The biggest in-season trade for every NFL team
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The biggest in-season trade for every NFL team

The NFL's trade deadline looms on November 2. Teams are already making moves to improve their rosters. This practice has transpired for decades, with several future Hall of Famers being moved during the season. Here is every team's biggest in-season trade. 

 
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Arizona Cardinals: Dolphins bail on first-rounder after 1 game

Arizona Cardinals: Dolphins bail on first-rounder after 1 game
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Part of the Miami Hurricanes dynasty, Randal Hill landed with his hometown team via the No. 23 overall pick in 1991. But the Dolphins made an unusual decision to cut bait quickly. After Week 1, they sent the rookie receiver to the Cardinals for a 1992 first-round pick. Don Shula cited the team's wideout surplus, with Mark Clayton and Mark Duper still going at this point, as the trade impetus. The Cards rostered Hill through 1994. The flashy wideout became a starter on bad teams and returned to the Dolphins via free agency in 1995. Phoenix's draft choice became No. 7 overall in 1992; Miami took future Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent.

 
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Atlanta Falcons: Belichick loses Mohamed Sanu bet

Atlanta Falcons: Belichick loses Mohamed Sanu bet
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The Patriots gambled on Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown in Tom Brady's final years, but both were out of the picture by the 2019 trade deadline. Bill Belichick decided to send a second-round pick to the Falcons for Mohamed Sanu. The emergence of Calvin Ridley alongside Julio Jones made Sanu expendable for a struggling Atlanta team. The Patriots had expressed interest in Sanu in 2016, but by the time they got him, the fit proved poor. Sanu caught just 26 passes as a Patriot and was gone by 2020. The Falcons used the pick to trade for Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst, who now teams with 2021 first-round tight end Kyle Pitts.

 
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Baltimore Ravens: Rams' cornerback makeover sends Peters east

Baltimore Ravens: Rams' cornerback makeover sends Peters east
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Hours before the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey, they sent Marcus Peters to the Ravens for a paltry sum: backup linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick. While Peters had long been a handful, the Ravens' gamble paid off. The NFL's top ballhawk helped a scuffling Baltimore pass defense and ended his first Ravens season with three pick-sixes and a second All-Pro nod. The twice-traded standout then signed a $14 million-per-year extension, landing the payday the Chiefs and Rams refused to authorize. In each of Peters' two seasons, the Ravens ranked sixth in pass defense. 

 
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Buffalo Bills: a three-team trade's biggest win

Buffalo Bills: a three-team trade's biggest win
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While the Halloween 1987 trade is known more for Eric Dickerson's Indianapolis relocation, Cornelius Bennett became the deal's prize. Shipped from Indianapolis to Buffalo in the three-team trade with the Rams, Bennett played 14 seasons (nine with the Bills) and was integral to the team's four-year run atop the AFC. The No. 2 overall pick in 1987, Bennett and the Colts could not agree on a contract. The Bills sent three picks (two firsts and a second) and running back Greg Bell to the Rams. A dynamic linebacker, Bennett served as Bruce Smith's wingman and made five Pro Bowls. He did finish his career as a Colt, but the Bills received his prime years.

 
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Carolina Panthers: recent CB trade relocates high-end talent

Carolina Panthers: recent CB trade relocates high-end talent
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Despite already acquiring 2020 top-10 pick C.J. Henderson from the Jaguars, the Panthers kept going at cornerback and landed Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots in October. The price: a measly sixth-round pick in 2023. Simply to take on Gilmore's $5.8 million remaining salary, the Panthers now have a two-time All-Pro set to anchor their corner corps. Gilmore was the best player on the Pats' 2018 Super Bowl-winning squad and won Defensive Player of the Year acclaim in 2019. His stock has dipped some after a quad injury and contract dispute, but Carolina added a top talent for next to nothing. 

 
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Chicago Bears: Dıck Butkus worth yearlong wait

Chicago Bears: Dıck Butkus worth yearlong wait
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During the stretch run of their 1963 championship season, the Bears secured the pick that would net them one of the NFL's all-time greats. The 1964 NFL Draft took place in December 1963, and the Bears -- in quite the heist -- landed the Steelers' 1965 first-rounder for second-and fourth-round 1964 selections. Pittsburgh's struggles meant that pick became third overall the next year. The prize: Butkus, an Illinois superstar who ended up on the NFL's 1960s and 1970s All-Decade teams. The feared middle linebacker was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. So was the No. 4 pick in the 1965 draft, Bears running back Gale Sayers.

 
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Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer deal nets key contributors

Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer deal nets key contributors
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Citing issues with the franchise, Palmer asked to be traded after an eight-year run as the Bengals' starting QB. After holding firm for months, the Bengals found a worthwhile offer. Shortly after Al Davis' death in October 2011, the Raiders sent first- and second-round picks for the "retired" Palmer. Jason Campbell's injury prompted the Raiders to act, but Palmer could not revive a moribund squad. The Raiders went 8-16 with Palmer and traded him to the Cardinals for two late-round picks in 2013. Palmer fared better in Arizona, and Cincinnati landed two longtime contributors -- Dre Kirkpatrick and Giovani Bernard -- with the acquired picks.

 
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Cleveland Browns: tragedy mars running back swap

Cleveland Browns: tragedy mars running back swap
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The Browns changed up their backfield during the 1962 NFL Draft, held in December 1961, by sending Jim Brown's dynamic sidekick -- Bobby Mitchell -- and their 1962 first-rounder to Washington for running back Ernie Davis' rights. The teams announced the trade post-draft but agreed to the deal before Washington chose Davis. The No. 1 pick, Davis was the first Black player to win the Heisman. Tragically, the Browns never deployed their all-Syracuse backfield. Davis' leukemia diagnosis prevented him from playing in the NFL; he died at age 23 in 1963. Mitchell starred with Washington, completing a Hall of Fame career. 

 
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Dallas Cowboys: the 'Great Train Robbery'

Dallas Cowboys: the 'Great Train Robbery'
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The largest trade in NFL history saw 18 players and picks combined change hands, and it helped build the 1990s' defining dynasty. Jimmy Johnson, after considering a Michael Irvin trade, put Pro Bowl running back Herschel Walker on the block and informed the Vikings the Browns had offered multiple first-round picks. On Oct. 13, 1989, the Vikings sent an ungodly bounty for Walker. The Cowboys collected three first-round picks, three seconds, and change for the 27-year-old back. Four Super Bowl starters -- Emmitt Smith, Pro Bowl defenders Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland, and cornerback Kevin Smith -- became Cowboys via the picks obtained. Three titles followed.

 
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Denver Broncos: Super Bowl starters flood 1984 trade

Denver Broncos: Super Bowl starters flood 1984 trade
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With the Bengals and No. 7 overall pick Ricky Hunley at a negotiating impasse, Cincinnati traded the rookie linebacker to Denver in October 1984. The Bengals received a 1986 first-rounder and a 1985 third. The lower pick posed a problem because the Broncos lacked a 1985 third, so a revised deal adding a 1987 fifth to Cincy's haul transpired. Hunley started for both the 1986 and '87 AFC champion Broncos teams but was gone by 1988. The Bengals used their picks to select longtime starters David Fulcher, a Pro Bowl safety, and Tim McGee, an eventual nine-year wideout. Fulcher and McGee played big roles on the Bengals' 1988 AFC champion team.

 
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Detroit Lions: Bobby Layne curse emerges

Detroit Lions: Bobby Layne curse emerges
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On Oct. 7, 1958, the Lions stunned the best quarterback in their history by trading him to the Steelers. Detroit's starter since 1950, Layne led the team to three NFL Championship Games -- two wins -- and ended up in the Hall of Fame. In 1957, the veteran QB broke his ankle. Trade acquisition Tobin Rote took over and led the Lions to the 1957 title, and Detroit traded the then-31-year-old Layne to Pittsburgh for QB Earl Morrall and second- and fourth-round picks. The fourth-rounder became All-Pro defensive lineman Roger Brown, but the Curse of Bobby Layne was born. Layne allegedly vowed the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. 

 
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Green Bay Packers: QB move wounds fading squad

Green Bay Packers: QB move wounds fading squad
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Two years after Bart Starr's retirement, the Packers had dropped off the contender radar. But they were discussing a trade for young talent Archie Manning. That deal did not come to pass, leading head coach and decision-maker Dan Devine to send the Rams a monster haul for veteran QB John Hadl. While Hadl was coming off an All-Pro season, the Rams had benched him the week prior. The Packers sent two first-rounders, two seconds, and a third for a 34-year-old Hadl, who did not solve Green Bay's QB issue. This trade helped the Rams keep contending for Super Bowls, and the Pack sent Hadl to the Oilers in the 1976 offseason.

 
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Houston Texans: Duane Brown holdout leads to exit

Houston Texans: Duane Brown holdout leads to exit
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In October 2017, the Texans traded their Pro Bowl left tackle to the Seahawks. Seeking a new contract, Brown held out into October. After nine seasons with Houston, the former first-round pick was dealt to Seattle for second- and third-round picks. One of the choices became starting cornerback Lonnie Johnson, but Brown -- despite being 32 at the time of the trade -- is still going strong in Seattle. He even waged another holdout this year. Brown's exit left Houston without a proven left tackle. This led to 2019's Laremy Tunsil blockbuster, which sent two first-round picks to the Dolphins and stripped the Texans of key assets.

 
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Indianapolis Colts: goggled superstar leaves L.A.

Indianapolis Colts: goggled superstar leaves L.A.
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From Lenny Moore to Marshall Faulk to Edgerrin James, the Colts have rostered their share of Hall of Fame running backs. None of their arrivals generated headlines like Eric Dickerson's 1987 Indiana trek. A three-team Halloween deal sent Dickerson from the Rams to the Colts, with No. 2 overall pick Cornelius Bennett going from Indianapolis to Buffalo. A contract dispute led to Dickerson's L.A. exit; the Colts quickly rewarded the All-Pro with a four-year, $5.6 million deal. They dealt Bennett, their 1988 first-round pick, and two seconds for him. Dickerson helped the Colts win the AFC East in 1987 and made three Pro Bowls in Indy en route to Canton.

 
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Jacksonville Jaguars: hold-in leads to Jalen Ramsey exit

Jacksonville Jaguars: hold-in leads to Jalen Ramsey exit
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The Jaguars' slide from the Super Bowl LII precipice to their current rebuild involved a few trades dismantling an elite defense. The biggest deal, in October 2019, sent Ramsey to the Rams. A falling out between Ramsey and then-Jags executive VP Tom Coughlin led to the All-Pro cornerback sitting out due to an injury -- an ailment that quickly healed once he arrived in Los Angeles. The Rams sent the Jags 2020 and '21 first-round picks, which turned into edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson and running back Travis Etienne. As the Jags attempt a turnaround, Ramsey co-anchors the Rams defense alongside Aaron Donald. 

 
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Kansas City Chiefs: Raiders allow rivals to land Hall of Famer

Kansas City Chiefs: Raiders allow rivals to land Hall of Famer
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Shortly after the 1962 season began, the Dallas Texans sent their previous starting quarterback -- Cotton Davidson -- to the Raiders. Len Dawson's Dallas arrival made Davidson expendable, and the Raiders sent their future rivals their 1963 first-round pick for the then-30-year-old QB. After playing in Week 1 with the Texans, Davidson started 13 games for the Raiders. They went 1-13, giving the eventual AFL champion Texans the No. 1 overall pick in the December draft. Dallas chose Buck Buchanan, who became an anchor for two Chiefs Super Bowl defenses. The imposing defensive tackle played 13 Chiefs seasons on his way to the Hall of Fame.

 
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Las Vegas Raiders: all-world CB duo forms in Los Angeles

Las Vegas Raiders: all-world CB duo forms in Los Angeles
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Lester Hayes played an essential role on the Raiders' 1980 Super Bowl-winning team. Minutes before the 1983 trade deadline, the Raiders paired the Stickum hound with a future Hall of Famer. They sent the Patriots first- and second-round picks for Mike Haynes, a holdout who already had six Pro Bowls on his resume. The Haynes-Hayes cornerback tandem helped the Raiders hold their three playoff opponents -- including Washington, which set the single-season scoring record in 1983 -- to 33 combined points in a romp to the Super Bowl XVIII championship. Haynes played the next six seasons in L.A., earning All-Pro acclaim in 1984 and '85.

 
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Los Angeles Chargers: loaded Bolts offense loses top WR

Los Angeles Chargers: loaded Bolts offense loses top WR
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John Jefferson caught 36 TD passes in his first three seasons, becoming the flashiest piece of the Chargers' Air Coryell offense. The All-Pro wideout, however, felt he had outperformed his contract and requested a trade. The Bolts obliged, dealing Jefferson to the Packers in September 1981. Green Bay sent San Diego a first-round pick and two seconds for the 25-year-old star, who received a monster raise and teamed with James Lofton. The Chargers used part of the Jefferson haul to trade for his replacement, Wes Chandler, barely a week later. Jefferson could not replicate his dominance in Green Bay, but the Chandler deal did not push the Bolts to a Super Bowl.

 
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Los Angeles Rams: QB drought ends with blockbuster trade

Los Angeles Rams: QB drought ends with blockbuster trade
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A September 1986 move ended the Rams' lengthy stay without quarterback stability. The Oilers signed Warren Moon to a record-setting deal in 1984 but still drafted Jim Everett third overall in '86. Stalled contract talks followed. The 49ers, down Joe Montana to injury at the time, and Packers entered into trade talks with the Oilers. Devoid of a long-term QB since Roman Gabriel, the Rams then made their move. They sent first-rounders in 1987 and '88, along with future Pro Bowl D-end William Fuller, to Houston for Everett. The Rams obtained firsts back in the ensuing Eric Dickerson trade, and Everett led the franchise to three playoff berths. 

 
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Miami Dolphins: Hugh Green relocates in intra-Florida deal

Miami Dolphins: Hugh Green relocates in intra-Florida deal
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With the Dolphins competing for AFC supremacy early in Dan Marino's prime, they traded for one of the superstar quarterback's college teammates -- ex-Pitt sack dynamo Hugh Green. The second-place finisher for the 1980 Heisman, Green saw the Buccaneers fail to utilize his supreme pass-rushing talents and lobbied for a trade in 1985. The Dolphins sent the Bucs first- and second-rounders to upgrade their pass rush and gave Green a big contract. Unfortunately, a severe knee injury in 1986 knocked Green out for over a year. The all-time college great played until 1991 with Miami but could not recapture his Pitt dominance.

 
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Minnesota Vikings: Walker unable to lead Super Bowl push

Minnesota Vikings: Walker unable to lead Super Bowl push
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Falling short of the Super Bowl in 1987 and '88, the Vikings went all-in with their October 1989 Herschel Walker trade. The Pro Bowl running back initially said he would not report to the Vikings if traded , threatening retirement. This led to first-year Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paying Walker a $1.25 million exit bonus to finalize what became a dynasty-building trade. Dallas cutting veterans Minnesota included triggered the bounty of picks conveying. The Vikes did not make a first-round selection again until 1993. Walker maxed out at 825 rushing yards while in Minnesota. After a regime change, the Vikings cut Walker in 1992.

 
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New England Patriots: Tom Brady fends off heir apparent

New England Patriots: Tom Brady fends off heir apparent
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Bill Belichick has made a number of in-season trades, but his 2017 deal caused the most ripples. After keeping Jimmy Garoppolo off the trade market, Belichick abruptly reversed course and sent Brady's backup to the 49ers for a second-round pick. The Browns were prepared to offer more that offseason, and it was later reported Robert Kraft told his coach to deal Garoppolo and prioritize Brady's future. Freed from any potential threat, Brady took the Patriots to two more Super Bowls and stayed with the team until age 42. Garoppolo piloted the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV and prevented a Kirk Cousins-to-San Francisco path.

 
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New Orleans Saints: Archie Manning dealt after 11 seasons

New Orleans Saints: Archie Manning dealt after 11 seasons
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Free agency would have changed the Manning patriarch's career, but absent the modern player-movement tool, the talented QB was stuck leading overmatched Saints squads. The Saints nearly dealt Manning to the Packers in 1974 but kept him throughout his prime. While this led to two Pro Bowls, no winning seasons took place. The Saints agreed to trade Manning to the Oilers in September 1982, receiving former All-Pro left tackle Leon Gray for the then-33-year-old passer. Gray had held out from the Oilers and was reunited with new Saints HC Bum Phillips, who installed an aging Ken Stabler at QB. Manning played nine Oilers games; Gray lasted 18 as a Saint.

 
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New York Giants: Cowboys benefit from disastrous QB move

New York Giants: Cowboys benefit from disastrous QB move
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Supplanted by Roger Staubach as the Cowboys starter for good in 1973, Craig Morton helped keep the team's championship window open. On Oct. 22, 1974, the Giants traded aging starter Norm Snead to the 49ers and acquired Morton from the Cowboys. While New York collected third- and fourth-round picks for Snead, that did not soften the blow of the Dallas deal. The Giants sent their division rivals a 1975 first-rounder and a 1976 second. The Giants' 2-12 record meant the 1975 pick landed at No. 2 overall. The Cowboys' prize: Hall of Fame D-lineman Randy White. To make matters worse, Morton revived his career in Denver, steering the Broncos to Super Bowl XII.

 
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New York Jets: Joe Namath ticketed for Broadway

New York Jets: Joe Namath ticketed for Broadway
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During the 1965 AFL Draft, which took place in late November 1964, the upstart league routed a superstar to the Big Apple. The Broncos acquired Oilers backup QB, Jacky Lee, via a historically unusual loan arrangement , sending the 1965 No. 2 overall pick to Houston. The Oilers then dealt the Jets that choice for the rights to QB Jerry Rhome, who ended up signing with the Cowboys. These strange decisions led to the Jets drafting Namath, and the Alabama star opted for New York -- and a then-record $425,000 contract -- over the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals. This worked out well for the Jets and the AFL but badly burned two other franchises.

 
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Philadelphia Eagles: Colts nab first-round pick for guard

Philadelphia Eagles: Colts nab first-round pick for guard
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One of a few notable contract disputes included here led to the Eagles sending away a first-round choice. Disgruntled Colts guard Ron Solt headed to Philadelphia for first- and fourth-round picks in October 1988. While this gave Randall Cunningham a blocker who had made the 1987 Pro Bowl, the Eagles did not see Solt stay on that level. A positive PED test resulted in a 1988 suspension, and Solt did not match his Indianapolis work in Philly. Though, he did start for contending Eagles teams until 1991. With the first-rounder, the Colts took Pro Bowl receiver Andre Rison, whom they soon used in 1990's Jeff George trade.

 
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Pittsburgh Steelers: Dolphins send over All-Pro

Pittsburgh Steelers: Dolphins send over All-Pro
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Transitioning from the "Killer B's" period to a defense-oriented roster, the Steelers received a boost in September 2019 when Minkah Fitzpatrick went on the trade block. The Dolphins' 2018 first-round pick became disgruntled with his role, leading to a dispute with the team's new coaching staff. Amid an aggressive rebuild, the Dolphins dealt the talented safety to the Steelers for a 2020 first-round pick. Fitzpatrick is 2-for-2 in All-Pro nods as a Steeler, anchoring their secondary. The Dolphins used the extra pick on left tackle Austin Jackson, who has been a bit slower to develop.

 
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San Francisco 49ers: star pass rusher joins budding dynasty

San Francisco 49ers: star pass rusher joins budding dynasty
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Two weeks after dealing disgruntled wideout John Jefferson, the Chargers weakened their already-scrutinized defense by trading their other contract-seeking star -- defensive end Fred Dean -- to the 49ers. This gave an emerging dynasty a pass-rushing cornerstone. The 1981 trade included a pick swap, giving the Chargers better 1982 first-round real estate, and a 1983 second-rounder going to San Diego. Dean made two Pro Bowls as a 49er and recorded a career-high 17.5 sacks in 1983. The future Hall of Famer helped the team win its first two Super Bowls. The Bolts later traded the 1983 Round 2 choice back to the 49ers, who drafted Pro Bowl running back Roger Craig.

 
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Seattle Seahawks: Beastquake fault line forms

Seattle Seahawks: Beastquake fault line forms
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Marshawn Lynch became one of the 2010s' defining skill-position players, but to start the decade, the Bills had turned the page. Buffalo rostered Fred Jackson and used a top-10 2010 pick on C.J. Spiller. In the Pete Carroll- John Schneider regime's first year, the Seahawks took a flier on the former No. 12 overall pick. Acquired for two late-round choices, Lynch only cleared 80 rushing yards once in his initial Seahawks season. But he helped Matt Hasselbeck win a shootout over Drew Brees in a storied wild-card game. Post-Beastquake, Lynch teamed with Russell Wilson to form a dominant ground attack that powered Seattle to two Super Bowls. 

 
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Green trade fails to soften blow of 1986 draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Green trade fails to soften blow of 1986 draft
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The Bucs' October 1985 deal sending former Pro Bowl linebacker Hugh Green to the Dolphins gave them additional first- and second-round capital in the 1986 draft. Tampa Bay used it on cornerback Rod Jones and linebacker Kevin Murphy, respectively. Jones played 11 seasons, though the final seven came in Cincinnati, and Murphy was a four-year Tampa starter. Unfortunately, the Bucs' No. 1 overall pick -- Heisman winner Bo Jackson -- defined this draft and a brutal era for the franchise. Jackson spurned the Bucs for the Kansas City Royals. A year later, the team traded Steve Young. Jones, Murphy, and Co. suffered through lean years.

 
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Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers: Canton-bound cogs key resurgence

Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers: Canton-bound cogs key resurgence
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On an action-packed 1974 trade deadline day, the Oilers armed their defense with two future Hall of Famers to ignite a late-1970s rise. On Oct. 22, when the John Hadl and Craig Morton trades commenced, the Oilers dealt 1973 No. 1 overall pick, John Matuszak, to the Chiefs for veteran Curley Culp and a 1975 first-round pick. Culp and Matuszak had signed with the short-lived World Football League, but its dissolution kept each D-lineman in the NFL. The pick became edge rusher, Robert Brazile. He and Culp combined for 11 Pro Bowls in Houston. The Oilers teamed them with Elvin Bethea to form a three-Hall of Famer defense and advance to two AFC title games.

 
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Washington Football Team: Bobby Mitchell integrates franchise

Washington Football Team: Bobby Mitchell integrates franchise
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The 1962 NFL Draft occurred in December 1961, and Washington struck a deal to move out of the No. 1 slot and land an impact veteran. The Browns traded Bobby Mitchell, the lightning to Jim Brown's thunder in Cleveland's loaded backfield, to Washington for Heisman-winning running back Ernie Davis' rights. Davis tragically never played for the Browns, dying of leukemia in 1963. Mitchell, the first Black player in Washington franchise history, moved to wide receiver after the trade and led the NFL in receiving yards in his first two Washington seasons. Mitchell played seven years in Washington and became a Hall of Famer.

Sam Robinson is a Kansas City, Mo.-based writer who mostly writes about the NFL. He has covered sports for nearly 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations featuring female rock protagonists are some of his go-tos. Occasionally interesting tweets @SRobinson25.

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