The 20/20 Hindsight series allows us to look back on trades several years after they took place and see which team won the deal. By the time we review these trades, most players have established themselves in their careers and have finished their rookie contracts.
2013 Draft Day Trade – 49ers & Cowboys
No. 18 (1st) – FS Eric Reid
No. 31 (1st) – C Travis Frederick
No. 74 (3rd) – WR Terrance Williams
Heading into the 2013 draft, the Dallas Cowboys were mired in mediocrity having gone 8-8, 8-8, and 6-10 in their three previous seasons. The Cowboys offense had finished 15th in points in both 2011 and 2012 and needed a shot in the arm. The 49ers, on the other hand, were cruising. They went 13-3 in 2011 followed by a brilliant 2012 season in which they went 11-4-1 and reached the Super Bowl. The Niners felt they were just a few key pieces away from the Lombardi Trophy and traded up to see if FS Eric Reid was their first-round answer.
Player Resumes 2013-2018
Team extension decision: The 49rs exercised their fifth-year option on Reid in 2017, but did not re-sign him to a long-term extension. He signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 on a 3-year, $22 million contract.
Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys – From 2013 through 2017, Frederick was arguably the best center in the NFL. His streak of four consecutive Pro Bowls between 2014 and 2017 was only interrupted after missing the entire 2018 season to Guillain-Barre syndrome. Here’s to hoping for a healthy return in 2019.
Team extension decision: Signed a 6-year, $56 million extension with the Cowboys.
Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys – As we preach here at Trade Down Island, teams should salivate over extra third round picks they can acquire by smartly trading down earlier in the draft. As a third round pick, Terrance Williams played his first four seasons on a delicious 4-year, $3.8 million rookie contract. Over those four seasons he averaged 44 receptions and 698 yards, far exceeding his minuscule cap hit.
Team extension decision: Signed a 4-year, $17 million extension with the Cowboys.
The success of a trade-down strategy comes down to two things: strategy (getting valuable picks) and execution (drafting the right players). With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it’s clear the Cowboys did a great job. The strategy to move back 13 spots in the first round for an extra third rounder was fine, but not great. If a stud was available at No. 18, the Cowboys should’ve just taken him. There is no guarantee an extra third round pick will amount to much, but Dallas obviously knew what it was doing with Travis Frederick whom NFL.com listed as a “third-round talent.” With both Frederick and Williams playing key roles, Dallas went 12-4 in 2014 and 13-3 in 2016.
Well done, Dallas. Welcome to Trade Down Island!