Debbie Downer: Lose-lose propositions

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
11:33
AM ET
Current NFC West teams popped up four times in Mike Tanier's Insider list of the 10 most disappointing NFL trades of the past 25 years.

How heartwarming.

By disappointing, Tanier meant for both teams. He was not analyzing lopsided trades, but rather those that hurt both teams. Terrell Owens, Kelly Stouffer, Joe Wolf, Deion Branch and Trev Alberts make appearances, so proceed at your own risk.

The San Francisco 49ers' 2004 trade sending Owens to Philadelphia for Brandon Whiting and a conditional fifth-round choice checked in at No. 2 on the list.

[+] EnlargeTerrell Owens
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesTerrell Owens went to the Super Bowl with the Eagles after being traded by the 49ers.
I'm not sure how disappointing this trade wound up being for the Eagles. Owens played a leading role in getting them to a Super Bowl, and his gutsy play put Philadelphia in position to win the game. That one season was worth losing Whiting even though Owens became a headache for the team overall.

On some levels, this deal was a downer for all parties. Owens should have become an unrestricted free agent that year, but his agent failed to file the necessary paperwork to void his deal. The 49ers initially received a second-round choice from Baltimore as part of the trade, but with Owens seeking a ruling that would let him hit the market, San Francisco agreed to lesser compensation as part of a settlement. Owens did get a new contract, so he came out OK, but the trade was definitely disappointing.

The 1989 trade between Seattle and the then-Phoenix Cardinals ranked sixth on the list. The Seahawks got Stouffer, who never became the franchise quarterback they were seeking. The Cardinals drafted Wolf with the first-round pick they received from Seattle.

This deal was also memorable for the Seahawks' failed attempts to trade Pro Bowl safety Kenny Easley before settling on the first-round pick as compensation. The Easley trade fell through when doctors discovered Easley had suffered career-ending and life-altering kidney damage after ingesting massive quantities of ibuprofen over the years. The Seahawks' role in administering the ibuprofen drove a wedge between Easley and the organization. The sides reconciled 15 years later, but it was an excruciating process.

I appreciate Tanier's inclusion of the first Seattle-New England trade involving Branch. Sure, the Patriots came away with Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather, while the Seahawks never got much in return for Branch. This trade was lopsided on the surface, but as Tanier points out, losing Branch cost New England during the playoffs following the 2006 season. I thought the move cost the Patriots a trip to the Super Bowl, and Tanier agrees.

This was a bad move for both teams even though the Patriots came out ahead. New England's relationship with Branch had soured amid a contentious contract dispute. The Patriots got significant value for a player they were unable to sign, but they missed Branch.

One more NFC West trade made the list, but I'm guessing you'll have a hard time singling it out. Tanier went with the 1994 deal between the Indianapolis Colts and then-Los Angeles Rams. The Colts acquired the fifth overall pick from the Rams to select Alberts. The Rams traded the seventh pick to San Francisco, which selected Bryant Young, while using an additional pick from Indianapolis for running back James Bostic. The Rams drafted Wayne Gandy, Brad Ottis and Ernest Jones with the picks from the 49ers.

This deal was disappointing from the Rams' perspective if the team missed out on Young. I wouldn't necessarily view it that way. The Rams came out ahead by a wide margin when we examine the trade itself. Gandy became a long-term starter. Alberts lasted three seasons and made only seven starts.

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