In each of the first four trades we've examined in this week's 'Five for Five' series, one team has traded down because another team was targeting a specific player. In the last trade we'll analyze, it was the team trading down that knew exactly which player it was going to get.
The team in question is the 1987 San Diego Chargers, who moved a whopping 19 spots down in the first round of that year's draft but landed the exact linebacker they were seeking. That would seem impossible but for one thing: The trade netted them veteran linebacker Chip Banks from the Cleveland Browns.
For sure, this deal is different than the other four and probably the least likely to be duplicated in form in 2019. Still, it marks one of just five times in NFL draft history that the team scheduled to pick fifth when the first round began executed a trade that moved them down the board to a later pick in that round. We're looking at all five to see what the stakes were and how well it worked out for both teams involved.
On Monday, we recalled the most recent such deal, which happened to be executed by the Buccaneers themselves in 2012. That was a very small slide down, from #5 to #7. (That installment also runs down the sixth other drafts in which the fifth pick was traded in different sorts of deals.) On Tuesday, we rewound to the Browns-Jets deal of 2009, which was a much bigger trade because Cleveland moved all the way down to #17. That was nothing, however, to the Saints' Mike Ditka swinging for the fences in '99 to get Texas running back Ricky Williams. On Thursday, we circled back to a deal similar to the one the Bucs made in 2012, with the Rams moving down just two spots to #7.
Our last deal happened more than three decades ago and involved a Pro Bowl player who had worn out his welcome in his first NFL home. Let's take a closer look.
Trade #5: Chargers Slide Down First Round in Order to Land Pro Bowl Linebacker
The Trade: The Cleveland Browns sent linebacker Chip Banks to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for pick swaps in both the first and second rounds of the 1987 draft. The Browns got picks #5 and #32 and the Chargers got Banks plus picks #24 and #53.
Trade Value: There are two "trade value charts" in common use, both of which assign specific numeric values to each spot in the draft through, declining in value from pick #1 to #224. The first is commonly known as the Jimmy Johnson Chart because it was developed by Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s. It assigns a value of 3,000 points to the first-overall pick, 2,600 to the second and so on, with the values dropping steeply. The last pick in the first round, for instance, is valued at 590 points.
The second chart was developed by Chase Stuart of Football Perspective in 2012. While Johnson and his crew devised their original chart with a relatively arbitrary system, Stuart attempted to come up with values using empirical evidence of what those draft spots had provided in the past. Stuart's chart begins with a value of 34.6 points for the first overall pick and, obviously, doesn't decline as rapidly. For each of these trades, we'll look at how close the two teams got to swapping equal value, as determined by the two charts.
The charts aren't really applicable in this deal. Obviously, the Browns are going to be way ahead on both charts because they got the better pick in both swaps. From the Chargers' point of view, the lost value in draft picks was what they had to pay to land Banks, who had made the Pro Bowl in four of his first five seasons in Cleveland.
Of course, this trade is the first one of the five that took place prior to the Cowboys inventing their draft value chart, which eventually spread to the rest of the league. The Browns and Chargers probably weren't thinking in terms of strict values for each draft slot; rather, swapping in the first round wasn't quite enough for Cleveland to give up Banks, so the flip in the second was added as well.
Trade Results in the Draft: The Browns and Chargers worked out the framework of the deal before the draft but didn't execute it until San Diego was on the clock because Cleveland only planned to do it if either Mike Junkin or Shane Conlan, a pair of linebackers, made it to #5. The Browns had already tried to trade up to the second spot with the Colts to get Cornelius Bennett but had been rebuffed. Indianapolis took Bennett at #2 but when Duke's Junkin was there at #5 the Browns pulled the trigger.
After trading down, the Chargers took Rod Bernstine, who played running back and tight end at Texas. Bernstine wore a tight end number for the Chargers (82) but eventually morphed into more of a running back.
In the second round, Cleveland nabbed center Gregg Rakoczy in the 32nd slot and San Diego eventually went with cornerback Louis Brock at #53. Oh and, of course, the Chargers got Chip Banks, too.
How it Worked Out: Quite poorly all around, actually.
If Rakoczy doesn't seem like a particularly memorable name, he was probably the most successful acquisition resulting from this trade. Rakoczy played four seasons for Cleveland, starting 44 of the 60 games in which he played and working at both center and right guard. He also played two more years for the Patriots.
Bernstine had a decent NFL career, particularly after becoming more of a running back. He ran for 2,990 yards and 22 touchdowns in his nine-season career, including a 766-yard season for San Diego and an 816-yard campaign for Denver.
The rest is ugly. Brock played one game for San Diego and four in his entire NFL career. Junkin lasted only two seasons in Cleveland, making seven starts, and was out of the league after a third year with Chiefs. And Banks, the centerpiece of the whole deal was only a Charger for one year, in which he had three sacks and one interception. San Diego then traded him to the Colts for a third-round pick in 1989 after he held out for all of 1988. Banks went on to four reasonably successful years in Indianapolis, though he also ran into off-field issues during and after his career.
Banks never made another Pro Bowl after moving from Cleveland to San Diego. In fact, none of the players who landed in either Cleveland or San Diego as a result of this deal made a Pro Bowl after the trade was executed.
Lessons for the 2019 Buccaneers: To be honest, this one probably isn't particularly instructive for the Buccaneers. While the previous deals offered some clues as to what the Buccaneers might expect to get back for moving down two, five or 12 spots in the first round, this one was different than most deals involving draft picks. It doesn't seem likely at this point that the Bucs would move down the draft in exchange for the addition of a veteran player. The San Diego-Cleveland deal came before the advent of real free agency; in today's era, there are other ways to acquire a standout defender besides waiting for another team to get tired of their headache-inducing star.