San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs

NFL: Five Biggest Blockbuster Trades of All-Time

The NFL offseason has been heating up of late, and there are some huge potential trades in the works. Recent rumors concerning the future of talents like Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), for example, could lead to some momentous trades.


The very idea of Russell Wilson strutting it in Miami, or Deshaun Watson running out at Soldier Field or Levi's Stadium, shatters the established hierarchy in both conferences in the NFL. Offenses go from average to fantastic when players like these are introduced, and an incapable team suddenly becomes very capable indeed (just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!).

It's little wonder, then, that prying a Watson or a Wilson away from their respective organizations will require a mega-trade offer. A trade for either QB will likely command a bonafide superstar of your own, plus two or three draft picks (at a minimum), which may seem a lot to cough up. But, like in any industry, if you want the absolute best product on offer, you have to pay a premium price.

They don't come about often (and most certainly not when quarterbacks are concerned), but these mega trades for the NFL's biggest superstars do happen from time to time, and Miami fans are right to hold on to some hope that Deshaun Watson could end up in Florida...

Case in point, let's take a look at the 5 most blockbuster NFL trades of all time:

5. 49ers Trade NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana to the Chiefs (1993)

Super Bowl XXIII

Blockbuster trades in the NFL were much rarer back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s than they are now, so this trade between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs had the NFL universe positively salivating back in 1993. It's of course the trade that brought legendary QB, Joe Montana, to Kansas City.

Montana suffered an elbow injury and was kept out of action for the best part of two years in California (1990-1992). During Montana's prolonged absence, the 49ers found plenty of success with a new man behind the line, Hall of Famer Steve Young.

Upon his return to fitness, Montana had little interest in playing second-fiddle to Young and was granted a trade. The 49ers war room sent Montana, safety David Whitmore and their third-round draft pick in 1994 to the Chiefs in return for the Chiefs' first-round pick in '93.

The 49ers used pick 26 of the 1993 NFL Draft to select defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, who was named defensive rookie of the year in his first season and helped the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory in his second. Stubblefield went on to represent the NFC in three Pro Bowls during his career, too.


Stubblefield's life away from the game went arrayed when he was convicted of rape in 2015. He is currently serving out a 15-year prison sentence.

Montana was a success down in Kansas, too, leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game in 1993, and then the playoffs in 1994 before he retired with his legacy still firmly intact.

4. Seattle Seahawks trade for New York Jets' safety, Jamal Adams

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks

The New York Jets surrendered Jamal Adams to the Seahawks in one of the biggest NFL trades last season. The Seahawks received New York's All-Pro safety and a third-round (2021 pick) in return for two first-round draft picks (2021 and 2022), a third-round draft pick (2021), and safety, Bradley McDougald.

His 2020 NFL season may have been a stop-start affair due to injury, but nobody is questioning the ability of Jamal Adams at safety; he is outrageously good at all aspects of the position. What remains to be seen though is exactly which team (the Seahawks or the Jets) got the best deal in the trade.

Adams may have committed his long-term future to the Seahawks, but the Jets have two first-round picks coming up in 2021 so we won't have to wait much longer to find out.

3. The Oakland Raiders trade Khalil Mack to Chicago Bears (2018)

Chicago Bears v Los Angeles Rams

In a seven-year career, Khalil Mack has consistently been one of the best defensive players in the NFL. As such, his 2018 trade was a blockbuster of the highest order.

Of course, Mack now operates at Soldier field for the Chicago Bears, but things could have been very different: if Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had found a few extra dollars in the Oakland war chest during the 2018 offseason, perhaps Mack would still be dishing out his unique brand of punishment in the heat of Las Vegas, Nevada.

It wasn't to be...

The tight-fisted Raiders traded Khalil Mack, along with second- and conditional fifth-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, to the Bears in exchange for first and sixth-round picks in 2019 and first and third-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. It was a trade that saw Mack become the highest-paid defensive player in the history of the NFL and he showcased just why in his debut season with the Bears.

The Raiders used that 2019 pick to acquire Joshua Jacobs in the NFL draft, the bruising running back who has been a revelation since he arrived in Las Vegas. Khalil Mack made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in Chicago but did endure a noticeable dip in form in 2020.


Bears fans needn't worry just yet: at just 29-years-of-age, it's more likely that Mack will rediscover his dominant best form than not.

2. The New York Giants trade Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns (2019)

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns

His stock price may have dipped slightly in Cleveland, but Odell Beckham Jr. was seriously hot property in the NFL at the time the Giants and the Browns agreed on a trade.

New York has since used those picks to recruit defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines from the NFL Draft, with the former looking a real player for the Giants since his arrival.

Beckham, on the other hand, has endured two injury-ravaged campaigns with the Browns. He struggled with a core muscle injury in his first year and, after getting off to a good start in 2020 (319-yards and 3 touchdowns in 5 games), blew out his ACL and spent the rest of the year on IR.


The Browns did brilliantly to reach the playoffs last season, but they did it without Odell Beckham Jr. As such, it's hard to say that New York didn't get the best end of the deal on this blockbuster trade.

1. The Herschel Walker Trade (1989)

Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants

It was the most blockbuster trade in NFL history (and quite possibly the most lopsided), a trade that saw the Dallas Cowboys send all-purpose running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings.

Herschel Walker had amassed over 2,000-yards in the 1988-89 NFL season, but it wasn't enough to persuade Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson that his ailing locker room didn't need an injection of young blood.

The Cowboys decided to trade Walker to the Vikings, plus their third- and a 10th-round pick in the 1990 NFL draft; the San Diego Chargers' fifth-round pick (given to the Cowboys in a trade for running back Darrin Nelson) and their third-round pick in the 1991 NFL Draft... In exchange, Minnesota sent linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart, cornerback Issaic Holt and first-, second-and sixth-round picks in 1990, alongside a second-round pick in the 1992 NFL Draft back to Dallas.


Herschel Walker didn't find much success in Minnesota with the Vikings. The former Cowboys player appeared just once in the playoffs and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992.

Dallas used the picks given to them by the Vikings to bring in such talents as running back Emmitt Smith, defensive tackle, Russell Maryland, and safety, Darren Woodson.

It was players like the aforementioned who under saw the greatest period of dominance in the Cowboys' franchise history, as the team went on to lift three Super Bowl trophies in four seasons (1993; 1994, & 1996); thus making the Herschel Walker trade the most blockbuster of all.

Edited by
Jay Lokegaonkar
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