NFL teams can cut or trade players they're no longer interested in. However, if the player is under a guaranteed contract, the team may have to pay him for as many years as his contract is valid.

In a recent move, the Houston Texans traded Brock Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns and gave up a 2nd round 2018 draft pick. This is unusual since instead of gaining a draft pick or another player in return the Texans gave up a draft pick. They essentially gave the Browns their draft pick so that they could get rid of Osweiler (and make salary space to pursue Tony Romo). Has this happened before that a team was willing to gave up a draft pick purely to get out paying a player?

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    espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18865828/… provides great background to the nature of the trade for those trying to understand it. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 14:58
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    So note, the trade was Osweiler + 2nd round 2018 draft pick + 6th round 2017 pick for a 4th round 2017 draft pick. So they're giving up better picks... but in the future, such that they have an alternate explanation. The article really points out well how it's quite obvious to everyone that it's a dump, but allows them an excuse to evade absolute proof. And that such a dump like this hasn't happened before, and likely will be cracked down upon sharply in the future, but that they snuck through by using an opportunity of a grey area in the rules. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


It is not allowed for an NFL team to simply "give up" a player; the formal language in the CBA is that a trade may not be for "nominal considerations" - a team cannot simply give Player X and a draft pick to another team and receive nothing in return, or even receive a lower draft pick in return.

So, the question now is what makes the Osweiler trade legal? The answer is that the Texans are giving a 2018 draft pick, and receiving a 2017 draft pick in return. Future draft picks have a lower value than current draft picks as they don't add any value for the team until a future year, so the Browns and Texans can argue they both "win" from this trade. However, there are suggestions that the NFL and NFLPA may look at tightening the rules around this sort of trade.

  • Although this adds a lot more insight to Osweiler's trade, it doesn't answer my question. I wanna know if other teams have done something similar in the past.
    – alamoot
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:33
  • The trouble is that your question is based on a false premise: the Texans did not give up a draft pick to get out of paying Osweiler - they traded a 2018 draft pick + Osweiler to get a 2017 pick. The trade would not have been allowed if the Browns were getting a 2017 pick.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:39
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    Yeah the trade itself is fishy. Notice the quotes around "getting rid" on the question title. In practice the deal was done purely to get Osweiler out of Houston. The Texans got a 4th round pick from Browns, and gave up a 6th round pick, a draft pick for next year & shipped Osweiler to Browns. The swap of 4th and 6th round pick was done to make the trade legitimate under the current CBA. As you have mentioned teams can't just give up a player like that. But for a team to ship away a starting QB who's making $18M for the next 2 seasons, this is as close as you could come an not break CBA rules.
    – alamoot
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 0:45

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