#2 NFL Trades: John Elway's outright refusal to play for the Baltimore Colts
John Elway entered the 1983 NFL Draft as the consensus pick for the best quarterback in the class in what was to be one of the greatest QB classes of all time: John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien, and Dan Marino, all went in the first round!
Upon hearing that he was to be drafted by the lowly Baltimore Colts with their number-one pick in the draft, Elway made it clear that he was prepared to sacrifice his career in the NFL in favor of a baseball career.
Former Colts owner Robert Irsay decided to go ahead and draft Elway anyway, but this turned out to be an erroneous decision; Elway wasn't messing around; he had no intention of ever playing for the Baltimore Colts, and the threat to switch sport continued.
Irsay did eventually give in to Elway, sending him to the Broncos in return for a first-round pick, quarterback Mark Herrmann, and offensive lineman Chris Hinton.
Elway is regarded as one of the best QBs to ever play the game of football. He won two Super Bowls with Denver and was selected to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in only his first year of eligibility.
Any time you lose out on an NFL quarterback like Elway, it has to be considered a lopsided trade. Irsa and the Baltimore Colts never really recovered from the blow of losing Elway and moved to Indianapolis three years later.
#1 NFL Trades: The Vikings pay way over the odds for Herschel Walker
If you read my other two recent articles: top 5 blockbuster trades and top 5 worst trades (click for link), you're possibly sick to death of reading about Herschel Walker (Vikings fans, I'm sorry). But alongside being the most blockbuster trade (Emmit Smith and Charles Woodson!), and the worst trade (Vikings lost so many picks for a running back that didn't get it done), the Herschel Walker trade also has to be the most lopsided. The trade has to be number one on all three lists. It just has to be!
When 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 (which the Cowboys received in a trade for running back Darrin Nelson) and their third-round pick in the 1991 NFL Draft... in exchange for Minnesota' 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... when the Cowboys did all that, given Walker didn't have much success in Minnesota, you could say the Cowboys were up on the deal.
That wasn't all, though: the Dallas war room had been very tactical in the way they structured the trades for the likes of Howard, Stewart, and Solomon. Somewhere in the fine print was a killer blow for the Vikings: if any of these players were released by Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys would be entitled to more of Minnesota's draft picks, and the Cowboys organization was originally prepared to exercise their contractual obligations with ferocity. Case in point, Johnson waived goodbye to Stewart in November 1989 which meant the Vikings had to surrender yet another NFL draft pick.
It could have been even worse for the Vikings, but the Cowboys evidently took pity on the ghastly deal they were giving their Minnesotan counterparts. Johnson decided not to cut the other three players he'd signed from the Vikings, striking a deal to keep them on the books, thus sparing any more purple blushes.
Herschel Walker didn't find much success in Minnesota with the Vikings, but he wasn't a terrible player either. The former Cowboy appeared just once in the playoffs before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in time for the 1992 NFL season.
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. These players formed the backbone of the Cowboys team that went on to dominate the NFL in the early 1990s, winning three Super Bowls.