Monday , August 8 2022

Where does the Russell Wilson trade rank among NFL’s largest since the Herschel Walker blockbuster?

Without the trade of running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in 1989, the Dallas Cowboys‘ Super Bowl drought could be in its fifth decade, who knows?

Instead it is at 26 years and counting because the Walker deal propelled the Cowboys from 1-15 in coach Jimmy Johnson’s first season to a Super Bowl in 1992, which was followed by championships in 1993 and 1995.

The Seattle Seahawks are hoping quarterback Russell Wilson‘s trade to the Denver Broncos can be their version of the Walker trade. Seattle received first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a 2022 fifth-round selection, plus quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris for Wilson and a 2022 fourth-rounder.

When the Cowboys dealt Walker, they knew they were giving up their best player while understanding they needed to rebuild. After winning a Super Bowl and making it to another with Wilson, Seattle might not believe it’s rebuild mode but they will have a chance to turn it around quickly — provided they hit on the draft picks as successfully as Dallas did.

With the Walker-to-Minnesota trade and the Wilson-to-Denver trade as the backdrop, NFL Nation reporters have a look at the largest trades in terms of total players and draft picks exchanged since the Walker deal in 1989. — Todd Archer

Oct 12, 1989: Cowboys-Vikings pull off largest trade in history

Picks and players exchanged: 18

Cowboys received: LB Jesse Solomon, LB David Howard, CB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson and DE Alex Stewart; 1990 picks in the first (No. 21), second and sixth rounds; 1991 picks in the first (11) and second rounds; and 1992 picks in the first (13), second and third rounds

Vikings received: RB Herschel Walker; 1990 picks in the third, fifth and 10th rounds; and a 1991 third-round pick. After RB Darrin Nelson refused to report to Dallas, the Cowboys traded him to San Diego and Minnesota picked up the Chargers’ fifth-round pick in 1990

How did it work out for Cowboys? Brilliantly. Coach Jimmy Johnson had no intention of keeping Solomon, Howard, Holt or Stewart, so he knew he would have a multitude of picks over the next three seasons to rebuild the roster. Through some other deals, the Cowboys used those picks to acquire running back Emmitt Smith, defensive tackle Russell Maryland, defensive back Darren Woodson and cornerbacks Kevin Smith and Clayton Holmes. With wide receiver Michael Irvin and quarterback Troy Aikman already on board, the Cowboys had their triplets with Smith, who became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Woodson became the franchise leader in tackles and should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Maryland and Smith were valuable members to a defense that remains underrated. As a result, the Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. — Todd Archer

How did it work out for Vikings? The trade was the single worst player move in team history, proving that no one — especially a non-quarterback — could possibly provide a fair return for the terms of this deal. Walker started with a splash, rushing for 148 yards in his first game against the rival Packers, and helped the Vikings win the NFC Central in 1989. But they lost their opening playoff game and then missed the postseason the following two seasons. Overall, he rushed for 2,264 yards and 20 touchdowns in 42 games and departed as a free agent in 1992. — Kevin Seifert


March 8, 2022: Seahawks trade Russell Wilson to Broncos

Picks and players exchanged: 10

Broncos received: QB Russell Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick

Seahawks received: QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, and DL Shelby Harris; 2022 picks in the first (No. 9), second and fifth rounds; and 2023 picks in the first and second rounds

How did Broncos do? The Broncos surrendered the kind of draft capital that demands they get this right, because people get fired if it doesn’t. But if you’re going push in the chips, you do it for a franchise quarterback with quality years left. Wilson is 33, won’t be 34 until November, still in the sweet spot for quarterbacks. He has two years remaining on his contract that the Broncos can easily absorb. They have plenty of cap room to work with in free agency as well as an inevitable extension with their new signal-caller. Wilson wins games (104-53-1 in his career), produces in big moments and doesn’t throw interceptions — he’s never thrown more than 13 in a season in his career and thrown fewer than 10 in a season six times. He takes a lot of sacks and that is always cause for concern on the injury front, but some of that is in the Broncos’ control with what they do on the offensive line. — Jeff Legwold

How did Seahawks do? In a vacuum, first- and second-round picks in each of the next two drafts plus a pair of starters in Fant and Harris is not a bad haul for Seattle. But any Wilson trade was always going to be judged ultimately on how well it positioned the Seahawks to find a viable replacement, and this trade on its own doesn’t present a clear path. Having the No. 9 overall pick and enough capital to move up if needed would give the Seahawks a chance to get their guy in a good draft for quarterbacks, but this isn’t one. Lock has some upside, but there’s no way his first three seasons were strong enough to convince anyone in Seattle that he’s the long-term answer. At best, the Seahawks get an incomplete grade for now. — Brady Henderson


Aug. 31, 2019: Dolphins trade Laremy Tunsil to Texans

Picks and players exchanged: Nine

Dolphins received: OT Julie’n Davenport and CB Johnson Bademosi; a 2020 first-round pick (26); 2021 picks in the first (3) and second rounds

Texans received: OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills; a 2020 fourth-round pick; a 2021 sixth-round pick

How did it work out for Dolphins? It’s the trade that sparked the Dolphins’ full rebuild. They wound up with three first-round picks in the 2020 draft after this trade and another involving Minkah Fitzpatrick. How efficiently Miami used those picks is up for interpretation. But the team’s worst move was sending its 2020 first-round pick from Houston to the Packers — moving down in the process — to take cornerback Noah Igbinoghene over running back Jonathan Taylor. Houston’s 2021 first-rounder ended up being the third overall pick, which Miami traded to the 49ers in exchange for three first-round picks, before parting ways with one of them to trade back up to sixth overall and select receiver Jaylen Waddle. He and 2021 second-round pick Jevon Holland looked like franchise cornerstones as rookies last season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

How did it work out Texans? Not well. This was a huge trade — and filled a big need for the Texans. In hindsight, the value wasn’t there for Houston. While the first-round pick in 2020 was No. 26, the 2021 pick was No. 3 overall after the Texans went 4-12. Miami turned that pick into even more draft capital by trading it to the San Francisco 49ers. A contract extension was not negotiated at the time of the trade, and Houston ended up giving Tunsil a three-year, $66 million contract worth $40 million guaranteed at signing in 2020. Now, Tunsil could be traded by the Texans this offseason, as the team is in rebuilding mode. — Sarah Barshop

April 14, 2016: Rams acquire No. 1 pick from Titans

Picks and players exchanged: Nine

Titans received: 2016 picks in the first (No. 15), second (twice) and third rounds; 2017 picks in the first (No .5) and third rounds

Rams received: 2016 picks in the first (No. 1), fourth and sixth rounds

How did it work out for Titans? The Titans launched a stretch of six consecutive playoff seasons fueled by players they selected with the haul of draft picks. The big prize was 2016 second-round pick Derrick Henry, arguably the best running back in the league. Henry is the only remaining player from that boatload of picks. But he is the catalyst of their offense. The Titans used other picks to select right tackle Jack Conklin, wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith. Despite losing Conklin, Davis and Smith to free agency, they were major contributors toward Tennessee’s rise to perennial playoff contender. — Turron Davenport

How did it work out for Rams? Everything looks good at this juncture, with the Rams being fitted for Super Bowl championship rings. They used the first overall pick on quarterback Jared Goff, who as it turns out wasn’t worth the cost. But the Rams figured that out in time and flipped him to the Lions last year for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, a key piece in last season’s playoff run. While Goff’s five seasons with the Rams don’t justify this investment, they still found a way to get the ultimate prize out of the deal. — Adam Teicher

April 17, 1999: Saints go all-in on Ricky Williams

Picks and players exchanged: Nine

Saints received: first-round pick (No. 5) in 1999 used on RB Ricky Williams

Washington received: 1999 picks in the first (12), third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds; 2000 picks in the first (2) and third rounds

How did it work out for Saints? Not great, considering it remains one of the most ridiculed trades in sports history nearly 25 years later. Coach Mike Ditka and GM Bill Kuharich were fired after New Orleans went 3-13 in Williams’ injury-plagued rookie season. However, it’s worth pointing out Williams was no bust. The only problem with the deal was how much the Saints overpaid (and overplayed it with that infamous magazine cover of Ditka and Williams as bride and groom). Williams ran for 1,000 yards in just 10 games in 2000 while the Saints won their first playoff game in franchise history. Then he gained 1,756 yards from scrimmage in 2001 before being traded to the Dolphins for two first-round picks. — Mike Triplett

How did it work out for Washington? Very well. Washington used the acquired capital to move back into the top 10, going from No. 12 to seventh to draft cornerback Champ Bailey. He embarked on a Hall of Fame career, though he spent only five seasons with Washington. The organization traded two fifth-round picks — one from the Saints — to move up in the second round and select right tackle Jon Jansen, a fixture for most of the next decade. And because the Saints went 3-13, Washington ended up with second overall choice in 2000 and drafted linebacker LaVar Arrington. Despite this haul, Washington only made the playoffs in 1999 and not again until 2005. — John Keim


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