Historical Value in Quarterback Trades

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the cost (in draft picks and other compensation) of acquiring a quarterback in a trade ... what that cost might be and whether that is reasonable or not. A few days ago I wrote a post concerning the possibility of acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from New England and suggested a "reasonable" trade value that I thought that the Patriots might accept. More recently Daniel Jeremiah suggested the potential for a trade of Kirk Cousins from Washington to the Niners in a deal involving the swap of undefined draft picks. Since, Matt Maiocco published an article summarizing all of the eight trades involving QBs consummated over the last ten years.

I'll admit that I got more than a little irritated when I read some of the reactions to those potential trades and, worse, opinions as to their fairness. When trades are proposed, particularly if there are future-year draft picks involved, we're always looking at unknown drafting positions and valuation of future picks ... either in the immediately forthcoming draft or in future years.

With the advantage of hindsight we can go back and establish the actual values, including timing discounts, effectively assigned to the QBs that have been traded. I have made those calculations and present them below in the order of highest to lowest value. To wit:


2009: Denver trades QB Jay Cutler (age 26) to Chicago --

  • Compensation: 2009 Picks #18 + #84 + 2010 Pick #11 + QB Kyle Orton - 2009 Pick #140
  • Net Cost to Chicago: 1504 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #7) plus QB Kyle Orton (age 27)

2007: Atlanta trades QB Matt Schaub (age 26) to Houston --

  • Compensation: 2007 Picks #8 + #39 + 2008 Pick #48 - 2007 Pick #10
  • Net Cost to Houston: 800 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #21)
2013: San Francisco trades QB Alex Smith (age 29) to Kansas City --

  • Compensation: 2013 Pick #34 + 2014 Pick #56
  • Net Cost to Kansas City: 710 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #25.5)
2010: Philadelphia trades QB Donovan McNabb (age 34) to Washington --

  • Compensation: 2010 Picks #37 + #104
  • Net Cost to Washington: 616 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #30)

2009: New England trades QB Matt Cassel (age 27) plus LB Mike Vrabel (age 34) to Kansas City --

  • Compensation: 2009 Pick #34
  • Net Cost to Kansas City: 560 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #34)
2011: Cincinnati trades QB Carson Palmer (age 32) to Oakland --

  • Compensation: 2012 Pick #17 + 2013 Pick #37
  • Net Cost to Oakland: 480 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #42)
2016: Philadelphia trades QB Sam Bradford (age 29) to Minnesota --

  • Compensation: 2017 Pick #15 + 2018 Pick #~122
  • Net Cost to Minnesota: 441 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #46) ... this value results because of the significant delays to the times of payment.
2011: Philadelphia trades QB Kevin Kolb (age 27) to Arizona --

  • Compensation: 2012 Pick #51 + CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
  • Net Cost to Arizona: 175 draft-pick value points (equivalent to Pick #83) plus CB Rodgers-Cromartie (age 26)


So, ignoring the value of any other players involved in the trade (for the sake of simplicity), the trade value of a QB traded in the last ten years has varied between Pick #7 in the 1st round (Jay Cutler, in his prime) and Pick #83 in the 3rd round (Kevin Kolb).


How about the apparent values of the QBs being discussed in current potential trade talks?

  • In my post entitled "A Little Creativity: Optional Uses For Pick #2"", I proposed a trade to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo from New England in exchange for 2017 Pick #6 (acquired from a proposed trade-down) plus WR Torrey Smith ... with the Niners receiving Garoppolo plus 2017 Picks #32 and #64 in return. That trade would value Garoppolo at 1200 draft-pick value points, which is equivalent to the #12 pick in the entire 2017 draft ... which would be the second highest "price" ever paid for a QB in a trade. I think that my proposed price for Garoppolo is excessive, but it was theoretically established my Cleveland's potential willingness to trade Pick #12 for Garoppolo. I was willing to accept that valuation because the Niners would also receive both a 1st and 2nd round pick (in addition to Garoppolo) in the upcoming draft, which could be used to select starting-caliber prospects. Does Kyle still have high regard for Garoppolo? Would he like to build the offense around Jimmy?
  • As I understand it, the potential trade of QB Kirk Cousins plus 2017 Pick #17 to the Niners in exchange for 2017 Pick #2 would value Cousins at 1650 draft-pick value points, which is equivalent to Pick #5.5 in the entire 2017 draft. If consummated, that trade would be by far the single most expensive QB trade in the entire history of the NFL. Is Kirk Cousins really worth that? If Cousins really is the guy that Kyle wants to build the offense around, since it appears that Cousins isn't motivated to sign a long-term contract with Washington, maybe it makes more sense to just wait and sign him as a free agent next spring.
Just something to think about while you're sipping a cool one over the weekend.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.