For better or worse, it takes one blockbuster trade to completely change a franchise. Some work out well, while others are considered to be one-sided deals. While it might be hard to judge more recent trades, we still look at their immediate effects. Older trades matter too. After all, if teams like the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t pull two major shakeups, neither team would be the dynasty they were of the eighties and nineties.
Chandler Jones To The Arizona Cardinals
Bill Belichick has a long history of trading players in their contract years. For the most part, it’s worked in the coach’s favor. In 2016, the New England Patriots struck a blockbuster deal with the Arizona Cardinals that didn’t follow the trend.
The team traded pass rusher Chandler Jones in exchange for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick. Jones has reached three consecutive double-digit sack season in the desert. As for Cooper, he was released by the Patriots in 2016.
Chicago Bears Gave Away Greg Olsen
Most people might not remember that Greg Olsen spent four seasons in the Windy City. He wasn’t able to find consistency with either Kyle Orton or Jay Cutler as his quarterback. That would lead the Bears to send him to the Carolina Panthers for a third-round pick in 2012.
Chicago flipped the pick to the San Diego Chargers. As for Olsen, he found a new life with Cam Newton as his go-to target. He managed to reach three 1,000-yard seasons from 2012-2014.
49ers Hand Over Alex Smith To Kansas City
Alex Smith was concussed in 2012, opening the door for Colin Kaepernick. Coach Jim Harbaugh went with the hot hand, leading to a Super Bowl appearance. Following the season, the 49ers sent the former first overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for two draft selections.
The 49ers turned it into four additional picks, including Carlos Hyde. Smith led the Chiefs to five winning seasons. He is credited for quickly transitioning a franchise into a winner that had struggled for most of the 21st century.
Dallas Cowboys Get Amari Cooper
It’s too early to say the Oakland Raiders lost on the Amari Cooper trade. While the team is in rebuild mode, they did get a 2019 first-round draft pick for fourth overall selection from the 2015 draft.
Cooper quickly established himself as Dallas’ new number one wide receiver, working alongside Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Raiders, as they did with Khalil Mack, wound up trading another young star in his prime. Hopefully, they can make up for it at the draft.
Colts Send Marshall Faulk To St. Louis
The Hall of Famer was a huge part of the Colts offense from 1994 to 1998. As soon as Peyton Manning came to town, the offense had limitless potential.
However, Faulk would be on the short end of the stick as the team traded him to the Rams for draft picks that would become Mike Peterson and Brad Scioli. Faulk was on “The Greatest Show On Turf” offense with Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce, eventually winning Super Bowl XXXIV.
New England Patriots Handed The 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo showed his worth in two starts with the Patriots while Tom Brady was suspended. Belichick, always an oppotunits, opted to trade the young quarterback at the 2017 trade deadline. He sent the East Illinois alum to the San Francisco 49ers for their 2018 second-round draft pick.
“Jimmy G” would win his first six starts for the 49ers. In return, the team handed him a five-year extension worth $137.5 million. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in Week 3 and he missed most of the 2018 season.
Buffalo Bills Get Shady For LeSean McCoy
The Bills hit a home run when they landed LeSean McCoy in 2015. The Blockbuster trade saw the running back be shipped from the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Kiki Alonso. The Eagles rolled with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews at running back, who both flopped in the City of Brotherly Love.
Meanwhile, the Pro Bowl running back became Bill’s top offensive threat with two 1,000 rushing yard seasons under his belt. But, at least the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018.
Miami Dolphins Got Tired Of Jarvis Landry
There’s no denying that the Dolphins haven’t developed superstar players since Dan Marino. At LSU, Jarvis Landry was a nightmare of a matchup for opposing defenses. After a few underwhelming season in the NFL, the Dolphins decided to trade away the flashy playmaker to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a fourth and seventh-round selection.
In Cleveland, Landry produced at a high level, especially with Baker Mayfield as his quarterback. The Browns’ were so happy they even handed him a $75 million contract extension. Meanwhile, the Dolphins seem to be regressing in yet another full-on rebuild.
Chargers Trade Up For Ryan Leaf
This one is a doozy. The 1998 NFL Draft saw Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf as two-franchise changing quarterbacks. The Indianapolis Colts selected the future Hall of Famer while the San Diego Chargers took a chance on Leaf.
Initially, the Chargers swung a deal with the Cardinals to climb up into the second overall position, in exchange for two firsts and a one-second round draft pick. Football fans know Manning’s status, but for Leaf, he became one of the biggest draft busts ever.
Bears Land Khalil Mack For Beans
Khalil Mack was a fan favorite for the black and silver, and this trade was a clear win for the Bears. It drastically improved their defense. The Raiders received four draft picks for Mack, including two first-rounders, but that still isn’t enough.
In Chicago, Mack had over 10 sacks and six forced fumbles, becoming the leader of the NFL’s best defense. All the best to Mark Davis who will have to find his replacement as soon as possible to keep his fans happy.
Atlanta Gets Julio Jones From Cleveland
The Browns made a costly mistake at the 2011 draft. They swapped picks with the Atlanta Falcons, only to miss out on juggernaut Julio Jones. Cleveland received five draft picks in return. Those picks turned out to be non-notables including Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson.
Neither player or the remaining picks would leave a lasting impact. As for Jones, he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career receiving yards, accomplishing the feat in 104 games.
Browns Help Eagles Draft Carson Wentz
In 2016, the Browns had the second overall pick of the draft. But, in true Clevland fashion, they swapped picks with the Eagles. The Browns ended up with Corey Coleman and DeShone Kizer, terrible trade for Cleveland.
As for the Eagles, they selected Carson Wentz with the second pick. The quarterback would emerge as an MVP candidate, and likely would have won had he not torn his ACL late in the 2017 season. It’s a good thing he has so many years ahead of him.
Oakland Lands Mike Haynes
Throughout the seventies and eighties, Mike Haynes was a dominant cornerback. He was one of the few standouts who played for a struggling Patriots franchise. Haynes would be named to six Pro Bowls during his tenure in New England.
However, the team shipped him to the Los Angeles Rams during the 1983 season for two draft picks. Haynes continued to show his dominance with the black and silver, reaching a Super Bowl title along the way. Now, he’s enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bears Trade For Rick Mirer, Because Of They Do
The Seattle Seahawks were in need of a franchise quarterback. They selected Norte Dame alum Rick Mirer with the second selection in 1993. Mirer struggled endlessly in his four years there.
When the Bears saw something in him, they swung a deal with the Seahawks. Chicago acquired the quarterback for a 1997 first-round draft pick. Mirer would play one disastorous season in the Windy City. As for the Seahawks, they used that pick to select future Pro Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs.
Bucs Hand 49ers Steve Young
In 1984, Tampa Bay selected Steve Young in the Supplemental Draft. The lefty never developed in Florida, which is why he was traded to the 49ers in 1987, receiving four draft picks in return.
From that point on, Young became Joe Montana’s understudy and eventually took over the starting role in 1991. He would help the team win a Super Bowl with two MVP awards along the way. Young kept the dynasty going, and eventually was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Herschel Walker Trade
It’s the most historic trade the NFL has ever seen. Dallas sent Minnesota standout running back Herschel Walker along with three draft picks. The Cowboys ended up with four players and eight picks, using one of those picks to draft the legendary Emmitt Smith.
Plus, Dallas got their hands on defensive tackle Russell Maryland and safety Darren Woodson. That would be enough to build a dynasty in the nineties. As for Walker, he only played two and a half seasons with the purple and gold.
Ricky Williams Failed His Teat In The Big Easy
New Orleans had their eyes set on drafting Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. The Saints gave up all of their 1999 draft selections, along with first and third-round picks in 2000 for him.
After two seasons, the team sent Williams to the Dolphins before the 2002 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the Redskins move around the draft board and ended up with cornerback Champ Bailey. Plus, they selected a standout linebacker, LaVar Arrington.
Patriots Gift 49ers Jerry Rice
The 49ers knew it was crucial to find Joe Montana another great pass-catcher. At the 1985 Draft, the 49ers made sure to get Jerry Rice when they traded two draft choices to the Patriots to move up.
New England used those picks Trevor Matich and Ben Thomas, none of whom became impact players. As for Rice, he led the 49ers to three Super Bowl championships and retired as the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Brett Favre Heads To Lambeau Field
The Atlanta Falcons drafted the Hall of Famer with the 33rd pick in 1991. Then coach Jerry Glanvile was never sold on Favre, though. After his rookie year, the quarterback was shipped to the Green Bay Packers for the 19th pick of the 1992 draft.
The Falcons selected Tony Smith, who totaled over 300 rushing yards in three seasons with the team. Well, for Favre, just about every football fan knows what he did. Even with stops in New York and Minnesota, he’s still one of the greatest of all-time.
John Elway Didn’t Want To Be A Colt
The Baltimore Colts drafted quarterback John Elway with the first overall pick in 1983. Elway’s issue was that he had zero interest in playing for the blue and white. So, the Colts traded away Elway to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Chris Hinton and Mark Herrmann.
The deal would be a significant franchise change for the Broncos while the Colts regressed until Peyton Manning came along. Elway would go on to win two Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.