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5 Best Quarterback Trades in NFL History

5 Best Quarterback Trades in NFL History

5 Best Quarterback Trades in NFL History

'Tis the season for quarterback trades in the NFL. Going into this week, there were already two big ones with the Los Angeles Rams sending two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford and the Indianapolis Colts trading second- and third-round picks to the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz. And on Monday, the New York Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 and a second- and fourth-rounder in 2022.

Many teams have traded for quarterbacks over the years, but it is very rare that they get a signal-caller who either goes on to have a Hall of Fame career or earns his place in Canton as a result of the transaction. But it has happened and here are the five greatest instances.

5. Fran Tarkenton Returns to Minnesota (1972)

Tarkenton started his career with the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the New York Giants in 1967. In The Big Apple, he made the Pro Bowl four straight seasons before the Vikings ponied up three players, a first-round pick in 1972, and a second-round pick in 1973 to bring him back to Minnesota after the 1972 season. Tarkenton played some of his best football back in Minneapolis, making the Super Bowl three times, and earning MVP honors in 1975. He retired as the league's all-time leader in both passing yards and rushing yards by a quarterback.

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4. Norm Van Brocklin Comes out of Retirement to Play for the Eagles (1958)

After nine great seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, "The Dutchman" retired following the 1957 season before quickly changing his mind. The Rams traded Van Brocklin to the Philadelphia Eagles for two journeyman players and a first-round pick. Head coach Buck Shaw gave him control of the offense, and Philadelphia steadily improved over his first two seasons. Then in 1960, Van Brocklin led the Eagles to an NFL-best 10-2 record and the only NFL Championship Game victory over Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers before retiring for good.

3. The 49ers Find a Diamond-in-the-Rough in Steve Young (1987)

Young played two seasons in the USFL and then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985. He had two dismal seasons, but San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh was impressed with his ability and acquired him for second- and fourth-round picks. Once he arrived in San Francisco, Young quickly became the league's best backup and ignited a quarterback controversy with starter Joe Montana. When "Joe Cool" went down with an injury before the 1991 season, Young became the starter for the next eight seasons and won a Super Bowl on his way to the Hall of Fame.

2. Y.A. Tittle Finds New Life in the Big Apple (1961)

Tittle had success with the San Francisco 49ers, but his time with the New York Giants made him a Hall of Famer. After 10 seasons in San Francisco, he was considered washed up when the franchise traded him to the Giants for second-year guard Lou Cordileone. He proved that opinion wrong by leading the Giants to three straight NFL Championship Game appearances. In 1963, Tittle shattered the single-season touchdown pass record with 36, and that mark stood until Dan Marino broke it in 1984.

1. The Packers Get Brett Favre at a Steal (1992)

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Favre in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft against head coach Jerry Glanville's wishes. After taking only five snaps in Atlanta, the Falcons traded him to the Green Bay Packers for a first-round pick. The Falcons likely thought they had gotten a great deal at the time, but they used the pick to draft Southern Miss running back Tony Smith, who was cut after three seasons. Meanwhile, Favre started 253 straight games, earned NFL MVP honors three seasons in a row, and won Super Bowl XXXI during his Hall of Fame career.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.