The Los Angeles Rams would have been proud of the NBA.
My unofficial count is that there were 19 big (and small) NBA deals yesterday before the trading deadline involving 18 teams, 53 players and up to 38 second-round picks.
Someone must explain the second-round picks thing to me. Why are they so valuable?
It got me thinking about all the trades the Rams have made over the years. They may not be an NFL franchise with a reputation and history for making big deals.
It can be a franchise philosophy…’go get a good player now’ because as you can see from the Rams trades, not all draft picks work out. In fact, maybe only a third of them do.
The Rams have embraced the ‘trade anyone, anytime’ ethos during the Sean McVay Era. This is one way to spark production and the attention of your players. McVay can look any of his guys in the face and say with conviction, if you don’t perform, I will trade you.
Back in day there was always the subtext of “I will trade you to Buffalo…or Cleveland” two downtrodden (and cold) NFL franchises, but I don’t think that exists so much anymore. The money is too good for NFL players to fear a location. A mansion in Buffalo is just as big as a mansion in LA.
In the honor of the NBA trade deadline, here are the blockbuster deals in Rams history:
The Ollie Matson Trade
At the time, 1959, this was the biggest trade in NFL history.
Matson was a star running back for the Chicago Cardinals, who were terrible. The Rams GM at the time was Pete Rozelle, who would later be the NFL Commissioner.
Rozelle and Matson were friends from their days at the University of San Francisco.
The Rams put together a trade of seven, yes, seven players and two picks for Matson.
Who won the trade? Nobody. I mean, nobody. None of the players the Rams lost in the deal ever amounted to much and the Cardinals would eventually move to St. Louis. Matson played well for the Rams, but he went from being a one-man team in Chicago to a one-man team in Los Angeles. The Rams won only 11 games in his four years in LA. Matson was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Roman Gabriel Deal
When the Jared Goff deal happened, I thought about Roman Gabriel. But I’m old…and you have to know your Rams history.
Gabriel was a good-looking star who became the Rams starting QB in 1966. He took the Rams to the playoffs twice and was NFL MVP in 1969.
He had a bad elbow, but said he didn’t, and he also wanted more money. He threatened to go play in another football league. Then the Rams got quarterback John Hadl from the Chargers, because the Chargers got 40-year-old John Unitas.
In 1973, the Rams traded Gabriel to the Eagles for two players: WR Harold Jackson and RB Tony Baker and three picks: two first rounders and a third.
Who won the trade? Clearly the Rams. Gabriel’s arm really was bad and he never led the Eagles to a winning record. Harold Jackson made the Pro Bowl three times for the Rams and one of the first-round picks became Dennis Harrah a 13-year starter on the offensive line for the Rams.
The Eric Dickerson Deal
It was Halloween Day, 1987 and the Rams, Bills and Colts gave the NFL a treat still talked about 36 years later.
Dickerson was a star, but felt he was underpaid (give thanks that the Rams aren’t cheap anymore). He wanted out. The Colts were terrible and couldn’t sign star linebacker Cornelius Bennett who they had drafted with the second overall pick out of Alabama (the Colts were cheap).
So we had a three-way dance. The Rams sent Dickerson to the Colts, the Colts sent the rights to Bennett to the Bills and the Bills and Colts each sent the Rams players and picks. The Rams got RB Greg Bell from the Bills and RB Owen Gill from the Colts, plus six picks, three first round picks and three second round picks.
Who won the trade? Um, the Bills? Is that possible? The Rams were set up with all these draft picks, but got no one. Gaston Green, anyone? Greg Bell had two good years in LA and then left for the Raiders. Dickerson did fine with the Colts and made the HOF, but his numbers started to decline quickly. Cornelius Bennett became the backbone of a Bills defense that reached four Super Bowls.
The Marshall Faulk Deal
The Rams were in St. Louis and it was Dickerson redux but in reverse. Faulk wanted a new deal from the Colts, but they had Peyton Manning at quarterback and it just didn’t sync up. The Rams got Faulk for a second and fifth round pick.
Who won the trade? Both teams won a Super Bowl in the aftermath. The Rams won with Faulk in his first year (he played seven with St. Louis). The Colts drafted Edgerrin James to take over as lead RB and went to the playoffs 11 of the next 12 years. Short term, the Rams won the deal. Long term, probably the Colts.
The Jared Goff Deal
The Rams were desperate, let’s be real. They were leaving St. Louis. They needed a star quarterback and Jared Goff was sitting right there out of Cal. He had the looks and the charm and the style. So the Rams sent six picks to Tennessee for the No. 1 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, two first rounders, two second rounders and two third rounders. Under the wise leadership of Jeff Fisher, Goff didn’t play much as a rookie in 2016. Then McVay happened and Goff blossomed.
Who won the trade? The Titans used one of those picks on Derrick Henry, so that’s a plus for them. But how what metric do you want to use? Goff took the Rams to the Super Bowl. But then the Rams traded him for Matthew Stafford, who won a Super Bowl. I think it’s the Rams. Where’s your Super Bowl Tennessee?
The Matthew Stafford Deal
After taking the Rams to the Super Bowl and losing, Goff never looked quite the same. So the Rams put him on the market. Matthew Stafford was tired of losing in Detroit. A deal was made. Stafford for Goff, plus the Rams sent the Lions two first round picks and a third-round pick.
Stafford has a Super Bowl ring. Goff just made the Pro Bowl for the first time as a Lion.
Who won the trade? We don’t know because the Lions have the Rams 2023 draft pick in April. At this very moment, the Rams have a Super Bowl title, but the immediate future doesn’t look so good, while the Lions seem to be surging.