The biggest move of the 2023 NFL Draft took place near its very top, when the Houston Texans traded back up to the third overall pick with the Arizona Cardinals to take Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. after selecting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud at No. 2 overall.
The return that the Cardinals got to move down to the No. 12 pick — which included the No. 33 overall pick in the 2023 draft’s second round as well as first-round and third-round selections in the 2024 draft, was seen as a major win for first-year Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort. Earlier this week, the Cardinals released video footage from the scene inside the team’s draft room where Ossenfort negotiated the draft-altering trade with Texans general manager Nick Caserio.
It’s an incredibly informative look at how the trade went down. Towards the beginning of the video, Ossenfort can be seen telling one of his lieutenants to “Call Ballard” — the Indianapolis Colts and GM Chris Ballard held the No. 4 overall pick — and then, seemingly after getting rebuffed (the Colts were content to sit and wait for Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson to fall to them), to “Call Houston.”
Eventually, Ossenfort calls Caserio, his longtime former colleague in the New England Patriots front office, directly from his own cell phone and exchanges trade proposals.
At one point, Ossenfort calls an unspecified team and says, “You guys are out, right?”
According to the subtitles in the video, the executive at the other end of the call responds, “Uh, not neccisarily.”
One thing also evident in the video is how fluid the negotiation was. At one point, Ossenfort also asks for Houston’s 2023 fourth-round pick at No. 104 overall be included and it appears a Cardinals selection at the end of the third round (No. 96 overall) is also discussed, as is the Texans’ second-round pick in 2024. Ultimately, the Cardinals ended up sending their fourth-round pick at No. 105 overall to Houston in the trade, which Ossenfort appeared to negotiate down from the 96th pick in the video.
Later in the video, Ossenfort is again seen working the phones as he attempts to trade back up from No. 12 back into the top 10. He tries to negotiate with the Cardinals’ NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks for the fifth overall pick but is respectfully rejected. The Cardinals also appear to have potential trades lined up with the Detroit Lions at No. 6, the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 7 and the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8.
“What deal do we like better?” Ossenfort asks the room at one point. “The Detroit deal or the Vegas deal?”
Eventually, Ossenfort worked out a trade with Lions general manager Brad Holmes to move up to the sixth pick, where the Cardinals selected Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr.
After the first round, Ossenfort jokingly told a reporter that “You should’ve been in the room” in response to a comment of how stressful the night must have been. Now, thanks to this video footage, fans are able to get a glimpse into the room where the top of the 2023 NFL Draft was transformed.
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