NFL Trade Rumors: Power Ranking the 10 Worst Trades in NFL History

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2011

NFL Trade Rumors: Power Ranking the 10 Worst Trades in NFL History

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    The NFL has not typically been laden with as many ridiculous and insane trades as either Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association, but it certainly has some head scratching decisions and boneheaded mistakes of its own.

    Trades are almost always a risk for both parties involved and they typically have damaging ramifications when they go wrong.

    Some of the most embarrassing trades involve sending away players that in turn become superstars, as well as compounding the mistakes by drafting players that do not pan out.

    Trading in NFL is an inexact science, and there is no telling what will happen when teams decide to make a move.

    Here are the 10 worst trades in NFL history.

10. Trading Up for Michael Vick

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    The Chargers traded away the No. 1 pick in 2001 for the No. 5 pick, and a third-round pick, a second-round pick in 2002 along with wide receiver Tim Dwight.

    Now, I am not actually condemning the Falcons for this trade, but merely looking at how it turned out for everyone involved.

    Vick was the most electrifying player in the league, and, despite not posting back-to-back winning seasons in Atlanta, always gave them a chance to win the football game.

    Unfortunately his off-field decision making was his undoing, and cost the Falcons organization an entire overhaul.

    The Chargers basically came away with just LaDainian Tomlinson in the deal. He is Hall of Fame caliber running back but never got it done in the postseason.

    To be quite honest, neither team came out too badly when all was said and done, but the Falcons did have some serious damage control to tend with.

9. The Ricky Williams Trade

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    The Saints and coach Mike Ditka traded the entire 1999 Draft, as well as a first and third in 2000, for the rights to draft Ricky Williams at No. 5 overall.

    Williams did not produce the way the Saints wanted, though he was not bad during his time in New Orleans either.

    He was eventually traded to the Miami Dolphins for four draft picks, including two first rounders.  Williams was one of the league's best running backs before retiring early from football in 2004, despite coming back to play in 2007.

    The picks used to get Ricky were bounced around, but essentially, the only player worth noting was La'Var Arrington, the No. 2 overall pick in 2000.

    Nobody really made out well in the Ricky Williams saga, but for the Saints to put so much on the line just to get him was a bit damaging.

8. Trading Up for Ryan Leaf

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    The No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 Draft was traded by the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 3 pick, a first-round pick in 1999, a second-round pick, linebacker Patrick Sapp and Eric Metcalf.

    Unfortunately, things did not really work out for either team.

    Leaf was a complete bust in the NFL, almost doubling his touchdown total with interceptions, and was a completely miserable human being throughout most of his time in the spotlight.

    The Cardinals ended up drafting Andre Wadsworth, Corey Chavous and David Boston with the picks, and did not really make out with what they wanted; they did not have to deal with Ryan Leaf though.

7. Randy Moss to Patriots

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    The Patriots were more than willing to give up a fourth-round pick for Randy Moss in 2007, and it was absolute steal of a deal; the only reason it's not higher is because of the New York Giants.

    Moss did not want to play football in Oakland, looked like a shell of his dominant self in Minnesota and basically forced his way out of Silver and Black.

    The Raiders drafted John Bowie, a cornerback out of Cincinnati, with the pick but he was hardly worth Moss.

    Once in New England, he burst onto the field and played the way the way people were used to seeing.

    His presence in the Patriots' unbeaten regular season team was one of for the ages, and he continued to play great football until being released early this season.

6. The Marshall Faulk Trade

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    The Colts had issues at the end of Marshall Faulk's days in Indianapolis and decided to move on without him.

    In 1999, the Colts sent Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for second and fifth-round picks in the upcoming Draft.

    The Colts selected linebacker Mike Peterson and defensive end Brad Scioli with the selections but also drafted running back Edgerrin James in the first round to replace Faulk.

    James was a great player in Indianapolis but never helped them win a Super Bowl.  While Faulk went to St. Louis and continued a Hall of Fame career as part of the "Greatest Show On Turf".

    The Rams reached two Super Bowls, winning one at the end of 1999 season.

    The addition of James helped ease things over, but losing a Hall of Fame rusher for second and fifth round-picks is a mistake.

5. Steve Young Traded to San Francisco

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    Steve Young wasted some time in the USFL before being picked up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1985 Supplemental Draft.

    He was not particularly good in Tampa, going 3-16 as a starter, and was traded to San Francisco in 1987 for second and fourth-round picks and a backup role to Joe Montana.

    The Bucs drafted linebacker Winston Moss and wide receiver Bruce Hill while Young waited his turn behind the game's greatest quarterback before creating his own legend.

    Six NFL passing titles, a Super Bowl MVP award and Hall of Fame induction later, Steve Young is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

4. Randy White Ends Up In Dallas

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    The New York Giants thought they needed a quarterback in 1975 and decided it was a good idea to trade their first round pick for Roger Staubach's backup, Craig Morton.

    Morton won only one game for the Giants that season, upping their season total to two, and their No. 2 overall pick was sent to Dallas in the end; the Cowboys drafted Randy White.

    He anchored the Cowboys defensive line for years and is a member of both the college football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame.

    White was a co-MVP of Super Bowl XII and simply a dominant force in the NFL.

    Morton lasted two more seasons with the Giants before being traded for two Draft picks that became players that never played any downs in New York.

    Morton led the Broncos to Super Bowl XII, where he lost to the Cowboys and Randy White. Way to go Giants.

3. Brett Favre Traded To Green Bay

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    The Falcons drafted the gunslinger in the second round and never got him on the field in 1991 aside from four passes, two of which were interceptions.

    They traded him to the Packers at a reasonable price, the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of 1992, and the Falcons drafted running back Tony Smith.

    Favre, obviously, went on to rewrite a good portion of the NFL record books along with a Super Bowl victory at the end of the 1996 season.

    Smith never made much of his time in Atlanta and was out after three seasons.

    The value at the time was relatively fair for a player the Falcons had little intention of ever putting on the field, but Favre is one of the game's best and was had for far too little.

2. The John Elway Trade

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    Unfortunately this was sort of forced on the Baltimore Colts.

    John Elway was the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford, but did not want to play for Baltimore and threatened to pursue a career in baseball if he was not traded.

    The Colts had little choice but to give in at that point, and the Broncos sent quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton, and a first-round pick in 1984 (which became guard Ron Solt), to Baltimore in exchange for Elway's rights.

    Elway became a legend.  He went on to five Super Bowls (two of which he won) and is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

    Hermann was a journeyman and only played in five games for the Colts.

    Solt was best known for steroids, but Hinton was actually a solid player who reached the Pro Bowl seven times but still was not worth the price of a Hall of Fame quarterback.

1. The Herschel Walker Trade

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    Five players and six Draft picks was all it took to pry Herschel Walker away from the Dallas Cowboys in 1989—sorry Vikings fans.

    Walker is arguably one of the best college running backs to ever play.  He had a good NFL career, but not what it could have been after spending time in the USFL.

    The Cowboys parlayed the pieces they got in return for Walker into the foundation of their 1990's dynasty.

    The six Draft picks, spun around in a web of moves by the 'Boys became: running back Emmitt Smith (first round 1990), wide receiver Alexander Wright (second round 1990), defensive tackle Russell Maryland (first round 1991), wide receiver Alvin Harper (first round 1991), linebacker Dixon Edwards (second round 1991), linebacker Robert Jones (first round 1992), cornerback Kevin Smith (first round 1992) and safety Darren Woodson (second round 1992). 

    Needless to say, the Cowboys won three Super Bowls, and the Vikings toiled away with the loss of all the Draft picks, and Walker only played two and a half years in Minnesota.