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Trades in the NFL are always fascinating, and often times they benefit one team more than the other. Players can be traded because they had a falling out with the organization, because the franchise is looking to go in a different direction or because another team wants to shoot for the stars and pay a premium for a young player with potential. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. 

Some of the worst trades in NFL history were made in the draft, such as when the New Orleans Saints traded an entire draft for Ricky Williams, or the Chicago Bears traded a haul to move up for Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 overall. But what about the trades that didn't have to do with draft positioning? Below we will rank the top 10 worst player trades in NFL history.

10. DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals

CBS Sports was way ahead of this one. Well, probably everyone was. Our headline back on March 16, 2020 was, "Texans-Cardinals trade grade: Arizona fleeces Houston in DeAndre Hopkins-for-David Johnson swap." In this trade, the Texans sent Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the running back Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. This trade certainly had to do with Johnson's contract, as he had a combined $20 million cap hit over the next two seasons.

Johnson had an epic year for Arizona back in 2016, when he rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. But that would always be his best campaign. In two seasons with Houston, Johnson averaged 36.8 rushing yards per game and rushed for six touchdowns. As for Hopkins, he turned into Kyler Murray's No. 1 wideout, and averaged 77 yards per game while catching 17 touchdowns in 35 contests. Yes, Hopkins only played three seasons in Arizona, with one that was affected by a suspension. But he had a huge hand in the 11-6 campaign where Arizona won seven straight to start the year. The Cards looked like a Super Bowl front-runner early on.

9. Trent Richardson to the Colts

A two-time BCS national champion during his time at Alabama, Richardson was selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, but was traded just two games into his second NFL season to the Colts for a first-round pick. During that 2013 campaign, Richardson never crossed 64 rushing yards, and rushed for just three touchdowns. In 2014, Richardson rushed for 519 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games -- and then never played again. That's right, Richardson's last NFL game came on Dec. 28, 2014, because that following offseason, he was waived. Richardson did sign on with the Raiders, but was released before the start of the season.

For the first-round pick Indy gave up, Richardson averaged 33.7 rushing yards per game and 3.1 yards per attempt in 29 total games played. 

8. Charles Haley to the Cowboys

Haley cemented himself as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL after six seasons with the 49ers, having made three Pro Bowls on top of two Super Bowl victories. However, he battled with teammates and coaches behind the scenes, leading to him being dealt to Dallas for a second-round pick and third-round pick in 1992. 

Haley found immediate success with the Cowboys, as Dallas won Super Bowls in three out of the next four years. Jerry Jones has said the Cowboys could not spell Super Bowl without Haley, per ESPN. To make matters worse for the 49ers, in his first two seasons with the Cowboys, Haley knocked his former team out of the playoffs in the NFC Championship both years! As CBS Sports historian Bryan DeArdo put it, imagine the Chiefs trading Chris Jones to the Bengals, and the Bengals beating the Chiefs in the next two AFC title games.

Haley was the first player to win five Super Bowls until some guy named Tom Brady came along. He is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, College Football Hall of Famer and a legend, according to both franchises.

7. Brett Favre to the Packers

Favre was selected by the Falcons in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft, and attempted four passes for 0 yards, 0 touchdowns and two interceptions in his rookie season. There was clearly some disfunction with the Falcons, so the Packers approached them and sent a first-round pick in exchange for Favre. 

A first-round pick for a quarterback yet to complete a pass to the correct team that failed a physical after the trade seemed pretty ridiculous compensation. But it wasn't, as Favre went on to win three MVPs, Super Bowl XXXI and lead the NFL in passing touchdowns four different times. Maybe the Falcons should have had a little more patience with their gunslinger from Southern Mississippi, but Jerry Glanville and Ken Herock will never agree on whose fault it was. At the same time, you can't fault the Falcons considering Favre's injury concerns, character concerns and the compensation offered. But, it ended up being a bad decision. 

6. Steve Largent to the Seahawks

The Tulsa product was selected by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft, but Largent apparently did nothing to stand out to Bum Phillips in the preseason. Houston shipped its brand new fourth-round pick to Seattle in exchange for a lowly eighth-round pick, with the Oilers quickly punting on their mid-round investment. Well, that was a mistake, because Largent went on to have an incredible playing career.

Largent led the league in receiving yards twice, was a five-time All-Pro and seven time Pro Bowler. When he retired after 14 successful seasons, Largent held NFL records for most receptions (819), most consecutive games with a reception (177), most receiving yards (13,089), most receiving touchdowns (100), most seasons with 50 or more receptions (10) and most seasons with 1,000 receiving yards (8), per the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where he was honored in 1995. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound pass-catcher was probably worth more than an eighth-round pick. 

5. Deshaun Watson to the Browns

The book is not written on this trade just yet, but I think it's fair to include it. The Browns got better last year when a 38-year-old quarterback brought in off the street took over. 

Back in 2022, it was understood that Watson wanted out of Houston. But at that time, dozens of women had accused him of sexual misconduct. That apparently did nothing to sink his stock, as the Browns stepped up and gave the Texans a package that included their first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024, a 2022 fourth-round pick, a third-round selection in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024. The Browns also received a 2024 sixth-rounder from the Texans. THEN, the Browns gave the quarterback involved in off-field controversy a fully guaranteed $230 million deal. To this day, no quarterback has been given more guaranteed money. 

Watson went 3-3 in his first season with Cleveland after serving his lengthy suspension, and Jacoby Brissett actually looked like the better quarterback that year. Last season was where the NFL world was really going to judge the play of Watson, but he was injured by Week 4. The former Clemson Tiger played a total of six games before he was shut down for the year, while Joe Flacco took Cleveland to the playoffs. 

The Browns offense has averaged 19.7 points per game in Watson's starts, vs. 21.5 points per game with the other starting quarterbacks over the last two seasons. Watson has ranked 35th or worse in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating among 45 qualified quarterbacks in the last two seasons. He ranked 35th in completion percentage and 29th in yards per attempt in 2023, among the 42 quarterbacks who had 150 passing attempts. 

Watson still hasn't thrown for 300 yards in any of his 12 games played for the Browns, and now, health is a concern. As for the Texans, they have quickly found their quarterback of the future in C.J. Stroud, and used the Browns draft selections to acquire several notable players with more on the way:

I'm not going to rank this up there with the Russell Wilson trade just yet, but the Watson acquisition clearly hasn't paid off. 

4. Jeff George to the Falcons

The Colts traded with the Falcons to move up to No. 1 overall in the 1990 NFL Draft for quarterback Jeff George, but after going 14-35 as the starter over four seasons, he was traded to the team the Colts traded with initially to acquire George: The Falcons! 

Atlanta was in the market for a new quarterback, and sent Indy a first-round pick, third-round pick, a conditional future first-round pick and a third for George. That conditional selection turned into Marvin Harrison by the way. 

As for George, he went 7-9 with Atlanta in 1994, then 9-7 in 1995 -- a season which did include a playoff berth. However, the next season in 1996, George got into a very public argument with Falcons head coach June Jones, and was suspended for the rest of the season. He never played for the Falcons again. George went 16-19 as the starter for Atlanta, and threw 50 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. 

In 2016, Pro Football Reference posted on social media that players taken with the picks the Falcons traded for George were worth 279 AV, which was the highest in a trade involving a first-round pick since 1994. A bad, bad trade. 

3. John Hadl to the Packers

After a 15-4 stint as the starter for the Rams, the Packers traded for Hadl in the middle of the 1974 season, sending L.A. first and second round picks in 1975 and 1976, plus a third-rounder in 1975. This was a 34-year-old quarterback by the way. 

Hadl played just 22 games for Green Bay, going 7-12 as the starter. He threw just nine touchdowns compared to 29 interceptions during his time with the Packers, and ended up finishing his career with the Oilers. If this wasn't bad enough, the Packers were actually looking at Archie Manning before landing Hadl.

Dan Devine was super aggressive with his quarterback addition, and even shocked the man he traded for. 

"I didn't really believe it," Hadl said in a 2006 interview, via the Packers' official website. "I didn't think anybody would be that desperate."

2. Russell Wilson to the Broncos

The Broncos thought they found their quarterback of the future in Wilson, and outbid every interested team for the Super Bowl-winning veteran. In 2022, the Broncos sent the Seahawks a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, a 2022 fifth-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, plus tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and quarterback Drew Lock in exchange for Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick. Before he played a single snap, the Broncos gave Wilson a $245 million multiyear extension that was supposed to carry him through 2028. However, he will officially be released before the start of the 2024 season.

Per Front Office Sports, the Broncos now take on an NFL-record $85 million in dead cap. Wilson went 11-19 during his time in Denver, while the Seahawks made the playoffs in the first season of the post-Russ era, and his replacement, Geno Smith won NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Broncos Got

Russell Wilson
Eyioma Uwazurike (2022 4th)

Seahawks Got

Drew Lock
Noah Fant
Shelby Harris
Charles Cross (2022 1st)
Boye Mafe (2022 2nd)
Tyreke Smith (2022 5th)
Devon Witherspoon (2023 1st)
Derick Hall (2023 2nd)

1. Herschel Walker to the Vikings

It was the largest trade in NFL history, and probably the worst. Here's a rundown on the compensation, thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

"Herschel Walker from the Dallas Cowboys to Minnesota. Dallas also traded its third-round choice in 1990, its 10th-round choice in 1990, and its third-round choice in 1991 to Minnesota. Minnesota traded LB Jesse Solomon, LB David Howard, CB Issiac Holt and DE Alex Stewart along with its first-round choice in 1990, its second-round choice in 1990, its sixth-round choice in 1990, its first-round choice in 1991, its second-round choice in 1991, its first-round choice in 1992, its second-round choice in 1992, and its third-round choice in 1992 to Dallas. Minnesota traded RB Darrin Nelson to Dallas, which traded Nelson to San Diego for the Chargers' fifth-round choice in 1990, which Dallas then sent to Minnesota."

It's a lot to go through, but Dallas received three first-rounders from Minnesota, three second-round picks and then a sixth and a third. Dallas also gave up two third-round picks and a 10th-round pick, but added four players on top of all that. 

Walker played 42 games in Minnesota, rushing for 2,264 yards and 20 touchdowns. In his two full seasons with the Vikings, Minnesota went 14-18. Then, he was off to the Eagles. What makes this the worst trade, however, is that the Cowboys used all this draft ammunition to pick up players that would turn them into a dynasty, such as running back Emmitt Smith, defensive lineman Russell Maryland and defensive back Darren Woodson. 

ESPN made a documentary on this transaction, calling it "The Great Trade Robbery." It will always be known as just that, unless the Seahawks win multiple Super Bowls off the Broncos' picks.