The LA Chargers and Atlanta Falcons have been trade partners three times.
The Atlanta Falcons were established in 1965 as an expansion team, right before the start of the AFL-NFL merger. Since then, the Chargers and Falcons have done business via trade three times, with all three trades occurring from 1998 to 2002.
The best trade in Chargers’ history with the Atlanta Falcons is actually a pretty monumental one that gave both franchise’s two of their most iconic players of all-time.
The best LA Chargers trade with the Atlanta Falcons:
The Chargers were coming off of the worst season in franchise history in which the team went 1-15 and owned the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Instead of taking the consensus first overall pick in Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick, the Chargers traded down in the draft with the Falcons, who owned the fifth overall pick.
And with that trade, the Falcons landed one of the most iconic players in franchise history. While his prime was cut short and his career was put on hold because of his involvement in a dogfighting ring, Michael Vick was one of the most fun-to-watch quarterbacks with the Falcons that the league has ever seen.
But this is not about this being the best trade for the Falcons, this is about being the best trade for the LA Chargers, and in this instance, it worked out for both sides. The Bolts moved down in the draft and selected the biggest fan-favorite in team history (via our Twitter bracket), LaDainian Tomlinson.
The rest of the trade was not that special and moving down in the draft didn’t really add anything to the Bolts outside of LT, who the team could have still selected with the first overall pick if they wanted to.
Tay Cody played three years in the league and did not start a game after his rookie season. Reche Caldwell spent six years in the league, four of which were with the Chargers and he never surpassed 352 receiving yards in a season. Tim Dwight spent four years with the Chargers and had a combined 1,253 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
However, while his receiving numbers were not exceptional in any way, he was a solid punt returner for the Chargers in his first two seasons with the team.
Most importantly, the Chargers used that selection for Tomlinson, who went on to have one of the best seasons by a running back in league history in 2006 and statistically is a top-five running back of all-time.
Not only did the Chargers get LT out of this trade, but the Bolts had arguably the best back-to-back draft picks in NFL history. After selecting Tomlinson with the fifth overall pick, the Chargers selected Drew Brees with the first pick of the second round.
While Brees cemented his legacy in New Orleans, the Chargers drafted a top-five running back and quarterback in NFL history with back-to-back selections, something that would not have been done if the team simply took Michael Vick.