Buffalo Bills: The Jim Kelly trade
This trade was almost a complete bust for the Buffalo Bills. After never getting anything out of linebacker Tom Cousineau, who has spurned them to play up in Canada, they’d hoped to salvage a draft pick by trading his rights to the Cleveland Browns. They ended up with a 1st round pick in the 1983 NFL draft, and used it to select Miami (Fl.) quarterback Jim Kelly. However, they felt a terrible case of deja vu when he too expressed zero desire to play in Buffalo and instead chose to join the United States Football League (USFL) instead.
The Bills lived through a series of pitiful seasons in the mid-1980s including back-to-back 2-14 records. Undaunted though, they clung to the rights for Kelly just in case he ever chose to give the NFL a shot. That is exactly what happened in 1986 when the USFL folded. He signed a contract to come to Buffalo. From there everything was different. Kelly helped lift the franchise to untold heights, reaching four-straight Super Bowls between 1990 and 1993. He would retire with every franchise passing record and eventually landed in the Hall of Fame.