The NFL's 10 Most Disastrous Moves of the Last Ten Years

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IFebruary 19, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 09: New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees #9 celebrates during the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV Victory Parade on February 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Skip Bolen/Getty Images)
Skip Bolen/Getty Images

In the wake of the first Super Bowl win by the New Orleans Saints, a team that had long wallowed in less than mediocrity, I started thinking about the worst NFL moves in the past 10 years.

For example, the San Diego Chargers allowed both quarterback Drew Brees and running back Michael Turner to leave via free agency while receiving nothing in exchange.

10) Houston Texans Select David Carr with First Overall Pick of 2002 NFL Draft

Though Houston now appears to have a bright future, the Carr pick was disastrous for the upstart franchise. 

Not only that, but the Texans also opted to have extra picks in each round of the 2002 and 2003 NFL drafts, and squandered many of them.

9) New York Jets Acquire Brett Favre and Release Chad Pennington in 2008

Fortunately for the Jets, Pennington is likely already done in Miami.  However, Pennington led the Dolphins from 1-15 in 2007 to a division championship in 2008.

Meanwhile, Favre gave the Jets only a year at quarterback and failed to deliver what the Jets wanted - a postseason berth.

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The Jets have since recooped from the mess, but it remains a blemish nonetheless, because Pennington gave Miami the jolt it needed to retrun to relevance.

8)  Buffalo Bills Acquire Drew Bledsoe from New England Patriots for First-Round Pick in 2002

In what would become the first of many moves by New England to enhance Draft positions, division rival Buffalo traded a first-round pick for Bledsoe. 

The Patriots used that pick to select defensive mainstay Ty Warren.

And all that Buffalo got from Bledsoe was a Pro Bowl performance in 2002 and nothing after that.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fire Tony Dungy in 2002

Ironically, the Bucs made a bad decision in 2002, but also hit a home run that same offseason by acquiring coach Jon Gruden from the Raiders

Gruden, though, would wear out his welcome in Tampa after many of Tony Dungy's defensive players retired or left the Bucs. 

Meanwhile, Dungy went to Indianapolis and become one of the winningest coaches in NFL history.  Of course, Dungy had Peyton Manning there, but Dungy did bring the defense that Indy sorely needed. 

And the move reflects badly upon the Bucs regardless.

6) Washington Redskins Hire Steve Spurrier from Florida as Coach in 2002

The hiring of Spurrier in 2002 best encapsulates the disastrous moves made by the Redskins over the last ten years.

Dan Snyder clearly has no patience to develop a team, which can take time.  Unlike baseball or basketball, it's far more difficult (if possible) to buy a championship in the NFL.

Spurrier, though, was not cut out to be an NFL coach.  Yet, he was paid $25 million before he ever won a game.

Here's another example of how bad that move was. 

Even I—a novice to the NFL at the time—was prescient enough to see Spurrier's inclinations towards impatience.  In that, I believed that Spurrier would fail because of his unwillingness to commit to players, especially those at the quarterback position.

In the NFL, you really don't need a roster filled with A-list players.  A coach really just needs to commit to B-list players and a few A-list players, and allow those players to coalesce.

5) Oakland Raiders Hire Lane Kiffin from USC as Coach in 2007

In a move that was a head-scratcher to begin with, the Raiders hired USC assistant Lane Kiffin to be head coach in 2007.

Kiffin was hired in part because no one else would work with Al Davis, including Ken Whisenhunt and Sean Payton.

Many people have defended Kiffin against Al Davis.  Those people believe that the coach should have more say in personnel decisions than the owner.  The fact is, however, that not only is Mr. Davis' power implied, it's contractual.

As it's said, only an idiot would sign a contract without reading it.  But as we all now know, Kiffin is a pathological liar, who clearly gets his kicks from telling tall tales.  Or by sending a kicker to attempt a 76-yard FG as an insult to the owner. 

Most people would know better than to tell their boss exactly what they think.  Kiffin would be terminated after that game and had the gall to sue for wrongful termination.

Kiffin refused to work with quarterback JaMarcus Russell and insisted on playing Josh McCown: the quarterback acquired from the Lions on the same draft day.

Then people wonder why I would adamantly assert that Kiffin colluded with out-going personnel director Michael Lombardi to trade Randy Moss and acquire Kiffin's friend from USC, Mike Williams, to replace Moss.

Also in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected pass-rusher Quentin Moses, whom Kiffin would "accidentally" release in a mix-up of paper work.  Moses is now a rising talent in Miami.

Kiffin clearly had big plans for McCown and Williams, and no plans to adhere to his boss.  Kiffin would also attempt to fire defensive-coordinator Rob Ryan to his his dad, Monte, from Tampa Bay.

Kiffin clearly established himself as a liar and cronyist. 

And yet, the only "crazy" decision by Mr. Davis was to hire Kiffin in the first place, but that's because Kiffin lied his rear off.

And that's the kicker.

4) St. Louis Rams Release quarterback Kurt Warner in 2004

That move has come back to haunt the Rams.  At the time, Warner appeared to be damaged goods and just the product of offensive wizardry under Mike Martz and Dick Vermeil.

Warner, however, would disprove that notion by eventually leading the Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl berth in 2008.

Had the Rams stuck with Warner, the Rams may have returned to the Super Bowl.  Instead, the Rams opted for Marc Bulger, a quarterback who has played admirably but nowhere near the level of the two-time NFL MVP that he replaced.

3) Oakland Raiders Trade Coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay in 2002

In what was then seen as a fleecing by the Raiders has turned into a stain for the Oakland franchise.  Gruden would, of course, lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to defeat the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.

This move by the Raiders would contribute to the already brewing toxic reputation of Al Davis.  So much so, that many Raider Haters have rooted for his death.  Ever since, Mr. Davis has had a difficult time in attracting coaches, though he still knows a good coach when he sees one.

The Raiders nearly hired Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints, but both turned down Mr. Davis, in part, because of his reputation with coaches.  Nearly all (if not all) coaches in the NFL have god-complexes, and so the last thing that any team would want to do is trade the coach.

2) Detroit Lions Hire Matt Millen as President in 2000

Millen would establish an M.O. by taking any and every receiver or linebacker that he could, only to leave a trail of draft day busts.

Most notably: QB Joey Harrington (2002), WR Charles Rogers (2003), WR Roy Williams (2004), and WR Mike Williams (2005).

The Lions would also wallow in futility, often winning fewer than 5 games.

Only once since 2001 would the Lions earn more than six wins, with a record of 7-9 in 2007.

1) San Diego Chargers Trade Eli Manning, Pass on Ben Roethlisberger, Let Drew Brees Walk for Nothing

I still see the ripple effects of the Ryan Leaf disaster from 1998.  In 2001, the Chargers traded down from first overall in the Draft in order to take half back LaDainian Tomlinson instead of Michael Vick.

The Chargers selected Drew Brees with the first pick in the second round.

Nevertheless, the Chargers bailed on Brees after a 4-12 campaign in 2003 and took Philip Rivers in the 2004 NFL Draft by trading eventual Super Bowl winner Eli Manning to the Giants.  In doing so, San Diego also passed on two-time Super Bowl-winner Ben Roethlisberger.

In 2004, Brees would rebound to lead San Diego to a record of 11-4 and 9-7 in 2005.  The Bolts, however, would allow Brees to leave for nothing in exchange because of concerns about the health of his injured shoulder.

Of course, Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints and has since led the once 'Aints to victory in the Super Bowl.  Ironically, Brees was selected in 2002 as the replacement for Leaf, who was selected after Peyton Manning, only for Brees to defeat Manning in the Super Bowl.

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