There’s a long list of blockbuster NFL trades that were oh-so-close to happening, only to fall
through in the final moments for various reasons. In fact, we did a list on it before
Well, this time we’re changing things up a bit, as we look at some deals that weren’t exactly
close to happening, but looking back, they totally should have!
Here are 10 trades that should have happened, but didn’t.
10. Earl Thomas To The Kansas City Chiefs
Before the 2018 season, then-Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas demanded one of two things: A new contract or a trade.
The Seahawks refused to give in to either of his demands, and Thomas ultimately ended his holdout before the start of the year, and suffered a season-ending leg fracture in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals. That would turn out to be his final game as a Seahawk.
As many remember, a disgruntled Thomas flipped off the Seattle sideline as he was being carted off, obviously unhappy about not getting the new contract.
Hindsight is 20-20, but looking back, the Chiefs really should have made a trade for Thomas. Their defense was awful in 2018, placing 24th in scoring and 31st in yards allowed. Not to mention, KC’s defense also cost them the AFC title game that year against the New England Patriots, allowing Tom Brady and co. to score on three of their final four drives, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
What a way to waste Patrick Mahomes’ MVP season. Yes, everything worked out in the end. KC signed Pro Bowler Tyrann Mathieu in 2019 free agency, and he helped them win Super Bowl 54. But if they actually went out and acquired Thomas, who knows? Maybe it would have been back-to-back Super Bowl titles?
9. Tony Romo To The Denver Broncos
Romo suffered a fractured L1 vertebrae during a 2016 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. That gave the Dallas Cowboys no choice but to start rookie Dak Prescott, the 135th overall draft selection from that year.
We all know how that played out. Prescott and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott powered the Dallas offense, leading America’s Team to a 13-and-3 record and the top seed in the NFC.
The Cowboys were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round, but the good news was Jerry Jones had found himself a new franchise quarterback to build around – which made Romo expendable.
For whatever reason, several QB-needy teams balked at the opportunity to acquire Romo, and he decided to retire and join the CBS broadcasting booth.
Looking back, it’s beyond us why the Denver Broncos didn’t make a play for Romo. After winning Super Bowl 50, they missed the playoffs in 2016 due to frustrating quarterback play from Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Romo would have been the perfect addition to a Denver team that was still in win-now mode, with an elite defense and wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders still dominating.
Fast forward to 2021, and Elway is still searching for a long-term answer at quarterback.
8. Tony Gonzalez To The Green Bay Packers
The greatest tight end of all time only saw three playoff appearances — and zero playoff wins — during his 12-year tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs. After they missed the playoffs in 2008, KC did the right thing and shopped the future Hall of Famer to a contender.
Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in the 2009 offseason, and though he performed very well with Matt Ryan, it was more of the same with his new team. The Falcons, like the Chiefs, continuously underperformed in the postseason with Gonzalez.
They won their 2012 NFC Divisional Round game against the Seattle Seahawks, but that was it. He retired after the 2013 season, with no Super Bowl rings and just one career playoff victory.
Rodgers has never really used his tight ends much, but Gonzalez could have been an exception. Imagine Rodgers with Gonzalez, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb. T.G. would have got his ring after Green Bay won a Super Bowl 45 in 2010, and he could have helped A-Rod in his bid for a second championship as well.
7. Patrick Peterson To The New Orleans Saints
During a frustrating 2018 season, Arizona Cardinals superstar cornerback Patrick Peterson requested a trade. The team had a horrible 1-and-6 record, and Peterson understandably wanted a fresh start.
He later walked back on the demands, released a statement and stuck with the team. Looking back, however, it was a missed opportunity for both sides.
Peterson was hit with a six-game suspension over a PED violation in 2019. He looked nothing like a Pro Bowler that year, or in 2020 for that matter. Peterson regressed quickly, and Arizona lost out on a chance to accumulate valuable draft capital for him.
The New Orleans Saints would have been the perfect fit for Peterson in 2018. Despite a 13-and-3 record, they had the NFL’s fourth-worst passing defense. Peterson and Marshon Lattimore would have formed a scary-good cornerback duo, and maybe Peterson helps the Saints get past the Los Angeles Rams in that infamous 2018 NFC Championship Game – you know, the NOLA No-Call Game.
A Peterson-to-New-Orleans trade really could have changed the NFL landscape, to say the least.
6. Eli Manning To The Jacksonville Jaguars
After the Giants benched Eli in favor of Geno Smith during the 2017 season, they probably should have traded him. And Manning’s former coach, Tom Coughlin, should have made a play for him.
Manning and Coughlin won two Super Bowls together. The latter joined the Jaguars in 2017 to take over as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Jacksonville won the AFC South and reached the AFC title game, narrowly falling to the New England Patriots.
Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP and all, could have been the final piece to help the Jaguars break through in 2018. But the Jaguars instead gave Bortles a three-year extension. He unraveled entirely and lost his starting job.
The Jaguars finished last in the AFC South, while the Giants held onto Manning until his retirement in 2020.
As it turns out, this was a huge opportunity that the Giants missed to get draft picks for Manning. And a massive blown chance by the Jaguars to get a Super Bowl-winning QB to complement their elite defense.
5. Randy Moss To The Green Bay Packers
Superstar wide receiver Randy Moss endured a frustrating two-year tenure with the Oakland Raiders from 2005 to 2006.
Of course, Moss wound up getting traded to the New England Patriots. He enjoyed a career revival and recorded a single-season record 23 touchdown receptions, leading the Pats to a perfect regular season. They went all the way to Super Bowl 42 and lost to the Giants, so Moss obviously has no regrets with the trade to New England.
But the Packers really should have made that move for Moss in 2007. Their best receiver that year was 32-year-old Donald Driver with 1,048 yards. Throw in Moss with Driver and Greg Jennings, and you’d have quite the three-headed monster at receiver.
With Moss, the Packers very likely get past the Giants in that crushing overtime loss in the NFC Championship Game. Maybe Favre goes on to win one last Super Bowl with Green Bay? And maybe he decides to keep playing after that?
Or, you know, Moss and Aaron Rodgers could have done magic together for a few years. Either way, the Packers blew it by never finishing the deal for Moss.
4. Darrelle Revis To The San Francisco 49ers
Unable to reach an agreement on a new deal, the New York Jets shopped their All-Pro cornerback in the 2013 offseason. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers reportedly had interest, but he wound up getting traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the draft.
The Bucs then signed Revis to a six-year, $96 million contract. He struggled in their defensive system and was released after one year.
The 49ers didn’t exactly need Revis with a star-studded defense led by Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. But with the benefit of hindsight, we say they should have done this deal.
Yes, San Fran had the NFL’s seventh-best passing defense in 2013, and they allowed the third-fewest points. Now, just imagine if they had Revis.
Maybe his elite coverage skills help San Fran get past Seattle in that heartbreaking 2013 NFC Championship loss. And maybe his presence helps San Fran avoid a late-season collapse in 2014.
Add it all up and this is definitely a trade that would have made sense for both sides.
3. Barry Sanders To The San Francisco 49ers
Detroit Lions icon Barry Sanders was the NFL’s most explosive running back in the 1990s. The 10-time Pro Bowler and 1997 co-MVP was remarkably loyal to a team that never built a contender around him.
The Lions only made the playoffs five times in Sanders’ Hall of Fame career, recording just a single postseason win. Because this is merely a hypothetical exercise, we look back and wish for Sanders’ sake, the 49ers made a play for him.
Before Garrison Heart’s arrival in 1997, the 49ers’ ground game struggled. From 1993 to 1996, the 49ers didn’t have a single 1,000-yard rusher to complement Steve Young, Jerry Rice and their passing attack.
The 49ers somehow managed just the one Super Bowl title with Young as the starter, whereas the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys won three in the ‘90s. The key difference? Dallas had Emmitt Smith to complement Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin.
Imagine if the 49ers traded for Sanders somewhere in that 1993 to ‘96 timeframe. Or even if they traded for Sanders before his shocking retirement in 1999. Maybe he keeps that Super Bowl window open during the Niners’ post-Steve Young era in the early 2000s.
One way or another, it would have been nice to see Sanders compete for multiple championships on a 49ers team that needed a game-changing running back.
2. Joe Montana To The Arizona Cardinals
Steve Young asserted himself as the 49ers’ starter while Joe Montana was sidelined in 1991 and ‘92. That made the four-time Super Bowl champion expendable.
The Cardinals emerged as a frontrunner for his services during the 1993 offseason. However, Montana reportedly turned down a three-year, $15 million offer from them.
He was eventually traded to the Chiefs, and he signed a three-year deal worth $10 million – which was considerably less than Arizona’s offer.
Now, Montana fared nicely in his two seasons with KC — taking them to the playoffs both times including all the way to the 1993 AFC Championship Game. But looking back, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been if he joined the Cardinals.
He would have had a 1,000-yard rusher in Ronald Moore and two stud wideouts in Ricky Prohel and Gary Clark. The 1993 Cardinals also finished seventh in scoring defense. They went 7-and-9 that year, but Montana could have easily given them at least three more wins.
In 1994, Arizona went 8-and-8 thanks to Moore, Proell, Clark and another stingy defense. Again, Montana could have made them that much better.
The Cardinals have been one of the NFL’s saddest franchise for more than seven decades now. Not saying that Montana would have won them a Super Bowl, but he could have really put them on the map before the end of his career.
1. Brett Favre To The Dallas Cowboys
Back on a 2017 Doomsday Podcast episode, ESPN reporter Ed Werder recalled a golfing day with Tony Romo. There, Romo told Werder that the Cowboys wanted to acquire Favre while Bill Parcells was the head coach. Werder told Romo he heard that as well.
Favre even admitted himself that he dreamed of playing for the Cowboys.
Well, Dallas should have done it during Parcell’s tenure as head coach, which spanned from 2003 to 2006. More specifically, 2005 or 2006 would have made sense, since the Packers missed the playoffs in those two years.
Favre could have played with 1,000-yard wideouts Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten, not to mention a stacked offensive line.
The Cowboys underachieved despite so much Pro Bowl talent from 2006 to 2010, only winning one playoff game in that span. You have to think Favre would have fared better than Romo, who infamously choked in the big games. Maybe Favre would have brought another Super Bowl or two to Dallas before the end of his career
Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Instead, Favre played for the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings before retiring after the 2010 season.
What other NFL trades SHOULD HAVE happened…but didn’t?
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