Say what you want about the “Approximate Value” statistic created by Pro Football Reference (shoutout to coldpizza), but it’s a fairly simple concept where all NFL players, regardless of generation and position, can be statistically compared to other players. Using this tool, numberFire named the 10 most lopsided trades in NFL history. This was done by adding up the AV stat for all players given up by one team in an NFL trade and comparing that to the AV stat for all players received (or players selected from draft picks received) in a trade. Coming in as the 7th most lopsided trade in NFL history: the Saints stealing Jahri Evans in 2006.
On day two of the 2006 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints traded fourth round picks, with veteran defensive lineman Hollis Thomas heading to the Big Easy alongside pick 108...With the Saints' 99th overall selection, Philly took guard Max Jean-Gilles. With the Eagles' 108th pick the Saints took their own guard, Jahri Evans.... While Jean-Gilles started just 26 games and posted an AV of 15 in a short four-year career, Evans -- having accumulated an AV of 135 to date -- is still playing at the age of 33. In 11 seasons with the Saints, Evans was named a Pro Bowler six times and an All-Pro performer four times. His career-best AV (19) is better than Jean-Gilles' output for his entire career. Add in Thomas' 14-year career and 77 AV and you get an overlooked, but lopsided deal all the same.
So this trade is one that is looked at favorably with from Saints fans, as the Saints are the beneficiaries of a lopsided deal. However, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to judge this trade as that lopsided.
While the AV tool is a fine (but imperfect) way of measuring players, it is not a way to measure the value of a draft pick. The reason the trade involving the 108th pick became so lopsided in the Saints favor is due solely on the fact that the player the Saints selected ended up being such a steal. In a vacuum, the trade itself was not that lopsided.
I’m of the view that this trade should be viewed in two part:
- The trade itself, swapping one player and two picks, and then
- The player(s) selected with each pick.
Unless the Saints are trading up when a team is on the clock for the current pick, it’s hard to say the Saints envisioned any one particular player at a draft spot over another. There’s no way to know if the Saints knew they were going to get Evans with the 108th pick at the time the trade was made (and logic says there’s no way they could have known for certain that Evans would still be available), so the trade and the player selected after the trade should be viewed as two separate transactions.