Did Broncos Make a Mistake Trading Brandon Lloyd?

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The Denver Broncos announced on Monday that the team has traded receiver Brandon Lloyd to the St. Louis Rams for a conditional pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  The conditional pick currently stands as a sixth round selection which could become a fifth rounder if Lloyd catches thirty or more passes this season for the Rams.

It is likely that Lloyd will in fact catch at least that many passes in Josh McDaniels‘ offense, so it’s safe to say the Broncos basically traded Lloyd for a fifth round pick.  At first appearance, a mid-round selection may not sound like fair compensation for a Pro Bowl receiver, but after taking a closer look, the trade was a win-win for both sides.

Lloyd was going to be a free agent following this season (and he still will be unless the Rams extend his contract).  In order to keep Lloyd, who will be turning 31, the Broncos would have had to give him a big contract, something that they were not willing to do after Lloyd’s one highly productive season in nine years.

The Broncos got the best value for Lloyd by trading him now rather than letting him walk next offseason.  In reality, a fifth round pick for any receiver not named Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald is most likely not a bad trade for either side.

As Strawdog has pointed out, in 2007, the Oakland Raiders traded future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss to the New England Patriots for a fourth round pick, just one round higher than the Broncos will likely receive for Lloyd.  Moss went on to break the NFL’s single season receiving touchdown record, something Lloyd is not expected to do.

Also of note is that while somewhat rare, there are talented prospects to be found in the mid-to-late rounds on draft day.  Fans have a way of undervaluing mid-round draft picks, but coaches have no problem with stockpiling extra selections.

Over the past ten years, the Broncos have drafted thirty-three players in the fifth or later round of the draft.  Of those players, eight went on to become starters and two of them are still with the team.

Cornerback Perrish Cox, running backs Ryan Torain and Peyton Hillis, punter Paul Earnster, offensive lineman Chris Myers and tight end Jeb Putzier were all drafted in mid-to-late rounds of their respective drafts and at one point started for Denver.

Offensive guard Chris Kuper and fullback Spencer Larsen — both starters — were also late round selections, as was the late Kenny McKinley, may he rest in peace.  Kuper and Larsen are prime examples of talented players who were drafted in the low rounds yet still went on to have big roles for their team.

Every draft pick has the possibility of being a great one.  The Broncos just got a sixth selection to strengthen their odds.