Whether in St. Louis or now back in Los Angeles, the Rams are all about big trades.
They made a huge splash in their deal Thursday with the Tennessee Titans, one of the biggest draft-choice transactions in NFL history. Just like the one they pulled off four years ago with the Redskins that landed Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Of the four major pro sports in America, football features the fewest monster trades. Except, that is, when mostly draft choices are involved.
And certainly in recent times, except for when the Rams are involved.
St. Louis’ grab bag for sending the second overall spot in 2012 to the Redskins was plentiful, including No. 6 overall that year, plus two more first-rounders and a second-rounder. St. Louis didn’t exactly turn around the franchise with its selections: defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, running backs Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy; linebacker Alex Ogletree; tackle Greg Robinson; receiver Stedman Bailey; and offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins.
Only Brockers, Ogletree and Jenkins made much of an impact, and Jenkins left for the Giants in free agency this year. Meanwhile, the Rams have gone 27-36-1 since that deal.
The Redskins, of course, got an Offensive Rookie of the Year performance and an NFC East title out of RG3 in 2012, but he’s been injured and benched since, and now is with Cleveland.
Tennessee, meanwhile, now has the bevy of picks, something new general manager Jon Robinson, who previously worked in New England, foresees being transformational for the franchise.
“That’s the philosophy and the team-building process I cut my teeth on and that I came up in,” he said Thursday, “and I’m taking that same approach. It’s worked out pretty well for those guys up there.”
How did some other massive draft deals work out for the parties?
DALLAS AND MINNESOTA
Unquestionably the greatest heist in NFL trade annals.
Dallas already was 0-5 in 1989 while shopping star running back Herschel Walker, by far the Cowboys’ most sellable commodity. Minnesota was thinking Super Bowl and that Walker would be the final piece on a championship roster.
Basically, the Cowboys sent Walker, their third-round and 10th-round picks in 1990, and their third pick in 1991 to the Vikings for running back Darrin Nelson, cornerback Issiac Holt, linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart and Minnesota’s 1990 first-, second- and sixth-round picks in 1990.
But Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson had no intention of holding onto most of those veterans. Each of them had a draft pick attached so if Dallas released the player before Feb. 1, 1990, it would get those draft choices instead.
Most of the players were, indeed, cut _ Nelson never even reported and was dealt to the Chargers for a second-round and a sixth-round selection.
Among those the Cowboys took with the draft choices: career rushing leader Emmitt Smith; stud DT Russell Maryland; ace safety Darren Woodson; solid cornerback Kevin Smith; and special teams standout Clayton Holmes.
Dallas won three Super Bowls in a four-season span after that. Minnesota still hasn’t sniffed another Super Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS AND WASHINGTON
Theater of the absurd, courtesy of Mike Ditka.
In 1999, then coaching New Orleans, Ditka was so enamored of Texas running back Ricky Williams that he moved the Saints up to fifth overall. In return, he sent all seven of the Saints’ selections, beginning with the 12th overall slot, plus a first-round and third-round choice the next year, to Washington. Then Ditka allegedly lit up a cigar and headed for the golf course.
Williams was a good, not great, player for the Saints, hardly worth an entire collection of picks. The Redskins wound up, through other moves, getting cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker LaVar Arrington.
Who got the best of that one? Washington and Denver: Bailey built Hall of Fame numbers with both franchises.
NEW YORK GIANTS AND SAN DIEGO
This one doesn’t have the quantity, but, boy, the quality.
Eli Manning was top dog in 2004, but his family didn’t want San Diego taking him with the first overall selection. The Chargers seemingly called the Mannings’ bluff and took him anyway, and Eli couldn’t have been more sour or dour when he came on stage at Radio City Music Hall to be greeted by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Three picks later, though, the Giants announced they’d acquired Manning in exchange for another highly regarded college QB, Philip Rivers. Suddenly, Eli was all smiles.
It turned out to be a great deal for New York as Manning has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles and also could be Hall of Fame material. Rivers has been a long-time star for the Chargers, even though they don’t have a Lombardi Trophy in their possession.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.