We’ve heard all the talk about the ‘suck for Luck’ campaign. We’ve even had the debate rear its head in Broncos Country. I’m not writing this in order to debate one way or the other if the Broncos should ‘suck for Luck’. I’m of the opinion that we should win as many games as possible. I’m also not here to debate whether or not Tim Tebow is the quarterback of the future. He will prove himself one way or another in the next 11 games. But what about a team that doesn’t end up #1 overall in next years’ draft? Is there any possibility that they could move up in order to secure “the best prospect since Elway or Manning?” If so what would they have to give up...and is it worth it?
First, let’s take a look at the teams with the worst records in the NFL as of this past weekends’ games.
Indianapolis Colts (0-6)
Miami Dolphins (0-5)
St. Louis Rams (0-5)
Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
Carolina Panthers (1-5)
Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Denver Broncos (1-4)
Now let’s take a look at their QB situations
Indianapolis Colts (0-6) = Peyton Manning injured neck out indefinitely, Curtis Painter starting
Miami Dolphins (0-5) = Chad Henne IR, Matt Moore starting
St. Louis Rams (0-5) = Sam Bradford (drafted 1st overall in 2010)
Minnesota Vikings (1-5) = Christian Ponder (drafted 12th overall in 2011) replaces Donovan McNabb
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) = Blaine Gabbert (drafted 10th overall in 2011)
Carolina Panthers (1-5) = Cam Newton (drafted 1st overall in 2011)
Arizona Cardinals (1-4) = Kevin Kolb (traded 2012 2nd round pick/Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie)
Denver Broncos (1-4) = Tim Tebow (drafted 25th overall in 2010) replaces Kyle Orton
One thing is clear, a team with the #1 overall pick AND a set QB situation probably would not take Luck and would therefore be open to trade offers. Looking at these QB situations amongst the teams with the worst records, I can say confidently that Miami and Indianapolis would not listen to any offers for the #1 overall pick and would use their selection for Luck. The Colts see firsthand what the absense of their franchise QB has done to their production, and Miami's majority owner has recently admitted that he wants a franchise QB and elite coach. Next up are the Arizona Cardinals who would probably take Luck even though they gave up a 2nd and DRC for Kevin Kolb--- if Kolb continues to struggle. If Tim Tebow struggles mightily and the Broncos end up with the #1 overall pick, I think they would take him too. That leaves St. Louis, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Carolina as teams with set QB situations who would be most likely to trade out of the #1 pick. By set I mean that these teams each have spent high picks on QB's in the last two years and still need to evaluate their prospects.
From this sample of teams with the worst record, there is likely a 50-75% chance that the team who ends up with the #1 overall pick could be willing to entertain trade offers for the pick. So what would it take?
John Elway, Herschel Walker, Ricky Williams, Jay Cutler, Julio Jones, Carson Palmer
The John Elway trade
In 1983, we all know that John Elway was one of the greatest QB prospects to enter the draft in memory. I’ve also read Peter King’s most recent MMQB article in which he states that then GM of the Baltimore Colts Ernie Accorsi would have traded the #1 overall pick for 3 first round picks, and 2 second round picks. Nobody met the price, Baltimore took Elway---who refused to play for Baltimore---and was subsequently traded to our beloved Broncos for our 1st round pick that year (T Chris Hinton 4th overall), our first round pick the following year, and QB Mark Herrmann. Though the asking price was 3-1sts and 2-2nds, the actual trade ended up as 2-1sts and a player due to Elway’s leverage, and the owner's unwillingness to give Elway a $5 million contract.
The Herschel Walker Trade
After doing some research, I found that originally, the Cleveland Browns offered to trade 2-1sts, 3-2nds, and a player for Herschel Walker. The Cowboys used this offer to up the ante into the most lopsided trade in NFL history. Minnesota was Walker’s eventual landing spot and here’s what they gave up when all was said and done:
3-1sts, 3-2nds, 1-3rd, 1-6th, and 5 players
(Minnesota received Walker, 2-3rds, 1-5th, 1-10th)
Ricky Williams Trade
Before the 1999 draft, Mike Ditka stated that he would trade an entire draft for a chance at Ricky Williams. After Indianapolis made Edgerrin James the first running back taken, Ditka found a taker in the Washington Redskins. Ditka and the Saints traded 2-1sts, 2-2nds, 1-3rd, 1-4th, 1-5th, 1-6th, 1-7th. A total of nine draft picks were used in order to move up from #12 to #5. This trade was just plain idiocy and more value was given up then necessary. This trade also highlights the impact of hype. Williams was plenty hyped coming out of college…and our own Terrell Davis had helped lead the Broncos to consecutive super bowls, so that hype was probably even more amplified considering TD’s dominance.
We all pretty much know about this trade, and while the results will always be debated, Chicago gave up 2-1sts, 1-3rd, and Kyle Orton for someone they viewed as a franchise QB.
This past year, Atlanta gave up 2-1sts, 1-2nd, and 2-4ths in order to move up from #27 to #6 so they could select Julio Jones.
The Raiders....well being the Raiders
This is only here for a laugh:) Seriously who gives up a first and a conditional second for a guy that hasn't played in over a year, is at the backend of his career, and hasn't produced on a high level since about 2006?
And we thought Al Davis was responsible for their stupid moves, guess Coach Jackson took his lessons too seriously huh?
So what would it cost to move up?
Nothing short of a fortune. I also think it would absolutely have to be a team with a top 10 pick. In the trades that were examined, the coveted player in all but one instance required a heavy price. John Elway had leverage, and given the way his career turned out, the Colts did not get fair compensation even though they received 2-1sts in exchange. I would think something similar to the Herschel Walker trade would be about right as far as compensation to trade for Andrew Luck. It would probably take 2 or 3 1st rounders, 2 or 3 2nd rounders, and some combination of an additional 3 later round picks. In all, the team trading the rights to Andrew Luck would probably end up giving about 8-9 draft picks, with at least 5-6 of those being high round selections.
Is the sacrifice worth it?
Depends. If I was making the deal and knew that I was getting an Elway/Manning like franchise QB, I’d probably be ok with it. You would just have to be shrewd at building your team through free agency and UFA’s. If you were telling me I was getting Herschel Walker, Jay Cutler, Ricky Williams, or Julio Jones, I would say get lost.
A draft picks’ only value resides in how they are used
The Dallas Cowboys used their bounty wisely. They used their picks as ammo to help them acquire Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland on route to a team that won three super bowls in the 90’s.
Washington used theirs to get Champ Bailey and Lavar Arrington while shipping the others out in draft day maneuvers. (The Broncos traded for the 6th/7th round picks Washington received and used them on TE Desmond Clark, and WR Billy Miller). The only other player I recognized that was taken with the bounty was QB Cade McNown who was nothing more than a journeyman backup.
The Broncos used theirs on Robert Ayers, moved around the board to select Demaryius Thomas (pieces of this maneuvering also landed Tim Tebow), and traded the 3rd that ended up to be Mike Wallace. Remember the Broncos used their own 2010 draft pick to trade for Alphonso Smith---not the one received from Chicago.
Yet to be seen is the impact of the Julio Jones trade, though he seems to be a good player. Ricky Williams has had a great career also---but not the one Ditka envisioned when he made the trade, and Herschel Walker also had a great career putting up over 13,000 yards.
My own sentiment is that I would never trade what Minnesota, and New Orleans gave up in order to get RB, but their trades happened in different era’s where more value was placed on the running game. I would NEVER trade what Atlanta did in order to get Julio Jones.
Whoever "sucks for Luck" is in great position to either add a potential franchise QB or a lot of ammunition with which to build their team.
Whoever loses out must hope the team sitting at #1 doesn’t have a QB need, and must be able to supplement their team by means other than great drafts.
The general feeling around here is that EFX had a great draft in 2011. Elway has also stated that it will take multiple drafts in order to rebuild our team. I don’t think he would mortgage 2 or 3 future drafts for Luck...then again this is probably a question he will wrestle with all season especially if Tebow doesn’t make steady improvements.
Thanks for reading and GO BRONCOS!!!