Buffalo Bills: Jim Kelly trade remains the best in franchise history

Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport /

The Buffalo Bills made a trade to acquire an extra draft pick in 1983 that ended up changing the course of the franchise for years to come.

The Buffalo Bills had two first-round draft picks this year, using one on a quarterback who will hopefully turn into the next superstar in Buffalo.

The team also had two draft picks back in 1983 thanks to a trade that sent Tom Cousineau to Cleveland. The Bills used that second first-round pick on a young player named Jim Kelly.

An older evergreen post on NFL Spin Zone lists the trade to acquire Kelly as the best one in franchise history, and that remains the case in 2018. In fact, it is not even close.

Fans can look back on the trade now as one that brought a legend to town and changed the entire landscape of Bills football. But those following the team at the time  know that Kelly almost never came to Buffalo.

He headed to the USFL after making it clear he didn’t want to play in Buffalo, which would tarnish his legacy if he never came to Buffalo and took the team to four straight Super Bowls. Fans can move past such slights when wins are the ultimate outcome.

It is crazy to think how things would have been different for the Bills if the USFL never folded and Kelly never joined the team, although the entire world of football would have been different if there was another true competitive league.

There are so many “what if” scenarios in the history of sports, so fans don’t have to linger to long on this. Kelly remains a legend in the city and the fact he took some time to join the team is an afterthought right now.

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One thing his situation shows is that a draft pick doesn’t have to come in and dominate right away. Obviously, things were different since he played elsewhere for a few years, but it still does show that patience pays off when it comes to quarterbacks.