No matter how accurate your mock drafts may be (and they’re probably not), there’s one thing no one can predict; trades. Trades happen on draft day every year, whether it’s merely for picks or an occasional player thrown in. We saw some big trades this year, with Buffalo moving up to no.4 from no.9 to take Sammy Watkins out of Clemson. We say Cleveland move down to no.9, up one to no.8 and later on traded up to no.22 to take their franchise quarterback in Johnny Manziel. We’ve seen some very nutty drafts in its history.
We’ve seen franchise players swapped and entire drafts go to another team. Sometimes the trades are worth it, other times it blows up in a team’s face. They may like to forget some, but we sure don’t! Here are the top 10 draft day trades we’ve ever seen. Call them good trades, call them bad trades, but these were big ones.
10) Randy Moss to New England for 4th Round Pick (2007)
What a steal this turned out to be for New England. The Oakland Raiders were desperate to deal Randy Moss due to off-field distractions and a drop in his play.
The Patriots dangled a fourth-round pick and it was good enough for Oakland. That very same season, the Patriots finished at a perfect 16-0 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Moss provided that weapon on the outside Tom Brady had often lacked. Brady enjoyed his finest season, throwing 50 touchdown passes, 23 of them to Moss, who broke the single-season record for touchdown catches.
Moss stayed in New England another couple of years, before the Patriots traded him to Minnesota in the 2010 season. For the price of a fourth-round pick, this was a home run for Bill Belichick. The Raiders have to think they were fleeced on this one.
9) Colts Take Jeff George And Strike Out (1990)
The Indianapolis Colts looked to make a splash in 1990 and it appeared they had, when they made a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. They traded a fifth-rounder, first-rounder, wide receiver Andre Rison and offensive tackle Chris Hinton. They did this in order to take hometown quarterback Jeff George.
George had promising talent, with a rocket of an arm, but he never quite put it all together. In his time with the Colts, he threw 46 interceptions to 41 touchdowns, only winning 14 games for Indy. Ironically, they would trade him after the 1993 season to the team that passed on him in 1990, the Falcons.
George bounced around the league, playing for seven different teams in his career. The Colts would have to wait until 1998 to find their saviour.
8) Dolphins Nab Paul Warfield (1970)
One team gets a Hall of Fame wide receiver. The other gets a first-round pick, taking a quarterback who doesn’t pan out. Gee, who would win a trade like that? In 1970, Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell sent the lightning-fast Paul Warfield to the Miami Dolphins for Purdue quarterback Mike Phipps, whom the Dolphins had just taken with their first-round pick.
Phipps never quite became the elite quarterback the Browns desperately needed, and they floundered for many years.
Meanwhile, Warfield continued to excel and helped the Dolphins to their perfect season in 1972 and their back-to-back Super Bowl wins. Picking a winner in this trade isn’t all that difficult.
7) Win-Win: Michael Vick for LaDainian Tomlinson (2001)
This kind of made picking Ryan Leaf worth it for San Diego after all. For you see, had the Chargers not taken Leaf in 1998, and he hadn’t been a bust, they wouldn’t have been in the position to make this deal in 2001.
The Chargers were in position to take Michael Vick, the electrifying prospect out of Virginia Tech, but were unable to reach a deal with Vick. They worked out a trade with Atlanta, a team desperate for a quarterback. The Chargers wound up with the Falcons’ fifth overall selection, a third-rounder, a second-rounder the following year and Tim Dwight.
Michael Vick energized the fan base in Atlanta and led the Falcons to multiple winning seasons, while the Chargers got arguably the best and most dynamic running back of the generation in Tomlinson.
6) Tony Dorsett to Dallas (1977)
You could sort of understand the Seattle Seahawks’ thinking at the time. They were an expansion team short on talent and wanted to load up. That is why they traded their no.2 overall pick to Dallas for their no.14 overall pick and three second-round picks.
The Cowboys took the only Hall of Fame player in the class by picking running back Tony Dorsett.
The move also paid immediate dividends for the Cowboys, as they won the Super Bowl that very same season, with Dorsett proving to be the difference maker the Cowboys brass thought he’d be.
He rushed for over 1,000 yards in his rookie year with 12 touchdowns. He finished his career with 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns. Well done, Dallas.
5) Eli Manning for Philip Rivers (2004)
This trade is still debated to this day. The San Diego Chargers held the first overall pick in 2004 and were keen on taking a quarterback. However, Eli Manning, the highest-rated quarterback in the draft had already stated he would not play for the Chargers. Why? We still aren’t entirely sure. Was it the team’s losing culture? Did he not want to play in the AFC against Peyton? Who knows.
Nonetheless, the Chargers took Eli with the first pick, but he didn’t sport the lightning bolt for long.
Minutes later, the New York Giants took Philip Rivers fourth overall and it became clear what the plan was.
The teams swapped their quarterbacks, with the Chargers getting a third-rounder and the Giants’ first and fifth-rounders the following year. San Diego landed Nate Kaeding and Shawne Merriman with those picks, both Pro-Bowlers.
However, it’s the Giants who have won two Super Bowls since this trade. Both have proven to be great quarterbacks, with the Giants having the more successful organization.
4) Marshall Faulk to St. Louis (1999)
Was there a more exciting player at the time than Marshall Faulk? Probably not.
Just five years after being drafted second overall by Indianapolis, the Colts and Faulk found themselves in a contract dispute and the Colts decided to move on. They held the fourth overall pick and were in position to take either Edgerrin James or Ricky Williams. They went with James, after trading Faulk to the St. Louis Rams for a second and fifth-round pick.
The move immediately paid off for St. Louis, as the franchise won its first Super Bowl in the 1999 season, with Faulk as a main feature in the greatest show on turf for the next few years.
The Colts continued their youth movement and James still proved to be an impact player for them while Peyton Manning developed. But if you were to pick a winner in this trade, you have to go with St. Louis.
3) Ricky Williams to Saints for Entire 1999 Draft (1999)
Forgive the old expression, but man, Mike Ditka lost his marbles here. The New Orleans Saints made an unprecedented trade with the Washington Redskins in 1999. They traded up to Washington’s no.5 spot to grab Texas sensation Ricky Williams.
He paid the steepest of prices to do it, trading every single one of his draft picks in 1999 and a first and third rounder the following year. One cannot fathom a trade like that happening today, much less for a running back.
Ditka went all in on this trade and as we know, things didn’t quite work out. Williams did have a relatively successful three-year stint in New Orleans, but the price the Saints paid was too steep. The team didn’t have enough pieces to build a winner and Ditka didn’t last much longer as coach, fired after the 1999 season.
If it’s any consolation to the Saints, the Redskins got eight draft picks, yet still weren’t able to amount to much with those picks. We’re unlikely to ever see a trade like this again, much less for a running back.
2) First Montana, Now Young (1989)
The San Francisco 49ers built a dynasty for a reason. They eventually added another notch to their belt, finding the successor to Joe Montana in 1987.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had drafted Vinny Testaverde with their first-overall pick, making Steve Young expendable to them. They had deemed him a bust and San Francisco sent a 2nd and a 4th round pick for Young.
It took a while for Steve Young to find consistency in San Francisco, but eventually in 1993, Montana was traded and Young finally got to steer the ship. He eventually brought home the 49ers’ fifth Super Bowl in the 1995 season. The Buccaneers never found success with Testaverde and found themselves rebuilding once again by the mid-90s.
1) Patriots Pass on Who? Jerry Rice to the Bay (1985)
To be fair, the New England Patriots weren’t the only team to pass on Jerry Rice, but they were the ones who opened the door for a 49ers dynasty.
Drafting at no.17 and in position to take Rice, the Patriots moved down to no.28, acquiring that pick from the 49ers as well as their second and third-round picks. The Patriots also sent a third-rounder the other way.
The 49ers were coming off a Super Bowl victory over the Miami Dolphins and thanks to this trade, wound up winning several more. They landed the best receiver in the game’s history for a small price. It’s either the best trade or the worst trade in the draft’s history. That depends whether you’re looking from the 49ers’ or Patriots’ side of things.