NFL teams haven’t been too inclined lately to trade first-round draft picks for veteran quarterbacks. Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, you may have noticed, all went for No. 2s. (Granted, the Schaub deal included a swap of first-rounders, but the Falcons moved up just two spots, from 10 to 8.)
Anyway, that’s one reason the Carson Palmer blockbuster caused such a stir this week. The Bengals will get at least a No. 1 (2012) and a No. 2 (’13) from the Raiders, and the second selection could become a first-rounder if Palmer plays well enough.
Still, it’s far from the highest price ever paid for a veteran quarterback. Here are the most expensive veteran QBs of all time, according to my research:
1. John Hadl, 1974 (Rams to Packers) – Two No. 1s (picks 9 and 8), two No. 2s (28, 39) and a No. 3 (61st). Nowadays, three of the choices would be in the first round and the other two in the second. Who the Rams drafted: DT Mike Fanning, OT Dennis Lick, CB Monte Jackson, CB Pat Thomas, C Geoff Reece.
2. Fran Tarkenton, 1967 (Vikings to Giants) – Two No. 1s (picks 2 and 1) and two No. 2s (28, 39). Again, today, three of the selections would be in the first round and one in the second. Who the Vikings drafted: RB Clinton Jones, OT Ron Yary (Hall of Famer), WR Bob Grim, OG Ed White.
3. Jim Plunkett, 1976 (Patriots to 49ers) – Three No. 1s (picks 12, 21 and 16) and a No. 2 (44), plus QB Tom Owen. Who the Pats drafted: C Pete Brock, FS Tim Fox, CB Raymond Clayborn, RB Horace Ivory.
4. Roman Gabriel, 1973 (Rams to Eagles) – Two No. 1s (both the 11th pick), a No. 3 (67), plus WR Harold Jackson (a near Hall of Famer who had already made two Pro Bowls and would make three more) and RB “Touchdown” Tony Baker. Who the Rams drafted: RB John Cappelletti, OG Dennis Harrah, OG Dan Nugent. (Nugent was later dealt to the Redskins for two draft choices, one of which yielded OT Irv Pankey.)
5. Jay Cutler, 2009 (Broncos to Bears) – Two No. 1s (picks 18 and 11), a No. 3 (84), plus QB Kyle Orton. Who the Broncos drafted (after doing some maneuvering): DE Robert Ayers, WR Demaryius Thomas, QB Tim Tebow, TE Richard Quinn, WR Eric Decker. By swapping Cutler, in other words, Denver wound up with three No. 1s (Ayers, Thomas and Tebow), a No. 2 (Quinn) and a No. 3 (Decker). (The Broncos had to part with a few of their other selections, though.)
6. Jeff George, 1994 (Colts to Falcons) – Two No. 1s (picks 7 and 19) and a No. 3 (83). Who the Falcons drafted: LB Trev Alberts, WR Marvin Harrison. (They packaged the 7th and 83rd picks in ’94 to move up in the first round and take Alberts).
Getting back to the Palmer trade … Too bad the Raiders didn’t throw in a third-rounder. Then it would have qualified as a Lawrence Welk Deal – a 1 and a 2 and a 3. I came across two Lawrence Welk Deals involving quarterbacks in the last decade or so. In one of the instances – how quickly we forget – the Redskins were the team forking over the picks. The specifics:
● Brad Johnson, 1999 (Vikings to Redskins) – The Vikes got a ’99 No. 1 (QB Daunte Culpepper), 2000 No. 2 (DT Michael Boireau) and ’99 No. 3 (which they used to trade up in the second round and take TE Jim Kleinsasser, hidden star of the Adam Sandler movie, “50 First Dates”).
● Michael Vick, 2001 (Chargers to Falcons) – This was a trade for the first pick in the ’01 draft. The Chargers got an ’01 No. 1 (RB LaDainian Tomlinson), an ’02 No. 2 (CB Tay Cody) and an ’01 No. 3 (WR Reche Caldwell), plus WR Tim Dwight. (Then they took Drew Brees at the top of the second round. Sweet.)
Finally, a few bits of Redskins-related trivia:
● Joe Theismann was originally a fourth-round pick of the Dolphins, but the Redskins had to give up a No. 1 in 1976 for him (17th overall). Miami drafted LB Larry Gordon.
● The Redskins traded quarterback Eddie LeBaron to the expansion Cowboys in 1960 for a No. 1 and a No. 6. They used the first-rounder to draft QB Norm Snead, who they later dealt to the Eagles for Sonny Jurgensen. Sooooo … if they hadn’t gotten the No. 1 for LeBaron, there probably wouldn’t have been any Sonny. (Yes, these trades for first-round picks can have real repercussions.)