The NFL trade deadline is a thrilling time for football fans, as it provides teams with a last-minute opportunity to bolster their rosters for a playoff push or rebuild for the future. Over the years, there have been some blockbuster trades that have left a lasting impact on the league. In this article, we will rank the best NFL trade deadline deals in history, taking into account the impact on the teams involved and the players traded.
Best NFL Trade Deadline Deals
- Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings (1989): The Dallas Cowboys’ trade of running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings is arguably the most famous trade in NFL history. This deal, often referred to as the “Great Trade Robbery,” involved numerous draft picks and players. The Cowboys used the picks to build their dynasty in the 1990s, while Walker’s time in Minnesota was less successful. This trade altered the landscape of the NFL for years to come and remains a case study in trade deadline history.
- Jimmy Johnson‘s Trade Haul (1989): In conjunction with the Herschel Walker trade, the Cowboys also made a series of moves under the guidance of head coach Jimmy Johnson that brought in key players like Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland. These acquisitions laid the foundation for Dallas’s Super Bowl victories in the 1990s.
- Randy Moss to the New England Patriots (2007): In a midseason trade, the Patriots acquired wide receiver Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders. Moss’s impact was immediate and astonishing, as he set a single-season record with 23 touchdown receptions, helping the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. Although they fell short in the Super Bowl, this trade had a profound impact on the league and the Patriots’ offense.
- Terrell Owens to the Philadelphia Eagles (2004): In the midst of a controversial and tumultuous situation with the Baltimore Ravens, wide receiver Terrell Owens was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Owens played a pivotal role in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run, catching nine passes for 122 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX. His impact on the team and the city of Philadelphia was immense.
- Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears (2009): The Chicago Bears acquired quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos in a trade that sent shockwaves throughout the NFL. Cutler provided stability at the quarterback position for the Bears and helped lead them to an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2010, marking one of the franchise’s most successful seasons in recent history.
- Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks (2010): In a deal with the Buffalo Bills, the Seattle Seahawks acquired running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch’s bruising running style and “Beast Mode” persona became synonymous with the Seahawks’ identity. He played a pivotal role in their Super Bowl victory in 2014 and established himself as one of the premier running backs in the league.
- Aqib Talib to the New England Patriots (2012): The Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, solidifying their secondary. Talib’s impact was immediate, and he played a crucial role in the Patriots’ defensive resurgence during the 2012 season, helping them reach the AFC Championship Game.
- John Elway to the Denver Broncos (1983): John Elway’s arrival in Denver came via a trade with the Baltimore Colts. While the deal didn’t yield immediate success, it set the stage for Elway’s Hall of Fame career and ultimately led to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in his final two seasons.
- Deion Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers (1994): The 49ers traded for cornerback Deion Sanders, adding “Prime Time” to their roster. Sanders made an immediate impact, helping the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIX while providing a shutdown presence in the secondary.
- Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders (2011): In a midseason trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders acquired quarterback Carson Palmer to address their quarterback issues. While the trade didn’t result in a Super Bowl appearance, Palmer brought stability to the position during his time in Oakland.
These trade deadline deals have had a significant impact on the NFL landscape, shaping the fortunes of teams and players alike. While some trades were more successful than others, they all left their mark on the league’s history and continue to be discussed and analyzed by football fans and analysts alike.