Home » NFL » NFL draft trade retrospective: A team-by-team look at the best moves of the last decade

NFL draft trade retrospective: A team-by-team look at the best moves of the last decade



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There were 41 trades made in the past year involving 2017 NFL draft picks. However, as is the case with any draft trade, it’s never immediately apparent how each trade will pay off. Could an organization trading down reap the rewards of value in getting a couple extra selections? Or might the team trading up have played their cards just right to snag a prospect in the slot ahead of where he was going?

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History tells us that most of those deals will not amount to much (or, in some cases, will turn out to be horrible mistakes). A handful will hit, though, to the point that we’ll be discussing their impact for seasons to come.

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With that in mind, let’s take a look back and pick out each team’s absolute best move. To keep this discussion relevant, we restricted the trades to drafts from the last 10 years (2007–16), excluding this year’s—like discussed above, it’s tough to determine the success of the trade without any games or stats to back it up.

2016 nfl pro bowl apparel source inc First up, the AFC.

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AFC East

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Buffalo Bills Jersey: 2009

Traded: Jason Peters Jersey to Philadelphia for pick No. 28 and No. 121 plus a 2010 sixth-round pick

Selected: C Eric Wood Jersey Jersey, TE Shawn Nelson, LB Danny Batten (2010)

The Bills have orchestrated two massive top-10 trades over the past decade: Their aggressive 2014 leap to No. 4 for WR Sammy Watkins Jersey Jersey, and their move down from No. 8 to No. 16 a year prior—the Rams took Tavon Austin Jersey Jersey, the Bills nabbed Ej Manuel Jersey and later Kiko Alonso Jersey, among others. Neither deal has paid off the way Buffalo had planned. The team is still holding out hope that both Watkins and 2016 draft pick Reggie Ragland Jersey (picks No. 49 and No. 117 for No. 41) return obvious value on investment.

Until then, the Wood trade takes top honors. In a one-for-one comparison, it’s not really a win—Peters has been a seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro for the Eagles, maintaining his status for many years as one of the league’s top left tackles; Wood has just one Pro Bowl berth spread over his eight seasons and 104 starts. But Peters and the Bills were headed toward an ugly split, with Peters having held out in 2008 and likely to do so again in ’09. So, Buffalo did the best it could, and wound up with a quality starting center.

Miami Dolphins Jersey: 2016

Traded: Pick No. 8 to Philadelphia for Kiko Alonso Jersey, Byron Maxwell Jersey and pick No. 13

Selected: OL Laremy Tunsil Jersey

Bonus points for creativity. The Dolphins and Eagles completed this deal several weeks before the draft, as Philadelphia set its sights on a top-two pick and QB Carson Wentz Jersey. The entire gambit was a leap of faith by Miami that Alonso and Maxwell could revitalize their careers on a new team. Each played a key role in the Dolphins’ playoff push a year ago, and GM Chris Grier in turn handed Alonso a contract extension in March. Better yet, Tunsil—in a draft night bong photo-induced twist—fell into the Dolphins’ lap at No. 13.

Miami has had a few other moments of draft-trade success in recent memory, too. Their surprise dumping of Mike Wallace Jersey Jersey in 2015 eventually netted them now-starting RB Jay Ajayi Jersey Jersey (pick No. 232 and Wallace for pick No. 149). And they traded up for both RB Lamar Miller Jersey in 2012 (picks No. 103, No. 196 and a ’13 sixth for pick No. 97) and underrated safety Reshad Jones Jersey Jersey in ’10 (picks No. 174 and No. 219 for No. 163).

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New England Patriots Jersey: 2010

Traded: Picks No. 44 and No. 190 to Oakland for pick No. 42

Selected: TE Rob Gronkowski Jersey Jersey

The Patriots saddled the Raiders with a killer “what if” here, moving up a measly two spots and landing Gronkowski, who since has established himself as an all-time great tight end. The Raiders took DE Lamarr Houston Jersey Jersey and LB Travis Goethel with the picks New England sent back.

True to Bill Belichick’s mad scientist reputation, though, acquiring Gronk for pennies on the dollar is not a runaway “best trade” winner. In 2013, the Patriots traded down from pick No. 29 and subsequently walked away with Jamie Collins Jersey Jersey Jersey, Logan Ryan Jersey Jersey and LeGarratte Blount. In 2012, they traded up in Round 1 for both Chandler Jones Jersey Jersey and Dont’a Hightower. And 2007 brought a flurry of moves: a second- and seventh-rounder to Miami for Wes Welker; a fourth-rounder to Oakland for Randy Moss; Deion Branch to Seattle for a first-round pick. The Patriots’ recent draft-trade history includes a remarkable list of star power.

New York Jets Jersey: 2007

Traded: Pick Nos. 25, 59 and 164 to Carolina for picks No. 14 and No. 191

Selected: CB ; included pick No. ?191 in trade up for LB

By 2008, Revis was a Pro Bowler. By 2009, he was an All-Pro and the Jets were en route to the first of back-to-back AFC championship appearances behind the NFL’s top defense. The Panthers flipped Nos. ?25 and ?59 into LB Jon Beason and C Jersey, respectively, so this is about as close to a win-win trade as it gets. For the Jets, though, it was a game-changer. Even more so when they were able to parlay pick No. 191, along with Nos. 63 and 89, to go get Harris.

The other Jets’ blockbuster of the last decade under consideration also involved Revis—only this time, he exited the New York scene when in 2013 the Jets shipped him to Tampa Bay for pick No. 13 and a ’14 fourth-rounder. They used that No. 13 overall pick on DE/OLB Sheldon Richardson Jersey.

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AFC North

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Baltimore Ravens Jersey: 2007

Traded: Pick Nos. 101, 166 and 203 to Jacksonville for pick No. 86

Selected: OL Marshal Yanda Jersey Jersey

There is an argument to be made here for the Ravens’ 2008 trade up from No. 26 to No. 18 to draft Joe Flacco Jersey Jersey. Say what you will about Flacco and his ever-discussed “elite” qualities, but he has been the starting QB in Baltimore for nine years and owns a Super Bowl MVP trophy. The Ravens handed Houston pick Nos. 26, 89 and 173 to go get him.

The Flacco acquisition (the Flacquistion?) still pales in comparison to the value Baltimore found in Yanda. That No. 86 pick with which the Ravens selected Yanda fell midway through Round 3. It cost them just a fourth-, late fifth- and late sixth-round pick to make it happen. Yanda has since started 133 games—with six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro bids—and could have a Hall of Fame case when he’s done.

Cincinnati Bengals Jersey: 2012

Traded: Carson Palmer Jersey Jersey to Oakland for pick No. 17 and a 2013 second-rounder

Selected: CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick and RB Gio Bernard (2013)

This deal actually occurred midway through the 2011 season, after Palmer—unseated by a rookie Jersey—threatened retirement unless the Bengals traded him. An injury to Oakland QB Jason Campbell provided the opportunity, and Cincinnati managed to bring back two high draft picks in return. Kirkpatrick recently signed a lucrative, long-term contract extension, while Bernard has accumulated more than 4,100 yards from scrimmage as part of the Bengals’ backfield.

Historically, the Bengals have been one of the NFL’s quieter teams when it comes to draft trades. Since their disastrous 1995 jump to No. 1 overall for RB Ki-Jana Carter, the Bengals have not traded up in the first round. They did, however, move up in Round 4 during the 2014 draft to nab center Russell Bodine Jersey Jersey (picks 123 and 199 for 111). He has been a starter, albeit an oft-criticized one, for three seasons now.

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Cleveland Browns Jersey: 2016

Traded: Picks No. 8 and No. 176 to Tennessee for picks No. 15 and No. 76 and a 2017 second-round pick

Selected: WR Corey Coleman Jersey, OT Shon Coleman Jersey and QB DeShone Kizer Jersey (2017)

Which 2016 trade down do you prefer? The one in which Cleveland dealt Nos. 2 and 139 to Philadelphia for Nos. 8, 77, 100, a 2017 first- and 2018 second-rounder? Or this one, which netted the Browns a starting wide receiver and their potential QB of the future? Both came with the same design: to help stockpile a depleted roster with young talent.

Keeping track of how it all played out is enough to give one a headache. The trade down from No. 2 led to this trade down from No. 8. The Browns then also traded out of spots 77 (acquiring picks 93, 129 and 168) and 100 (acquiring picks 114 and 154). They walked away from all those moves with Coleman, Coleman, Kizer, Cody Kessler Jersey, Derrick Kindred Jersey, Spencer Drango Jersey, Ricardo Louis Jersey and Jordan Payton. Whew.

Pittsburgh Steelers Jersey: 2010

Traded: Pick No. 155 to Arizona for CB Bryant McFadden and pick No. 195

Selected: WR Antonio Brown Jersey

Another team that just does not unload its draft picks often. From 2007–11, the Steelers’ lone trade up was a ’07 fourth-round move for punter Daniel Sepulveda (pick No. 119 and No. 192 for No. 112). They have swapped picks for players, on occasion, as was the case when Pittsburgh spent 2016 picks to acquire CB Brandon Boykin and K Josh Scobee Jersey (Nos. 164 and 201, respectively). But for the most part, this is a stick-and-pick organization.

Fortunately for the Steelers, they were willing to talk trade when the Cardinals climbed 40 spots to select QB John Skelton. At the time, the key name in that deal looked to be McFadden, who started 16 games for Pittsburgh in 2011. It goes without saying that Brown’s ascension changed the narrative. 

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AFC South

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Houston Texans Jersey: 2008

Traded: Pick 183 to Denver for C Chris Myers

Selected: n/a

This is the only trade in our AFC retrospective that doesn’t involve the team making an actual pick. The Texans, though, have yet to match the sign-and-trade they pulled off with the Broncos ahead of the 2008 draft. From the time he moved to Houston through the end of his career after the 2014 season, Myers did not miss a single game—a total of 112 straight starts at center, with two Pro Bowl bids to boot.

OT Jersey’s streak did not reach Myers’s level, but he’s still locked in on the left side of Houston’s line—the Texans acquired him via that Flacco trade, sliding back eight spots. Between Brown and Myers, the Texans secured 40% of their offensive line via the 2008 draft. They’ve had other minor victories, like trading QB Matt Schaub Jersey Jersey away for pick No. 181 of the 2014 draft, then using that pick on RB Jersey. But the Myers move was a signature moment.

Indianapolis Colts Jersey: 2012

Traded: Pick No. 97 and a 2013 fifth-rounder to San Francisco for pick No. 92

Selected: WR T.Y. Hilton Jersey Jersey

Close call for the Colts between this slight move up—from the top of Round 4 to the bottom of Round 3—and the 2012 trade with Miami that brought CB Vontae Davis Jersey Jersey to Indianapolis. The latter deal cost the Colts just a second-round pick in 2013 (No. 54), because Davis did not play enough snaps during the ’12 season to tack on a conditional sixth-rounder. Davis has missed just three games the past four years, and he’s now a two-time Pro Bowler.

Still, hard to quibble with the price tag on Hilton. For the low cost of a 2013 fifth-rounder (which San Francisco used on DL Quinton Dial Jersey), the Colts jumped five spots and drafted a player who led the league in receiving yards last season. Double whammy in 2012 for the 49ers, too: They moved pick No. 92 to the Colts, who took Hilton, and then traded pick No. 97 to Miami. The selection at that spot? RB Lamar Miller Jersey.

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Jacksonville Jaguars Jersey: 2014

Traded: Picks No. 70 and No. 150 to San Francisco for pick No. 61

Selected: WR Allen Robinson Jersey Jersey

The Jaguars have little recent history of trading down early in drafts, and they have not been all that fortunate when trading up—four picks for DE Derrick Harvey in ’08, a first and a second for QB Blaine Gabbert Jersey in ’11, a first and a fourth for WR Justin Blackmon Jersey Jersey in ’12. The tide appears to have changed in their favor recently, however, and the Robinson pick stands as evidence. The Penn State product was not as productive last season as he was in 2015, but he’s still chalked up nearly 3,000 yards receiving as a Jaguar.

There might be a decent-sized payout on a small wager from 2016, as well. Early in Round 2 last year, the Jaguars flipped picks 38 and 146 to Baltimore so they could draft LB Myles Jack Jersey, who slipped due to injury. He’s expected to be a cog on defense this season.

Tennessee Titans Jersey: 2016

Traded: Pick Nos. 1, 113 and 177 to the Rams for pick Nos. 15, 43, 45, 76 and two 2017 picks (a first- and a third-rounder)

Selected: Included picks No. 15 and No. 76 in trade up for OT ; DT Austin Johnson Jersey, RB Derrick Henry Jersey, WR Corey Davis Jersey (2017) and TE Jonnu Smith Jersey (2017)

There certainly is a little luck involved in all of this. The Titans just so happened to fall into the No. 1 overall pick the year after selecting franchise QB Marcus Mariota Jersey, which meant they were able to dangle that draft slot in front of the Rams. Look at the haul that came out of it. Conklin, Henry and Davis could form the backbone of the offense around Mariota for years to come, and Smith will learn from Delanie Walker Jersey. If the Titans had any complaint out of this, it’s that they did not pick in Round 2 this year—they moved it as part of the Conklin package.

The Titans also pounced last year on falling out of favor in Philadelphia. The cost to acquire him: pick No. 100, and the Eagles sent No. 113 back (one of the picks the Rams later added). Murray rushed for almost 1,300 yards last season. 

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AFC West

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Denver Broncos Jersey: 2009

Traded: Jay Cutler Jersey Jersey and pick No. 140 to Chicago for Kyle Orton, pick No. 18 and No. 84, plus a 2010 first-rounder

Selected: DE Robert Ayers Jersey; included pick No. 84 in a trade up for TE Richard Quinn; included 2010 first-rounder in a trade down, eventually traded back up to select WR Demaryius Thomas Jersey Jersey

Connecting the dots through the entirety of this move is fascinating. The Broncos traded up from 84 to 64 in ’09 for Quinn, who caught one pass in two seasons. The Steelers then drafted WR Mike Wallace Jersey Jersey with that 84th pick. Then, holding the Bears’ first-rounder in 2010, the Broncos traded down from 11 to 13 to 24 and then back up to 22 for Thomas. Along the way, they picked up pick No. 87, which they used on WR Eric Decker Jersey, and pick No. 70, which they flipped as part of a package for Tim Tebow at No. 25.

Among the players taken with picks traded away by Denver: Jersey (No. 24), Brandon Graham Jersey (No. 13), Aaron Hernandez (No. 113), Anthony Davis (No. 11).

One trade to keep tabs on moving forward: Denver’s 2015 deal for Jersey. The Broncos traded three picks (Nos. 28, 143 and a 2016 fifth) plus OL Manny Ramirez to Detroit, then took Ray at No. 23 overall.

Kansas City: 2011

Traded: Pick No. 21 to Cleveland for picks No. 26 and No. 70

Selected: WR Jon Baldwin Jersey and OLB Justin Houston Jersey Jersey

OK, so forget about that Jon Baldwin Jersey part—he caught 41 passes for 579 yards as one of the Chiefs’ all-time draft busts. The Browns traded up to 21 for DT Phil Taylor Jersey, which is only marginally better. The real focus is on that selection of Houston. Without the extra third-rounder handed them by Cleveland, the Chiefs may not have acquired the dynamic defender, who currently sits fourth on the franchise’s all-time sacks list.

Should the Baldwin portion of that draft trade be a deal-breaker for ya, here’s a fallback option: In 2008 the Chiefs sent picks 17, 66 and 136 to the Lions for Nos. 15 and 76. They used the earlier of those two selections on OT Branden Albert Jersey Jersey Jersey, a six-year starter for them at left tackle. (Pick No. 76: TE Brad Cottam.)

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Los Angeles Chargers Jersey: 2007

Traded: Pick Nos. 62, 93 and 167 and a 2008 third-rounder to Chicago for pick No. 37

Selected: S Eric Weddle Jersey

The Chargers’ top trade may have been the easiest call of any AFC franchise. In hindsight, a second, two thirds and a fifth amounted to highway robbery for Weddle, a four-time Pro Bowler (three with the Chargers), two-time All-Pro and the face of San Diego’s defense for years. The Bears didn’t do much with the capital floated their way, either—none of the picks they made played more than four seasons in the league.

The only other Chargers trade of the last decade with hope of approaching Weddle’s impact is the one they pulled for Melvin Gordon Jersey in 2015 (picks No. 17 and No. 117 and a 2016 fifth-rounder for No. 15). Gordon was a Pro Bowler last season after a miserable rookie year. He needs to rush for 2,623 more yards to match the Chargers output of RB Ryan Mathews Jersey, who landed with the organization following a big Round 1 trade (Nos. 28, 40, 126 and LB Tim Dobbins to Miami for Nos. 12, 110 and 173).

Oakland Raiders Jersey: 2014

Traded: Pick No. 67 to Miami for picks No. 81 and No. 116

Selected: G Gabe Jackson Jersey and DB Keith McGill Jersey

Maybe the trade-down success stories do not deserve as much credit as the trade ups, because teams were not actively hunting specific players. That said, results are results. And here, the Raiders dropped 14 spots and still found a linchpin for their offensive line—Jackson is on the verge of a hefty contract extension. McGill has yet to find any notable success, but he’ll have a chance in camp this year to win playing time at safety.

The lingering question: Does Jackson’s early success propel this trade ahead of Oakland’s stunning 2011 trade for Richard Seymour? The Raiders gave New England pick No. 17 overall for the three-time champ, in the hope that Seymour could help propel them over the top. The veteran defensive lineman did notch a pair of Pro Bowl bids as a Raider, but his Oakland teams never made it above the .500 mark. The Patriots used that 17th pick on OT Jersey.