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The Biggest NFL Draft Trades in History

The NFL draft will look a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The draft was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, but the league adjusted its plans and will hold the event remotely amid the virus outbreak.

Still more than 250 players will hear their names called at the league's annual event.

Amid the madness of the draft, there will be plenty of trades. Here's a look at five of the biggest draft trades in NFL history:

1999 — Saints Trade Up for Ricky Williams

  • Saints received: The No. 5 pick, which they used to draft running back Ricky Williams
  • Washington received: All seven of the Saints' 1999 picks, including No. 12 overall, along with first- and third-round picks in 2000

Washington received a historic bounty in exchange for giving the Saints the rights to take Ricky Williams. Williams didn't quite live up to expectations in New Orleans, but the Saints did manage to get two first-rounders from the Dolphins in a trade in 2002. Washington did include that No. 12 pick in a trade with Chicago to move into the No. 7 spot to take Champ Bailey, who went on to become a future Hall of Famer. But Washington did surprisingly little with their major haul.

2012 — Washington Trades Up for Robert Griffin III

  • Washington received: No. 2 overall pick, which they used to selected quarterback Robert Griffin III
  • Rams received: 2012 first-rounder (No. 6), 2012 second-round selection (No. 39), 2013 first-rounder (No. 22), 2014 first-rounder (No. 2)

Washington swung big in 2012 looking to find its franchise QB. While it made the playoffs in Griffin's rookie year, a major knee injury played a major role in derailing the Baylor product's career, and in turn, Washington's future. The Rams drafted a number of elite prospects, but none emerged into true stars.

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1985 — 49ers Acquire Pick Needed to Draft Jerry Rice

  • 49ers received: No. 16 pick overall pick, which they used to select Jerry Rice, and a 1985 third-rounder (No. 75)
  • Patriots received: 1985 first-rounder (No. 28), 1985 second-rounder (No. 56), 1985 third-rounder (No. 84)

The defending Super Bowl champion 49ers made a bold move to trade up and select a wide receiver from a small school. That wideout turned out to be the greatest player to ever play the position and arguably the best player in the sport. New England's haul didn't amount to much, which helps to explain their struggles throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

1977 — Cowboys Grab Their Franchise Running Back

  • Cowboys received: No. 2 overall pick, which they used to select Tony Dorsett
  • Seahawks received: 1977 first-rounder No. 14), 1977 second-round pick (No. 30), 1977 second-round pick (No. 41), 1977 second-round pick (No. 54)

The Cowboys pulled off the deal to acquire their franchise running back in Dorsett. As a rookie, the move paid immediate dividends as Dallas won the Super Bowl. When he retired, he was second on the NFL's all-time rushing yardage list behind Walter Payton. Seattle was a new franchise at the time and needed to acquire quality players to bolster its roster. 

1998 —  Chargers Move Up for Leaf

  • Chargers received: No. 2 overall pick, which they used to select Ryan Leaf
  • Cardinals received: 1998 first rounder (No. 3), 1998 second rounder (No. 33), 1999 first rounder (No 8), WR Eric Metcalf, LB Patrick Sapp 

This trade is most notable for what the Chargers thought they were getting in Leaf. The Indianapolis Colts took Peyton Manning at No. 1, leaving Leaf to the Chargers at No. 2. But the Washington State product didn't pan out the way the club expected, and Arizona instead made the playoffs in 1999.