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The most traded players in NFL history

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

May 5th, 2021

Player trades in the NFL are much less common than in other major professional sports, because signing bonuses have an impact on the salary cap, but they still happen from time to time. It’s quite rare, however, for a player to be dealt more than once during their career.

Let’s go through the five well-known players who have moved around the most through trades.

5. Marshawn Lynch

NFL teams: Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, 
Number of times traded: 2
Accolades: 5x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro, Super Bowl champion

Before he was running over Saints defenders in the playoffs, Lynch was drafted by the Bills and had two very productive seasons in Buffalo. In his third year, he was suspended much of the season because a gun was found in his car. The next year, he was traded to the Seahawks for a fourth- and fifth-round pick.

He played six years with the Seahawks and retired after the 2015 season. After he sat out all of 2016, he decided to return, and Seattle traded him and a sixth-round pick to Oakland for a fifth-round pick. He played two seasons with the Raiders and retired again.

He came out of retirement one more time and signed with Seattle in December of 2019, because of a rash of injuries at running back. He played three games, including two in the playoffs, to end his career.

4. Brandon Marshall

NFL teams: Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Number of times traded: 3
Accolades: 6x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro

Marshall is one of only two receivers to have 1,000 receiving yards with four different teams in the NFL. He was drafted by the Broncos, played four seasons for them, and became one of the better receivers in the league.

In 2010, the Dolphins gave up a second-round pick in consecutive drafts to bring him in, and signed him to an extension. After two good years in Miami, he was again dealt via trade, as the Bears gave up their 2012 and 2013 third-round picks.

After a change in front-office personnel, Marshall was dealt in 2015 to the New York Jets, for a fifth-round pick. After two years with the Jets, he was released and finished out his career with the Giants and Seahawks.

3. Randy Moss

NFL teams: Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers
Number of times traded: 3
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, Offensive Rookie of the Year

Moss is considered one of the greatest wideouts of all time, but immaturity issues hurt him at times. After seven years in Minnesota, his “mooning” celebration against the Packers in the playoffs ended up being the final straw. It caused the Vikings to trade their star player to Oakland, in exchange for linebacker Napoleon Harris and a first-round pick.

After two years with the Raiders, where he caught just 102 passes in two years, he was dealt on the second day of the 2007 NFL Draft to the New England Patriots, as the Raiders received a fourth-round pick the Patriots received the day before. It is considered one of the best trades in NFL history, as he and Tom Brady had one of the most prolific seasons in the history of the league. He caught a single-season record 23 touchdown passes, as Brady set the single-season passing record, with 50 touchdowns.

Moss spent three full years with the Pats, before he was traded to the Vikings just a few games into the 2011 season for a third-round pick. He played just a few games with Minnesota, before he was released for an outburst in a post-game press conference. Moss finished his career with the Titans and 49ers.

2. Brandin Cooks

NFL teams: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans
Number of times traded: 3
Accolades: One of only two players in NFL history to record 1,000-yard receiving seasons with four different teams

Cooks was drafted by the Saints in 2014, and in three seasons, he became a weapon for Drew Brees. His second and third seasons saw him catch 162 passes for more than 2,300 yards and 17 touchdowns, and in his 2016 season, he ranked sixth in yards per target.

He was dealt to the New England Patriots prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, for a first-round and third-round pick, and the Saints also gave up their pick in the fourth round. He had a solid season with the Patriots, with 65 catches for almost 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns. He suffered a concussion in the Super Bowl, as the Patriots went on to win.

After the season, he was dealt, along with a fourth-round pick, to the Rams, in exchange for a first-round selection. He played two seasons with the Rams, and another concussion cost him a couple games in a sub-par season. 

He was traded for the third time four years when the Texans gave up a second-round pick for him and a fourth-round selection in 2020. He became the second player to gain 1,000 yards receiving with four different NFL teams. He is the only active player remaining on the list.

1. Eric Dickerson

NFL teams: Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, Atlanta Falcons
Number of times traded: 4
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 6x Pro Bowl, 5x All-Pro, Offensive Rookie of the Year

Dickerson is the only player on this list to be traded four times, but he never played for the final team that acquired him.

Dickerson was a star for the Rams, as he rushed for more than 1,800 yards in three of his first four seasons in the league. That run was capped by the 1984 season, when he ran for 2,105 yards, a record that stands today.

In his fifth season, he was dealt to the Colts, as part of a three-team deal, one of the biggest in the history of the league. Dickerson was dealt for a player, two first-round picks, and a second-round pick from the Bills, and the Colts tacked on another player, another first-rounder, and two second-round selections. He played four and a half seasons for the Colts and became the fastest running back to 10,000 yards.

In 1992, he was dealt to the Raiders, following a 1-15 season for the Colts, with a fourth- and eighth-round pick in the upcoming draft going the other way. After the season, he was dealt to Atlanta, with the Falcons sent a sixth-round pick. He rushed for 91 yards that year.

The Falcons dealt him to Green Bay in October of 1993. He failed his physical and never played another snap in the NFL.

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