The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions traded former first overall picks Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford for each other, agreeing to terms on Saturday though the deal can’t be completed until March. First overall picks haven’t been dealt for each other since the 1970s and when it first happened, the teams didn’t know it would involve a second first-overall pick.
In 1978, the Buffalo Bills trade former top pick O.J. Simpson to the San Francisco 49ers. Simpson was on the downside of his Hall of Fame career and wanted to return to the West Coast but the Bills were able to nab a king’s ransom. the 49ers traded their second- and third-round picks in 1978, first- and fourth-round picks in 1979, and a 1980 second-round to acquire Simpson. That 1979 first rounder would become the number-one overall pick, though at the time of the trade in 1978 no one could know that.
Buffalo used those draft picks to acquire DE Scott Hutchinson and WR Danny Fulton in 1978, DE Tom Cousineau and DE Ken Johnson in 1979, and RB Joe Cribbs in 1980. The first overall pick in 1979, Cousineau would never play for the Bills, however, instead opting to go to the CFL. The Montreal Alouettes offered him twice as much money as the Bills and he headed north. When he returned to the NFL, the Bills were able to obtain the 14th overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft plus a pair of picks in 1984 from the Cleveland Browns instead of signing Cousineau to a massive deal.
That 14th overall pick would become Jim Kelly, who also refused to play for the Bills and opted to head to the USFL. So it eventually worked out, but it took seven years.
The 49ers clearly lost on the trade, as Simpson only played two seasons in San Francisco before retiring. He barely eclipsed 1000 rushing yards combined in the two seasons.