Every team has them. It's an unavoidable and unfortunate part of their team's history. What are they? Bad trades, of course. Actually, not even just bad trades, but bad transactions. A coach they should not have hired. A hot free agent who was not a scheme fit, or just flat out was a product of a previous system, or worse, just had a one time, career year. These have to happen folks, whether we like them or not (and honestly, no fan likes them). Without them, what else would we talk about on the plethora of sports talk radio programs? But, for every horrible, terrible, no good trade your franchise has endured, there is a flip side to things. What is that? Happy you asked!
For every ridiculously bad trade your favorite team has made, odds are that they have hopefully made a few really good trades, too. And what makes a good trade a good trade? Well, perhaps they dumped some high priced veteran off and snagged a great prospect. Maybe they had an under performing player, so they swapped him for some other team's headache and the change of scenery was just what that player needed. Or, maybe your shrewd and crafty general manager made the right call and acquired that vital missing cog in your sports machine-that one remaining player, the missing piece of the puzzle that lets you party as your team has a victory parade. Every team... or at least, most teams, should have their share of these kinds of trades. Some seem to have more than others, both the bad and the good. Sometimes it's just about being the big market club, and everyone thinks you are bullying the little guys (looking at you, Yankees!).
So, what team should we look at now? How about those Philadelphia Eagles? One of my favorite teams, as I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. The Eagles are no different -they've made some awesome moves, and they've made some tremendously boneheaded moves. Let's take a look at them, shall we?
15 BEST: Trading For Terrell Owens
Yes, we only had Owens for two years. One was glorious, if cut short by injuries (stupid horse collar, and one more reason for Eagles fans to hate Dallas). When healthy, Owens was an amazing weapon. For his career, just as with his time with the Eagles, he was considered one of the best wide receivers the NFL had ever seen. The problem for Owens was that he loved to hear the hype, believe in the hype, and let it go to his head. So a year after having a great season with Philadelphia-the first year of a new contract, I might add-Terrell Owens was begging for more money. Now, he arguably deserved it, but how he asked for it was just off the wall, and the divorce proceedings soon began. The kicker was, Owens acted as though he was single-handedly responsible for getting the Eagles over the hump and into the Super Bowl-except the game the Birds had lost three consecutive seasons in a row (the NFC Title game), Owens did not play in. But, even though he was a diva, he was still one of the best wideouts to play in Philly.
14 WORST: Letting Keith Jackson Leave as a Free Agent
I was only a kid when the NFL embraced free-agency as we know it. And my beloved Eagles suffered quite a few losses (though to be fair, every team does, it’s the nature of that side of the business). Keith Jackson was one of the best tight ends in college (I mean, he was only named Oklahoma’s Offensive Player of the Century). He has garnered a ton of awards and accolades, and his college skill translated well to the NFL. He was a dominant player starting right away in his rookie year. He set the Eagles single season rookie record for receiving yards, a record that stood until DeSean Jackson showed up in Philly. But, as great a player as he was, the issue Philadelphia had was a crappy owner, Norman Braman. So when Jackson had the chance to leave, he flew south to Miami.
13 BEST: Hiring Andy Reid
How’s this for you. The Eagles, and relatively new owner Jeffrey Lurie, need a new head coach. People are begging for the hot names, the re-treads and the like. When the Eagles finally announce their hire, they’ve gone out and hired….Andy Reid? QB coach from Green Bay? Most Eagles fans had no clue who or what they were getting, and it’s a safe bet to say most of them weren’t enamored with this selection at the time. But I’d be willing to bet that most of them would be pretty OK with it now, all things considered. No, Reid never did win the city a Super Bowl, but he had the team close numerous times. Most would probably say that if two things were different, we could have had a parade or two down Broad Street by now. What two things? One, to have Donovan not throw so many worm-burners. And two, for Andy Reid to not undervalue wide receiver talent so long as he did. Mostly the second item. But even with that aside, Reid was (and is) a great coach.
12 WORST: Hiring Chip Kelly
Let’s be blunt. When Chip Kelly was still at Oregon, making people go ga-ga over his high-powered college offense, every talking head in the sports world was trying to predict and project which NFL team would finally pry him loose from his cozy college job, and then the debate would be about how he’d fare at the pro level. The answer to the trivia question was Philadelphia, hired as the successor to Andy Reid. His first year, using Reid’s roster, he enjoyed a decent debut. But once he gained control over the roster, the wheels came off and it became quite clear that Chip Kelly might have been an offensive innovator in college, but he had no business making professional personnel decisions. The Eagles took a few seasons to make the decision to fire him, and it was a day that made most fans thrilled.
11 BEST: Pawning Sam Bradford Off For a 1st Rounder
I am sorry, but this move was just brilliant. I get it, it’s rather fresh, but no one ever in a million years thought the Eagles could secure a first round draft pick for Sam Bradford. I think most fans were hoping for a second round pick at best, and once he was about to hit free agency in 2016, I think most fans were kind of hoping he’d sign elsewhere. Then came the new contract, and then came the Eagles pulled off a series of trades and landed Carson Wentz. So, when Teddy Bridgewater destroyed his knee in a non-contact drill, the Vikings pain was the Eagles gain, as Minnesota gave up their 2017 first rounder to obtain Bradford. Sam had a decent enough year with the Vikings, but Eagles fans will tell you-Wentz looks legit.
10 WORST: Trading LeSean McCoy
Here’s a move that we can put here because someone thought it would be a good idea to let Chip Kelly make roster moves. What’s worse, he traded McCoy, straight up, for Kiko Alonso. Now, Alonso was stellar his rookie year, but when the trade went down? Oh, you know, Kiko was just recovering from a blown knee. So yes, this was maddening, especially considering how valuable and versatile a back McCoy is and was. There were even more frustrating things about this trade, too. For one, about how McCoy wasn’t a fit in Kelly’s scheme. For another, folks trying to say it was about saving money, when the Eagles then went out and spent a ton for DeMarco Murray (who flat out sucked in his one and only year in Philadelphia).
9 BEST: Dumping Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso on the Dolphins
Let’s call this one like we see it: It was primarily about Howie Roseman, pack in power after Chip Kelly was fired, cleaning out the junk Kelly brought in. But it was also about clearing salary off the payroll, because Kelly clearly had no idea about salary caps (because in college, you could pay your players as much as you wanted). And, for the Eagles, it was another needed maneuver along their journey to get as high up the draft board as possible. Kiko may have been decent in Miami, but Maxwell just kept reminding fans that Philly was not just shedding salary. I mean, you’d think a team as in need of a CB as Philadelphia was, they’d find a way to keep someone if they were decent. That they couldn’t wait to send Maxwell packing should speak volumes.
8 WORST: Letting Brian Dawkins Leave as a Free Agent
Here is one guy whom you hated to see leave. Fans were upset. Fans were flat out angry. Brian Dawkins, simply put, was the heart and soul of the Eagles defense during his time in Philadelphia, and I’d venture to guess more fans had a #20 Dawkins jersey in their collection than any other Eagles player at the time. From the business side of things, yes, I can absolutely see why the front office would, on paper, justify not re-signing that player. But Dawkins was a guy worth more than what the statistics show. He was an emotional leader in the locker room, and a man the team and fans alike adored. He may have only had a season or two left in his tank when he left as a free agent, but every Eagles fan knows that those years should have never been played in any other jersey but an Eagles one.
7 BEST: Signing Troy Vincent
As great a safety as Brian Dawkins was, the entire Eagles secondary during that stretch was phenomenal. That in and of itself is one reason why that iteration of Eagles defense was so impressive. But Dawkins alone could not be the defense, right? Right. And one of the key pieces, working alongside Mr. Dawkins? That would be Troy Vincent, a free agent signee who left sunny South Florida (and the Dolphins) and opted to join the Eagles. Putting him in the same backfield as guys like Dawkins and Bobby Taylor gave defensive coordinator Jim Johnson a ton of confidence in calling up all sorts of blitzes. When your d-backs are excellent, you can bring the house and leave those guys one on one a lot.
6 WORST: Hiring Rich Kotite
Kotite could have been impressive, but realistically his tenure was doomed from the start. Why? Well, he served under one of the most popular head coaches the franchise had ever had, Buddy Ryan (seriously, the man is still revered in the city to this day). So, when Ryan was shown the door, the Eagles promoted his offensive coordinator, Rich Kotite. Now, the truth is, Kotite actually had a couple decent years to start his tenure. But, after that, the talent that Ryan had drafted and who were loyal to him, started to leave as their contracts expired. And Kotite wasn’t exactly doing a great job replacing that talent, and the records suffered. Fortunately for Eagles fans, Norman Braman sold the Birds to Jeffrey Lurie during Kotite’s run, and one of the first things the new owner did was show Kotite the door.
5 BEST: Trading for Norm Van Brocklin
Simply put, one of the greatest trades for the Eagles, as Van Brocklin would come in and be a stellar quarterback for Philadelphia. He was a huge factor on the 1960 National Football League Championship (the one that pre-dates the Super Bowl). Van Brocklin started out as a Los Angeles Ram, and for a stretch in the 1950s he platooned with another star quarterback. But when he had time to shine all on his own, he did. He still holds the single game passing yardage record. But at some point, things broke down between the QB and Rams management, and Van Brocklin actually went so far as to announce his retirement. A few months later, however, and the Eagles traded for him. The price paid was relatively small, but with the acquisition came great improvements to the team. And in 1960, the team’s last NFL Championship.
4 WORST: Trading Sonny Jurgensen
Yes, this was before my time. Yes, they got a serviceable replacement who had longevity, in return for Jurgensen. But Sonny had really done nothing to warrant a trade, other than the teams then-head coach was not a fan. Which, I suppose, is reason enough to jettison a player…except that you need someone to over-rule the really dumb decisions. Like this one. Jurgensen had impressive seasons for the Eagles, and with the Redskins, he largely continued that trend, being named an All-Pro several times, and also winning several passing yardage titles as well. He lead Washington to a Super Bowl, though they did not win that one. In that same span, the Eagles never made it to the Super Bowl. It was bad enough trading a stud QB. It was worse trading him to a division rival.
3 BEST: Drafting Reggie White
He is considered the best player in Eagles history, and the best defensive end to ever play in the NFL. He was at one point the NFL leader in sacks, and still has the record for highest sacks per game average in a season (21 sacks in 12 games, 1.75 a game). If you include his sacks in the USFL, he would eclipse Bruce Smith’s 200 sack record. Or, if he didn’t lose time to a strike shortened season, who knows what could have happened. And yes, his Eagles defenses were fairly well stocked with talent (the late Jerome Brown, Seth Joyner and so many others), but the reality is that the Minister of Defense was the leader on that team, a defense which many consider to be the best defense to never win a Super Bowl.
2 WORST: Letting Reggie White Leave as a Free Agent
This, to me, is inexcusable. And, as every Eagles fan knows, this one lands at the feet of Norman Braman more than any other departure. I believe some players easily used the word cheap to describe Braman. As a fan, that’s not what you want to hear. Especially when you are dealing with a free agent defensive end who just so happens to be the best who ever played the position (not at the time…ever. Even now, no one has surpassed his talent). But White knew two things: Braman wasn’t going to pay Reggie what he was worth or deserved, and Braman wasn’t going to shell out to put pieces around Reggie and on offense to help the Eagles get to a Super Bowl. So, White jumped ship and instantly made a number of Eagles fans into Packers fans (at least for when Green Bay wasn’t playing Philly).
1 BEST: Drafting Donovan McNabb
Now, in time, I suspect this could be supplanted by Carson Wentz and his selection, also at #2 (at least, most fans are hoping things go that well). But for now, McNabb remains the most successful quarterback in Eagles history. He was one of the first in a new wave of quarterbacks, the kind that could beat you with his feet and his arm. He lead the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Title games, five title games in total, to go along with five NFC East crowns and a Super Bowl appearance. Simply put, for as much criticism as he’s received, he had one impressive run in Philadelphia, and it’s a model of consistency that most teams would love to have. Oh sure, they’d love to have won more conference title games, but it’s hard enough just to get there… but to do it four times in a row? He is also deserving of this spot because, had the fans been in charge, we likely would have wound up with Ricky Williams.