Commentary

Top 10 most disappointing trades

Herschel Walker. Ricky Williams. Could any trades be worse? Actually, many were

Originally Published: May 24, 2011
By Mike Tanier | Football Outsiders
OwensAl Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesThis trade didn't work out well for the Eagles. But was it the most disappointing of the past 25 years?

When it comes to trades, one team's disaster is often another team's triumph.

The 1989 Herschel Walker trade may be called The Great Train Robbery by Minnesota Vikings fans, but it started a Dallas Cowboys dynasty. The 1974 John Hadl trade marked the beginning of a string of 10- and 11-loss seasons for the Green Bay Packers, but it made the Los Angeles Rams a perennial powerhouse. If a deal leaves your favorite team's glass half-empty, it probably filled a glass elsewhere.

This isn't a top-10 list of lopsided train robberies. It's a list of trades that hurt both teams. Sometimes, "hurt" is a relative term: A player can have a great season or two but still harm his new team in other ways, by being a locker room headache or just not providing enough bang for the buck. In those deals, neither side can really claim victory, but there's plenty of defeat to go around.

Here are the 10 most disappointing trades of the past 25 years.


10. Seattle Seahawks trade a 2007 first-round pick (which became Brandon Meriweather) to New England Patriots for Deion Branch

Branch was unhappy with his contract situation in 2006; he balked at the three-year contract extension the team offered him, then held out of training camp. When the Patriots coaxed a first-round pick out of the Seahawks just before the season, it appeared to be an all-time swindle. Seattle GM Tim Ruskell, channeling his inner Steinbrenner, signed Branch to a six-year, $39 million contract, only to discover that his prize acquisition was an injury-prone product of the New England system. The Patriots, meanwhile, turned their first-round pick into Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowler at safety.

But before you applaud New England's genius, think back to the 2006 AFC Championship Game loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Reche Caldwell, the team's No. 1 receiver by default, dropped two passes in that game, one of them a screen that practically buried itself in his jersey. In other words, trading Branch might have cost the Patriots another trip to the Super Bowl.


9. Cowboys trade 2009 first-, third- and fifth-round picks to Detroit Lions for Roy Williams


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