Odell Beckham, Jr. could be on the trade block for the right price. From the Giants perspective, that price would no doubt include a first round pick, at minimum. Beckham is still only 25 and prior to his injury-shortened 2017 season, had three pro bowl seasons, 1300 receiving yards each year, and double digit touchdowns, not to mention several highlight-worthy catches.
Using prosportstransactions.com, here’s a look back at all the trades where a wide receiver was the centerpiece of a deal for a first round pick, going back to 1978. Prior to 1978, teams traded receivers and draft picks like they were amphetamines in the clubhouse. The Cowboys once traded an undrafted free agent (Billy Parks) who had one decent year in Dallas to the Oilers for what would become the first overall pick and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. The best trade for a first round pick–Paul Warfield by the Dolphins, came in 1970, but plenty of other crazy ones surrounded it.
Here are the 14 since that era, ranked from worst to best (from the perspective of the team trading for the receiver). Most of these range from disastrous to just okay. [Update: Brandin Cooks to the Rams would be the 15th.]
#14 Randal Hill to Phoenix Cardinals (1991)
Randal “The Thrill” Hill was the 23rd overall pick for Miami in 1991. After a holdout that extended into August (Hill was represented by Drew Rosenhaus), the Dolphins traded Hill to the Phoenix Cardinals just one game into his rookie season. That might have been a warning sign. The Cardinals pick ended up becoming the 7th overall pick, which Miami used on pro bowl cornerback Troy Vincent.
Hill finished his career in the desert with 2,419 yards in four seasons.
#13 Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks (2013)
Percy Harvin had been a multi-purpose weapon with Minnesota as both a receiver and runner, totaling 1,312 yards from scrimmage in his third season, and over 700 yards in half a season in 2012 before injuries ended his season early.
The next offseason, Seattle gave up a haul that included a first round pick (Xavier Rhodes) and the next year’s third round pick (Jerick McKinnon) to get the 24-year-old Harvin and sign him to a big contract.
It wasn’t to be, as injuries continued to plague Harvin and he ended up playing only 6 games for Seattle before being traded to the Jets prior to the trade deadline the following year.
#12 Mike Pritchard to Denver Broncos (1994)
Mike Pritchard was Atlanta’s first round pick in 1991. After consecutive seasons with 70+ catches in the run-n-shoot offense, the former Colorado Buffaloes star was traded at age 24 to the Denver Broncos for a package that included a 3rd round pick and a future 1st (which was in turn traded by Atlanta as part of the Chris Doleman deal, and used by Minnesota to take Derrick Alexander).
Pritchard suffered a lacerated kidney just three games into his Denver career and missed the rest of the season, and the following season was arrested for vehicular assault after striking two pedestrians. That was his final season in Denver and he finished with only 712 receiving yards total.
#11 Joey Galloway to the Dallas Cowboys (2000)
Joey Galloway had over 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons in Seattle, and totalled 22 touchdowns in his third and fourth seasons in the league. In 1999, he held out for a contract for half the season, before ending the holdout and returning, though he was behind and only started 4 games.
The next offseason, Seattle traded Galloway (27) to Dallas as the Cowboys were looking for the replacement for Michael Irvin, to help their veteran QB Troy Aikman. Dallas gave up the first round pick in 2000 (used on Shaun Alexander), and the 2001 first round pick (which was used in a slight trade down for Koren Robinson, while San Francisco took Andre Carter with the pick).
Galloway tore knee ligaments at the end of his very first game in Dallas, and never posted a thousand yard season with the Cowboys before moving on to Tampa in 2004.
#10 Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys (2008)
Roy Williams, the 7th overall pick in the 2004 draft, had what looked like a breakout season in 2006 with over 1,300 receiving yards. But he fell off in 2007, and then was traded five games into his fifth year in Detroit, at age 26.
The Lions got next’s first round pick (Brandon Pettigrew) along with a 3rd and a 6th round pick.
He only had 198 yards in the 10 games after being traded, and never reached 600 yards in any of his three season in Dallas.
#9 John Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers (1981)
If you are looking for the closest Odell Beckham, Jr. comparable in a big trade, it’s John Jefferson. Over the first three years of his career, Jefferson had 3,400 yards, 36 touchdowns, and led the league in receiving TD’s twice. He made the pro bowl all three years. Jefferson held out and the team traded him to the Packers at the start of the 1981 season. The trade was complicated but included a haul that allowed the Chargers to get a first-round pick, two second-round picks, and the option to swap positions on another first-round pick with the Packers.
The Chargers would then turn and use that swapped pick to trade for Jefferson’s replacement, Wes Chandler, and the other first round pick became running back Gary Anderson.
Jefferson, who unlike Beckham may have had his value overestimated by getting to play with a Hall of Fame QB in Dan Fouts, never made another pro bowl, and had 2,253 yards and 11 total touchdowns in four seasons with Green Bay.
#8 Peerless Price to the Atlanta Falcons (2003)
Peerless Price had a huge season in 2002 catching passes from Drew Bledsoe and playing opposite Eric Moulds, finishing with 1,252 yards and 9 touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons then traded for Price to be their #1 target for Michael Vick, and gave up their first round pick, which was used on Willis McGahee.
Price had 1,413 yards in two seasons in Atlanta, caught less than half the passes thrown his way, and finished with only 6 total touchdowns as a Falcon.