Trading draft picks for players: A decade of misuse

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Want to trade an early pick for the future leader of the franchise? Not so fast...

I've seen it creeping into your thoughts, posts, and tweets, Chiefs fans. We all know the franchise needs a new signal caller. There's no slam dunk QB candidate coming in the 2013 NFL Draft at this juncture. Naturally, a person would go looking around for other options.

Recently, second year player Colin Kaepernick has put on two impressive performances against the Bears and the Saints, and has coach Jim Harbaugh in a bit of a conundrum. Prior to his injury, Alex Smith was a first choice starter and has done little to lose the job. However, Kaepernick's performances warrant some notice. It's a tough choice for them, and a storyline to follow for most Chiefs fans. Two perfectly good quarterbacks for one spot? We'll gladly trade a draft pick and take one, right?

Wrong.

Join me as I go through the past decade and try to show that trading first or second round draft picks for players usually turns out badly for the teams giving away the picks.

2003

1st round trades: WR Laveranues Coles (WAS/NYJ), QB Drew Bledsoe (BUF/NE), WR Peerless Price (ATL/BUF)

2nd round trades: CB Al Harris (GB/PHI)

Successes: Coles played for two years in Washington and went to the Pro Bowl. He asked for a trade because of conservative play calling, and the Redskins traded him back to the Jets for Santana Moss, who is still with the team. Al Harris played seven years in Green Bay after the trade, going to the Pro Bowl twice, garnering an All-Pro nomination, and winning a Super Bowl.

Failures: Bledsoe had a good first year, but then missed the playoffs in consecutive years and lost his job to J.P. Losman in the 2004 offseason. Price did little in his time in Atlanta, and was cut from the team two years later.

They could have drafted: The QB class was pretty weak, with Rex Grossman and Kyle Boller going after the Bledsoe pick. Atlanta, on the other hand watched Anquan Boldin go off the board before their next pick.

2004

1st round trades: None

2nd round trades: WR Justin McCareins (NYJ/TEN), WR Terrell Owens (PHI/BAL/SF), OT Kyle Turley (STL/NO)

Failures: McCareins did play for the Jets for 3 years, but was unproductive and earned the nickname "McCan't Catch" during his time there. He was cut from the team. Owens started Philly off with a bang, helping the Eagles get to the Super Bowl with Donovan McNabb. However, the trouble started with contract negotiations and locker room arguments in the offseason, resulting in him getting suspended during the season and getting cut the next year. Turley started 16 games in his first year at St. Louis, but then got hurt and got into an argument with the head coach Mike Martz, resulting in him going on IR and being cut the next year.

They could have drafted: For the Jets and Eagles, Devery Henderson and Bernard Berrian. Both would have contributed more in the long run to their clubs. The Rams could have drafted Max Starks, who is still a starter in the league.

2005

1st round trades: WR Randy Moss (OAK/MIN)

2nd round trades: QB AJ Feely (MIA/PHI), CB Patrick Surtain (KC/MIA), CB Philip Buchanon (HOU/OAK)

Failures: Moss' time in Oakland was plagued with injuries and unwillingness to play. He was traded two years later for a 4th round pick. Feeley was terrible in Miami and was benched, then traded a year later. Surtain wasn't bad for the Chiefs, but never lived up to his 2002-2004 years in the league and was cut 4 years later. Buchanon played a season and a half for Houston before being cut without recording an interception.

They could have drafted: Oakland had Roddy White and Vincent Jackson in the next two rounds to choose from. Kyle Orton and Derek Anderson were taken after Miami's pick, and while they aren't great, they would've gotten more mileage than Feely. The Chiefs and Texans had pro-bowler Justin Miller taken shortly after their picks,

2006

1st round trades: None

2nd round trades: WR Javon Walker (DEN/GB), QB Daunte Culpepper (MIA/MIN)

Failures: Walker's first season in Denver was a good one, but after the Darrent Williams murder, he never quite got back to football and was cut after his second year with the Broncos. Culpepper played parts of the 2006 season due to injury and was cut from the team during the 2007 offseason after Miami acquired Trent Green.

They could have drafted: The Broncos simply could have taken Greg Jennings in their spot. The Dolphins were in a bit more of a bind. The next three QB's taken were Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Brodie Croyle.

2007

1st round trades: WR Deion Branch (SEA/NE)

2nd round trades: RB Thomas Jones (NYJ/CHI), QB Matt Schaub (HOU/ATL), WR Wes Welker (NE/MIA), DT Anthony McFarland (IND/TB)

Successes: Schaub and Welker are the obvious ones here. 5 years later, Schaub is still the starter of a high powered Houston offense, and Welker's name has become synonymous with "White Guy Receiver" while leading the stellar receiving corps in New England. Thomas Jones was also a success with the Jets. He posted three straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons before getting cut (due to financial reasons), leading the AFC in 2008 and making the Pro Bowl.

Failures: Branch left New England for Seattle, but struggled to stay healthy and never led the team in receiving yards during his 4 year stint. McFarland had a decent season for the Colts, winning a Super Bowl ring in the 2006 season, but promptly retired the next offseason, before Tampa Bay could even make their pick.

They could have drafted: The Seahawks could have taken Sidney Rice or Steve Smith to fill their WR spot. The Colts could have had Paul Soliai...although the Bucs kind of wasted the pick on Sabby Piscatelli anyway.

2008

1st round trades: DE Jared Allen (MIN/KC)

2nd round trades: CB DeAngelo Hall, QB Matt Schaub (2nd pick surrendered), DT Corey Williams (CLE/GB), WR Chris Chambers (SD/MIA)

Successes: Everyone in the league will agree that Jared Allen was worth the trade the Vikings made. Schaub's second pick was this year, but again, still a good trade.

Failures: Hall played exactly 8 games for the Raiders before getting cut. Williams started 18 games in two years at Cleveland and recorded 4.5 sacks before being traded (along with a 7th round pick) for a 5th rounder. Chambers lit up the Chargers offense in his first year in San Diego before turning in a lackluster performance in 2008 and getting cut in 2009.

They could have drafted: Oakland could have taken Brandon Flowers, who the Chiefs took with the very next pick. Scary. The DT's in the draft were pretty weak (ZERO have made a pro bowl), but Cleveland was pretty bad during that time period and could have gone multiple ways with that pick. Chargers could have gone with Mario Manningham.

2009

1st round trades: WR Roy Williams (DAL/DET), QB Jay Cutler (CHI/DEN)

2nd round trades: QB Matt Cassel & LB Mike Vrabel (KC/NE), LB Jason Taylor (WAS/MIA), TE Kellen Winslow (TB/CLE)

Successes: I'm going to put Jay Cutler here...for now. He's added stability to the QB position for Chicago, but he's yet to push them to be a consistently good team. Kellen Winslow led the Bucs in receptions for the next three years, and set their franchise TE records.

Failures: The Williams trade is possibly the worst of all time. He never caught more than 40 passes in a season for the Cowboys. Cassel/Vrabel is a tough one. Cassel has had only one good year as the Chiefs starting QB. Vrabel started 30 games, but only recorded 2 sacks. Even though neither really advanced the team, getting two starters for one pick was almost enough to create a "neutral" category. Jason Taylor played one season, and was cut by the Redskins.

They could have drafted: Dallas completely missed Percy Harvin and Hakeem Nicks as first round WR's. The Chiefs didn't miss out on any QB's with that pick, but did miss out on Connor Barwin and Paul Kruger, as did Washington with their pick.

2010

1st round trades: QB Jay Cutler (2nd pick surrendered)

2nd round trades: WR Brandon Marshall (MIA/DEN), QB Donovan McNabb (WAS/PHI), QB Charlie Whitehurst (SEA/SD), DT Gaines Adams (CHI/TB), TE Tony Gonzalez (ATL/KC)

Successes: Marshall gave Miami two stellar receiving years, and went to the Pro Bowl. Miami then got two 3rd round picks for him. Tony G was well worth the second round pick for Atlanta, still playing at a high level for the past 3 years.

Failures: McNabb was supposed to fix the QB position for the Redskins, but they missed again, and had demoted him to 3rd QB by the end of the season. They traded him for a sixth round pick the next year. Whitehurst was given the reins to the Seahawks offense, and fumbled them in two consecutive years before going back to SD as a backup. Gaines Adams finished the rest of the 2009 season in Chicago, but died of a heart attack in the ensuing offseason.

They could have drafted: Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy both played just about as much for their respective teams as McNabb did for the Redskins and Whitehurst did for the Seahawks. Gaines Adams could have been Geno Atkins for the Bears.

2011

1st round trades: DT Richard Seymour (OAK/NE)

2nd round trades: WR Brandon Marshall (second pick surrendered), CB Antonio Cromartie (NYJ/SD)

Successes: Most will forget that Seymour actually joined the Raiders in the 2009 season. He has put up good numbers on the Oakland defensive line, and has made players around him better, as well as being nominated to two Pro Bowls since then.

Jury is still out on: Cromartie. He's just inconsistent, but when he's on, the Jets secondary is unstoppable. He's still the starter opposite Revis, but he's not always a success.

2012

1st round trades: QB Carson Palmer (OAK/CIN)

2nd round trades: QB Kevin Kolb (ARZ/PHI)

Failures: It's pretty easy to say both of these players have failed to do what they were expected to do for their teams, even though they've barely been with the teams that traded for them. Still, both are once again sniffing around the QB crop for next year, making them both failures.

They could have drafted: Look at all the quarterbacks currently starting from last year's draft class. I'm sure both these organizations would love to have Russell Wilson. There's also Weeden (Oakland could've selected in the 1st round) and Foles starting for their respective teams.

*****************

Well, that was exhausting, but I feel the point has been adequately made: trading 1st and 2nd round picks away for players has not typically worked out for the teams acquiring those players, even if they have played well the year before. I'm sure there's some argument over my classification of players in both directions. I'm sure the trades involving the Chiefs will get plenty of discussion. Still, think about this list of players before jumping on the next great backup QB wagon...because it probably isn't going to work out.

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