagles’ main goal out of all of this was to gain the extra first-round pick for next year’s draft, while falling six spots in this year’s draft order en route to the 12th overall pick.
But, similar to Miami, Philadelphia seemed to solidify a thought about their starting quarterback situation, as well.
While the Dolphins begin to plan around their second-year quarterback that they picked up in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eagles are apparently doing the same thing by building around second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts in 2021.
When Philadelphia traded former starting quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts early in the 2021 offseason, questions still lingered about Hurts’ future as the Eagles’ go-to guy under center.
The franchise’s placement in the 2021 NFL Draft only fueled those rumors, as the team evaluated their options as it related to potentially selecting a quarterback for the second year in a row.
By moving out of the top 10 in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Eagles seemingly showed some confidence in Hurts’ ability to lead the team after an impressive rookie campaign.
They could still pick up a mid-tier quarterback midway through the first round, but it wouldn’t have the same impact on Hurts’ confidence as pushing for a top-five pick like BYU’s Zach Wilson.
All in all, the two trades involving the three teams are likely just the beginning in what could turn into a chaotic few weeks leading into the 2021 NFL Draft, not even factoring in the madness that could occur when the first night of the draft finally gets started in April.