NFL Winners and Losers: Judging all the major trades that happened in 2017

Shutdown Corner

For many years, the NFL wasn’t much of a trading league. Sure there were a lot of draft-pick trades and a few player trades here and there, but it wasn’t like Major League Baseball or anything.

That has shifted a bit. There were plenty of interesting deals that happened before, during and after this year’s draft. We debated the trades at the time, but now it’s time to look back at the winners and losers from the major deals that went down.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was involved in perhaps the biggest trade of 2017. (AP)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was involved in perhaps the biggest trade of 2017. (AP)

March 9, Houston Texans trade QB Brock Osweiler, 2017 sixth-round pick and 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland Browns for 2017 fourth-round pick

A unique trade, because it was the kind of salary-dump deal you see in MLB or the NBA but almost never in the NFL. If you thought it was worth it at the time for the Browns to basically pay $16 million for a second-round pick, you love it now that the Texans are crashing toward a top-five pick. And while the price tag was steep, it’s just money and I’m not owner Jimmy Haslam’s accountant, so … WINNER: Browns

March 10, New Orleans Saints trade WR Brandin Cooks to New England Patriots for 2017 first-round pick and 2017 third-round pick

This trade turned out better for the Saints than I thought. They used that first-rounder on offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who has been a great addition to their line. The other pick, defensive end Trey Hendrickson, has a couple sacks in 12 games and the Saints have to feel he can contribute more as he matures. The Patriots have to be happy with Cooks’ 1,003 yards and six touchdowns. His game-winner in the final seconds of a Week 3 win over the Houston Texans might end up being the difference in the Patriots getting the No. 1 seed. Honestly, I don’t think either team regrets this deal. WINNER: Push

April 27, Chicago Bears trade No. 3 overall pick, 2017 third- and fourth-round picks and a 2018 third-round pick to San Francisco 49ers for the No. 2 overall pick (QB Mitch Trubisky)

I said it then and I’ll say it now: I have no problem with what the Bears did. When you haven’t had an All-Pro quarterback since 1950, you’re allowed to make bold moves. It was never about what the 49ers would do with the pick, it was the concern that the Browns or someone else would leap-frog the Bears to get No. 2 and snatch Trubisky. If you’ve watched games and not just scanned box scores, you can see the promise in Trubisky. Assuming the Bears find the right head coach to develop him and get him some help, he should be good. All that said, it was a very nice haul for the 49ers, who traded both 2017 picks they got to make other moves in the draft and still got defensive lineman Solomon Thomas third overall. WINNER: 49ers, but the Bears could ultimately claim victory

April 27, Kansas City Chiefs trade No. 27 overall pick (CB Tre’Davious White), 2017 third-round pick and 2018 first-round pick to Buffalo Bills for No. 10 overall pick (Patrick Mahomes)

Hard to dislike this trade for the Bills. White has been a very good cornerback as a rookie, the third-round pick was used to move back up to draft receiver Zay Jones (the jury is very much out on that pick, however) and the first-rounder will be late but still has a lot of value. However, I believe in Mahomes. I think he would have been a great fit in Buffalo, where they are oddly cold on Tyrod Taylor. Next season, I think we’ll see a star born in Kansas City. WINNER: Chiefs

April 27, Houston Texans trade No. 25 overall pick (S Jabrill Peppers) and 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland Browns for No. 12 overall pick (QB Deshaun Watson)

Peppers hasn’t had a great rookie season, but hopefully the Browns use him better in future years. The 2018 pick will be very high because the Texans are awful. And still, if you knew what you know now, the Texans would do this trade 100 out of 100 times and the Browns never would. Assuming Watson comes back strong from a torn ACL, he looks like a special player and worth the cost of moving up to get him. Meanwhile, the Browns still search for a quarterback. WINNER: Texans

April 28, New Orleans Saints trade 2017 seventh-round pick and 2018 second-round pick to San Francisco 49ers for 2017 third-round pick (RB Alvin Kamara)

I won’t run down every draft trade here, but this one was notable. You might argue with trading future second-round picks for third-rounders right away, but the Saints obviously liked Kamara and they were right. Kamara is a favorite to win NFL offensive rookie of the year and should have been drafted in the top half of the first round. The seventh-round pick became defensive back Adrian Colbert, who has started five games for the 49ers, and they’ll get a good player near the end of the second round next year. But this was the type of strong move that helped turn the Saints into Super Bowl contenders. WINNER: Saints

June 1, Cleveland Browns trade LB Demario Davis to New York Jets for S Calvin Pryor

Oh, Browns. Davis was part of a somewhat crowded depth chart at linebacker, so the Browns shipped him to the Jets and tried to revive former first-rounder Pryor’s career. Nope. Davis has turned in a fine season, setting career highs for tackles and sacks. And he’s only 28 years old. Pryor was cut after a practice fight with receiver Ricardo Louis, and was picked up by the Jaguars and cut after two games with them. WINNER: Jets by a mile

Aug. 11, Buffalo Bills trade WR Sammy Watkins to Los Angeles Rams for CB E.J. Gaines and 2018 second-round pick

The first of two Bills blockbusters that led everyone to wonder if they were tanking. The Bills have been fine without Watkins, Gaines has been a starting cornerback and the second-round pick should be nice. Watkins has 593 yards and eight touchdowns for a very good offense so it’s unlikely the Rams regret the move, but the Bills got a lot of bang for their buck. WINNER: Bills

Aug. 11, Buffalo Bills trade CB Ronald Darby to Philadelphia Eagles for WR Jordan Matthews and 2018 third-round pick

This move wasn’t as good for the Bills. Darby got hurt early, but has played well and will be a key part of a defense that has Super Bowl hopes. His interception on Monday night led to the game-winning field goal in a 13-10 win that clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC for Philly. Matthews had just 282 yards and went on IR to have knee and ankle surgery. The pick is nice, but Darby wins the deal. WINNER: Eagles

Sept. 1, New York Jets trade DT Sheldon Richarson and 2018 seventh-round pick to Seattle Seahawks for WR Jermaine Kearse, 2018 second-round pick and 2018 seventh-round pick

Funny, but Kearse might have ended up as the best player in the deal. Kearse ended up being a quality starting receiver for the Jets, and he’s only 27 years old. Richardson hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t had a huge impact, can become a free agent and there’s rumors he wants to reunite with the Jets. WINNER: Jets 

Sept. 2, Indianapolis Colts trade WR Phillip Dorsett to New England Patriots for QB Jacoby Brissett

The Patriots showcased Brissett in the fourth preseason game, the 2016 third-round pick played great, and then they traded him for practically nothing. Dorsett, a former first-round pick, was a bust with the Colts and has touched the ball all of 13 times for the Patriots, including returns. Brissett has done his best behind a horrendous offensive line and has had some good moments. He at very least projects as a high end backup, which has value. Brissett would have had value to a team whose starter is 40 years old and traded Jimmy Garoppolo during the season. I still don’t get what the Pats were thinking. WINNER: Colts

Oct. 10, Arizona Cardinals trade 2018 sixth-round pick to New Orleans Saints for RB Adrian Peterson

Peterson had a couple moments of glory for the Cardinals, including 134 yards in his Cards debut and a 159-yard game in a win over the 49ers. Perhaps that is worth a sixth-round pick. However, Peterson is on IR now and will probably be cut in the offseason. The Saints got a sixth-round pick for a back who never played and did not seem happy with his role. Seems good. WINNER: Saints

Oct. 30, New England Patriots trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco 49ers for 2018 second-round pick

Well, the 49ers got a winner in Garoppolo. It’s hard to imagine him not being a very good starter for years to come for San Francisco. The 49ers have won his first four starts, including a dominant win over a division champion Jaguars team last week. Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem like the Patriots got much for a quarterback as talented as Garoppolo. If the story is true that the Patriots wanted to do right by Garoppolo so they gave him to offensive-minded head coach Kyle Shanahan on a discount, that’s quite charitable. Still, we’ll look back on Garoppolo being traded for just a second-round pick and be amazed he was that cheap. WINNER: 49ers

Oct. 31, Miami Dolphins trade RB Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia Eagles for 2018 fourth-round pick

The Dolphins traded Ajayi when they were in the playoff race, but perhaps they knew a fade was inevitable. Miami ended up fine with Kenyan Drake (though it needs to be pointed out that the Dolphins gave Damien Williams more snaps until Williams got hurt and they were forced to feed Drake). The Eagles strangely haven’t used Ajayi much. He didn’t have more than 10 carries in a game until Dec. 10. Perhaps they were saving up Ajayi for the playoffs (he does have 41 carries the last three weeks), which actually would be pretty smart. WINNER: Dolphins, though Ajayi could flip that in the playoffs.

Oct. 31, Carolina Panthers trade WR Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo Bills for 2018 third- and seventh-round picks

At the time, it seemed odd that the Panthers were dumping Benjamin. They haven’t missed the former first-round pick. They’re 6-1 without him. Meanwhile, Benjamin has had little impact in Buffalo though he had his best game for the Bills last week. This deal is a reminder that sometimes trades look odd in the moment happen for a reason. WINNER: Panthers

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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