NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2020" premieres Sunday, July 26, and will air over four consecutive days. The episode on Sunday covering players 71-80 will reveal two of the players who changed teams via trade in this busy offseason. Ahead of that unveiling, Gil Brandt ranks the top 10 players who were traded in 2020.
NOTE: This article was published before the Jets traded Jamal Adams to the Seahawks.
Acquired from: the Texans (along with a 2020 fourth-round pick), in exchange for RB David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
I'm not going to get into a debate about whether or not Texans coach Bill O'Brien made the right move in trading Hopkins to the Cardinals -- time will tell on that. What I know for sure is that Arizona was able to unexpectedly add a top-five receiver for a relative pittance in the offseason's most stunning swap. Hopkins will help second-year quarterback Kyler Murray's development and have a positive trickle-down effect on the offense, drawing coverage away from receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. This team might not be quite ready for a playoff run, with the defense (32nd-ranked in 2019) still needing to improve under coordinator Vance Joseph, but this move goes a long way toward establishing the Cardinals as a legitimate presence in the only division to field three winning teams last season.
Acquired from: the Patriots (along with a 2020 seventh-round pick), in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick.
Even before taking his first practice snap in a pewter jersey, Tom Brady's presence has lifted the Bucs in multiple ways, not least by convincing Gronkowski to come out of retirement. Both Brady and Gronk are clearly looking for a new start away from New England. The big question regarding Gronk is, has he regained some speed since we last saw him in the 2018 season, when injuries were taking an obvious toll? If he has, he can again become a matchup nightmare who stresses defenses with his Hall of Fame-caliber combination of run-blocking and pass-catching skills.
Acquired from: the 49ers, in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick.
It seems like the Colts haven't fielded a dominant interior force on defense since the late Artie Donovan's 1950s heyday. Buckner should change that in 2020. The massive lineman (6-foot-7, 295 pounds) clogs passing lanes and can put real pressure on the quarterback -- over the past two seasons, he racked up nearly as many sacks by himself (19.5) as the Colts' trio of Denico Autry, Grover Stewart and Margus Hunt (now in New Orleans) managed in that span combined (20.5). Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who is on track to become a head coach in this league, told the team site that Buckner is an "impact player" -- and he's not lying.
Acquired from: Washington, in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick.
I would hate to play cards against Niners general manager John Lynch, who didn't panic on draft weekend despite knowing he'd have to replace retiring tackle Joe Staley. Instead of counting on a rookie to provide an instant impact, which is an even bigger crapshoot than normal, given the restrictions teams have been dealing with during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynch trusted his offer to Washington for Williams would ultimately trump all other suitors, and he was rewarded when the Vikings backed out of the Williams sweepstakes. Williams, who missed all of the 2019 season in part because of his issues with team management, will presumably be happy to get a change of scenery. He's also young enough (32) to regain the elite form that led to seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances between 2012 and '18.
Acquired from: the Vikings (along with a 2020 seventh-round pick), in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 fifth-round pick, a 2020 sixth-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
The only reason I didn't rank this move higher was the drama that bubbled up around Diggs' apparent frustration in Minnesota ahead of his ultimate move to a new locale. Will Diggs establish a strong rapport with Bills QB Josh Allen and find happiness in coordinator Brian Daboll's scheme? If the answer to both questions is yes, he'll be the No. 1 receiver this team dearly needs him to be. Buffalo paid a steep price, but I think Diggs will help the Bills close the gap with -- and overtake -- the longtime AFC East bullies in New England. And that makes the move well worth it.
Acquired from: the Jaguars, in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick.
One of the few areas where the Ravens struggled in their 14-2 2019 season was in run defense, with Baltimore ranking 21st in yards allowed per carry. Between that and the lack of established pass-rushing prowess (outside of Matt Judon) on this blitz-heavy team, Baltimore revamped its defensive front, trading for Campbell and signing Derek Wolfe out of Denver to complement standout nose tackle Brandon Williams. Campbell, who turns 34 in September, might not be able to match the production he recorded in his first year with the Jaguars in 2017 (14.5 sacks), but he remains a quality all-around player who is adept at setting the edge against the run, which is the key to success in coordinator Wink Martindale's system.
Acquired from: the Lions, in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
The Eagles entered the offseason in need of a No. 1 cornerback after none of the seven (!) cornerbacks drafted between 2015 and '18 proved able to fill that role. Enter Slay, who was handed a three-year, $50 million extension after Philly snagged him in March. Now it will be on the 29-year-old veteran to prove that his sluggish 2019 season was a function of his dissatisfaction with being on a team that didn't want to give him a new contract -- and not a sign that his career is on the downslope.
Acquired from: the Titans, in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick.
Maybe the Titans know something we don't about how much the 30-year-old Casey has left in the tank. Or maybe they just wanted to spend their cap resources elsewhere. Whatever the rationale, the five-time Pro Bowler could end up being an absolute steal for Denver. Casey can play multiple positions across the defensive front and has registered at least five sacks in each of the past seven seasons. And when you're in the same division as Patrick Mahomes, it's wise to take all the defensive help you can get.
Acquired from: the Panthers, in exchange for OT Russell Okung.
With the Panthers and new coach Matt Rhule remaking the roster in Carolina, the Chargers were able to grab this five-time Pro Bowler to shore up their offensive line, which also stands to receive a boost from veteran free agent Bryan Bulaga. Getting stronger up front is paramount if this team is going to give rookie quarterback Justin Herbert a good shot at developing, whenever he ultimately takes the field.
Acquired from: the Jaguars, in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick.
In a perfect world, competition from Foles will bring out the best in former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. If Foles wins the starting quarterback job, the Bears will be counting on him to regain the form that led to playoff and Super Bowl success as a backup with the Eagles in 2017 and '18 after floundering in Jacksonville last year. Regardless of who is under center, head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace will need more production from an offense that ranked 25th in passing, 27th in rushing and 29th in scoring if they are to get off the hot seat.