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The Worst Trades In NFL History
April 15, 2020

NFL teams work trades all the time in an attempt to put together a roster that can lead to the ultimate goal – a Super Bowl victory. Not all NFL trades work out for the best. Some are simply disastrous. This article reviews some of the more disastrous trades in NFL history.

Ricky Williams to New Orleans

In 1999, New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka mortgaged the team’s future for the rights to draft RB Ricky Williams at No. 5 Ditka traded all of the Saints drafts picks, including first- and third-round picks the following year, for Williams.

Williams ran for 884 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie and New Orleans went 3-13. Ditka, not surprisingly, was fired. Williams played just two more seasons in New Orleans before being traded to Miami.

The Ryan Leaf Deal

Talk about a trade that didn’t work out for either team. In 1998, the Arizona Cardinal held the second overall pick in the draft. The Cardinals decided to drop down one spot trading it to the San Diego Chargers. In return, Arizona received the No. 3 pick overall, another first-round pick in 1999, a second-round pick, LB Patrick Sapp, and RB Eric Metcalf.

The Chargers would select Washington State QB Ryan Leaf, one of the biggest draft busts of all-time. The Cardinals netted David Boston, Corey Chavous, and Andre Wadsworth. Neither team netted very much from the trade.

Marshall Faulk & The Greatest Show on Turf

In five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Marshall Faulk proved he was one of the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL. He had four 1,000-yard rushing seasons and caught at least 47 passes in all five seasons.

In 1999, the Colts decided to move on without the future Hall of Fame running back. Indianapolis traded Faulk to the Rams for second- and fifth-round draft picks. Those two picks ended up being LB Mike Peterson and DE Brad Scioli neither of whom became a household NFL name.

Faulk, meanwhile, would win the first of three straight NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards the very next season. He was the NFL’s MVP in 2000 and helped the “Greatest Show on Turf” win the Super Bowl after the 1999 season. Faulk became one of just three (Roger Craig and Christian McCaffrey) players to rush for over 1,000 yards and have 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.

How Randy White Ended Up in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys can thank the New York Giants for Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White. In 1975, the Giants needed a quarterback. New York decided they would go after Cowboys’ backup Craig Morton. The Giants even gave up their first-round pick the following year to get Morton.

Unfortunately, Morton would lead New York to just two wins that season meaning the pick that Dallas would receive from the Giants would be at No. 2. The Cowboys used that pick on White who would anchor the Dallas defensive line for 14 years.

White would win a Super Bowl ring and a Super Bowl MVP in Dallas. The Giants would trade Morton to Denver for two draft picks that never played a down for the Giants. Morton did lead Denver to Super Bowl XII where they lost to…you guessed…White and the Dallas Cowboys!

Gunslinger to Green Bay

The Atlanta Falcons took a chance on a quarterback from Southern Mississippi in the second round of the 1991 draft. Favre didn’t play much as a rookie attempting just four passes, two of which were picked off.

The following year, the Falcons decided to unload Favre for the 19th overall pick in the 1992 draft. Atlanta would take running back Tony Smith who spent three seasons with the team and then was gone. Favre, of course, would go on to rewrite the NFL record books, earn 11 Pro Bowl berths, three consecutive NFL MVP awards, and a Super Bowl ring.

Oakland Got Mossed

Moss didn’t really do much in his two years in Oakland and the Raiders got tired of him hanging around. Oakland traded Moss to New England for a fourth-round draft pick in 2007. Moss would go on to team up with QB Tom Brady to have one of the best seasons ever by an NFL wide receiver. Moss totaled 1,493 yards receiving and an NFL record 23 touchdown receptions.  He would have two more 1,000-yard seasons with New England.

Oh, the Raiders went on to use that fourth-round draft pick on a cornerback out of the University of Cincinnati named John Bowie. Bowie’s NFL career statistics include two tackles. That’s it.

The Worst Ever – Herschel Walker to Minnesota

Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys can thank the Minnesota Vikings for America’s Team’s dynasty of the 1990s. Johnson had taken over as head coach of the Cowboys and in 1989 went 1-15. After the season, Johnson and his good friend, Dallas owner Jerry Jones, put together a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings wanted RB Herschel Walker, arguably one of the best college running back ever. After some time in the USFL, Walker had a good, but not great NFL career. Johnson and Jones shipped Walker off to Minnesota in return for six draft picks.  Those six picks were used to take Hall of Fame RB Emmitt Smith, WR Alexander Wright, DT Russell Maryland, WR Alvin Harper, LB Dixon Edwards, LB Robert Jones, CB Kevin Smith, and S Darren Woodson.

The Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Walker played just two and half seasons with the Vikings who won zero Super Bowls in the ‘90s.

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