With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them

With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them

Not every trade works out as well as Stefon Diggs to Buffalo

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Julio Jones isn’t the first big name wide receiver to be traded. In fact, of the top skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, I feel like marquee receivers get moved more than any other position. Whether it’s due to contract disputes, diva personalities, or clashes with coaches, it’s always a shock to see a top-tier talent moving to another city.

I was thinking back on the trade that saw Stefon Diggs end up in Buffalo last year. Clearly, that’s the perfect example of a mutually beneficial trade — the Bills offense and quarterback Josh Allen took a massive step forward with Diggs as the new No. 1 wideout, Diggs got out of Minnesota, a place he didn’t want to be, and the Vikings used a pick they got from Buffalo to draft Justin Jefferson, who broke the rookie receiving yards record. Ah, symmetry. I love it when a plan comes together.

That’s the kind of result that everybody involved was dreaming of, but trades don’t always work out so swimmingly.

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Stefon Diggs - March 16, 2020

Stefon Diggs - March 16, 2020

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Buffalo Bills received: Stefon Diggs, 2020 7th round pick

Minnesota Vikings received: 2020 first-round pick, fifth-round pick, sixth-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick.

How’d it turn out? So, here’s how it all broke down. The Bills got Diggs, the Vikings used their 2020 first from Buffalo on Jefferson, and used the other late-round picks acquired for depth on both sides of the ball.

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DeAndre Hopkins - March 21, 2020

DeAndre Hopkins - March 21, 2020

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Arizona Cardinals received: DeAndre Hopkins, 2020 fourth-round pick

Houston Texans received: David Johnson, 2020 second-round pick, and 2021 fourth-round pick

How’d it turn out? This is basically the move that got Bill O’Brien fired as the grand poobah of the Houston Texans. Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in the game over the past eight seasons, and his first season in the desert was no different. He posted 1,407 receiving yards on 115 receptions with Kyler Murray at quarterback. In return, the Texans took on the bloated contract of a then-28-year-old running back in Johnson, and drafted defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, who only started one game his rookie season. The Cardinals positively fleeced the Texans in this trade.

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Odell Beckham Jr. - March 12, 2019

Odell Beckham Jr. - March 12, 2019

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Cleveland received: Odell Beckham Jr., defensive end Olivier Vernon

New York Giants received: guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Jabril Peppers, 2019 first and third round picks.

How’d it turn out? OBJ was then viewed as one of the truly premier wide receivers in the league, but has failed to maintain that status since the trade, in large part due to a number of injuries that he’s sustained. Olivier Vernon got off to a bumpy start in Cleveland, but played well in 2020 logging nine sacks. The Giants used the No. 17 overall pick on defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, and the No. 95 overall pick on edge rusher Oshane Ximines. I’ll give the slight edge in this trade to the Giants, mainly because of the impact Peppers has had on defense.

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Keyshawn Johnson - April 12, 2000

Keyshawn Johnson - April 12, 2000

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers received: Keyshawn Johnson

New York Jets received: Two 2000 first-round draft picks

How’d it turn out? Tampa Bay made a move for a big-name wide receiver, and it worked out well enough. Johnson gave the Bucs two 1,000 yard seasons in his short stint with the team, but most importantly, he was a part of the team that brought Tampa Bay their first Lombardi Trophy. The Jets used their two first-round picks on edge rusher John Abraham, and tight end Anthony Becht. Abraham had three double-digit sack seasons in his six years in New York, and Becht was a starting tight end for six seasons. Any time a team wins a Super Bowl, it’s pretty easy to label them the winner of a move.

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Terrell Owens - March 17, 2004

Terrell Owens - March 17, 2004

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Philadelphia Eagles received: Terrell Owens

Baltimore Ravens received: 2005 second-round pick and fifth-round pick

San Francisco 49ers received: Defensive end Brandon Whiting

How’d it turn out? This one’s complicated. San Francisco agreed to trade Owens to the Ravens for a second-round pick. Owens and his camp essentially said no, and filed a grievance saying that he was a free agent. In order to avoid an arbitrator ruling, the three teams agreed to a trade, allowing Owens to force his way out of San Francisco. Baltimore got back the second-round pick they originally gave San Francisco, and got a fifth-round pick on top of it. Philadelphia got Owens, and the 49ers got Brandon Whiting. Owens helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl the following year. Playing on a broken leg, Owens still logged nine catches for 122 yards, but the Eagles lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots, 24-21. It was the only Super Bowl appearance for the Hall-of-Famer. I’d give the edge to the Eagles.

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Julio Jones - June 6, 2021

Julio Jones - June 6, 2021

Illustration for article titled With Julio Jones shipped to Titans, a look back at the memorable receiver deals and who won them
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Tennessee Titans received: Julio Jones, 2023 sixth-round pick

Atlanta Falcons received: 2022 second-round and 2023 fourth-round pick

How’d it turn out? Now for Julio. Jones got what he wanted in leaving a floundering Falcons team. The future Hall-of-Fame wide receiver has arguably been the best receiver of his generation, and is the all-time leader in receiving yards per game (95.5). The Falcons are clearly in a rebuild (whether they want to admit it or not), and an aging superstar doesn’t fit their needs. The Titans, who made the AFC Championship Game in 2019, now, with Jones and A.J. Brown, have the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL, and are aiming for a deep playoff run. It’s hard to imagine any return on the trade working out in the Falcons’ favor.

Trading a high-profile wide receiver is a risky move. While everyone hopes and dreams of a trade to work out like the Diggs move between Minnesota and Buffalo, rarely does it. More often than not, trading away an elite wide receiver is a desperate act of resignation by a general manager who knows his team, and likely he too, is toast.

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