NFL

30 Biggest Blockbuster Trades In NFL History

Darren - March 30, 2022
NFL

30 Biggest Blockbuster Trades In NFL History

Darren - March 30, 2022
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

17. Carson Palmer

It’s wild but this was a blockbuster trade at the time. Palmer had a major contract dispute with the Bengals and demanded a trade. Cincinnati didn’t want to lose their star quarterback. But the rise of Andy Dalton forced their hand. They decided that he was the future and agreed to move Palmer on. Oakland sent a first and second-round pick to the Bengals for the quarterback (via Fansided).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

That second-rounder could have even become a first-rounder but there was no fear of that happening. This trade was a disaster for the Raiders because the team only won eight games in two seasons. Palmer failed to repay their faith and many people thought that his career was over. However, a move to Arizona revitalized him. He continued to play at a high level for another five seasons.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

16. John Hadl

The Packers have enjoyed some brilliant quarterbacks down through the years. However, Hadl wasn’t one of them. Yes, he was excellent for the Rams, but he was past his best in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Green Bay gave up a lot of draft capital to sign him. It was a blockbuster deal that saw the Rams receive five draft picks in exchange for the QB (via Sportscasting).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Many teams waste draft picks after trading one of their best players. But the Rams used these wisely and invested in players that helped them to reach a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Green Bay failed to blossom. Hadl went 7-16 as a starter and didn’t last long. It took years before they had another decent QB. This shows why teams are always desperate for a great signal-caller.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

15. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch was one of the greatest running backs of his generation. At least, he was when he played for the Seahawks. But things didn’t go as well for ‘Beast Mode’ in Buffalo. He lost his place as a starter and it looked as though his potential was dissipating. After a pair of 1,000 yard seasons, Lynch declined. Then Fred Jackson took his place consistently.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo traded him to Seattle for a fourth and a fifth-round pick. In the end, it became a gigantic steal for the Seahawks because Lynch reemerged in a massive way. However, Buffalo didn’t have anything to gain by keeping him. That’s because he wasn’t the right fit for the franchise. The change of scene helped him to become a blockbuster superstar (via The Athletic).

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

14. Ollie Matson

The NFL has seen some freak athletes down through the years. Matson took this to the next level as one of the greatest of his era. We’re not saying that he was the best football player. But in terms of athletic potential, he was out on his own. Matson was an Olympic gold medallist before the Cardinals drafted him. The running back won a pair of golds in Helsinki (via USA Today).

Mandatory Credit: NBC Sports

He enjoyed a strong NFL career with six Pro Bowl appearances. Many people also consider him to be one of the best players of the ’50s. Then the Rams swooped for him in 1958. Their crazy blockbuster trade saw them hand nine players to Chicago in exchange for Matson. An immediate decline set in and Matson never made the Pro Bowl game. Nor did the Rams make the Super Bowl.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

13. Julio Jones

Jones is one of the best players in Atlanta Falcons history. They gave the Browns an arm and a leg to get him and it proved to be a wise decision. Cleveland gained first, second and fourth rounds pick in 2011. They also received first and fourth-round picks in 2012. However, Jones repaid them by developing into arguably the franchise’s greatest-ever receiver.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

He led the NFL in receiving yards twice and was also a seven-time Pro Bowler. Jones should have had a Super Bowl ring in his collection too. This blockbuster trade was massive at the time. Some analysts believed that it was a high risk for Atlanta. In the end, they made the right choice. Despite all of their gains, the Browns became even worse (via Bleacher Report).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

12. Brett Favre

It’s easy to forget that Favre didn’t start his career in Green Bay. The Atlanta Falcons made him their second-round pick in 1991. However, the rookie had a difficult first season and the Falcons gave up on him. They traded him to the Packers for a first-round pick the following year. This was incredibly short-sighted because Favre had potential.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

In the end, he made a mockery of their decision. Favre famously won a Super Bowl with Green Bay and became a true star. He helped them to the postseason many times and was one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Favre was also part of another blockbuster trade when he joined the New York Jets. That came after the Packers went all-in on Aaron Rodgers (via Madison.com).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Michael Vick

Vick was one of the first truly great rushing quarterbacks. He was a breath of fresh air for Atlanta before his disturbing dogfighting scandal. However, this elite QB was initially out of the Falcons’ reach. They moved up the draft to pick him by trading with the Chargers. In the end, they gave up a lot but it was a deal that made sense for the franchise (via Athlon Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This blockbuster trade saw the Chargers receive first and third-round picks in 2001. They also got a second-rounder for the following season and return specialist Tim Dwight. Meanwhile, they used one of the picks to draft LaDainian Tomlinson. In hindsight, this brought the trade up to the next level. Both teams were winners until Vick became a psycho and got arrested for his horrible behavior.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

10. Troy Polamalu

This was another Draft Day blockbuster trade. Polamalu spent his entire 12-year career with the Steelers. But in another scenario, he may never have played for them. That’s because the Chiefs had the first chance to pick him. However, they agreed on a massive trade with Pittsburgh for the legendary safety. The Hall of Famer joined after the Steelers gave up multiple picks.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Polamalu was a brilliant player. The two-time Super Bowl champion won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010. Meanwhile, he retired with 770 tackles and 32 interceptions (via USA Today). Furthermore, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler as well. The American-Samoan had a glorious career and was a very popular figure.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Eric Dickerson

Dickerson was one of the best backs in the NFL when he forced the Rams to trade him. This instigated one of the most complex blockbuster trades on this list. It involved three teams and directly influenced nine players. Meanwhile, draft picks flew around the league like bats with rabies. Dickerson got his move, but it was a convoluted arrangement.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Colts traded players and picks to the Bills. In return, they received a first-round pick and Greg Bell. Then they traded Bell and a lot of draft capital to the Rams for Dickerson. We would go into detail but it would just make heads explode. In the end, Dickerson had two great seasons with the Colts before he declined and also made a lot of money (via Sportsnaut).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Eli Manning

In 2005, Manning became a hot topic because everybody wanted him. The San Diego Chargers had the first pick but Manning didn’t want to go there. The Ole Miss star saw what happened to Ryan Leaf and was wary of the Chargers’ front office. Meanwhile, the Giants also needed a franchise quarterback. Manning was firm in his decision to never play for San Diego.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This left the Chargers in a difficult position because they wanted him badly. In the end, they accepted his bluff and made a blockbuster trade. New York gave them Philip Rivers as well as a pair of draft selections. The deal worked out for both players and franchises. Rivers became an eight-time Pro Bowler while Manning won a pair of Super Bowl rings in New York (via CBS Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. John Elway

Elway is an NFL icon and Broncos’ royalty. He was also the first quarterback to refuse to play for the franchise that was set to draft him. We’re talking about the Colts in 1983 because they had the first overall pick. Naturally, they planned to draft the most exciting QB available. But Elway had no intentions of playing for the Colts. He was a dual-sport athlete and said he’d play professional baseball instead.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This left the Colts in an untenable position. They didn’t want to call his bluff because it could waste their pick. In the end, they traded him to Denver for a first-round pick and Chris Hinton. Elway became an instant star and helped his franchise to three Super Bowl appearances. It was a brilliant decision by the Broncos because they immediately became contenders (via Bleacher Report).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

6. Russell Wilson

It appeared as though the Broncos and Aaron Rodgers were a match made in heaven. Then the Green Bay quarterback announced an insane extension with his franchise. Everything happened very quickly after this as Denver swooped for Wilson. This pleased fans because Wilson is one of the greatest quarterbacks in recent history (via ESPN).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Seattle received three players including quarterback Drew Lock and tight end Noah Fant. Meanwhile, the Broncos also gave up several draft picks. It meant that they had their first bonafide franchise QB since Peyton Manning. Furthermore, it brought the Pete Carroll-Wilson pairing to an end. It’s sad to see Wilson leave Seattle after 10 seasons with the Seahawks. But it’s exciting that he has a fresh start in the stacked AFC West.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

5. Tyreek Hill

Many have asked if Miami is a legitimate contender after they snatched Hill. They gave up five draft picks including a late 2022 first-rounder for the wideout. The six-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year deal worth $120 million. It also immediately injected elite quality into the Dolphins’ ranks. This put pressure on Tua Tagavoiloa’s shoulders and it would seem the former Alabama has this year to prove he can truly be a top NFL star.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Kansas City coach Andy Reid admitted that this trade was about the salary cap. He didn’t want to lose one of the league’s most dynamic talents. He admitted it will be difficult to see him catch passes for another team but that’s the nature of the business sometimes. It’s also one of the joys of the NFL that one team can’t just buy all of the best players instantly (via FOX News).

Mandatory Credit: Boston.com

4. Randy Moss

Moss is a legendary Hall of Famer. The wideout spent the bulk of his career with the Vikings before moving to the Raiders. Then the Patriots lured him to Foxborough for a late-career resurgence. Moss had a massive profile but many people thought that he was done. Oakland only received a fourth-round pick for the veteran but Moss rewarded Bill Belichick’s faith (via SBNation).

Mandatory Credit: WBUR

Some will say that this wasn’t a blockbuster trade because the Patriots didn’t give the Raiders anything. However, that misses out on the fact that Moss was a superstar. He also went on to have multiple 1000-yard seasons. In short, it’s probably the best fourth-round pick swap in history. This was a brilliant piece of foresight from Belichick and his team.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

3. Marshall Faulk

Faulk was a phenomenal running back with the Rams. But he started his career with the Colts where he was very good. It wasn’t until he moved to St. Louis that he took his game to the next level. This was a blockbuster trade where both sides gained a lot. Yes, the Rams received a vital member of their famed ‘Greatest Show on Turf.’ He played a crucial role in their future success.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Meanwhile, the Colts received Edgerrin James. The tailback also enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in Indianapolis and helped them to the postseason multiple times. In many cases, one team exploited another’s weakness. That could be their cap space or simply a player’s desire to move. However, this is a fine example of both franchises getting what they wanted (via Clutchpoints).

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

2. Jerry Rice

Rice is the greatest receiver in NFL history. He built his 21-season career in San Francisco but things could have worked out very differently. The Patriots had the first pick in 1985 but later agreed to trade with the 49ers. San Francisco sent three picks to New England to move up and snatch Rice. It proved to be a franchise-defining decision for the 49ers.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

He was a three-time Super Bowl champion including an MVP performance. The 13-time Pro Bowler also led the NFL in receiving yards in six seasons. Meanwhile, Rice won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award twice. The only thing he’s missing is the NFL MVP award but that’s often reserved for quarterbacks. This blockbuster trade instigated a glorious career (via Sportskeeda).

Mandatory Credit: AllSport

1. Herschel Walker

This remains the most one-sided and worst trade in NFL history. Walker was phenomenal for the Cowboys. This convinced the Vikings that he was the missing piece to help them win a Super Bowl. However, Minnesota should accept that they’re never going to win a ring. That’s because Walker’s form immediately dissolved after he arrived in a blockbuster trade. 18 players switched in this chaotic deal.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Meanwhile, Minnesota gave up everything to bring him North. Dallas received a pair of first-round picks and three second-round picks. Oh, and the Vikings also threw in a third-rounder for good measure. Walker stayed in Minnesota for two seasons without posting 1,000 yards. Then, the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the space of four years when they built a dynasty off of the insane haul the Vikings had signed off on (via Fanbuzz).

Advertisement