How Many NFL Coaches Have Been Traded? History of Coach Trades Involving Draft Picks
NFL trades involving players or draft picks are common. Trades for head coaches, though, are much rarer. As a result, this type of deal always draws a ton of attention any time it's completed.
With that in mind, here's the history of coaches being traded in the NFL.
Can You Trade a Coach in the NFL?
Yes, it is within the NFL rules to trade coaches. The league's procedure involves the coach's current team trading his rights to a prospective team interested in hiring them. Once a trade is complete, the coach then has to negotiate a new contract with the franchise they were acquired by.
This type of trade is complicated to pull off since it requires a coach being interested in a move, their current team being open to trading them to a rival and the prospective team willing to exchange assets (likely draft picks) in order to acquire the coach. Still, this hasn't prevented a number of these deals from going down in league history.
How Many NFL Coaches Have Been Traded?
There are eight well-known head coach trades in NFL history. The first involved Don Shula going from the Baltimore Colts to the Miami Dolphins in 1970. This move wasn't originally intended to be a trade, but the league mandated that Miami send a first-round pick to Baltimore after tampering rule violations were found.
Since 1997, there have been seven more high-profile coaching trades. They've included big names like Bill Parcells, Herm Edwards and even Bill Belichick. The most recent was completed in the 2023 offseason, with the New Orleans Saints trading the rights to former Super Bowl winner Sean Payton to the Denver Broncos in exchange for two draft picks.
Check out the full list of notable head coaching trades in NFL history, compensation involved and results below:
- Coach involved: Don Shula
- Compensation: Miami Dolphins trade first-round pick to Baltimore Colts
- Result: Shula helped Miami win two Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973, including the NFL's only perfect season in league history
- Coach involved: Bill Parcells
- Compensation: New York Jets trade first-, second-, third- and fourth-round picks to New England Patriots
- Result: Parcells' Jets went to the playoffs once in three seasons, losing in the AFC Championship in 1998
- Coach involved: Mike Holmgren
- Compensation: Seattle Seahawks trade second-round pick to Green Bay Packers
- Result: Seattle made the playoffs six times under Holmgren, including a Super Bowl appearance during the 2005 season
- Coach involved: Bill Belichick
- Compensation: Patriots trade first-, fourth- and fifth-round pick to Jets
- Result: Belichick has spent the past 23 seasons in New England, winning six Super Bowls along the way
- Coach involved: Jon Gruden
- Compensation: Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade two first-round picks and $8 million to Oakland Raiders
- Result: Gruden won the Super Bowl in his very first season leading the Bucs and departed in 2008
- Coach involved: Herm Edwards
- Compensation: Kansas City Chiefs trade fourth-round pick to Jets
- Result: Edwards went a dismal 15-33 in seasons as the Chiefs' HC before being fired
- Coach involved: Bruce Arians
- Compensation: Buccaneers trade sixth-round pick to Arizona Cardinals
- Result: Arians went on to win the Super Bowl in his second season at the helm, retired in 2021 after his second postseason appearance with Tampa Bay
- Coach involved: Sean Payton
- Compensation: Denver Broncos trade first- and third-round pick to New Orleans Saints
- Result: TBD
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