Whenever teams make trades in the NFL, one of the most common forms of compensation is trading draft picks for upcoming drafts. This is a common way for teams to try and retool their rosters, both in the present and the future. However, not all trades are created equally. Let’s look at some of the trades that have defined the league in recent years.
There have been many consequential trades made during the NFL Draft, but a few stand out as having a significant impact on the league.
- Herschel Walker Trade – In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys traded running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a bounty of draft picks. The Cowboys ended up using those picks to select players like Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland, among others. These players helped build the foundation of the Cowboys’ dynasty in the 1990s, winning three Super Bowls in four years.
- Eli Manning Trade – In the 2004 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected quarterback Eli Manning with the first overall pick. However, Manning made it clear that he did not want to play for the Chargers and would sit out the season if necessary. The Chargers eventually traded Manning to the New York Giants in exchange for quarterback Philip Rivers and several draft picks. Manning went on to lead the Giants to two Super Bowl victories, while Rivers had a successful career with the Chargers.
- Julio Jones Trade – In 2011, the Atlanta Falcons traded a king’s ransom of draft picks to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up and select wide receiver Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick. The Falcons gave up five draft picks, including two first-rounders, to make the deal. Jones went on to become one of the best receivers in the league, while the Browns struggled to turn their draft picks into impact players.
- Lamar Jackson Trade – In the 2018 Draft, the Baltimore Ravens traded up to number 32. They gave the Eagles the 52nd pick, 125th pick, and 2019 second round pick to acquire pick number 32 and 132. Lamar Jackson has become an MVP at the quarterback position, and has given the Ravens legitimate Super Bowl aspirations every single year.
- Aaron Rodgers Trade – The Jets and Packers just agreed to significant 2023 Draft compensation for Aaron Rodgers. The Jets traded their first round pick, which was the 13th pick, the 43rd pick in the draft, a 6th round pick this year, and a conditional 2nd round pick that becomes a 1st round pick if Rodgers plays 65% of snaps for the Jets next year. The Jets also got the 15th pick in the draft as well as a 5th round pick this year.
These are just some of the trades that have changed how we view the draft, and have changed the entire NFL landscape as a whole. It seems as if a big trade is made with teams moving up and down every single year (see what the Panthers gave the Bears for the #1 overall pick this year?).
We can’t wait for Thursday.