After the Jay Cutler trade in 2009 I began considering the biggest trades in NFL history. Then I decided to rank the five biggest trades in NFL history for an article here at Associatedcontent.com. To me a big pro football trade is defined by how much media attention it gets and if really helps one or both teams involved. Those were some of the factors in determining the five biggest NFL trades in history.
1 The Herschel Walker Trade
The Herschel Walker trade was the biggest trade in NFL history in terms of media coverage and team impact. It is widely considered to have jump started the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 1990’s.
On October 12th 1989 Herschel Walker was traded from the Dallas Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys got LB Jesse Solomon, DB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, LB David Howard, DE Alex Stewart from the Vikings roster. Nelson then demanded a trade and was sent to the San Diego Chargers. A slew of draft picks were also involved in the Herschel Walker trade. Dallas ultimately got a guy named Emmitt Smith, defensive backs Clayton Holmes, Darren Woodson, and Kevin Smith, plus defensive tackle Russell Maryland with those picks. The Vikings ended up with Herschel Walker and wide receiver Jake Reed.
Dallas won on that trade but in part because the Vikings did not know how to use Herschel Walker. They should have lined him up in the I formation and fed him the ball instead of trying to fit them to their own offense. Too see all the details of the Herschel Walker trade then go here to Minscout.com
2 Brett Favre trade from Atlanta to Green Bay
Brett Favre was once the 3rd quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, before being traded to Green Bay for a first round draft pick. That pick turned out to be running back Tony Smith a Favre college teammate from Ole Miss. Brett Favre passed his way into the Hall of Fame in Green Bay and Tony Smith was a bust. The Brett Favre trade from Atlanta didn’t ever get much press but it was one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
3 John Elway traded to the Broncos
John Elway threatened the Colts with his potential baseball career to force them to trade him to the Denver Broncos. Denver got John Elway in the trade and when it was all said and done the Colts got Quarterback Mark Hermann, Offensive Tackle Chris Hinton and wide receiver Andre “Bad Moon” Rison. Hinton and Rison were good players but John Elway was a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
4 Saints trade all their draft picks for Ricky Williams
Mike Ditka wanted Ricky Williams for his New Orleans Saints and traded every pick for the running back out of Texas. Not only did the Washington Redskins get all the Saints 1999 draft picks, they got the first and third round Saints picks in 2000.
Shockingly the Saints got the better end of that deal because the Redskins drafted so poorly. Linebacker LaVar Arrington was the only Redskins of any note to come from the Ricky Williams trade. Both the Ricky Williams and John Elway trades made my top 5 NFL draft day surprises article.
5 Ollie Matson traded for 9 players
Ollie Matson was a superstar two way player for the Chicago Cardinals, most known as a running back. In March of 1959 Matson was traded for 9 Los Angeles Rams! According toZimbo.com, Rams general manger Pete Rozelle (yes THAT Pete Rozelle) traded The Rams gave up OT Ken Panfil, DT Frank Fuller, DE Glenn Holtzman, DT Art Hauser plus 1959 draftees RB Don Brown, RB Larry Hickman, and end John Tracey along with two picks in the 1960 draft. This huge trade for Ollie Matson makes the 5th of the top 5 NFL trades of all time.
Drafthistory.com covers Ricky Williams Trade
Sportingnews on the Elway trade
Minscout.com on Walker Trade
Bullzeye.com on Favre trade