It often takes years to fairly evaluate an NFL trade, which more frequently involves exchanging draft picks rather than veteran players.
With the Patriots hosting the 49ers this Sunday night, we're reminded of a trade that took place during the 2007 NFL draft that has impacted both franchises in a major way since that time.
The deal sent the Patriots' first-round choice that year (28th overall) to San Francisco in exchange for the 110th pick in 2007 (fourth round) and the 49ers' first-round pick in 2008.
The 49ers took left tackle Joe Staley with that selection, and he has since turned into a fine player who signed a contract extension with the team in 2009 to keep him around until 2017. In 2011, Staley earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. It's clear that the team has been very happy with his work, and probably looks back on the trade favorably.
Not long after making the deal with San Francisco, the Patriots flipped the 110th pick into Randy Moss, acquired in a separate trade with Oakland. Moss played three-plus seasons with the Patriots, reviving his career and setting an NFL record in 2007 with 23 receiving touchdowns during the regular season.
After finishing with just five wins in 2007, the 49ers were awarded the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft. That, of course, was property of the Patriots, who had themselves finished 2007 perfect in the regular season (their own first-round draft pick in 2008 was revoked by the NFL as punishment for the "Spygate" matter).
The Patriots opted to trade back in the draft order in 2008, shuffling back three spots before taking Jerod Mayo 10th overall. Mayo has become a top inside linebacker since that time, and is one of the defensive leaders on his team. He earned rookie of the year honors in 2008, and has also been named both an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl player.
Looking back on the trade, one would be hard pressed to think either team is disappointed with the results.
The 49ers moved two selections for one, and while being without a first-round pick in 2008 was difficult, Staley has become an important part of their franchise.
The Patriots not only acquired a star defender, but also multiple seasons of excellent play from Moss.
Picking between one side or the other, the Patriots probably made out best in this transaction, but call the trade a win-win overall.