On Trading Picks Post NFL Draft

Posted: April 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 15 Comments »

I have gotten several questions — and seen speculation — on whether the Eagles could, in theory, agree with another team on a trade for Kevin Kolb, where the other team would agree to take a player the Eagles want and then, once the lockout ends, complete the deal. This of course assumes that the lockout continues through the draft, which seems likely unless the sides settle prior to Judge Nelson’s ruling in a couple of weeks (fingers crossed).

The answer is yes, in theory, they can. But in practice, it is really not possible.

This sort of deal happens in the NBA quite frequently. In that league, there is a bizarre rule that prevents teams from trading its first round pick two years in a row, and also has the new league year start after the draft. Both of these rules mean that teams often agree to deals on draft day, and wait until after the draft is completed — sometimes weeks after the draft — to actually submit those deals officially to the NBA.

Would this work in the NFL? Many people have made the point that there is a degree of trust that would have to be involved. To be honest, I don’t see that as a huge impediment. I get the sense that the Eagles front office, and Jeff Lurie especially, has a lot of respect from other teams in the league. I think other teams would trust the team to do the right thing.

The real issue is more technical. Under the recently-expired CBA, rookies got paid out of a rookie pool. A team’s rookie pool was based on the picks that the team actually made. For example, when the Giants traded Philip Rivers, taken #4 overall, to the Chargers for Eli Manning, taken #1 overall, with a deal that was executed after those selections had been made, the Chargers’ rookie cap was set based on having made the #1 overall pick, and the Giants’ was set based on having made the #4 overall pick. Thus, the Giants had to be creative in order to fit a contract for Manning under a more restrictive rookie cap.

Imagine if the Eagles were to get a top 15 pick for Kolb. They would have to squeeze that contract into a rookie cap that was set without that pick in there at all. That would be a substantial issue, especially if there are more restrictions on circumventing the rookie cap, as it appears there will be.

There is no way of knowing for sure what the new rules in the NFL will be once the 2011 off-season actually starts. However, the league had initially proposed set contracts for rookies, but the apparent agreement before talks broke off was to have more restrictive contract lengths but to allow for individual negotiation, which suggests that the rookie cap concept would remain. Would a new deal include the ability for rookie cap dollars to follow the player? Not likely, because that would make it much easier for agents to force trades of drafted players.

My point is that if a team would be unwilling to make such a deal, it would be the team getting the draft pick, not the one getting the veteran. If anyone knows that this will work in the next deal, it is Joe Banner, so anything is possible, but from what I have seen, it would be very unlikely that an NBA style deal would be feasible in the NFL.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the NFL would want the Eagles to do such a deal. They don’t want to have players traded, even secretly, during the lockout. And the Eagles don’t have much of a history of bucking league orders.

In my view, the only way that Kevin Kolb is traded for 2011 picks is if the sides settle in the next two weeks.

15 Comments on “On Trading Picks Post NFL Draft”

  1. 1 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:43 PM on April 6th, 2011:

    Good stuff. I hadn’t even thought about how the salary would be an issue.

    I sure hope we get some kind of resolution, temporary or otherwise, so that we can deal Kolb. I want my extra pick(s)!!!

  2. 2 Davesbeard said at 5:47 PM on April 6th, 2011:

    Me too! The main thing thats bothering me about the CBA for now is that we can’t trade Kolb!

    Great post though Sam, if a little depressing 🙁

  3. 3 Thunderlips said at 5:48 PM on April 6th, 2011:

    I agree that Kolb will not be traded, but teams could get around the rookie cap by trading future draft picks.

    For example, the Eagles trade next year’s 1st, and 3rd for the Viking’s 1st this year. Then after the CBA is fixed, they trade Kolb for the original 1st and 3rd.

  4. 4 mcud said at 7:28 PM on April 6th, 2011:


    Has there ever been a situation where a team trades picks in multiple future drafts? In this example, we trade Kolb for 1st rounders in 2012 & 2013, and get no compensation for 2011. If a future year’s pick is devalued (as a general rule) by one round, such a trade would be the equivalent of getting two 2nds for Kevin. I’m on board with that. Just wondering if there is any precedent…

  5. 5 Sam said at 8:39 PM on April 6th, 2011:

    re: 2012 pick structure

    That would be more technically feasible, but still trips up the second point, which is that it would be a transparent attempt by an NFL team to violate their own lockout rules. I don’t see Jeff Lurie signing off on that.

    re: multiple future picks

    There are examples of each, but since 1993, at least as far as I know, there are no examples of trading picks both one and two years out in the same deal. Of course, there are no examples of a lockout in that time period either, so it doesn’t preclude such a thing from happening.

  6. 6 bula said at 9:56 AM on April 7th, 2011:

    what about the idea that judge nelson may force the league open again during the appeal process? Is this likely to hapen

  7. 7 Sam said at 10:25 AM on April 7th, 2011:

    @bula: Possible, but until you hear a legal expert saying this is a realistic outcome, I’d assume it is not even worth contemplating. I haven’t seen that happen yet, but I could be missing something.

  8. 8 ThunderLips said at 12:44 PM on April 7th, 2011:

    One more thing against a Kolb trade without a CBA: if there is no Franchise Tag under the new CBA, Vick would be a Free Agent. Would be tough to let Kolb go without a guarantee that Vick would still be here.

  9. 9 Ken said at 2:04 PM on April 7th, 2011:

    Without a new CBA wouldn’t we be under last year’s rules. If that is the true tahn both teh franchise and transition tag will be valid. In a new CBA most still expect the franchise tag to be included. I don’t think we have to worry about Vick much.

  10. 10 Thunderlips said at 4:22 PM on April 7th, 2011:

    Agreed, but it’s still not a guarantee that Vick will be under contract next year and beyond. Even with a 5% chance that the Tag will be gone, or new rules will make it harder to use, I’d be apprehensive to trade Kolb.

  11. 11 Sam said at 4:29 PM on April 7th, 2011:

    Guys, Vick signed his tender. He’s under contract regardless of whether the franchise tag holds.

  12. 12 Norman said at 12:06 PM on April 8th, 2011:

    Thanks Sam- great insight as always

    We’d been speculating over at BGN in several different threads, and we all came to the simular conclusion- though minus the salary cap part of it. Its an amazingly valid concern, and moreso than trust would be- I agree.

    If the trade was for something like a player (say, Chad Greenway + 2012 #1), it would have a simular impact?

  13. 13 Sam said at 12:58 PM on April 8th, 2011:

    @ Norman – A deal for Kolb that only included future picks and/or veteran players would be no problem, as long as it was executed — and agreed to, as far as anyone knew — once the lockout ends. Would the deal you suggest be fair value? I have no idea. But there isn’t anything that would suggest that it wouldn’t be feasible.

  14. 14 Joseph said at 1:13 PM on April 8th, 2011:

    Why would another team take that chance on drafting an Eagles need for Kolb? What if they do and Kolb doesnt even want to resign with them. Basically they will be trading their first rounder to us for 1 yr of Kolbs service.

  15. 15 On having a team draft a player we want, then trading Kolb to that team for that pick once the lockout is lifted… | Eagles Football said at 5:22 PM on April 8th, 2011:

    […] On having a team draft a player we want, then trading Kolb to that team for that pick once the locko… […]