NFL trades can be a quick way to improve a team in need of a certain position. They could potentially land a great player in exchange for asset’s that aren’t necessarily needed, making it one of the more tempting acquisition methods available to front offices. So it’s not surprising that we’ve seen plenty blockbuster trades in the league history, where the exchange has worked out well for both teams. However, the downside with making any given trade is that there’s always a possibility that you could be on the losing end of it.
A player that is projected to have only a so-so career could end up being one of the best players in the game. While the mid-round picks or position on the roster a team may have filled looks good for the time being, parting with the player that they did ultimately turns out to be a bad decision. In recent years, it seems that we’ve seen more of this than usual, and can observe some truly awful front office decisions coming via the trade. Let’s take a look at the most notable examples.
Ranked below are the 15 most one-sided trades since 2010.
15. Five Draft Picks For Julio Jones
In any ordinary circumstance, the Browns would have gotten the better end of this deal, but Jones has proven himself to be one of the best receivers in league history. The Falcons were willing to give a king’s ransom for Jones, and it turns out that they were pretty much correct in thinking it would pay of. With that, they made him a top-10 selection in the 2010 draft.
Since then, Jones has helped establish Matt Ryan as one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and was a major reason why the Falcons were able to make the Super Bowl last season. He’s a cornerstone of a dangerous offense that is operating at its apex. The Browns mostly squandered the draft picks, and are currently still rebuilding.
14. Selling The Farm For Jared Goff
The Rams have been desperate for a franchise quarterback since the days of “The Greatest Show On Turf” so it’s not much of a surprise that they were eyeing up Goff in the 2016 draft. It got to the point where they were willing to sell the farm for him, and the Titans were happy to oblige, giving up their 1st-overall pick for a slew of valuable draft picks.
Maybe it’s too early to definitively say that Goff won’t be a franchise quarterback, but the early returns certainly weren’t very good, as he sat the bench the whole year. Meanwhile, the Titans were able to land Jack Conklin and Derrick Henry, two players who figure to be major contributors for many years. Then they added receiver Corey Davis, who projects to be very good over the long-term as well. For right now, that means they’re the victors in this deal.
13. Darrelle Revis For Two Draft Picks
While the Bucs must have been over the moon when landed Revis, who was the best cornerback in the league heading into the 2013 season, they probably anticipated having him for more than one season. While Revis yet again made the Pro Bowl during his lone season in Tampa Bay, it wasn’t up to this usual standards. The team didn’t make the playoffs, and Revis struggled to excel in Lovie Smith’s cover-2 principles employed throughout the defense.
He combated this by leaving for New England in 2014 to go win a Super Bowl, only to find his way back to the Jets the following year. In the end, it wasn’t worth it for the Bucs to give up a 1st-round selection, and the mid-rounder on top of it. Revis never had the longevity.
12. Carson Palmer For A 6th-Round Pick
It was obvious that the Raiders and Palmer never got on as well as they should have, but giving him up for a mere 6th-round pick was a questionable decision at best, even at the time. After all, Palmer was still a former Pro Bowl player in Cincinnati, and a better return could have been had if they were willing to wait it out a little bit. As it stood, the Cardinals got a new starting-caliber quarterback on the cheap.
While Arizona never was able to make it to a Super Bowl with Palmer leading their oft-dynamic offense, they still won plenty of games with him as their starter. They peaked with an NFC Title Game appearance, which is pretty good all things considered. Barring a major comeback this year, which is likely to be Palmer’s last, that may all they’re able to achieve with him, but it was still a worthwhile investment.
11. Jamie Collins For A 4th-Round Pick
It was shocking to see New England trade their Pro Bowl linebacker for a mid-round selection last season, but that’s exactly what happened. For once, the Browns actually seemed to come out on top of a trade, as they project to have a new starting middle linebacker for the long-term in Collins. Moreover, it’s a player that we know is actually good.
So as peculiar as it is to say, Cleveland actually made out pretty well here. They accumulated a ton of draft picks over the past couple of years, so a 4th-rounder isn’t a major loss. In return they were able to gain a great talent, and a piece that can help bolster their defense, and see their roster rebuild through to the end.
10. DeMarco Murray For Swapped 4th-Round Picks
After Chip Kelly left, the Eagles had some major housekeeping moves they wanted to accomplish before the start of the 2016 season. Many revolved around undoing all of Kelly’s moves that he had made as general manager the previous season, and Murray fit the bill. While Philly was able to use that higher 4th-rounder in a package to acquire Carson Wentz, there’s no denying that Murray excelled during his first year in Tennessee.
Wentz is likely to be the Eagles franchise quarterback going forward, but the 4th-round pick was only a small part of acquiring him. Murray is a stellar lead running back for the Titans, and for a pick swap, that’s an amazing return on the investment.
9. Alex Smith For A 2nd-Round Pick
Say what you want about Smith’s conservative approach to the quarterback position, he’s worked swimmingly while in Kansas City, and in tandem with Andy Reid has led the team to a playoff appearance every single season he’s been there. It doesn’t help to play in the same conference as the Patriots however, and while the Chiefs have never made a Super Bowl with Smith under center, they’ve been remarkably consistent, which has to count for something.
Meanwhile, the 49ers only racked up a 2nd-round pick, and soon turned into a mediocre team after Smith’s departure. You can’t blame them for wanting to move him, but there is no victory in this for them, as they’re still trying to fix their team and turn them into a contender again.
8. Jimmy Graham For A Center And A Draft Pick
The Saints clearly haven’t benefitted from acquiring Max Unger from Seattle, as their offensive line has been a massive detriment of the past several seasons, and while draft pick Stephone Anthony had a solid rookie season, he’s been injury plagued for the last few years, and is currently as well. It took some time, but the Seahawks have been able to fully integrate Graham into their offense.
Overall, it was a poor trade for New Orleans, who ended up downgrading at tight end when they acquired Coby Fleener. Graham was one of their best offensive players, and they underestimated his ability to be effective for a few more seasons. Overall, they should have just held onto him.
7. Brandon Marshall For Draft Picks
Marshall was coming off of two very good years with the Dolphins, which made the swap to the Bears in exchange for a 2nd and 3rd-roun draft pick seem strange at the time. Looking back however, Marshall was able to turn the Bears’ offense into a juggernaut for a couple of seasons, which was well-worth the pair of picks that Chicago had sent to Miami.
In combination with Alshon Jeffery and Marcellus Bennett, Marshall was able to thrive in Chicago for several years, arguably posting the best numbers of his career. They never made the impact that some thought they would, but they were able to establish a dangerous offense, which is all that was expected of Marshall anyway.
6. Trent Richardson For A 1st-Round Pick
It’s really tough to say that any one team actually won this trade, but the Colts will never be able to live down giving up a 1st-round pick for the biggest running back bust of the past 20 years or so. Richardson had stagnated with the Browns for the past two seasons, and Indy really thought that he would be able to turn it around in their system.
Unfortunately for them, Richardson only got worse, and he was out of the league entirely in short order after that. It stands as perhaps the worst move that Ryan Grigson ever made, and one that is definitely an embarrassment in hindsight. The Browns win this one by default.
5. Kiko Alonso For LeSean McCoy
Whether Chip Kelly actually had some kind of a definable vision when he took over as general manager in 2015, or if he was just drunk with power, trading the Eagles’ best franchise running back for a so-so linebacker turned out to be one of the worst moves of the era. Alonso spent one year in Philly, and McCoy is still effective for the Bills, and has established himself as one of the best players of this era.
It was definitely one of the moves that spelled the end of Kelly’s run in Philly, and one that the Eagles are still recovering from to this day. Alonso is now on the Dolphins, and McCoy is still the lead back in Buffalo. The Eagles ended up getting no long-term value out of this deal, putting them decidedly on the losing end of it.
4. Brock Osweiler For Draft Picks
Cleveland had the cap space to facilitate an Osweiler salary dump for the Texans this past offseason, and it was an automatic win for them. The Texans knew that their plan to make Osweiler their franchise quarterback had failed miserably, and at that point they had no choice but to cut their losses, and move on. But the Browns were in the right place at the right time, and ended up getting a slew of draft picks as well.
Of course, Osweiler never ended up making the Browns’ roster this season, but the 2nd-round pick, and two 4th-rounders they acquired will certainly come in handy as they rebuild their roster. A no-brainer success for Cleveland, yet again surprisingly, and a massive loss for the Texans.
3. Greg Olsen For A 3rd-Round Pick
Straight up, this was a great trade for the Panthers. Olsen has only gone on to be their most consistent receiver since he was a acquired from the Bears in 2011, and has undoubtedly been one of the league’s top tight ends. He’s been a top target for Cam Newton, and was a major reason for the team’s 2015 Super Bowl run. Few tight ends have the athleticism in the passing game as Olsen, and he’s been one of the prototypes for all future tight ends to come.
At the expense of a mere 3rd-round pick, it’s easy to determine the Panthers as winners here. The Bears had almost no chance to match this kind of production with that 3rd-rounder, and never ended up doing it. Olsen was able to take the next step in his career during his time in Carolina, and made himself a player to remember well after retirement.
2. Marshawn Lynch For A 4th-Round Pick
Perhaps more than any other offensive player, Lynch was the most identifiable part of the Seahawks 2013 Super Bowl team. With unparalleled toughness and big-play ability at the running back position, Lynch was an immediate force out of the backfield when he came onto Seattle’s roster in 2010. In a few years, he was a primary catalyst for a Super Bowl-winning team, and making highlight reels on a weekly basis.
It’s safe to say that the Seahawks don’t regret giving up the 4th-round selection. The Bills had no hope of drafting an equivalent to Lynch with it, as he took the league by storm in his six years in Seattle. With “Beast Mode” solidified as one of hallmark runners of the era, the outcome of this trade was a landslide victory.
1. Selling The Farm For Robert Griffin III
The ultimate warning sign for any team looking to give up a ton of draft capital to acquire a presumed-to-be great NFL quarterback, the RGIII trade was a disaster for the Redskins from all angles. The Rams held the 1st-overall pick, and they knew it would take a lot to sway them from the most premium position in the entire draft. Three 1st-rounders and change ended up doing the job, leaving Washington with their desired selection of RGIII.
Despite a rookie season that made him out to be one of the better young quarterbacks in the league, everything soon fell apart after that. Griffin was not only inconsistent on the field, he was often injured, which also kept him off of it. Factor in bickering with the new coaching staff headed by Jay Gruden (after Mike Shanahan left), and this was a bust of an acquisition in every way, shape and form.
Griffin would soon be benched, and then subsequently be released, while the Rams raked in a bevy of consistent and very good starters from the deal. A true no-brainer.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
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