Trades they don’t involve draft picks aren’t very common in the NFL and much of the hesitancy to pull the trigger on trades stems from the salary cap.
If a player is traded the unamortized portion of signing bonuses are accelerated and become a burden on a team’s cap. Conversely, potential trading partners, sensing that cap dollars might force the release of a player, may simply put on their best poker face and simply wait until the player is released. No players or picks are lost and a big salary isn’t absorbed.
But today, with ample cap space available to most NFL teams, GM’s and owners around the league may be willing to trade cap dollars for real dollars and trade players previously believed to be un-tradable.
That said, Baltimore has had a hand in some rather significant trades. Back on May 16, 2005 we listed what we then believed to be the most significant trades in our town’s illustrious professional sports history.
10. Bubba Smith for Raymond Chester
In 1973, Chester was traded to Baltimore for Bubba Smith after being named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first 3 seasons. Smith had suffered a knee injury in 1972 when he became entangled with a first down marker after making a play near the sidelines. After the season ending injury, Smith was never quite the menacing force that he had been during his all-star years of ‘70 – ‘72. And unfortunately for the Colts, Chester was never the force that he was in Oakland, averaging just 23 catches in 5 seasons wearing the horseshoe.
9. Floyd Rayford for Tito Landrum
On June 14, 1983 the Orioles sent a portly third baseman named Floyd Rayford to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for that infamous “player to be named later.” On August 31, 1983 that player became Tito Landrum. In the deciding game 4 of the 1983 ALCS at Comiskey Park, Landrum broke a scoreless tie in the top of the 10th inning with a solo home run off resourceful White Sox southpaw, Britt Burns. That home run helped carry the Orioles to the World Series and the eventual World Championship. While neither of these players ever did much in the big leagues, Landrum’s home run is memorable in that it set the stage for the Orioles last championship.
8. Doug DeCinces for Dan Ford
The Orioles traded third baseman Doug DeCinces for outfielder Dan Ford on January 26, 1982. Ford’s claim to fame is that he hit the first home run in the “new” Yankee Stadium, reopened in 1976 after two years of repairs. Slow afoot, DeCinces gained a reputation for good hands and as a clutch hitter. Battling back problems throughout his career, he became expendable with the arrival of Cal Ripken, Jr., who started his career at third base. DeCinces responded in Anaheim with his best season, reaching career highs with 30 HR, 97 RBI, and a .301 average. Ford was a semi-regular and a poor defensive player for the O’s in 1982 and 1983 and suffered through declining productivity. He came up lame after Game One of the 1983 ALCS and had only one pinch-hit at-bat the rest of the series. Ford’s best season with the Orioles was in ‘83 when he batted .280 with 9 homers and 55 RBI’s. If only Earl had shifted Cal to short prior to this trade…………
7. Jack Marin for Elvin Hayes
Prior to the 1971-72 season, the San Diego Rockets franchise moved to Houston, where adoring fans still remembered Elvin Hayes from his college days. The Rockets also brought in a new coach, Tex Winter — a coach that Hayes often clashed with. A disgruntled Hayes averaged 25.2 ppg, 10th in the NBA, and the Rockets missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Shortly after the season ended, Houston traded Hayes to Baltimore for Jack Marin and future considerations.
Bullets Coach Gene Shue already had Wes Unseld playing center, and he realized that Hayes was at his best in the power forward position, where he could capitalize most on his scoring and rebounding skills. Hayes welcomed the move, and he responded by averaging 21.2 ppg in 1972-73, helping Baltimore to the Central Division title. The following season the Bullets moved to Landover and played as the Capital Bullets. Later on during the 1977-78 season after posting a modest 44-38 record, the Bullets caught fire in the playoffs eliminating the Atlanta Hawks, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Philadelphia 76ers en route to the NBA Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics. The Bullets were World Champions that season and chants of EEEEEEEEEEEEEE filled the air. Jack Marin lasted only one season in Houston.
6. Jamal Lewis For The Ravens’ 1999 2nd Round Pick
No Jamal was never actually involved directly in a trade but you may recall a trade the Ravens made in 1999 that actually produced Jamal. On the heels of their successful 1998-99 season that culminated in a Super Bowl XXXIII appearance, the Atlanta Falcons coveted the Ravens second round pick in the 1999 draft so much, that they offered their first pick in the draft the following year. Confident that they would continue their recent success, the Falcons didn’t think that the anticipated late first round pick in 2000 would be as valuable as the Ravens second round pick in 1999. Unfortunately for the Falcons and fortunately for the Ravens, Atlanta had a wretched 1999 season and the pick the Ravens acquired ended up being the 5th pick in the 2000 draft. “With the 5th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select running back Jamal Lewis from the University of Tennessee.”
5. 10 Player Blockbuster
On June 15, 1976 the Orioles traded Ken Holtzman, Elrod Hendricks, Jimmy Freeman, Doyle Alexander and Grant Jackson to the Yankees for Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey, Rudy May, Tippy Martinez and Dave Pagan. The Orioles clearly emerged the victor in this trade as McGregor, Dempsey and Martinez all enjoyed productive and lengthy careers with the Orioles, culminating in a World Series berth in 1979 and a World Series Championship in 1983. Take that George Steinbrenner!
4. Schilling, Harnisch & Finley for Glenn Davis
In arguably the worst trade in Baltimore sports history, in 1991 the Orioles traded a pitcher that would prove to be serviceable for several years (Pete Harnisch 95-72 3.89 ERA since leaving), a productive outfielder would become an all star outfielder and still produces at the major league level (Steve Finley .280 average, 244 home runs and 915 RBI’s since leaving) and a pitcher that has been one of the game’s most dominant over the past 8 years (Curt Schilling 162-111 3.30 ERA and a Cy Young since leaving). All of this for a player that cost the Orioles over $10 Million in salary who produced only a .227 average, 24 home runs and 85 RBI’s in his 3 seasons as an Oriole. Things could have been so different in the 90’s for the O’s had they not traded for this injury prone and surprisingly gutless player.
3. John Elway for Chris Hinton and Mark Hermann
When No. 1 draft pick John Elway refused to play in Baltimore for then head coach Frank Kush, a reportedly looped Bob Irsay decided to unleash his inner high roller in Las Vegas by trading the draft rights to the Stanford quarterback to Denver in exchange for quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft, which ended up being guard Ron Solt.
The trade was done unbeknownst to then GM Ernie Accorsi who to this very day swears that Elway was not going to go through with his threat to pursue a baseball career. Accorsi maintains that Elway would have become a Colt possibly saving the franchise in Baltimore. Elway as we all know became a legend in Denver, where he won more games (148) than any quarterback in NFL history and led the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances, winning two. He finished his 16-year career ranked second in passing yardage (51,475), third in TD passes (300) and first in fourth-quarter comebacks (47).
Hinton played the first seven of his 13 NFL seasons with the Colts. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and chosen All-Pro five times. Hermann, a journeyman quarterback who threw 36 interceptions and just 16 TD passes in his 11-year career, played just five games for the Colts in the first of his two stints with the team. Solt played in the NFL for nine seasons, including the first five with the Colts.
2. Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson
In nine seasons with the Orioles, Milt Pappas never had a losing record, winning between 13 and 16 games each year from 1959-1965. In December of 1965, at the age of 26, Pappas was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a blockbuster deal that brought Frank Robinson to Baltimore.
The Reds had written off Robinson as “an old thirty” yet fans in Cincinnati cried outrage at the deal, which made it difficult for Pappas to ever adjust in the Queen City. He struggled in his first season in the National League, posting a 4.29 ERA, the worst of his career, but managed a winning record at 12-11. Frank of course had a tremendous career with the Orioles winning the Triple Crown and MVP in 1966, leading the Orioles to World Championships in ‘66 & ‘70 and World Series appearances in ‘66, ‘69-’71. Slight advantage to the Orioles, don’t you think? For the record, the Reds also received prospects Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson in addition to Pappas.
1. The Los Angeles Rams for The Baltimore Colts
The St. Louis Rams franchise in its entire history dating back to Cleveland has had only six owners. One of the most famous owners Daniel F. Reeves was responsible for the teams move to Los Angeles in 1946. Reeves would later on (1971) pass away from cancer and the franchise would go to his lifelong friend William A. Barnes, who held the team for a year after which Robert Irsay would claim the team’s rights from the Reeves estate.
In 1972, a history-making move took place when Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom traded the Baltimore franchise to Robert Irsay in exchange for the Rams. The transaction was completed and announced on July 14th. This move undoubtedly started a sequence of events over an 11-year period that would ultimately change sports in Baltimore forever.