From the moment the Seahawks dealt Russell Wilson to Denver in March, comparisons have been drawn to what represents the trade nearly all big trades in NFL history are measured against — the Cowboys deal in 1989 that brought back Herschel Walker to the Vikings for The package, which included four players and eight draft picks.
But at first, the comparisons were made mostly because of the size and similarity of the deals to show a team trading one recognized star for another in return for a bonus players and picks.
Not that the comparisons are too clean and easy.
The Walker trade officially included three teams and 18 players/selections with Dallas having first- and second-round picks in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
Wilson’s deal featured just two teams and 10 players/picks spread over two draft picks, among the largest deals in league history, but with at least four others, including Walker’s, involving more players/picks.
But as the season progresses, an increasingly drawn comparison between Wilson-Walker’s deals is whether the Seahawks will ultimately be seen to win it as decisively as the Cowboys, who used picks to help build a team that won three Super Bowls in four years. 1992-95 while Walker spent two and a half relatively fruitless years at Minnesota and went.
Seattle is already getting big contributions from two players acquired in the Wilson trade (tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris) as well as two rookies (left tackle Charles Cross and edge-scorer Boye Mafe) on its way to an upset 6-4 record and lead in NFC West heading homestretch.
But the real change of perception could come in what Seattle might get next year when it also has Denver’s first and second round picks.
When the trade was made, the conventional wisdom was that those would likely be a lesser pick each round, if not near or at the bottom if everything worked out the way the Broncos hoped.
Instead, after Denver fell to 3-7 Sunday, these picks will be the 5th overall pick in the first round and 36th overall.The tenth per second.
And with a schedule that includes two games remaining against Kansas City and one in Baltimore, those draft picks can stay there (according to ESPN, the first-round draft pick now has a 90% chance of landing in the top 10 and a 60% chance of landing in the top five).
If the Seahawks are as successful in those shots as they did this year and things stay the way they are now in Denver, that could put a head start on the increased interest Seattle has in this trade.
For real quick backup, Dallas traded Walker five games into the 1989 season with the Vikings, who had reached at least the preliminary round of the playoffs the previous two years and felt Walker might be the missing piece to get them to the Super Bowl. Plate.
The Vikings at the time had one of the best defenses in the NFL that was highlighted by a secondary that was also among the best in the NFL headed by an up-and-coming defensive coach named Pete Carroll.
The Cowboys had gone 3-13 the year before in legendary head coach Tom Landry’s final season and were off to a winless start under first-year head coach Jimmy Johnson (plus first-year owner Jerry Jones), who decided Dallas would be better off getting Lots of options for rebuilding.
Dallas went 1-15 in 1989 but with the help of all those picks—one of which was used on Emmitt Smith, who went on to go down as a major in NFL history—quickly put together a revamped roster that won a Super Bowl in three years.
And the legacy of Trade is generally that it’s either the best – or the worst – in league history, depending on which side you’re on.
Could Wilson’s deal rival that one day?
That could take a lot, given the success Dallas has found in the wake of the trade and because Walker’s deal is a spin off of many others.
As an ESPN story once detailed, the Cowboys used the 12 draft picks they got in the trade to make a bunch of other trades for additional picks.
When counting each trade made with one of the picks acquired by Dallas, the trades ultimately included 15 teams and 55 players. Big claws, indeed.
This included Dallas using some of those picks to make a trade for the first pick in the 1991 draft (defensive tackle Russell Maryland).
One of the keys to getting plenty of draft picks is the flexibility it provides to make other moves—Seattle did just that last year with one of the picks from Wilson’s deal, turning the 145-ranked fifth into other picks of edge rusher Tyreke Smith and receiver Dareke Young.
And while Seattle officially selected Mafe with a second-rounder obtained from Denver, the Seahawks recovered running back Kenneth Walker’s third at 41.
Without that extra pick, Seattle would have had to go either/or there, and who knows what the Seahawks would have done in that scenario.
But in short, Dallas has five picks from the Walker deal who have been part of all three Super Bowl teams — Smith, Maryland, safety Darren Woodson (a five-time Pro Bowler) and linebackers Kevin Smith and Clayton Holmes.
The Vikings also got a solid receiver in Jake Reed from a third-round pick he recovered from Dallas with Herschel Walker.
But from Minnesota’s point of view, the trade was Super Bowl or otherwise.
In this sense, the trade was an unconditional bankruptcy.
The Vikings lost a playoff game in 1989 and then went 6-10 and 8-8 the next two years that Walker was gone, never approaching the 1,514 yards he had gained in 1988 – his best season with Minnesota was 825 yards and 10 TDs in 1991 .
Interestingly, the Vikings rebounded quickly after an 8-8 season in 1992 in Walker’s final year to make the playoffs eight of the next nine seasons, showing that losing a big deal doesn’t have to drive a team into purgatory.
But the obvious plus factor here is money — Denver owes $296 million to Wilson through 2028 and hits a massive dead salary cap through 2025.
The cap was nothing when the Walker trade, first established in 1994, was made, adding another wrinkle that could be seen as Seattle’s favor in this deal but also making apples-to-apples comparisons difficult.
For now, it’s safe to say that no matter how accurate any comparisons may be, the Seahawks enjoy the discussion.