Though the draft order appears “set” as of now, two and a half weeks before the 2023 NFL Draft begins, so much could change on night one of the draft. Every year, there are teams that end up unsatisfied with where the board sits by the time they’re on the clock and decide to trade back to recoup more draft capital in later rounds.
In a draft that has some quality talent at quarterback, this year’s class could be especially primed for trade backs from teams that don’t need to draft one. In fact, one such trade—the Chicago Bears’ move back from the No. 1 overall pick—has already happened.
Here are three other teams that may consider trading back come draft day.
Arizona Cardinals (No. 3 overall pick)
The Cardinals, of any team, are in the best position to trade back. With the third overall pick, they’re currently sandwiched between three teams that look set to take a quarterback: the Panthers with No. 1, the Texans with No. 2, and the Colts with No. 4. Once the first two picks are off of the board, the Cardinals will surely have several suitors looking to trade up and take one of the top remaining quarterbacks.
Arizona may not even have to trade too far back. Should the Colts worry about missing out on their guy with the fourth overall pick, they may decide to make the move up one spot to make sure no one else can do it to snag their quarterback of the future. Of course, on the other side of things, there are a few teams that will be looking to jump in front of the Colts to grab one of the top quarterbacks in the class.
One such team that’s been generating buzz lately is Indianapolis’ division rival Tennessee Titans. The Cardinals will have plenty of opportunity to build up extra draft capital in the later rounds this year and potentially into next year. With the possibility they only need to move back one spot, they’d be foolish not to field some calls.
Seattle Seahawks (No. 5 overall pick)
Much like the Cardinals (and Bears), the Seahawks are in the enviable position of not needing a quarterback yet holding a top-five pick. If the Cardinals don’t trade back and instead stay to draft one of the top defenders in the class, and if the Colts take Will Levis or Hendon Hooker, there will be teams calling the Seahawks about trading up for Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.
If Seattle doesn’t choose to draft Richardson themselves (which they do—shameless plug—in my first mock draft), they could build up plenty of draft capital by trading back from a top-five pick. They’ve re-signed Geno Smith to be their quarterback going forward, have a fantastic 2022 draft class to build around, and could move closer to Super Bowl contention with another excellent class in 2023. Adding several draft picks now and in the future by trading back could be the best move for Seattle to continue to build up their young core.
New England Patriots (No. 14 overall pick)
Patriots head coach/general manager Bill Belichick loves a good trade back during the draft. So while New England looks poised to draft one of the top three tackles with the 14th overall pick, there’s a chance they decide to trade back based on how the board falls. If there’s a run on tackles with the three picks in front of them (the Titans, the Texans, and the Jets) and the Patriots don’t get the chance to draft their top guy, a trade back from Belichick seems incredibly likely.
While the Patriots could still use help at wide receiver even if their top tackle is off the board, drafting a first-round receiver is not a Belichick move. If someone like Jaxon Smith-Njigba is still on the board and a receiver-needy team really likes him, New England could make a trade back from 14th overall and get a guy like Tennessee’s Darnell Wright later.
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