You know it's going to be an interesting breaking news bit when the headliner of an article notification to your phone leads with: "Bills commit robbery".
That viewpoint is debatable but one thing we can all agree on is that this is a pretty shocking trade. Player for player trades are extremely rare and when they do happen, rarely involve major building blocks. Usually it's two teams swapping their trash for a chance at treasure (see: Chiefs and 49ers swapping Jon Baldwin for A.J. Jenkins).
Back in the olden days of the NFL though (which in NFL years is like anything 5 years ago or more), these trades were much more common because Free Agency didn't exist until 1994. It was their only avenue to attaining a franchise-changing piece — or so they thought.
In truth, some of the worst and most lopsided trades ever happened back in the era before Free Agency even though admittedly few of those were player for player trades. Teams didn't seem to value draft picks as strongly as they do now. Perhaps they just didn't care -- much like Chip Kelly doesn't seem to care (another headline I saw today).
In any event, teams did some crazy stuff back then. Trading 11 players for 1 of another team's? Check. Trading 2 first round picks, 3 seconds, and a third for a running back past his prime? Checcccck.
Ironically, as we look at the big trades from yesteryear, a startling number involved running backs. Herschel Walker. Eric Dickerson. Jerome Bettis. Marshall Faulk. Hell, even Trent Richardson's trade looks borderline "HerschelWalkery" with the passage of time. The Colts were strangely involved in many of the NFL's most notable trades. LeSean McCoy can now count himself among elite company.
The modern NFL has largely obviated the need for such high-risk trades. Getting it wrong nowadays can spell doom in an NFL that is unforgiving to failure or even the perception of it. Trading for a "LB/OG/Kicker" doesn't sound like a job security promoting move.
On the other hand, because teams lack the same desperation to make high risk trades like their handcuffed 1980s counterparts, trades seem to be more likely to be of the win/win variety nowadays. The Eagles didn't have to move McCoy. The Bills didn't have to give up on Alonso. More importantly, neither team gave away draft picks. Neither team is "one piece or transaction away" -- and one would hope teams have learned that there is no such thing anyway.
Rather this has the makings of two teams wanting to go in different directions rather than some future-mortgaging move of a madman. Personally, I commend both sides for their willingness to make a bold, brash move that will invite criticism.
In theory, it is a win win as of this moment. Time may yet tell a different story.
What say you, Ravens Nation? Discuss in the comments.