Everyone expected Matthew Stafford to be traded this offseason.
No one expected it to be this trade.
The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams agreed to a blockbuster deal late Saturday night, sending Stafford to Los Angeles in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a 2021 third-round selection, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. It is the first time two former No. 1 overall picks have been dealt for one another.
While the deal came as a shock and sent NFL Twitter into shambles, it's two deals in one. The Rams were paying both to acquire Stafford and to rid themselves of the need to pay a guaranteed $43 million to Goff.
In terms of a player-for-player assessment, this doesn't rank that high on the all-time NFL blockbusters list. Stafford is decidedly an above-average starting quarterback but not a superstar; he has one Pro Bowl selection to his name, coming all the way back in 2014. Goff, a Pro Bowler in 2017 and 2018, has more recent success and more Pro Bowl selections than Stafford.
The Rams are now set to go through a seven-year stretch without a first-round pick—and their most recent first-round pick was Goff.
So while there are confounding details of this deal that make it interesting, it pales in comparison to some of the more notable deals involving superstar names or the sheer number of selections moved. Here's a look at a handful of some of the biggest moves in NFL history.
Ditka, Ricky Williams Get Hitched
Saints Receive: Ricky Williams
Washington Receives: two first-round picks (1999, 2000), two third-round picks (1999, 2000), 1999 fourth-round pick, 1999 fifth-round pick, 1999 sixth-round pick, 1999 seventh-round pick
The New Orleans Saints literally traded their entire 1999 draft for a running back. In today's NFL, where it's obvious that running backs have finite values and are regularly discarded after their rookie contracts, that seems fundamentally outrageous. Mike Ditka got laughed out of the room in 1999; he probably would get fired on the spot for trying this in 2021.
But lost in the befuddlement over how much the Saints gave up is the fact that Ricky Williams was looked at as a generational superstar coming out of Texas. Williams rushed for 6,279 yards and 72 touchdowns over a dominant four-year stint with the Longhorns, winning the 1998 Heisman and making two All-American teams. He even flashed an ability to make plays as a pass-catcher, which didn't have the same emphasis among running backs in the late 90s as it does today.
Ditka said he "wet [his] pants" in celebration after the Indianapolis Colts selected Edgerrin James over Williams.
Of course, the Colts' selection wound up being prudent. Williams had a largely frustrating three-year career in New Orleans, with Dikta only getting to coach his prized running back for one season before being fired in 1999.
The Saints traded Williams to the Miami Dolphins, recouping two first-round picks in the process, before the 2002 season. Williams found stardom in Miami before retiring and beginning one of the most interesting odysseys in NFL history.
Vikings Sell the Farm for Herschel Walker
Vikings Receive: Herschel Walker, 1990 third-round pick, 1990 fifth-round pick, 1990 10th-round pick, 1991 third-round pick
Cowboys Receive: three first-round picks (1990, 1991, 1992), three second-round picks (1990, 1991, 1992), 1990 sixth-round pick, 1992 third-round pick
Chargers Receive: Darrin Nelson
The trade against which all others are graded—and for good reason. We've long been told we will never see another haul similar to this again, but that was before the Houston Texans bungled Deshaun Watson's career. If the Lions can get a pair of first-round picks and a capable starter in Goff for Stafford, the Texans might want to consider opening themselves up to a Watson trade. It might turn out to be the modern-day Walker deal.