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5 Biggest NFL trades at the deadline in the last decade

What are the biggest NFL trades to have taken place at the trade deadline in the past decade? Which trades shaped the NFL in recent years?

The last decade has seen the NFL trade deadline come to life, but what have been the biggest trades to happen at the deadline in that time? Let’s take a look through five NFL trade deadline moves that have shaped the NFL.

Biggest NFL trades at the deadline in the last decade

What are some of the biggest trades to have taken place at the deadline in the past decade?

Jalen Ramsey | Jacksonville Jaguars to Los Angeles Rams (2019)

Regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since he was drafted fifth overall by the Jaguars, the Rams’ acquisition of Jalen Ramsey in 2019 was another in several high-profile moves. On October 15, 2019, the Rams made two trades involving cornerbacks. The acquisition of Ramsey for two first-round selections and a fourth-round pick came on the same day they sent Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens.

The trade was intriguing because of the different nature of the two corners. While Ramsey was viewed as a shutdown corner, Peters was more of an opportunist. The move from the Rams demonstrated a shift in philosophy to a more consistent player away from one whose play was more of a boom-or-bust style. The two trades taking place on the same day were one of the biggest series of moves ever at the trade deadline.

Dante Fowler Jr. | Jacksonville Jaguars to Los Angeles Rams (2018)

Prior to the Ramsey trade, the Jaguars and Rams had a history of swapping players at the trade deadline. In the previous season, the Rams had sent a third-round and fifth-round selection to the Jaguars for pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr.

During his time in Jacksonville, Fowler had produced mixed results after missing his first season with a torn ACL. However, after the Jaguars had declined his fifth-year option (followed by some disciplinary issues), Fowler would move to Los Angeles.

Fowler did not make a major impact during the 2018 regular season with the Rams. In the playoffs, he would have 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, and 4 tackles for loss as the Rams ultimately fell short in the Super Bowl.

Playing on a one-year contract in 2019, Fowler would produce 11.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, and 16 tackles for loss before becoming a free agent in the subsequent season.

Amari Cooper | Oakland Raiders to Dallas Cowboys (2018)

In 2018, the biggest in-season NFL trade involving a wide receiver occurred as former top-five selection Amari Cooper headed to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a first-round selection. Cooper would have an immediate impact, helping the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2018.

Since arriving in Dallas, Cooper has pulled in 254 of his 368 targets (69% catch rate) for 3,401 yards and 23 touchdowns. In 2020, the Dallas Cowboys signed Cooper to a five-year contract extension worth $100 million.

Jimmy Garoppolo | New England Patriots to San Francisco 49ers (2017)

Arguably no trade deadline move in the past decade of the NFL has been more of a roller coaster than the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Following his strong performance as a starter during Brady’s suspension to start the 2016 season, Garoppolo became a hot commodity. In 2017, with Brady seemingly set in New England, the Patriots sent Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round pick.

Initially, it appears the Patriots made the right call. While Garoppolo could play just three games due to injury, Brady led them to another Super Bowl win. Then, in 2019, the tide shifted in the opposite direction. Brady and the Patriots would limp out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round, while Garoppolo and the 49ers would go on to the Super Bowl.

Now four years down the line from that deal, it seems neither team really won the trade. Brady departed the Patriots in the 2020 offseason, sparking a semi-rebuild. Meanwhile, Garoppolo is barely holding off rookie quarterback Trey Lance for the starting role in San Francisco.

Which under-the-radar trade deadline move has been one of the biggest in the NFL?

This 2016 trade seemed relatively inconsequential at the time, but it became a key moment in one of the most successful runs by any franchise in NFL history.

Kyle Van Noy | Detroit Lions to New England Patriots (2016)

After being selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Kyle Van Noy’s career got off to a slow start. In 2014, he played on just 10% of the Lions’ defensive snaps during the eight games he was active. In 2015, he managed just 8% of the defensive snaps in his 15 games.

He became a starter for the Lions in 2016, and through seven games, had played more than double the defensive snaps he saw in his first two seasons combined. However, the results were still underwhelming. Van Noy averaged 3.3 tackles per game, had 1 QB hit, 1 pass defensed, and no sacks to his name. As a result, on October 25, 2016, Van Noy and a seventh-round selection were traded to the Patriots for a sixth-round selection in return.

Following that trade, Van Noy would become an instrumental part in one of the best runs of any franchise in NFL history. In 2016, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Then, with Van Noy taking a starting role in 2017, New England lost in the Super Bowl before winning a second Lombardi Trophy in three years in 2018.

While this trade deadline move may not have really moved the needle in the NFL at the time, in terms of the role Van Noy played in the Patriots’ success between 2016 and 2018, it is certainly one of the biggest of the past decade.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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