6 More of the Worst Trades in NFL History

Fans, experts, and media members around the league are roasting the New York Giants for trading Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. It appears as though the Giants didn’t receive commensurate compensation in return for getting rid of one of the game’s best players. The uproar over that trade makes it interesting to look back at some of the worst NFL trades  ever. It’s always hard to deal solid players for picks because of the unpredictability of the NFL draft process. Some bad trades feature draft picks being traded for players who would either excel with a new team or severely underperform. Here are six more of the worst NFL trades we’ve ever seen.

6. Patriots trade away draft pick that becomes Jerry Rice

The Patriots unloaded the draft pick that became Jerry Rice in one of the worst NFL trades ever.
Jerry Rice could have been a Patriot.| Joseph Patronite/Getty Images

These days, it’s no surprise to Patriots fans when the team acquires multiple draft picks to move backward in the draft. Coach Bill Belichick is famous for stockpiling draft picks, and with six Super Bowl victories it’s hard to argue with his results.

But in 1985 the Patriots did not have Belichick, and it’s not hard to imagine they would have been better off staying put when they traded the 16th overall pick to the 49ers for three draft picks. The 49ers would use the pick to take Jerry Rice, who is widely regarded as the greatest wide receiver of all time.

The Patriots took, well, three guys who weren’t Jerry Rice. The Patriots would have to wait a decade and a half before they’d become a league powerhouse. They might have expedited the process if they’d selected Rice that day.

5. Colts trade Marshall Faulk to the Rams

In 1999 the Colts traded young running back Marshall Faulk to the Rams for second- and fourth-round picks. The Rams were struggling when he got there, but they were anything but doormats by his first season in St. Louis. Faulk went on to become one of the most important parts of one of the best offenses the league had ever seen — Offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s so-called “Greatest Show on Turf.” The Rams won the Super Bowl that year.

Indianapolis used the picks to select linebackers Mike Peterson and Brad Scioli. The two played four and six years, respectively, but they never came close to matching the impact of Faulk, which is why this is one of the worst NFL trades we’ve ever seen.

4. Oilers trade Steve Largent to the Seahawks

The Houston Oilers drafted Steve Largent in the fourth round of the 1976 draft, and they promptly traded the wide receiver to Seattle. Largent enjoyed an amazing career with the Seahawks, and become one of the all-time great receivers. The Oilers made the playoffs six times during Largent’s playing days, but never made the Super Bowl.

To put this trade in perspective of how bad it was, the Oilers received an eighth-round pick in return for Largent. They gave away a Hall of Famer for a draft pick in a round that no longer exists.

3. Dolphins trade Wes Welker to the Patriots

Coming off a stellar if not outstanding 2006 season with 67 receptions, Wes Welker went from the Dolphins to the Patriots via trade in 2007. Over the next six seasons in New England, Welker hauled on more than 100 receptions five times and led the league in catches three times.

2. Colts trade for Trent Richardson, Browns squander draft pick

This is the rare instance where one of the worst NFL trades was bad for both sides. In 2013, the Colts traded their next year’s first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for underachieving running back Trent Richardson. Richardson didn’t do much of anything in Indianapolis, so that was a bad move for the Colts. The Browns used the pick from Indianapolis the following year for Johnny Manziel, and we all know how poorly that worked out for Cleveland.

1. Giants trade Odell Beckham, Jr. to Browns

Forget the headaches Beckham supposedly caused off the field. Forget the forecasts of what the Giants could do with the Browns’ relatively low compensation (a first and a third rounder) from this trade. Barring a major injury to Beckham, there is simply no way this trade can be looked at as anything but a catastrophic failure for the Giants who gave up one of the league’s best receivers in the prime of his career for a safety (Jabril Peppers) and draft stock to spend on two players who probably will never be Beckham-like.