There has never been a day like Tuesday in the NFL in terms of player movement. We expected all the free-agent signings, but there were two trades that totally stunned the football world. Let's examine them and any odds shifts at sportsbooks.
Seahawks Land Jimmy Graham
This was the biggest stunner of Tuesday, and it almost doesn't seem fair how the most talented roster in football, which Seattle has, got even better. The Seahawks landed either the best or second-best receiving tight end in football (New England's Rob Gronkowski) in the Pro Bowler Graham along with a fourth-round pick from New Orleans for center Max Unger and the 31st pick in this spring's draft. If there was one hole on the Seahawks, it was among the pass-catchers. The Seahawks simply didn't have a difference-maker there after dumping Percy Harvin last season. Graham fixes that problem in a big way. He had one of the greatest seasons ever for a tight end in 2013, catching 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. That got him a four-year, $40 million extension, and Graham wasn't quite as dominant last year with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 scores, but he was battling injury most of the year. The Seahawks would take those numbers in a second. Think Russell Wilson might have thrown that fateful second-down Super Bowl pass Graham's way? Wilson didn't target a tight end once in the Super Bowl and Seattle tight ends had only 48 catches all season, among the worst mark in the league. Seattle was a +750 third-favorite on NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50 before this trade. Now the Seahawks are +550 favorites.
So why did New Orleans trade Drew Brees' main target? The Saints are in salary-cap hell would be the main reason. Unger is one of the NFL's best centers so he will upgrade the offensive line. GM Mickey Loomis said he made this deal to improve New Orleans on defense, assuming the offense would remain potent with Brees, a good group of receivers and the re-signing of running back Mark Ingram. Look for the Saints to spend whatever cap room is left on defense and perhaps use both first-round picks on that side of the ball as well. Expect the Saints to run the ball a bit more in 2015 -- Graham was a terrible blocker so no loss from that standpoint. The Saints rose from +3500 to +4000 to win Super Bowl 50.
New Orleans and Seattle don't play in the 2015 regular season.
Eagles, Rams Switch Starting QBs
Philadelphia traded starting quarterback Nick Foles, a 2015 fourth-round pick and 2016 second-round pick to St. Louis for former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, with the Rams also shipping out a 2015 fifth-round pick and conditional choice in 2016. I find this trade almost more wild than the Graham deal because when was the last time you saw teams swap starting QBs? I can't remember it.
So who won this trade? Bradford is much, much more expensive with a cap hit of $13 million compared to around $1.5 million for Foles. Bradford also is clearly the better player when healthy. However, he missed more than half of the 2013 season, when Bradford was off to a great start, after tearing an ACL, and then all of last season when tearing his left ACL again, this time in the preseason. Bradford did play all 16 games in 2010 when he was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. His offensive coordinator then was Fritz Shurmur, now the OC in Philadelphia. Bradford also played in an up-tempo offense at Oklahoma, winning the Heisman Trophy. Chip Kelly's Eagles offense isn't exactly like that Oklahoma version but close enough in terms of speed of getting plays off.
Foles was terrific in 2013 in taking over as the Eagles' starter from Michael Vick. Foles made the Pro Bowl by throwing for 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions for a rating of 119.2. Last year in eight games he regressed, throwing 13 TDs and 10 picks for a rating of 81.4. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 9 and was done for the year. Obviously Foles isn't that 2013 version, no one is, but he might be better than the '14 version.
One thing is certain: Kelly's stamp is all over the Eagles. He traded the team's top running back in LeSean McCoy, and Philly's No. 1 receiver, Jeremy Maclin, signed with Kansas City. Will this Bradford trade preclude Kelly from moving up in the draft to get Oregon's Marcus Mariota? Remains to be seen. Kelly also must address running back after losing out on Frank Gore.
The Eagles were +2800 to win the Super Bowl on NFL futures before the trade and now are +3000. Those odds will shrink considerably if Kelly lands DeMarco Murray. The Rams have stayed put at +5000. Philly and St. Louis doesn't play next regular season.