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Biggest Impact Trades in NFL History

There have been some massive trades in just the last few offseasons. In 2021, we saw the Rams go after a franchise quarterback and ended the season as Super Bowl Champions. In 2022, the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson hoping to accomplish the same. Before the 2022 season starts, let’s take a look at the five biggest impact trades in NFL history:

5. Eric Dickerson to the Colts

In 1987, the Indianapolis Colts traded two players, three first-round picks, and three second-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Eric Dickerson, the 1986 Offensive Player of the Year. That season, Dickerson led the Colts to their first playoff appearance since leaving Baltimore in 1984. In 1988, Dickerson led the NFL in rushing with 1,659 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

This trade makes our list because of the other teams that were involved. The Los Angeles Rams, who traded away Dickerson, reached the playoffs for the next three seasons, including a trip to the NFL Championship Game in 1989. The Buffalo Bills were also part of this trade, acquiring future All-Pro linebacker Cornelius Bennet from the Colts. Bennett helped the Bills become the first team in NFL history to reach four straight Super Bowls (1991 – 1994) before he returned to the Colts for his final season in 2000.

4. Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks

Lynch rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, but they still chose to trade him at the trade deadline in 2010 in exchange for a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-round pick. In return, the Seattle Seahawks received Marshawn Lynch, who made four Pro Bowls with the team. The Hawks went on to win the Super Bowl with Lynch in 2014 and almost another in 2015.

3. Matthew Stafford to the Rams

After twelve seasons in Detroit, the Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two first-round picks and a third-round pick. In Stafford’s first season with the Rams, he threw 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns during the regular season and finished the postseason as the Super Bowl champion.

2. Herschel Walker to the Vikings

In a deal that has come to be known as the “Great Train Robbery”, the Dallas Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for eighteen players and draft picks, including three first-round picks, three second-round picks, a third-round pick, and a sixth-round pick. (Dallas also sent two third-round pick and a tenth-round pick to the Vikings.)

The Cowboys would use the picks to build one of the best rosters in NFL history, drafting Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson in the process. In 1992, three years after the Walker trade, the Cowboys won their first of three Super Bowls over a four-year period.

1. Eli Manning to the Giants

It should be no surprise that the Eli Manning draft-day trade makes our top five. In 2004, the New York Giants made a draft day trade with the San Diego Chargers for first overall pick Eli Manning in exchange for Phillip Rivers (the fourth overall pick), a first-round pick, a third-round pick, and a fifth-round pick.

Eli and the Giants went on to win two Super Bowls together, including a Super Bowl over Tom Brady’s 18-0 New England Patriots, which denied Brady what would have been the second perfect season in NFL history. In 2012, Eli took the Giants back to the Super Bowl and beat Tom Brady and the Patriots for a second time.

*For a more detailed discussion and for Simple Football’s honorable mentions, check out our conversation on YouTube now:

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