The NFL is filled with trades. Whether it’s for players or draft capital, there have been small trades and big trades. The phrase High-way Robbery is used a lot when talking about NFL trades. You have the Ricky Williams trade which screwed the New Orleans Saints, or the recency bias of the Russell Wilson trade, where now the Broncos are seemingly screwed. Nevertheless, those trades do not compare to the Herschel Walker trade the, largest trade in NFL History.
The Great High-way Robbery of 1989
The largest trade in NFL history involved the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys, and the San Diego Chargers (they will be San Diego in Chargers fans' hearts, the five that exist). This trade occurred on October 13th, 1989. The Vikings needed a running back badly. Luckily the Cowboys were looking to shop Walker.
What were the trade terms?
The price for Walker was steep. Ultimately the Vikings gave up 18 players and draft picks. The Dallas Cowboys got in return for walk 18 players (enough to make two basketball teams with three substitutions) including guys like linebackers Jesse Solomon, and David Howard. Along with cornerback Issiac Holt.
The Cowboys also received Minnesota’s first, second, and sixth in 1990, first, and second-round picks in 1990, and first, second, and third-round picks in 1992. Dallas also received Minnesota’s running back Darrin Nelson who then was traded to the San Diego Chargers for a fifth-round selection in 1990.
The masterminds behind the trade for Dallas were Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones (Jerry Jones was one of the masterminds of the biggest trade in NFL history. Let that sink in). The idea to trade for Walker happened while Johnson was on a morning jog (This is real).
How did this trade affect the teams involved?
At first, the media thought the Cowboys lost in this trade, similar to Mr. Ulimited’s trade. But, as NFL history would have it, the Vikings lost this trade. Let’s take an in-depth look at how this trade affected each team involved years later.
Walker would play with the Vikings from 1989-1991. The trade would go down as being disastrous for the Minnesota Vikings. The players they traded messed with locker room chemistry. It didn’t help Walker's skill set was best to fit a single-back system.
However, he propelled into a split-back system. Walker made a stellar debut with the Vikings against NFC North Rival and the Green Bay Packers. Players knew in the first week that this trade failed. The scheme that the Vikings had for Walker was horrible. On top of that, the chemistry that Minnesota had been building for years was dead.
For the Cowboys, this trade had the opposite effect. The pick from the trade led to the drafting of halfback Emmit Smith, All-Pro safety Darren Woodson, cornerback Kevin Smith, and stellar defensive tackle Russell Maryland. Although the Cowboys did a ton of wheeling and dealing to build their Super Bowl roster.
This trade was a huge reason why the Cowboys dynasty existed in the 90s with three titles (1993,1994, and 1996) in seven years. One thing the grudge style and Dallas have is they both peaked in the 90s. And all because of a morning jog in 1989
San Diego Chargers
Technically the Chargers were involved in this trade by acquiring Darrin Nelson. Nelson. Nelson’s stint with the chargers was brief lasting two seasons in 1989 and 1990. He had only 211 total yards rushing and 357 receiving yards with the organization then, he was sent back to Minnesota in 1991 where he finished out his career.
While Jimmy Johnson was dangling Walker in front of the entire NFL, not only the Vikings were interested the Clevland Browns were also very interested in Walker. The Browns even made a pitch for Walker with high draft picks. However, Lynn made a more enticing offer which is why Herschel Walker became a Minnesota Viking and not a Clevland Brown.